The source of the River Girvan (or Water of Girvan) is Loch Girvan Eye, situated high in the Galloway Hills and only half a mile from the source of the River Stinchar. The River Girvan passes through Lochs Cornish, Skelloch and Bradan, Ayrshire's major water supply reservoir, before making a broad sweep north via Straiton and Kirkmichael and then south-west via Crosshill and Dailly to reach the sea at Girvan Harbour. The landscape in the upper Girvan valley is very attractive with a pleasing mixture of woodland and rough grazing, while in its middle and lower reaches the river becomes more pastoral flowing through productive farming land.
Although it is smaller than the neighbouring Stinchar and Doon it is regarded highly by local and visiting anglers alike. The Girvan is a spate river, with only a small compensatory flow from Loch Bradan, although the River Girvan Fishery Board are able to request freshets throughout the season.
When to fish
As with all the Ayrshire rivers the prime season for salmon is in the summer and autumn, although the first salmon from Ayrshire is often caught in the Girvan where there is a small spring run which enters the river in March. The sea trout fishing collapsed in the 1980s and although they are still caught there is a recommendation for 100% catch and release until stocks recover.
Management of the river
The angling is controlled by a number of clubs as well as private beats and fishing on the river is readily accessible and extremely good value. The fishery is well managed by the River Girvan District Salmon Fishery Board with active involvement from all angling interests on the river. In recent years an increasing proportion of the salmon caught have been released.
In 1979 there was a disastrous pollution incident when a redundant mine shaft near Dailly upwelled and the acidic water entered the river killing all the fish in the lower 16km of river. The effects of this incident can be seen in the catches in the graph below. In recent years the salmon catch has stabilised with 2007 being a particularly good year. The removal of the Irish drift nets in that year may lead to further improvements.
Ayrshire Rivers Trust carry out comprehensive monitoring across the catchment and provide catchment management advice to the fishery board.