Miss Georgina Ballantyne's British record for a rod caught salmon may have fallen after 85 years!
The salmon angling world is abuzz with the news that a fish measuring 56 inches long and 40 inches in girth has been taken on the Dochfour Beat of the river Ness. At 56 inches this fish is 2 inches longer than the salmon Miss Ballantyne caught at Glendelvine on the river Tay. When you are talking about fish of this size two inches represents an awesome amount of extra poundage.
Estimates vary between 67 and over 130lbs for this fish with an average of 83lbs over a range of estimates. What ever the outcome, which is in the hands of fish biologists at the Freshwater Laboratory at Faskally, the result is spectacular.
The fish was taken on the evening of Saturday the 14th of October 2007 and was landed in just 45 minutes, which is right speedy compared with the 10 hour marathon Miss Ballantyne endured. Ghillie, Grant Sutherland who netted the fish for a shocked and unnamed angler says he has never seen a fish of these proportions in his long career. The cock fish was measured accurately, photographed and witnessed but doubts remain that the fish will be recognised by the British Record Fish Committee. David Rowe, the Secretary, says that the fish has to be accurately weighed on certified scales to qualify for consideration. As you might expect there were no scales of that nature to hand on the river at the time.
Neither Miss Ballantyne nor Mrs Tiny Morrison had difficulties having their fish weighed, the fish were killed thus making them transportable to a place where they could be weighed at leisure. The stunning specimen taken at Dochfour was returned to the river unharmed and we should all applaud the angler who may have sacrificed his place in history for the welfare of this salmon.
The conditions set down by the British Record Fish Committee require that all fish are weighed in order to qualify for consideration. In my experience there are few fisheries with certified scales on hand where the fish can be weighed and returned to the water alive except maybe a fishery where you catch and pay for fish. In these days of conservation it is appalling that an body like the British Record Fish Committee is still advocating killing fish, preserving them in formalin and posting them off wrapped in brown paper (with return postage paid if you want the fish back). Have they lost their sense of reason? Come on, it's about time you updated your procedures.
The Scottish Federation for Course Angling and the Grayling Society both sensibly state that a fish that 'has been killed will not' be considered for a record, good on them. Today many fisheries advocate returning fish over a certain size as well as under sized fish. It's about conservation nowadays not being the man who shot the last dodo. Top breeding stock go back alive to add their bit to the gene pool. It is stupid and outdated to expect less of salmon anglers when so much effort is being put into regenerating salmon stocks. Give the man the record if the Freshwater Fisheries Lab verify, in there expert opinion, that the fish is bigger than the existing record.
In recent years there have been stories circulating about mammoth fish taken on the Dee and the Deveron, on both occasions there wasn't a camera available and in the case of a springer taken on the Dee there were no witnesses save for a clear imprint of the fish in the snow which the ghillie measured at 58 inches!
In all likelihood Miss Ballantyne's record has been broken by angling knights who have returned fish of fabulous proportions, may they never have a moment of regret.
Its about time something was done to give recognition to these feats of unselfishness before someone kills one of these fish to book a place in history.
PS: Mr Whoever You Are, you are one lucky *******, but I salute you and I know the moment will never leave you.