What We Do

River StincharThe River Stinchar District Salmon Fishery Board manages the protection, enhancement and conservation of the Atlantic salmon and sea trout stocks in the River Stinchar. We also have a duty to ensure the general protection and enhancement of the fishery. See About Us

Salmon Fishing

14 pounderThe River Stinchar is one of the most productive salmon fishing rivers in Ayrshire and has some excellent fly fishing water. This site provides useful information for the fisherman, with descriptions of the beats, contact details and advice on where to stay. See Fishing Guide.

River Catchment

returningThe river is 54 kilometers long, and rises in Shallochhill, in the Carrick Forrest, then runs through the beautiful Stinchar valley and the villages of Barr, Pinwherry, Colmonell and into the sea at Ballantrae. It has two main tributaries, the Duisk and the Assel. See The River.

I would like to welcome you all to this year’s AGM of the River Stinchar Fishery Board. It is important that these meetings are well attended so that those who have an interest in the river can keep abreast of what the Board has been doing on their behalf in these challenging times. Both the natural climate and the political climate are in flux. We are seeing changes coming from both these quarters which will have a long term impact on the traditions, pastimes and pleasures enjoyed by you in this room and the wider community.

The 2015 season was much anticipated. The previous year’s catches had been back from their 705 rod caught ten-year average. Things could only improve. ART were telling us that the river was in good heart. Par and Fry numbers were the best in any of the south west of Scotland Rivers and the water quality was excellent.

Like in so many other parts of the country, spring fish are proving to be a rarity, however in July grilse and Salmon were beginning to appear. During August fish were being caught and some good days sport were being had; Gordon Hyslop catching ten fish to his own rod that month.

Are others noticing the river now running very dark, Guinness dark during the summer months? Is this contributing to why fish seem no longer to congregate in the lower Beats on the river, in particular, under the Bridges at Ballantrae?

Subtle changes seem to be affecting the pattern of fish behaviour on the river. We need to understand why this is occurring and whether to catch fish our fishing methods should change e.g. fishing when the water is low with lighter tackle?

September came but the rain did not. Six weeks went by before rods of any number were seen out enjoying themselves. Regrettably the season was turning out to be even more disappointing than the previous one. Seatrout figures were reasonably encouraging but salmon and grilse seemed to be in short supply. It was only once the catch returns began to come in that we realised quite how dire the situation was:

Only 337 salmon and grilse were caught, 85% were returned. 40 Seatrout were caught, 90% were returned.

Not for over 20 years have we had a season as bad. Only 47.8% of the ten year average had been caught. It was small comfort that we were not alone in our disappointment. Statistics of the same sort were being compiled all over Scotland. All this brought to the surface another question that needs to be answered: Are worse things happening at sea?

Our role as your Board is to manage, nurture and encourage responsible practice on the Stinchar. All we can do is to continue to improve on our excellent Catch and Release figures which are better year on year. This Season’s guidelines clearly state what the obligations should be for all Anglers fortunate enough to enjoy these waters.  ART’s services continue to help us monitor and check the health of the water and the environment. Riparian owners are regularly encouraged to maintain their riverbanks and burns whilst at the same time keeping accurate records of catches.

Tom Lothian and the rest of the Bailiffs are on hand to uphold good practices and to watch out and tackle troublemakers. We must not let the weather get us down. In this age of instant reporting bad news travels fast. Let us make it our business to talk up the delights and pleasures that are to be had in this beautiful valley. After all, the first fish of this season has already been caught an 11 pound salmon at Dalreoch by Gordon McDermot.

Now for matters away from this green quilted landscape, which are likely to have considerable effect on us all.

As Chairman of this River Board and in fear that our days are numbered, I am looking forward to the introduction of FMO’s as much as a turkey looks forward to Christmas.  Whilst this process is underway I resent being asked at the same time to plan the menu.

As a Board we are not alone in feeling imposed upon, misunderstood and badly represented. There has been an assumption made by Politicians that Boards such as ours are not fit for purpose and that the data we produce is not to be trusted.

Our job has been to nurture our stock and the river’s environment within our means, in the interest of anglers and the wider community. This we have done over many years helped considerably by volunteers and local good will. At the same time a process of education and enlightenment has been adopted embracing current practices and obligations. It has been a great asset to the Board being able to call on scientific advice from an independent River’s Trust. Delivery has been via cooperation of Riparian Owners, other statutory bodies and volunteers, all for a price of £17,000 a year.

Recently we have been inundated with forms, surveys and regulations. Why are we being asked to comply with these when in doing so we are writing our own death certificate? How can we have faith in a system that in our case has wrongly designated our river? The cumbersome bureaucracy of Government has insisted on making its calculations via districts rather than via rivers. FMO’s we all know will over complicate the system and be expensive to administer. Whoever manages Scottish waters should stick to matters aquatic and not be drawn into organising an adventure playground. Let’s not be under any illusion what motivates Politicians to involve themselves in these affairs. It is a desire to centrally control and in the process curry favour with their ill-informed supporters by riding rough shod over our land and hard earned traditions. If only our Association, had stopped flashing a red light and instead stepped into the road in front of this expensive juggernaut.

