Posted · 14 Comments

August was a very difficult month with only the very odd freshet. Dalreoch faired best with a few Grilse as did Balnowlart but overall the fishing was very slow.
September started the same with very low water until Sat 7th heavy rain in the morning lifted the river by 2ft. This was very slow to clear and only a few were caught above Colmonell on Bardrochat and two Grilse at Minuntion to Eddy Smith.
On Monday the 9th Knockdolian had a full complement of rods for the first time this season and although the water was down to 1ft 9in the rods were encountering fish,13 by the end of the day.
Within 10 mins of starting in the Twins, John Hall, a Knockdolian regular hooked into a very large fish. He then landed it 30 mins later. It was a hen fish which measured 44in long and 24in round the girth and was caught on a small double shrimp fly. The fish was killed but never properly weighed only an estimation of 36lbs.This is a magnificent fish, the largest for many years and it is very sad John choose to kill it. I personally detest anyone killing large fish and will be proposing measures to protect such fish at the next board meeting.
Gordon Hyslop


14 Responses to "September"
  1. Victor Bonutto says:

    It’s very disappointing that you should criticise (publicly) this angler.
    Many anglers these days to take a holier than thou stance.
    It’s about we just concentrated on being fair and prompting our legal sport in a gentlemanly way. Buy all means put most back.
    I see you are off to try and get yet more rules to restrict the angler.
    Well firstly it’s a knee jerk reaction to one incident; yes it was not ideal I will agree.
    Secondly such actions are great food for the anti-angling mob.
    I sense you are upset but please think again.
    Victor Bonutto

    • Gordon Hyslop says:


      Thank you for your comments. I have taken these on board and perhaps on reflection I have worded this quite strongly. May I point out, this is only my opinion and I fully expected others to disagree.
      I’d also like to point out, I had spoken to the angler in question before writing this post. To be fair to John, he was very honest for his reasons on deciding to kill the fish, stating he had paid for his day and he wanted the fish for smoking.
      It is also important to state John has not broken any rules by not returning the fish, however his actions are not in line with our code of practise.
      I can assure you it is not my intention to dictate to an angler when to return a fish, however I would like to think responsible anglers would consider the preservation of stocks and use a little common sense when hooking such large hen fish.
      I have fished the Stinchar for over forty years. I report for various websites and Trout & Salmon. I am also a member of the Stinchar Fishery Board and the Stinchar Hatchery team. We work hard to maintain fish stocks and try to manage the protection, enhancement and conservation of the Atlantic salmon and sea trout stocks in the river.
      I am not as you put it, “off to try and get yet more rules to restrict the angler”, however we currently have a Scottish government granting aid to commercial fisheries and you will be aware off the consequences of this. I feel therefore there is only one group who can protect our fish, and that is us. If anglers don’t act to look after these salmon, no-one else will.
      I was never in favour of imposing hard and fast rules and would rather educate anglers to make responsible decisions. However, in light of this incident, my proposals at the next board meeting will be to discuss guidelines implemented on other rivers offering more protection for hen fish.
      To reiterate this is a magnificent fish that any angler would be proud of landing and it is encouraging to know the Stinchar can produce such wonderful salmon.
      Please also feel free to view the debate on the Ayrshire Rivers Trust Facebook page

  2. Johnny Templeton says:

    I fully support Gordon with his comments. Its very sad that an angler can take such a magnificent hen fish that would be full of developing eggs for the smoker at this time of the season. I know its a Salmon of a lifetime but if you can afford to be a regular at Knockdolian, then surely you can afford a digital camera! A photo of the Angler returning such a specimen fish to the river would last much longer than any amount of smoked salmon and leave a much better taste in the mouths of the many anglers who fish the Stinchar and follow the code of practise

  3. doug steward says:

    I am a firm believer in “just because you can, does not mean to say you should!” The fish that this man killed, being, I presume, somewhere in the 35 to 40lbs range in weight, had obviously survived many returns to the sea and back to the river. It has survived attacks from lamprey, seal, sea hag, whale and who knows how many nets. Just how many thousands of eggs were inside of this fish is to much to imagine, I would still not agree with a cock fish being taken but to take a hen, in this day and age, with the knowledge that we have is, in my opinion, beyond comprehension. To use as a reason “that being such a large fish, you wanted to have it smoked” it is a poor excuse. If you can afford to fish on the beat that you caught this beautiful creature then you can afford to buy smoked (farm reared) salmon in the retail store. It is very few who are fortunate to have the rite to fish for these wonderful creatures. Many others do not. We should all be good “Stewards of Nature” and allow them to continue on the journey of life. “Just because you can kill this fish does not mean that you should!”

