Bemersyde Trophy Celebrates Tweed's biggest salmon

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 student, Samuel Ackroyd the junior winner.

Jonathan Murray’s fish weighed 34lb and was caught on a Calvin shrimp cone head in the Black Strand pool at Fairnilee on 18 November. Mr Murray normally fishes on the Kells in County Meath but has fished all over the world, including in Cuba, the Seychelles and Russia, where he once landed a 35lb fish.

Junior winner Samuel Ackroyd caught his salmon on a Red Francis fly in the Boat Pool at Bemersyde Estate on 5 October, 2019. Mr Ackroyd started fishing trout rivers when he was around seven years old and moved onto 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 go to Jonathan Murray and Samuel Ackroyd 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 again; after all, it is the ideal hobby for maintaining a two-metre distance from others.

“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 quite a few smolts being caught in the trap at Galashiels, so there is hope for the seasons to come.”

Winner of this year’s Bemersyde trophy, Jonathan Murray 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.

“It was six years to the day that I fished the same pool and a big fish took. I threw everything at it, but it wouldn’t look at it. This time, the pool was full of fish and I tried five or six times with different depths. When the fish took, I knew I was into something big. I landed it thirty 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.”Winner of the Bemersyde junior trophy, Samuel Ackroyd 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.”