When to fish
Cree at Newton Stewart.
In the early time of the year, only a few fish enter the River Luce.
On the Bladnoch and Tarff Waters spring salmon are taken each year from the start of the season on the lower to mid beats and are truly stunning looking fish! The exhilaration that comes from landing one of these amazing fish has to be experienced to be believed. Most springers are caught on spinners, although fly fishing is also popular. Springers tend to be in the region of 6-8lbs (all salmon across Scotland must be released up to the 1st April).
On the Cree & Minnoch 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.
There is no spring salmon run on the Fleet, but sea trout and the occasional grilse are caught in May and June.
There is no real spring run on the Dee and, although some fish are counted before May on the river's fish counter, it tends to be towards the end of May into early June before salmon angling begins in earnest.
Although the Urr cannot be said to have a consistent or established spring run of fish, given favourable conditions, there is always a chance of a fish (both salmon and sea trout) in the early part of the season, particularly on the lower beats.
The Luce holds salmon, sea trout and trout. The sea trout population is healthy with fish entering the river towards the end of May/ beginning of June. However, the main sea trout run occurs in July, with fish usually ranging from 1lb to 8lb. The largest sea trout to have been caught from the Luce was a massive 18lb 4oz in 1998! For salmon, the main run enters the river later than the rest of GallowayÃs rivers. Grilse can be expected from July onwards given suitable water conditions although they are more plentiful from the end of August onwards. Salmon usually range from 8-10lbs, although 20lb salmon have been caught in the past and a 30lb cock salmon was caught in 2016.
The Bladnoch has a good run of summer salmon which typically reach up to 15lb and are caught from May onwards. Hard fighting and deep bodied, these fish have their own unique charm. Grilse are present from June onwards but plentiful during July and August, given suitable water conditions. It is in the summer that the Tarf Water comes into its own as the grilse start to move further into the system and fishing the Tarf a few days after a spate can be very successful. Bars of silver tend to be the norm until September when coloured fish start to creep in to the catches.
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.
In July, The Fleet salmon and grilse are still less apparent in the catches whereas sea trout and herling (the local name for finnock) become more regularly caught. Night fishing is customary except when the river is in flood as it can rise rapidly.
The main run of fish available to anglers on the Dee is in most years confined to July and there can be some large summer salmon of 10lb around this time.
Due to the water height regulation by the Galloway hydro scheme, the river isn't a hostage to spate conditions as the other Galloway rivers are. This means that salmon have the opportunity to be attracted in from the estuary by hydro generation activity and may run when other rivers are experiencing low water.
On the Urr, depending on water conditions, the summer runs of grilse and salmon may be encountered from May onwards, initially in small numbers, but in a wet year each tide is likely to bring fresh fish into the river. Late summer into autumn sees the main runs of fish appearing, often in surprising numbers for a small river.
This is the most productive time for the entire river Luce. Large numbers of salmon and grilse enter the river and fresh fish are caught even in the last week of the season.
On the Bladnoch and Tarff Waters towards the back end as grilse start to accumulate in the river, fishing enters a different gear. This is the most productive time for many of the beats on the river, with few anglers leaving the bank disappointed. Fresh run fish are still possible, with many being in the 7-8lb range, but coloured fish do become more common in the catches at this time of year. The salmon season ends on the 31st of October.
The higher seasonal water levels on the Cree & Minnoch 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.
On the Fleet From August until the end of the season, salmon and grilse join sea trout and herling in becoming more common in the catches.
The back end on the Dee can be productive for both salmon and grilse, with some fish entering fresh run into the last week of the season.
Late autumn on the, particularly November, when the River Urr is one of only four Scottish rivers still open, can produce some very heavy fish (several in excess of 25lbs in 2006) with the prized quarry being one of the fabled "Greybacks", which run into the Solway into November (and beyond!).
River Luce at Stair.