As far as I can see all that is needed is a rigorous form of fishery inspection to liaise between Government and accountable local Management, ensuring that all Boards are doing what they are set up to do. In cases where situations need to be addressed there should be sufficient power and authority to intervene. This meddlesome Government has waded into deep water and are in danger of filling their boots. I for one, would not jump in to save them were they to head off down the swanie!

I would like to thank the other Members of the Board, Stuart Brabbs and the staff at ART, Tom Lothian and the Bailiffs, Austin Thomson and Angela McFadzean and last but very much not least, my dear wife for reading out my report!

Johnny Warrender


The Scottish Government has designated the Stinchar as a “category 2” river. This means that the River Stinchar District Fishery Board has to take appropriate management action to ensure that further exploitation of Atlantic salmon stock is reduced in our river. Failure to achieve this will result in our river being downgraded to a “category 3 river”. This would mean a mandatory catch and release of all salmon.

Riparian owners and their anglers, including day ticket holders are expected to assist the Board in its statutory obligations. Bailiffs will ensure that the under-noted Code of Practice for the 2016 season is followed.

  1. No salmon to be killed before 30th June.
  2. No salmon over 10lbs, or 29 ½ inches in length to be killed.
  3. A maximum of 2 salmon or 2 grilse to be killed by any one angler throughout the season.
  4. All salmon or grilse kept or released must be reported to the controller of the fishing, within 24 hours.
  5. All hen fish must be returned throughout the season.
  6. All coloured or gravid salmon and grilse must be released throughout the season.
  7. All sea trout and whitling must be released throughout the season.
  8. Barbless or circle hooks must be used when worm fishing.
  9. No multiple (treble hook x 2) lures to be used when spinning.
  10. Where appropriate, when unhooking a fish, it should not be removed from the water.

Please note, all kept and returned fish and ‘nil’ catches must be included in annual catch returns.

Finally, very many thanks to all riparian owners and anglers for your
co-operation with this very important matter.

Johnny Warrender

August report 2015

Ballantrae Bridge has been very lightly fished by the family and his guests so far and are counting a number of good quality grilse. The larger fish seem to have carried on up river.
Balnowlart continued to put a few on the bank during the month. Successful rods here were Andy Ewing, Kenny Gibson, Geordie Mainland, Billy Heron, Stuart Lang and a large fish in the high teens for Bill Broadfoot.
At Kirkholm, Wm Marshall said the fishing was a bit slow with only the odd fish at the start of the month, but was really fishing well by the end with a lot of good clean fish caught.
Knockdolian was very lightly fished during the month, but despite this put 40 on the bank.
A few of these fish were kept, but the vast majority were returned.
1st G. Hyslop 4lb & 13lb Shakiston – Keith Trusdale 5lb & 14lb MaCallum
2nd Paul Smith 5lb Laigh Haugh
5th Paul Smith 12lb Bankweil
6th Brian Wilson 7lb Bankweil
7th Walter Tudor 11lbs Maggie’s – Brian Wilson & Tony Coughlin 6lb, 6lb & 7lb Twins & BW.
Horace and Colin 6lb Scaur – Mark Whalen 4lb, 5lb, & 7lb Kinning Park
8th G Hyslop 7lbs & 12lb Scaur – Peter Bradshaw 8lb Twins
10th G Hyslop 12lb Laigh Haugh – P Weeks 8lb Scaur
21st G Hyslop 5lb Scaur
27th Lord Richard 13lb Twins – G Hyslop 5lb Maggie’s – John Hall 3lb, 7lb, & 7lb Kinning Park
Michael Scott 11lb & 8lb Dalni & Scaur
28th Lord Richard 14lb, Blackstone, 7lb Polcardoch & 5lb Laigh Haugh – G Hyslop 5lb Maggie’s
John Hall 12lb, 10lb, 7lb, 5lb & 3lb Twins & Bankweil – Mr Seed 4lb & 6lb Scaur
29th G Hyslop 7lb Scaur
A good number of sea trout were also landed.
Colmonell AC is having a lean time with only two fish reported for the season. These were by Les Howarth and Stephen Challis and were both Grilse.
I am still waiting on Gilbert from Kirkhill to get back to me, but I know they have done quite well with Owen Samson and Gilbert getting among the action.
Dalreoch & Almont only had a few at the beginning but finished the month with a number of good fish landed, Billy Morrison had fish of 8lb & 6lb from the Jubilee Bridge Pool on the 26th
Thursday 27th Jamie Turner took four fish, biggest of them being 8lbs. Jamie’s fish were caught from the Hair’s Took, Burnfoot & the Greystanes. Noel Hainey & his son Paul, also on Dalreoch, took a fish each out of the Dangart Pool. Up on Almont, Billy Morrison had a 6lb fish from the Flats and another 8lb fish from the Jubilee Bridge.
Next day only 2 were caught both 5lb for Jamie Gaff and his father Alan one from the Lairds, the other from the Flats.
Hallowchapel didn’t continue their good start with only a few caught recently with fish for Stevie Cruickshank and for Mr Cameron.
The Wee Stinchar has not fished well with only Eddy Smith catching a coloured fish around 9lb.
Anglers here are complaining bitterly about the clarity of the water, some days it is the colour of clay, then back to the heavily peat staining which has been the norm all summer. SEPA and the Ayrshire River Trust have been asked to investigate.
Some reports are claiming the river is “stuffed” with fish. I can assure you this is not the case, but as these catches reflect, there are enough to give some decent sport. It is a vast improvement on last year and hopefully the runs of fish will continue for the remainder of the season.