    I whole heartily support Gordon on his comments and hope that restrictions will be brought into place to stop this type of “fish mongering!”

    Tight Lines.

  4. Roger Pirrie says:

    I also fully support Gordon. Frankly, I am astonished that any angler could kill a portmanteau specimen like this to make smoked salmon. Even worse when I read that it was a hen fish!

    My opinion is that this was an irresponsible and selfish action.

  5. brian says:

    For a regular fisherman to the Stinchar implies that he/she is not an annual visitor to Scotland
    I find it very hard to understand that this King/queen fish in this case was is only fit for smoking
    Those of us that live in the South of the UK that make a pilgrimage once a year to fish
    would find it hard not to resist to take such a trophy home, the amount of revenue that is spent
    by visiting anglers is enormous plus we cannot take advantage of spates on a weekly basis
    as do those whom possibly live within a few hours drive.
    I wonder could not that this fish have been stripped of her eggs at Knockdollian?????
    so as to give a greater chance of more young Salmon

    • Gordon Hyslop says:

      Hello Brian,

      thanks for taking time to comment. It was not the case this fish was “only fit for smoking” This fish was fit for spawning if only she had the chance.

      We can not strip any fish until they are ready and it will be at least Nov or Dec until they are.

      The amount of money spent on fishing by visiting anglers does not give anyone the right to kill fish such as the one being discussed.

      Many anglers spend enormous sums of money on spring fishing, knowing every fish is to be returned. If we are to try to ensure our children and grandchildren
      are to have the same chance as ourselves to enjoy fishing for salmon, we the current anglers must do all we can to keep salmon returning to our rivers.
      The bottom line is, a dead fish cannot spawn!!!

      • brian says:

        Thank you for your reply and I do agree with your explanation, But the angler in question had said that “quote” he paid for his day and wanted the fish for smoking . and you are right a “dead fish cannot spawn”!!!
        My point was that this fish was killed and was wondering whether the eggs could have been harvested or do they die at the same time i.e. immediately??
        Also my comment was not about the right of visitors to kill fish as
        I said it would be a very hard choice for a visitor not to take his trophy as has been said before [I paid for the day] and would be permitted to take the prize.

  6. Roger Pirrie says:

    Bang on Gordon.

    I’m getting the impression that there is a shed load of educating to be done.


  7. I believe Gordon is correct in his criticism regarding the killing of this magnificent fish. I am sure the person in question knew when he purchased his fishing that it was on a catch and release beat. No matter the size it should have been returned. Rules are rules!

  8. Thom Board says:

    What a shame, and in my view what a disgrace! I find it unbelievable that such a magnificent fish should have been killed. That it was a hen fish tells me more about the fisherman than any part of this sad story.

    I trust we are all too aware the plight of the quarry we spend our time chasing and I hope the checks and balances need not be discussed further here. However, I cannot disagree with the overwhelming majority of comments on this fish; to have killed her was wrong. Well done Gordon for speaking so many people’s minds.

    It was certainly a fish of a lifetime but rather than eating the trophy a couple of photo’s and a trip to would have made a better story…. and a better story for the Stinchar too!

    I’ll be on the Stinchar next week and yes I hope my party catches a few. If we do I’m sure we’ll take one for the table and enjoy it one evening between us. The conversation will be about the biggest fish the Stinchar has given up in 30-40 years and the feeling will be of regret.

  9. R McCallum says:

    No one with an interest in the Stinchar would have any doubts about Gordon Hyslop’s deep and genuine concern for the river. Gordon can correct me if I’m wrong but I suspect that he now regrets using the word “detest” in his original news piece and I’m quite certain that any hint that he detested the angler was wholly unintentional. Taking home the fish of a lifetime is a very understandable desire and considering the large numbers of salmon that are caught and returned nowadays the trends are all moving in the right direction and the killing of that particular fish will have no impact other than to highlight the need for care.

  10. doug steward says:

    I think the word “detest’ is very appropriated. Way to go Gordon! If the fish has already been smoked and eaten, then it cannot be much of a memory. Nothing but “fish mongering” in my opinion!

    • R McCallum says:

      We clearly see the situation differently. I still suspect that Gordon Hyslop meant to say “I deplore…” rather than “I detest..”but only he can answer that. In this context detest is far too strong a word and its use has fuelled something of a storm which we could do without. I feel it is a pity that the angler, who after all broke no rules, has had his name put on the internet. That can have quite terrible consequences and let’s hope the whole thing fades away. Here in Scotland there are people who would ban our sport and who claim that hooking, playing and then releasing salmon is simply torturing fish for fun. Let us not give them any more ammunition.

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