Monsters of the Deep

Report Date: 14 January 2021

Author: Ghillie – Sandy McIntosh

I recently stumbled across a 1922 edition of The Field which features a number of portmanteau fish from various rivers in that era, including Jessie Ballantyne’s record fish from Glendelvine water on the Tay. It has got me reminiscing about some of the larger specimens we have caught here at Kinkell over the years. Kinkell has had some monsters during that earlier period and I mention three of note. The Earn always had a reputation for large autumn fish and as a schoolboy, I remember seeing photographs of these crocodiles featured in the local paper most autumns. Indeed, a fish would need to be 40lb+ before any fuss was made about it in those days.

I have evidence of a fish of 52lb 12oz landed by a Mrs S B McMillan at Kinkell in September 1913. The mounted fish was auctioned by Bonhams about ten years ago after they had contacted us to request information to further enhance the provenance of the fish prior to auction. This we were able to do.

Another fish of 56lb was landed by James Denby Roberts, I believe, in the Machany Burn at the railway bridge pool on a worm. This occurred sometime in the late 40s. Having landed the fish the captor could not carry it and sought assistance from estate workers who were bagging potatoes nearby at Nappilands Farm.

One then youth, Jock Souter, who is the source of this information, was detailed off to take a wheelbarrow upstream with the captor and assist him in retrieving the fish. This was done and the fish was transported downstream to the tattie shed where it was put on a steelyard and weighed in handsomely in excess of half a hundredweight (i.e. 56lb+).

A third fish caught at about the same period fell to another member of the Denby Roberts family (it may have been James Denby Roberts again as he was a prolific fisher). It was hooked in the Murrays and eventually landed in the March and weighed 54-56lb. On landing the fish, the ghillie was instructed to cycle back to the Castle to fetch the estate landau and chauffer which then transported the captor of the fish, his guest and the ghillie to the nearby Gleneagles Hotel where they set about drinking champagne for the rest of the day.

In my time, we have landed eleven fish over 30lb or more at Kinkell over the last twenty years all of which captures are detailed in the diaries.