Now that’s a big fish!

Bemersyde 35-40lb Salmon. Ghillie Ian Farr with last week's huge cock salmon.
Bemersyde 35-40lb Salmon. Ghillie Ian Farr with last week's huge cock salmon.

SIR Walter Scott would have been impressed after the biggest salmon seen on the Tweed in recent years came from water below his favourite Borders viewpoint.

Ghillie Ian Farr helped land a cock weighing up to 50lbs, the largest salmon of his professional life, from a pool below the heights of Scott’s View last Wednesday morning.

Angler Jim Reid from Edinburgh, who hooked the fish, said: “This was by far the biggest salmon I have ever caught. It was an amazing experience and I can’t thank Ian enough for his skill, encouragement and moral support. There was no way I was going to land that fish if he hadn’t been there!”

The pair were fishing the Top Corbie, a pool below and to the left of Scott’s View, before the start of fast water on the Bemersyde beat of the Tweed, when something gave a pull.

Mr Reid said: “It took us some time to realise how big the fish was as even smaller fish can put up a good account of themselves in the streamy water.

“After a while, it decided to head back towards Berwick, and tore off 150 yards down the river into another pool known as The Dish. Ian had to quickly steer the boat down the river to catch up with it.

“At this point, an enormous tail appeared out of the water and expletives were expressed as we realised what we had a hold of!”

The fish made a second dash of about 90 yards down the river to another pool, The Copper Beech, where Mr Reid, who has been fishing Bemersyde since 2008, was finally able to steer it into Mr Farr’s net. The battle had taken 40 minutes.

The cock fish measured 50 inches long with a 25in girth and Mr Farr, a Bemersyde ghillie for a quarter of a century, initially estimated he might weigh about 37lbs. But looking at charts online and other guidelines, Mr Farr now believes it may have been nearer 47lbs.

He said: “It was a huge fish – I have never seen one that big in my life and I’ve been here 25 years.”

He described the big fish’s fin when he and Mr Reid first saw it, as being like: “a shovel coming out of the water”.

“Where it was is difficult to fish and land. We were very lucky to get it in but it didn’t do anything horrendously naughty and we managed to keep it on a tight line. That 40 minutes went past in the blink of an eye.

“You get carried away with a bit of emotion and the adrenalin was pumping: it was like winning the lottery.

“It was so big my guest (after his battle) couldn’t pick it up. I made sure I did to give the comparison between me and the fish. It wasn’t a particularly pretty fish but it was a once in a lifetime fish.”

Mr Reid was using a one-and-a-half -inch Gold Bodied Willie Gunn tube fly, which Mr Farr says is probably the most used fly on the beat. The last recorded big salmon from the beat was 25 years ago, and was a 39.5lbs trophy fish.

Catches this year have been between the five and 11lbs mark, with the odd 15 pounder, said Mr Farr and, as with many outdoors activities, the summer’s rain has also affected fishing.

Asked what the allure of fishing is, Mr Farr said: “You know what it feels like to walk in the countryside –peaceful, relaxed, enjoyable? It’s that and knowing something could pull on the end of the line. My job is trying to get my guests to catch a fish. I get as excited as they do when they do. It’s really good fun.”

The fisherman and ghillie returned the big cock fish to the river after they had taken photographs.

Mr Farr added: “It’s nearly a week ago and I’m still on a high. My guest and I are still texting saying ‘did we really get that in?!”

“I might never see that again in my career but I could catch one tomorrow – that’s salmon fishing for you, you never know what’s going to pull on the end of the line.”