The Chairman of the Tay Foundation, owners of the Savills Malloch Trophy – for the largest salmon caught on the fly and safely returned during the year in Scottish waters – is delighted to announce that this year’s winner is Huston McCollough for a fine 36 lb salmon landed from the River Spey in May.
Mr McCollough commented on being told of the decision of the Savills Malloch Trophy Committee on December 15th: “I am delighted to have won the Savills Malloch Trophy. The winning fish is a testament to the great work performed by the many charitable organisations devoted to restoring our salmon stocks, as well as to the management of the River Spey itself. In addition, the Mountain family, owners of the Delfur beat, and their team of highly professional ghillies deserve great credit for their stewardship of the river. I must also cite Grant Morrison, my ghillie at Delfur, without whose help and advice this notable catch would not have been possible”.
The magnificent spring salmon was caught on 15th May 2010 at the Delfur beat of the River Spey before being carefully released back into the river. To be eligible for the trophy a fish must be caught on a fly in a sportsmanlike manner and be returned unharmed in accordance with best catch and release practice.
At the Savills Malloch Trophy Committee meeting on December 15th half a dozen possible contenders, the great majority in excess of 30 lb, landed by both male and female anglers in a wide range of rivers between the north Highlands and Ayrshire, were considered. Mr McCollough’s entry, which fulfilled the relevant criteria including best evidence and careful handling, was after lengthy consideration endorsed as the winner for 2010. His name will be engraved on the Tay Foundation’s trophy, joining an illustrious list of previous winners which stretches back four decades.
Mr McCollough will also receive a special silver sculpture of a salmon, commissioned by Savills from the highly acclaimed artist Patrick Mavros and a £250 voucher (kindly donated by The House of Bruar where the trophy is on display). In addition he will be invited as a guest to a special River Tay event later in 2011 where he will receive the trophy. Grant Morrison, ghillie at Delfur, will receive a fine decanter with a leaping salmon stopper and a bottle of the Dalmore Tay Dram whisky.
Savills Director Roddy Willis said: “As sponsors of the Savills Malloch trophy it is gratifying to see catch and release initiatives beginning to play a part in stalling the declining salmon stocks. No doubt there are other contributory factors, but most would agree that allowing a fish to spawn naturally is the most practical and economical means of reviving numbers. We have had some great contenders this year, but Huston McCollough is a very worthy winner”.
Robert Rattray of CKD Galbraith and Secretary of the Savills Malloch Trophy for the Tay Foundation added: “We are delighted with this year’s response and the number of noteworthy fish put forward as contenders. Given the obvious difficulties in estimating the weight of a salmon that has been released back into the water, unless of course a weigh-net is to hand, we intend to tighten up the criteria for the Trophy for the 2011 season”.
The encouraging number of large salmon entered for this year’s Savills Malloch Trophy is consistent with the much improved summer and autumn runs in the rivers of the north and east coasts. In some areas, including the north Highlands and the Borders, there have been record rod catches. On the basis of the figures available thus far, Scotland’s total rod catch of salmon and grilse for 2010 is believed to be close to 100,000. There is little doubt that marine survival of north and east coast salmon (except for the early-running fish) has seen a marked and welcome improvement.