The You Tube videos of combat fishing in Alaska are extreme but this morning with the Glenmuir in great order, I couldn’t help but draw comparisons between this great wee river and these North American waters.

As we headed towards Dalblair, there were cars and anglers everywhere. By all accounts, yesterday was the same although we only heard reports of a lack of fish. Cumnock Angling Club this year secured a lease on the upper Glenmuir Water  downstream of Dalblair bridge. Before the lease was agreed, the factor asked me if I had any concerns about this and I did indicate that strict catch limits in line with the Ayr DSFB’s recommendation of a maximum of 3 salmon per angler per beat per season was appropriate to protect and conserve our dwindling stocks. Thankfully, upstream of Dalblair Bridge is sanctuary and no fishing is allowed. I met three anglers setting up their rods and I enquired what their tickets stipulated by way of catch limits but the responses were vague and uncertain with the general conclusion being that it must be 2 fish per day as on the rest of the Club’s water. I will need to ask the factor what was finally agreed with the club.

Combat Fishing not red nose day! As I've been informed that an angler in the picture was unhappy about being photographed and felt I had violated his rights, I've conceded to hide all identities. The photo illustrates a point and I'm afraid it does this well so I don't intend to remove it completely.

Combat Fishing not red nose day! As I’ve been informed that an angler in the picture was unhappy about being photographed and felt I had violated his rights,  I was asked to remove the image however I’ve decided to hide angler’s identities as the photo illustrates a point well and I’m sure no one could complain now!

I don’t blame the anglers for this uncertainty as the tickets don’t actually have a fish limit detailed on them but instead a leaflet is issued with the ticket that by all accounts, no one reads.

All the anglers I spoke to were concerned that the number of salmon in the Glenmuir these days is a fraction of yesteryear. They all agreed that catch and release is appropriate to help protect the fish that are left but they also informed me of a stretch where the owner insists that all fish caught are to be returned. Worryingly they told me that that stretch is rarely fished any more despite it being good water with easy access. It just doesn’t add up.

It is down to all anglers to play their part and every beat, syndicate and club has a part to play. During October, it is essential that hen fish are handled carefully and returned alive wherever possible. Simply retuning hen fish will ensure that we have future stocks to enjoy fishing for. I am encouraged to hear that once again,  Darvel Angling Club has closed their stretch of the River Irvine at the start of October to conserve stocks. This is a very sensible approach and pays dividends for fish numbers.



Following the publication of this article, there has been general support for the content and concern about the level of angling pressure that takes place on our spawning grounds. Today however, I received a call asking me to remove the image as one of the anglers pictured had objected as he felt it violated his privacy. I disputed this and pointed out that the article was justified and the photo illustrated the point well but I was informed that the person was threatening legal action if I didn’t remove it. Hmmm, I don’t need that kind of hassle despite my certainty that I’ve not violated any privacy laws so in the spirit of good relations,  I have decided not to remove it but to remove all identifying features from the anglers pictured instead. Hopefully all parties will now be satisfied.

On another point raised within the article, I hear that there have been over 30 salmon caught in a single day on the upper reaches of the Glenmuir. One angler has by all accounts landed 5 to his own rod in a single day but well done to him, they were all released. Seems like there have been plenty of fish encountered in the last few weeks. Tomorrow is the last day of the season so hopefully after that, the fish will be safe to get on with their most important task…spawning.

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8 Responses to The Glenmuir Water

  1. Peter Pollock says:

    Hi Stuart, one comment two words Deeply concerning

    • Stuart Brabbs says:

      I agree Peter. These are spawning grounds and personally I don’t think anyone should be fishing them but not everyone agrees. It is down to anglers to preserve the remaining stocks on the river and act responsibly but not just in this area. I’ve recently heard of a very coloured 14lb fish being weighed in for a competition downstream. This sort of thing should be outlawed by the clubs. It’s time for a change in attitudes or there will be nothing left to fish for in a few years time.

