Are you reeling in the cheers? Top catches on the River Tweed
The winners of the annual Bemersyde Trophy, which honours the largest salmon landed on a fly on the River Tweed, have been announced.
Jonathan Murray, from Ballymena, is the overall winner, and Aberdeen University law student, Samuel Ackroyd, the junior winner.
Jonathan Murray’s fish weighed 35lb and was caught on a Calvin shrimp cone head in the Black Strand pool at Fairnilee in November.
Jonathan normally fishes on the Kells in County Meath but has fished all over the world, including Cuba, the Seychelles and Russia, where he once landed a 35lb fish.
Samuel Ackroyd caught his salmon on a Red Francis fly in the Boat Pool at Bemersyde Estate in October.
He started fishing trout rivers when he was around seven years old and moved on to salmon in 2013.
A celebration of the winners’ efforts, hosted by Lord and Lady Haig at Bemersyde House, has been postponed until fishing on the Tweed in Scotland is permitted again.
Bemersyde ghillie, Ian Farr said: “Congratulations to Jonathan and Samuel on their award. We look forward to celebrating their achievements when everyone is allowed to move freely around the country again.
“People are very keen to resume fishing in Scotland; after all, it is the ideal hobby for maintaining a two-metre distance from others.
He added: “2019 was a better year than 2018, with nearly 90 fish caught on the Bemersyde Beat, although we should be seeing over 200 fish. The late-running fish didn’t come but there appear to be a few smolts being caught in the trap at Galashiels, so there is hope for the seasons to come.”
Jonathan said: “I’m delighted, privileged and humbled to have been awarded such a prize. I’m a very lucky man; it was the fish of a lifetime. When the fish took, I knew I was into something big. I landed it 30 minutes later on the third attempt. I was about to take a photo when my phone fell in the water!
“Luckily, it landed on the fish, so I was still able to take photos and measure it as best as I could. I try to fish somewhere new every year but I do love fishing on the Tweed, as it’s so peaceful.”
Samuel said: “It was an overcast, average day. We were in the boat pool just before lunch and I went for a few casts on the other side. On the fourth or fifth cast, I had a tug but there was nothing there. On the very next cast, however, the fish took.
“It was a bit of an ugly looking fish – almost prehistoric – very dark and with a prominent kype. I was pleasantly surprised because it didn’t come to the surface until I landed it but I knew when I was playing it that it felt different.
“I’ve never caught anything like it before, as I tend to catch light, clean fish in the spring and summer. It’s good fun.”
Calls for outdoor pursuits to resume – page 8.