The Kirkcudbrightshire Dee is a large river that drains a catchment of over 360 miles from where it rises in the hills that range between Ayrshire and Galloway. It is often called the Dee-Ken system, in recognition of the influence of its major branch, the Ken. Although there is salmon and sea trout fishing available, the river is now best known for its brown trout and coarse fish, possessing Loch Ken within its catchment. The river enters the Solway through the pleasant harbour town of Kirkcudbright.
The river is part of the Galloway Hydro scheme, upon which construction began in 1931 with the scheme being put into service between 1935-36. The hydro scheme has considerably changed the character of some parts of the catchment and There is a number of man made lochs within the system. However, the smaller tributaries of the Dee-Ken system that contribute to the hydro scheme still retain their original character and are filled with fast flowing, broken water and stunning scenery that is of a likeness to a Highland stream. Two of these tributaries, the Black Water of Dee and the Water of Deugh, have produced some large wild brown trout in recent years.
Management of the river
The river is managed by the River Dee (Kirkcudbright) District Salmon Fishery Board (RD(K)SFB) 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, Annan, Urr, Kirkcudbrightshire Dee, Fleet, Cree, Bladnoch and Luce. The Dee has been a core member of the GFT since 2006 but was previously an affiliate member since 1998. There is a salmon hatchery programme run annually on the river. 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. For further information on the Galloway Fisheries Trust, please click here.
The New Galloway Angling Association stretch of the Ken, at Ken Bridge near New Galloway
Fishing on the Kirkcudbrightshire Dee
Historically the Dee had a good reputation as a productive salmon fishery. Commercial fishing in the river took many forms, with doachs, ladle nets, shoulder nets and draught nets all having been used at various times. In the estuary below Kirkcudbright yair nets were fished. When the hydro scheme was sanctioned most of these nets were bought off and there is now no netting on the river. Rod catches have declined markedly over recent years, thought to be due to a variety of factors including the effects of hydro dams and changes in land use within the catchment. As such, salmon fishing is somewhat limited on the Dee-Ken system, with catch and release being strongly encouraged to help conserve the Dee salmon population.
Loch Ken is a visually stunning still water which also makes for some of the best quality coarse fishing in the region, in the most scenic of surroundings. The loch has pike, perch, roach, rudd, bream, carp and ruffe to offer anglers. There have been some spectacular pike catches, both historically and in more recent times - the largest is still the infamous Kenmure Pike, which is reputed to have weighed a staggering 72lb! The loch can be fished from the bank, with easy access in most places, but boat fishing is also popular with boats for hire at the marinas.