The most coveted award and greatest honour in British gamefishing, recently reinstated after an absence of ten years, has been won by an angler on a stretch of ‘public water’ where permits cost just £90 per annum.

The Savills Malloch Trophy – for the largest salmon caught on the fly and safely returned during the year in Scottish waters – has been landed by Fort William angler Sandy Walker with a magnificent 32 lb salmon in the River Lochy.

Mr Walker commented on being told of the decision of the Savills Malloch Trophy Committee on December 10th: “I am greatly honoured to have won the legendary Savills Malloch Trophy. The award is testimony to the continuing recovery of the Lochy as one of the great west coast salmon rivers. The Lochy is now well-established as one of the premier rivers for big salmon. Much credit must go to the river manager Jon Gibb for all his work in promoting salmon conservation locally and improving the quality of salmon returning to the Lochy”.

The sea-liced cock salmon was caught in June in the Tailrace pool of the tidal Estuary beat of the Lochy on a home-tied fly. After a 90 minute battle it was weighed, photographed and witnessed before being carefully released back into the river. To be eligible for the trophy a fish must be caught on a fly in a sportsmanlike manner and be returned unharmed.

At the Savills Malloch Trophy Committee meeting when a number of possible contenders from rivers including the Spey and Tweed were discussed, Mr Walker’s entry, which fulfilled the relevant criteria, was endorsed as the winner for 2009. His name will be engraved on the trophy, joining an illustrious list of previous winners which stretches back four decades. He will also receive a special silver sculpture of a salmon, commissioned by Savills from the highly acclaimed artist Patrick Mavros, and a £250 voucher from the House of Bruar and be a guest at the River Tay Dinner in June where he will receive the trophy.

Savills Director Roddy Willis said: “As managers of some two million acres of rural property across the UK, and specialists in all types of rural sporting activity, Savills is all too aware of the pressing need to protect the natural environment in general and future salmon stocks in particular. We are confident that, as the new sponsors of the Malloch Trophy, the revival of this iconic competition will be a powerful means of promoting voluntary catch and release - the single most important contribution that individual salmon anglers can make to salmon conservation”.

The Malloch Trophy is named after the Perth-based manufacturer and retailer of fishing tackle, Mallochs of Perth – widely recognised as the greatest name in Scottish fishing tackle history and founded by P D Malloch, one of the leading authorities of his day on salmon. The Trophy was first awarded in 1972 for a 43lb fish caught on the Tweed by Lady Burnett and last awarded in 1999 following a run of 28 consecutive years (during which it became the most keenly contested angling award in Scotland) for a 33lb fish caught on the Spey.