It is doubtless the source of a little irritation, or perhaps amusement, to members of the men-only Flyfishers Club of Piccadilly that the two largest salmon ever caught with a rod and line in British waters were both landed by women.
Two years after Georgina Ballentine
hooked a 64lb fish using a spinning bait on the Tay (still a
British record), Clementina 'Tiny' Morison landed a similar monster
on a fly in the Lower Shaw Pool on the banks of the
On the day of her fabled catch,
October 21, 1924, the slimly-built Tiny had already caught other
sizable fish - two of 16lb each and another of 12lb. She wrote to
her friend Lt Col W. Keith (who had lost a very large fish in the
same pool the previous year) reporting the drama: "I rushed down,
put my hands in his gills and dragged him up onto the bank. He
looked enormous lying there - a huge male fish, well hooked but a
beautiful shape and coloured. Sim [the gamekeeper] said 'My
goodness, he is over 50lb I believe'. I had no idea what a prize he
was. We sent him to Aberdeen by the first train to get a plaster
The plaster cast of that fish (one of two
made before the fish was smoked and kippered) hung for many years
in Clementina Morison's Mountblairy home before it was acquired by
the vendor who entered it for sale at Glasgow's Mulberry Bank Auctions on October 13.
Mounted in a heavy oak frame, it was
inscribed with the vital statistics: Caught by Mrs Morison in
Lower Shaw, Mountblairy on 1¼in Brown Wing Killer, 21st Oct. 1924,
61lbs, Length 52¼in, Girth 34in.
It remains the biggest salmon ever
caught on a fly in the UK, although accounts at the time suggest it
might just have weighed a little more when 'grassed'. According to
the fishing tackle maker Mr Harper, of Brown & Co., who
officially weighed the fish the following day, it had probably
already lost "a pound or two" in transit.
All this information and more was
included in the 1992 booklet Mrs 'Tiny' Morison's Deveron
Salmon - The Definitive Account that accompanied the lot
sold for £5500 (plus 17.5% buyer premium).
The buyer, prepared to go
significantly above the estimate of £3000-4000, was the chairman of
the Deveron Rivers Trust. The aim is to have it on display and make
a further cast to take around the local schools.
Incidentally, the Flyfishers Club,
founded in 1884, remains staunchly a gentleman's club, although it
prides itself today on the provision of "a ladies' anteroom for use
as a retreat from the rigours of West End shopping".