The Smithston Fishings Club was established under Prime Salmon Fishings Ltd in the 1990s by Gordon Dawson as a ‘timeshare’ salmon fishery, by combining the existing Smithston Fishings, the Carnochan Fishings and The Shankston Fishings. Rotational and fixed ‘rods’ were sold by Prime to establish the Club with running costs distributed across the membership based on a management charge parts system. This system remains in place today.

In addition, the membership is now keen to widen interest in the Smithston Water by attracting new members and day anglers – for trout, salmon and sea trout – at the appropriate times of year.

The head waters of the River Doon are the burns and streams feeding Loch Doon from the north edge of the Galloway Forest Park. The river is just over 63 kilometres long (including the Loch) and flows north-west close to the town of Dalmellington, through the villages of Patna and Dalrymple before entering the Firth of Clyde just south of Ayr.

The loch has been dammed to supply and store water for the Galloway Hydro-electric power. There is a net loss of water to the system although a compensation flow agreement maintains water quality and flow levels throughout the year, even when other rivers might be too low to fish.

The river has a catchment area of 324 square kilometres. The catchment is relatively narrow and there are few large tributaries below Loch Doon. The most significant of these are the Muck Water, Cummock Burn, Dunaskin Burn and Culroy Burn. Apart from Loch Doon there are several large stillwaters in the catchment, including Bogton Loch and Martnaham Loch.

The main land uses are rough grassland, improved grassland and woodland, the majority of which consists of conifer plantations. The only significant industry is open cast coal mining in the vicinity of Dalmellington.

The geology of the Doon catchment varies from the granite headwater hills to the limestone coal measures in the middle reaches. The water chemistry mirrors the geology ranging from low productivity and intermittent acidic conditions in the upper tributaries to the highly productive, alkaline tributaries downstream of Dalmellington.

The River Doon itself starts at the outlet of Loch Doon. The compensation flow of 45 million gallons/day was agreed as part of the Galloway Water Power Act in 1935.

Below Loch Doon the river cascades down through Ness Glen, a spectacular gorge, dropping 130 feet in less than one mile.

The Smithston Water begins about 500 metres below the village of Patna and extends for about 3 kilometers with a mixture of double and single bank fishing. There are 37 named pools, divided into 3 beats, with numerous streamy waters between.

The Smithston Water offers fabulous variety, ranging from quieter waters flowing through pastures on the Top ‘A’ Beat, to tumbling pools on the wooded Middle ‘B’ beat to swift waters on the Bottom ‘C’ beat, as the river flows towards the rapids of the Boreland Glen. The fishing suits both newcomers to the sport and more experienced ‘herons’.

By any standards, the Smithston Water is an exceptional piece of countryside – with wildlife and fauna to match – set in the lush Ayrshire countryside – a tremendous place for salmon and trout and those that seek to catch them!