The Bladnoch is a pleasant river set in rural surroundings in the Machars
of Galloway. The river rises out of Loch Maberry and gently weaves its way
over moors, forestry and farmland before entering the Solway at Wigtown Bay.
With a catchment area of 132 square miles, the river is a true spate river
whose character changes dependent upon its water level, offering affordable
salmon fishing during and after a good fall of rain.
In the past, a net and coble fishery for salmon was operated in the Barhoise
area in the upper river and also at Linquhar towards the river mouth. These
fisheries are no longer used but the fact that they existed emphasises the
importance of salmon in the Bladnoch's history.
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 river's vicinity.
The Tarff 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 (or
Waterfall) 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 its is still the largest in Britain.
Management of the river
The river is managed by the Bladnoch District Salmon Fishery Board (BDSFB)
with scientific advice provided by the Galloway Fisheries Trust (GFT). The
GFT works on the Solway rivers situated on the Scottish side of the
Firth - the Border Esk, Annan, Urr, Kirkcudbrightshire Dee, Fleet,
Cree, Bladnoch and Luce. The Bladnoch was one of the four founding rivers of
the GFT and has been a member since 1989. The GFT's aim is to restore and
maintain aquatic biodiversity in Galloway by means of practical, responsible
and sustainable approaches to land, water and fishery management, based on
sound science, for the benefit of the community as a whole. There is an ongoing salmon hatchery and habitat enhancement programme. For further information on the Galloway Fisheries Trust, please click here.
In recognition of the Bladnoch's salmon population, and particularly its
spring component, the river was designated as a Special Area of Conservation
in 2005 by the European Union.
Fishing Clugston below the Meetings, where the Bladnoch and Tarff join
Fishing on the Bladnoch & Tarf
The Bladnoch and Tarff hold both game and coarse fish but the rivers are best known for
their spring salmon. The Bladnoch is one of only a few west coast rivers that
retains its spring run. Spring salmon can be caught from the start of the
season but catches tend to pick up from March onwards. Summer salmon of up
to 10lb are taken each year but the main fishing takes place during the
grilse run which begins around June and continues to the end of the season.
The river is renowned for its brown trout throughout the south west and
impressive wild brownies of up to 5lb (including an 8lb fish in 2006) can be taken in the mid river beats,
although there are also larger trout (6lb+) taken in fish traps for
broodstock each year. Sea trout are only occasionally caught. Coarse fish
that are present in the river include pike, perch and roach. Angling
pressure on these species has traditionally been low but sizeable
individuals can be caught quite readily in some parts of the river system.
Double figure pike are regularly taken on the main Bladnoch, especially in
the areas around Dalreagle and Torhousekie.