The Bladnoch is a delightful river set in the rural surroundings of the Machars of Galloway. With a catchment of 132 square miles, the river rises out of Loch Maberry and gently weaves its way through moors, forestry and farmland before entering the Solway at Wigtown Bay. This river is a true spate river, whose character changes with varying water levels, offering affordable salmon fishing during and after a good fall of rain.
In the past, a net and cobble fishery for salmon was operated from Linquhar towards the river mouth. This fishery no longer operates but the fact that it existed emphasises the importance of salmon in the Bladnoch's history. In recognition of the Bladnoch's salmon population, and particularly its spring component, the river Bladnoch was designated as a Special Area of Conservation in 2005 by the European Union.
The landscape around the Bladnoch is visually very attractive with little development having taken place. There are only three settlements along the length of the Bladnoch - Bladnoch village, Wigtown and Kirkcowan. The unspoiled natural environment is host to a wide variety of wildlife with otters, deer and even ospreys being sighted in the rivers vicinity.
The Tarf Water is a major tributary which joins the Bladnoch near Kirkcowan, and offers some beautiful and productive fishing. It supports a healthy population of salmon which can provide good sport for a number of beats.
The Bladnoch itself offers some spectacular sights from the power of the Linn of Barhoise during a spate to the beauty of springtime in Cotland Wood. The abundance of pink-footed geese, greylag geese, ducks and wading birds led to Wigtown Bay being declared a Local Nature Reserve in 1996, of which it is still the largest in Britain.
The Bladnoch and Tarf Water is managed by the Bladnoch District Salmon Fishery Board (BDSFB) with scientific advice provided by the Galloway Fisheries Trust (GFT). The GFT works on the Solway Rivers situated on the Scottish side of the Firth- the Border Esk, Urr, Kirkcudbrightshire Dee, Fleet, Cree, Bladnoch and Luce. The Bladnoch is one of the four founding rivers of the GFT and has been a member since 1989. The GFT's aim is to restore and maintain aquatic biodiversity in Galloway by means of practical, responsible and sustainable approaches to land, water and fishery management, based on sound science, for the benefit of the community as a whole. There is an ongoing salmon hatchery and habitat enhancement programme. For further information on the Galloway Fisheries Trust, please click here.
The Bladnoch and Tarf Water hold both game and coarse fish populations. The Bladnoch is one of only a few west coast rivers that retains its spring run salmon. Spring salmon can be caught from the start of the season but catches tend to pick up from April onwards. Summer salmon over 10lb are taken each year but the main fishing takes place during the grilse run which begins around June and continues until the end of the season.
The river is renowned for its brown trout and impressive wild brownies can be taken in the mid river beats. Sea trout are only occasionally caught. Coarse fish that are present in the river include pike, perch and roach. Angling pressure on these species has traditionally been low but sizeable individuals can be caught quite readily in some parts of the river system. Large pike are regularly taken on the main Bladnoch, especially in the areas around Dalreagle and Torhousekie.