About the rivers
About The Luce
The River Luce is the region's most westerly river system. The picturesque river, with its sweeping, clearly defined pools lined with broadleaved trees, is regarded as being pristine in terms of its salmon and sea trout fishing. Similarly to the other rivers in Galloway, the Luce is a spate river that fishes best during and after a good fall of rain. The Luce is fed from two Waters which originate in the Ayrshire moors - the Main Water of Luce and the Cross Water of Luce. The two waters meet at the village of New Luce, 6 miles north of the sea. From here, the river gently flows through farmland and broadleaved woodland before entering the sea at Luce Bay.
About the Bladnoch & Tarf Waters
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.
About the Cree & Water of Minnoch
The Cree rises high in the South Ayrshire hills at Loch Moan and meanders down through moorlands and forests before entering the sea near Newton Stewart. The river was immortalised in Robert Burn's late eighteenth century poem 'The Flowery Banks of Cree'. Its catchment extends over 198 square miles, draining the Carrick and Glentrool forests as well as those at Kirroughtree and Cairnsmore of Fleet. The river's appearance changes dramatically over its length, from the stately splendour of the Water of Minnoch to the tidal pools of the lower Cree. The river is a spate river with a reputation for rising rapidly and a good fall of rain in the evening can mean that the water is in perfect condition by the next morning. The Cree fishes best on a falling water.
Historically, the Cree supported an extensive net and coble fishery in the estuary and good catches were made on an annual basis. The fishery was most productive in the summer months. Stake nets have also been in operation on the estuary for many years.
The main settlement in the Cree catchment is the small town of Newton Stewart, with adjacent hamlet Minnigaff, that the Cree flows through for around 1.5 miles of its length. The only other areas of habitation are the hamlet of Bargrennan and the village of Glentrool. The main land use is forestry although agriculture becomes important further downstream. Sheep farming is common in the middle part of the catchment but is replaced by dairy farming downstream of the tidal limit. The wildlife around the Cree is impressive with red squirrels and deer inhabiting the broadleaved woodland areas. Characteristic features of spring fishing on the Cree are the sight and scent of bluebells which are present throughout much of the lower river catchment.
The Cree is well regarded for its aquatic life being home to some of Scotland's more unusual fish species. The most famous of these is the mysterious sparling (or smelt) that enters the Cree during the hours of darkness to spawn during the spring time. Sparling used to be present throughout the Solway region and other parts of Scotland but are now confined only to the Cree, Forth and Tay estuaries. Their appearance in the Cree is heralded by the sight of thousands of tiny round eggs on the rocks and plants within the river. These fish are particularly strange as they smell strongly of cucumber! The sparling population used to support a commercial fishery but recent low numbers have made this activity unsustainable. The lower river has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest for sparling (as well as Allis and Twaite shad) and commercial fishing is no longer undertaken.
About the Water of Fleet
The Water of Fleet is one of the smaller Solway rivers, which runs through the town of Gatehouse of Fleet nestling between the Galloway Hills. The river quietly flows through a charming pastoral landscape and is lined with oakwoods, which cast a dappled light on the water on sunlit days. The Water of Fleet has two tributaries - the Big Water of Fleet and the Little (or Wee) Water of Fleet. The Big Water drains the eastern slope of Cairnsmore of Fleet whilst the Little Water is fed by Loch Fleet. The Big and Little Water join at Aikyhill meandering through the countryside to become simply the Water of Fleet.
The Fleet Valley has National Scenic Area status in recognition of its natural beauty and it is surely one of the most pleasant systems in which to fish in Dumfries and Galloway. During the springtime, the woods are filled with bluebells and in the summer it is not uncommon to see red squirrels scampering through the ancient woodlands next to the river. The autumn is packed with colour as the leaves turn on the trees, painting a fitting backdrop to the picture made by the river's silvery path.
Stake nets have always been present in the bay and are currently fished by Cardoness Estate on a recreational basis rather than as a commercial interest. Further out in the bay you will see the uninhabited islands known as Murray's Isles, named after the entrepreneur James Murray who founded Gatehouse of Fleet.
About the Kirkcudbrightshire Dee
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.
About The Urr
The Urr is a delightful river lined with mature broadleaved trees that is situated between the Kirkcudbrightshire Dee and the River Nith which enters the Solway near Kippford. The river rises a short distance below Loch Urr and like the other Galloway rivers is dependent upon a good fall of rain to provide the best fishing conditions.
The idyllic scenery that surrounds the river provides a pleasant prelude to the East Stewartry National Scenic Area (NSA) which encompasses the mouth of the Urr. The Colvend Coast is part of the NSA and boasts a magnificent coastline with spectacular cliffs which are home to a variety of sea birds. The beauty of the area did not go unnoticed by the Victorians, who were such regular visitors that it was known as the 'Scottish Riviera' for a time! Nowadays, it is still a very popular holiday destination and there are many places to stay whether you are interested in camping, caravanning, self catering or staying in a hotel.