The salmon fishing season starts on 1st March. The season ends on 14th October with the exception of beats on the Water of Minnoch where the season closes on 30th September to protect the spawning salmon population. After 30th September on the main river anglers are strongly encouraged to donate any hens caught to the GFT as part of their broodstock programme. The season for brown trout is from 15th March to 6th October inclusive. As elsewhere in Scotland, there is no Sunday fishing for salmon or sea trout and there is currently no close season for coarse fish.
Spring salmon are taken each year from the start of the season and are usually between 8-10lbs. Catches tend to be concentrated in the lower to mid Cree at the start of the season and the first springer is nearly always taken from the beats in or around Newton Stewart. From the middle of April the Minnoch comes into its own. There is a waterfall (or 'linn') upstream of Stroan Bridge which is thought to limit springers' movement further into the system until suitable water temperatures are available and consequently fishing for spring fish can be particularly good in the vicinity of this area. To assist in the maintenance of the Cree springer population, catch and release is strongly encouraged by the CDSFB throughout the system. Furthermore, to encourage anglers fishing for spring salmon to return them, the Galloway Fisheries Trust (in association with the CDSFB and Uniq Prepared Foods) will provide a side of smoked salmon to every angler who returns a salmon before the 1st of June and provides a scale sample. For further details of this scheme, please visit www.gallowayfisheriestrust.org.
The Cree has a good run of summer salmon which can be caught from May to June. Many are between 10-12lbs with a few exceptional fish having been recorded at 20lbs+. The grilse run usually begins in earnest in mid-June although catches tend to be initially dependent upon water levels on the middle and upper beats. With a few spates, the fish become more evenly distributed through the system. Sea trout are present from June and can be large in size, with some individuals of over 10lb in weight having been caught. The Palnure Burn and Penkiln Burn can be very productive for an evening's sea trout fishing.
Cree springer caught in the lower river.
The higher seasonal water levels usually experienced towards the end of the season can make for exceptional fishing as the river fills with grilse. On the upper beats most of the fish tend to be coloured but there is still a good chance of a fresh fish on the lower beats right to the end of the season. The season ends on the upper beats at the end of September but fishing on the lower beats remains open until the 14th of October.