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  3. When and where to fish

When to fish


Cree at Newton Stewart.

Spring fishing

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.

Summer fishing

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 Gallowayís 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.

Autumn fishing

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.


Where to fish


Almost the entire river Luce is used exclusively by syndicate groups who let the fishing from Stair Estates and hence some parts of the system are not generally available to visiting anglers. However, there are three beats on the lower river that are available to rent from Stair Estates (see Beat Descriptions or Prices/Availability). This water is easily accessible and is excellent fly water. Day tickets are also available on the Cross Water from Stranraer and District Salmon Angling Association

Piltanton Burn access to fishing on the Piltanton Burn is through the Dunragit Angling Club (DAC). The club mainly fish off the tide in the lower part of the burn. The DAC is happy to provide local knowledge to visiting anglers.

River Fleet

The River Bladnoch can be thought of as three sections in terms of salmon angling. The lower river encompasses the beats between Kirwaugh (see Beat Descriptions) and Torhousekie, the middle river takes in Mochrum Park (see Beat Descriptions) to the Junction (including Clugston Estate fishing, see Beat Descriptions) and the upper river includes fishing around Barhoise Dam and the Tarf Water.

In low water conditions, fishing tends to be focused on the lower beats particularly when fish are hovering on the head of the tide, which extends to Kirwaugh. Due to the River Bladnoch's gentle gradient, there are good holding pools distributed throughout and the days following a spate can reveal salmon and grilse throughout the system.

Beats are well managed, with maintained banksides and there is generally little need to wade. Middle river beats fish well throughout the year, with springers, summer salmon and grilse regularly taken. As the year progresses, upper beats tend to become more consistently productive although even these beats can hold spring salmon from April onwards.

The Cree and Minnoch waters can be thought of as three sections in terms of salmon and grilse angling. The lower river takes in the tidal sections and Palnure Burn to the Ghyll Pool. The middle river extends from the Suspension Bridge to the Junction Pool where the river splits into the Water of Minnoch and High Cree. The Water of Minnoch alone is generally considered to be the upper river in terms of salmon angling, with the High Cree tending to be more popular for brown trout.

Salmon and grilse generally have free reign of the Cree system after July. As with all spate systems, a good fall of rain will be required to get fish truly moving throughout the system. There are, however, also a number of good holding pools in the Cree and low water does not necessarily mean that angling activity will cease! During dry spells, fishing tends to be concentrated on the lower river and especially the tidal pools. Spring tides can provide means for fish to move from the tidal sections into the water through Newton Stewart, which can make for productive angling in this area. In higher water conditions, fish will be found throughout the system.

Fishing on the Water of Fleet


The river is well known for its sea trout although salmon can also be caught when water conditions are right. The sea trout can be large in size, with fish over 10lb in weight having been caught in September. As the river is a spate river, it fishes best for salmon after a good fall of rain although sea trout fishing can be productive even on a smallish rise.

Salmon tend to enter the river quite late in comparison to the other Galloway rivers and may be large in size, with individuals of 18lb having been taken. It is not unusual for anglers fishing during the back end to catch several salmon in one day. Brown trout are present in many of the spawning burns, with larger trout available on the main stem of the river. Access is generally easy, with well maintained styles and obvious car parking facilities.

For salmon and sea trout fishing, it is mainly the lower river Dee below Glenlochar that is most productive. There have been a few reports of salmon having been caught in Loch Ken by anglers fishing for pike but this is not thought to be a usual scenario!

River Urr.

The angling on the Urr is controlled by two angling associations - Castle Douglas Angling Association (CDAA) and Dalbeattie Angling Association (DAA). The 5 mile CDAA stretch of the Urr tends to be most promising following some rain, which allows fish to access the middle part of the river. There is a number of named pools each with its own character and it is this variety that makes fishing this area particularly enjoyable.

The DAA stretch encompasses the lower part of the river, with the lower Craignair beat being tidal at its bottom end. There are nine named pools on this section. On a higher tide, this beat can fish well as the fish move up with the tide. The DAA also has Firthead slightly further upstream. A pleasant mixture of pools, glides and runs, it provides ideal fly water. Access to this beat is very easy, with a farm access road running its length.

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