  2. George McPike says:

    I agree with everything you have said in your article, but I feel the need to correct your statement about the 14lb fish.
    If it is the same 14lb cock salmon which I witnessed then I would describe its condition as a typical September fish. It was certainly not a bar of silver, but no experienced angler would have described it as very coloured. There is an image of a maturing cock salmon on a widely available fisherman’s guide to salmon recognition. The salmon in question was significantly brighter than this. Incidentally, I returned a small cock fish that same day which was indeed coloured. This story appears to have grown legs and been spread maliciously in my opinion.
    The issue of competition fishing for salmon is another matter, which I would agree that clubs have to look at. As you know traditions die hard and these competitions have been running since the clubs have been formed many years ago. I think attitudes are changing, however, and hopefully reasoned debate within clubs will bring about a change along with sensible bag limits to protect our salmon stocks.

  3. Peter Pollock says:

    The fact of the matter is there are too many fish mongers ie so called fishermen that kill every fish. Sadly the majority of whom , are stuck in time. The only way to protect the migratory fish on the river Ayr is for THE AYR SALMON FISHERIES BOARD to apply to the Scottish Executive to get permission to enforce limited catches, and also on the spot fines for anglers ,and fines ror clubs and syndicates breaching the rules, otherwise like Stuart states in a few years time there will be very few fish to even fish for.

  4. robert brown says:

    it will never be easy to get anglers to change their ways but the way things are going it will be the poor fish who have the final say by simply not being there

  5. Elsie Menzies says:

    Some years ago Cumnock Fishing Club closed the Shaw and The Guelt ( some 7 miles of water ) to fishing and declared them spawning grounds. How much more do you want our club to do. We were also the first club on the network to introduce a migratory fish limit more than 15 year ago. We have photo membership cards, and as for rule sheets, these are issued to every member at the start of the fishing season. If they cant be bothered to read them, then that is their problem. As members manage to submit fish returns then it is obvious that they have read the rules. Our catch and release rate was 66%, significally higher than most other parts of the river

    • Stuart Brabbs says:

      Elsie, whilst your comments are valid, so too are concerns that angling pressure in this area of the river may have an impact on fish stocks. I was approached by the factor last year in advance of the lease being granted for my opinion. Whilst I wasn’t keen on the idea of reopening spawning grounds to angling, the Estate was keen to have a revenue and I suggested that if they indeed leased the water to Cumnock Club again, that they should impose a catch limit as recommended across the river by the DSFB of 3 fish per angler per season. I did discuss this with Bill expressing my concerns last year.
      As I stated in my report, I was rather surprised that the club members I spoke to understood the catch limit to be 2 per day hence I’ve requested clarification from the factor on the terms of the lease. I support the conservation measures that your club has put in place over the years and will continue to do so. I am rather concerned that some off your members by their own admission don’t bother to read the rules. It may be worth printing the rules on the permit too.
      Whilst I sense that you feel we are being over critical, we are not. The Trust operates to conserve and enhance fish stocks for this and future generations. Current stock levels in the Ayr catchment are poor and consequently conservation measures to protect stocks are important/essential. What we say for Cumnock Club is the same as we say to all clubs; Anglers should restrict their annual catch to a maximum of 3 salmon per season and all sea trout should be returned in line with the DSFB recommendations. Whether Cumnock or other clubs follow these recommendations is entirely up to themselves (unless their lease is different) but we will continue to seek such limits until stocks improve. The annual catch statistics for the Ayr are poor and catch and release is the second lowest reported through the ASFB on any Scottish river at around 20%. Your club is clearly performing much better with a 66% C&R rate, than most others on the river and that is to be supported.

  6. ian radburn says:

    just a comment on the upper reaches of the glenmuir ie dalblair these are spawning beds every dam on the river ayr and lugar is closed nets have been withdrawn but you can fish spawning beds (crazy )
    my opinion is that from the red bridge upwards should be closed after september it would give the fish a chance to spawn and be left in peace it is about time the salmon fishery board get there act together