The headwaters of the River Stinchar are in the same Galloway Hills where the Doon, Girvan and Cree rise. The main stem of the Stinchar is 54km long and much of it is accessible to migratory fish. There is very little industry or human population within the Stinchar catchment and intensive agriculture is limited. As a result water quality throughout the main river is very good. The main land use is forestry and much of the upper catchment is covered with commercial conifer plantations.
The river valley itself is relatively unspoilt and is one of the most picturesque in the south of Scotland with a succession of fine views. The Stinchar is well known for its spate like nature as the hills surrounding the river are steep. In the past the mouth of the river tended to shift position on a regular basis, although it is much more stable nowadays. The Salmon Fishery Inspector noted this phenomenon in 1887 with the comment that "the Stinchar was remarkable for its shifting mouth". The same report also noted that the Stinchar was also famed for "yielding larger salmon than any river of its size in Scotland".
In recent seasons the salmon fishing on the Stinchar has undergone a revival with excellent fishing. The stock of salmon in the river in 2007 was particularly impressive with long term tenants commenting that the fishing was the best they had experienced. The effect of the removal of the Irish drift nets from 2007 may be a contributory factor, the benefits of which should be cumulative in future years. In its heyday the salmon fishing on the Stinchar was regarded as "dead man's shoes" but this is no longer the case with a number of beats offering day tickets.
Many beats on the Stinchar are fly only, indeed the river is regarded as a fly fishers paradise with a succession of magnificent pools when the river is at a good fishing height, whilst a variety of methods are permitted on other beats.