Week beginning Aug 3rd, water all week has provided the anglers with some fantastic sport. The start of the week the levels were on the low side with only an odd fish caught ,then as we moved into midweek things really got going with the water going over 7ft on the gauge At Colmonell bridge.
Ballantrae Bridge has only been lightly fished so far with father and son Jimmy and Kenneth Hyslop both landing Grilse around the 5lb mark.
Balnowlart is having a better start this season with a number of good fish landed. Stuart Lang has had a brace on a couple of visits, best 12lb, Steven Holiday has done well with 3 best 15lb other successful rods were David Robertson, 2 Jimmy Hyslop 1, I had two sea liced fish from the Tig pool one on a GP the other on a gold bodied w Gunn best 10.5lb
Knockdolian is counting 24 so far with successes for myself with 4 from Shakiston and the Scaur best 13lb, Tony Coughlin and Brian Wilson 6 from Twins & Bankweil best 18lb, Lord Richard 12lb, Paul Smith 2 best 12lb, and John Hall 2, best 14lbs.
The Colmonell AC got their 1st of the season on Aug 8th with a 5lb grilse for Les Howarth
Kirkhill has fished well with Owen Samson top rod up there, they have caught quite a few but I don’t have all the details yet.
Dalreoch has been picking away with fish been caught most days. Details are on their own web site and also on the forum www.salmo.proboards.com
Hallowchapel is doing really well with fish for Stevie Cruickshank, Kenny Gibson, Ian Maine, and Jock Cree.
Laggansarroch reports fish for Charlie Coltman & Doug Wyllie both around the 8-9lb class
Finally a fish of 7lbs on fly for Matt Cross off Barr AC water
Prospects are good if we keep getting the water as there seems to be a decent run of fish. Even the Grilse appear to be in great condition. Don’t be put off if no fish are showing, this has been the case for the last few years but be assured they are there as these recent catches reflect.
Salmon 080815
This is a sea-liced fish (10.5lb) caught by myself on the Tig Pool at Balnowlart 9pm on Aug 7th Photo courtesy of Stuart Lang

I received a report of an 11lb fish from the Little Pinmore stretch up on the wee Stinchar. It was caught just below the railway viaduct on the 3rd June by Angus McTaggart.
Things are very slow here on the fishing front due to a lack of water. Last Sunday (28th June) we had a localised thunder plump which brought down a very dirty rise of a couple of feet. It cleared overnight but also disappeared as quickly as it arrived. A few rods were out first thing Monday morning and Kirkhill had their first of the season with a fish in the region of 15lbs to Owen Samson.
Up on Dalreoch, Gordon MacDermid of the Ayrshire Rivers Trust got them off the mark with a fish around 9lbs from the Craig. Gordon also lost another fish later in the day in Hare’s Took, but by the afternoon the water had gone.
I was chatting to one of the lobster fishermen out from Ballantrae a few days ago and he tells me they are starting to see a number of fish in the bays along the coast. Hopefully we will get a big spate soon and let them into the river.
Given water, sport can be fantastic during July and August, particularly fishing into the late evening.

On a more worrying note, in early June, 16,000 farmed salmon, each of around 10lbs (4.5kg) in weight escaped from a Marine Harvest sea cage into the Kilbrannan Sound between Arran and the Mull of Kintyre. These fish may end up in Ayrshire’s rivers and the last thing we need is them breeding with our wild salmon.
Anyone catching an escaped fish, please kill it and retain a small amount of flesh and a few scales for genetic analysis. The farmed fish can be identified by evidence of damaged pectoral fins, dorsal fins and tail. These fish are also a slightly different shape to typical wild salmon. Another tell-tale sign is an increased number of scales shed on handling. In such a situation, please let the owner of the beat know and contact the Ayrshire River Trust who will arrange to collect the sample. They can be contacted by calling 01292 737300 or emailing info@ayrshireriverstrust.org.