A 34.5lb SALMON from the River Nith in Dumfries and Galloway has won the 2011 Savills Malloch Trophy for its captor, angler Sam Valentine.

The late autumn fish was caught on November 16 at Dalswinton after what Valentine, who had waited 27 years to  catch a salmon over 20lbs, described as “an epic battle of 45 minutes.”

He said: “We returned it to the water and with a  flash of the tail it swam off very strongly.”

Malloch Trophy winner 2011
Sam Valentine (right) with Dalswinton ghillie, Dougie Smith return the winning salmon

The Malloch Trophy was first awarded in 1972  and quickly became one of the most keenly contested prizes in Scottish game fishing.  After a 10-year absence, the trophy was acquired by the Tay Foundation in 2009 and relaunched.

Nine entries, mainly over 30lb in weight were considered by the judging panel. The Foundation says this is consistent with a remarkable increase in the numbers of larger salmon – fish that have remained at sea for three or  four years – caught in Scottish rivers this season.

They say: “On some rivers fish in the teens of pounds dominated catches in May and June and throughout the season heavier fish have been unusually common with plenty in the 20 lb to 30 lb class and several in the 30 lb to 40 lb class.”