The 2016 winner of the FishPal Malloch Trophy – for one of the largest salmon caught by an angler on a fly and safely returned during the year in Scottish waters – has been announced. The successful angler is John MacIsaac, a gillie from the River Lochy in Lochaber, who caught the fish of a lifetime in the River Spean (the Lochy tributary) on 29 September. The salmon was estimated as weighing between 38 lb and 41 lb; it was just under 47 inches long.
The River Lochy, known as the Queen of Scottish salmon rivers, has a longstanding reputation for big fish. John hooked and lost a similar sized fish several years ago in the main river.
John MacIsaac said: “I was on the point of going home at the end of the day when I decided to try a cast on the Spean as I had not fished there this year. My first cast splashed into the tail of the Long pool. The heavy fly I was using brought the fish to the surface where he hit the fly, turned and rolled. Now attached, the fish took a couple of runs during which I had the chance to see its belly – I then knew at once that it was very big fish. However it was only when it came closer to me that I realised I was going to need some help. Fortunately the fish then dived and stayed deep, hardly moving, until assistance came.”
Mr MacIsaac continued: “When Joe, my fellow gillie, arrived 25 minutes later with his net, I told him immediately ‘we going to need a bigger net’! The salmon’s length and depth dwarfed the net. It was a very deep fish, with an adipose fin the size of an apple. I was even unable to get my hand around the tail.”
John was using a Mackenzie DTX rod, Rio AFS line, 25 lb breaking strain nylon and a one inch copper Red Francis tube fly. The fish was returned quickly and safely back into the River Spean. To be eligible for the trophy a salmon must be caught on a fly in a sportsmanlike manner and be released back into the water. Video footage of Johns fish.
At the FishPal Malloch Trophy Committee meeting on 14 December several contenders were considered from a shortlist of five (including three from women anglers, each of whom entered a salmon of over 30 lb). Mr MacIsaac’s entry, which fulfilled the relevant criteria including best evidence, was endorsed as the winner for 2016. His name will be engraved on the Tay Foundation’s trophy, joining an illustrious list of previous winners which stretches back four decades. He will also receive a replica Malloch Trophy, a Mackenzie DTX rod, a £250 FishPal voucher and a box of salmon flies from Caledonia Fly Company.
The five joint 2016 winners,of the prestigious Junior FishPal Malloch Competition, for salmon caught and safely released, are:
Finlay Thomson (age 18) – Finlay sent in six entries for fish caught in the River Nith and the River Fhorsa (Lewis), Hebrides.
Blaine Lyon (age 14) – one of a brace of salmon at Ness Side on the River Ness in August. Blaine is also the Scottish Youth National Fly Fishing Champion.
David Cameron (age 12) – landed his first-ever salmon on the River Spey in June. He caught a further three the same day.
Harris Reid (age 9) – Fishing after school he caught his first-ever fly caught salmon on UCAPA club water on the River Clyde and went on to catch 2 in one week on the Clyde.
Monroe Job (age 12) – fishing on a river for the first time, he caught his first-ever salmon on a single handed rod at Delagyle on the River Spey.
The main prize for the junior winners is a day’s fishing in August 2017 at Fishponds on the Tay with tuition from former world Spey-casting champion Scott Mackenzie