Pike are one of the few species of fish that can be found the length and breath of Scotland. From Lowland rivers to the mighty Highland lochs, Scotland has some of the finest pike fishing the world has to offer.
A brief history
Pike were one of the species that the last ice age left to enrich Scotland's fish diversity. The earliest pike fossils found in Britain, were discovered in the Cromer Forest beds at West Runton in Norfolk, and were found to be approximately half a million years old. These have been identified as Esox lucius, the same species that is to be found in Scotland today. In mainland Europe the pike distribution reaches southwards to the Mediterranean regions, including northern Spain and Italy (roughly 40íN) and to just north of Turkey.
In the north it extends into Sweden, Norway and Finland. It is in northern Europe that we find, perhaps the strangest habitat of all, with the pike having adapted to live in the low salinity of the northern Baltic Sea and the Stockholm archipelago. Therefore Scotland, proudly sits in the middle of this range, which again gives us the correct climate and conditions to grow consistently large pike.
The three large lochs of Scotland, Awe, Ken and Lomond have produced their fair share of pike exceeding 30 pounds in weight, with the largest recorded pike in the British Isles coming from Loch Lomond, weighing in at 47lb 11oz, Tommy Morgan's fish from 1947, is still the Scottish record for the species.
Pike fishing today
Those visiting Scotland are fortunate to be presented with plentiful fisheries that contain a quarry that is equal in size and strength to the Scottish anglers' favourite, the Atlantic Salmon. This fish is the Pike, Scotland's top freshwater predator.
Pike can be found throughout Scotland from the rolling hills and rich agricultural land in Dumfries and Galloway, to the more populated areas in the Central belt all the way to the rugged and wind swept glory of the Highlands. We are fortunate that Pike can adapt and survive within this multitude of waters, which means there are always going to be more waters available than anglers fishing. The visitor will more than likely have the water to themselves or maybe just one or two others. This allows you to appreciate the unspoilt beauty that is Scotland.
Much of the Pike fishing in Scotland is freely available, but is always wise to approach the landowner or local hotel to ask for permission before fishing. Certain areas of the better-known waters such as Loch Awe in Argyll and Loch Ken in Galloway have modest daily permits, which are widely available. These two waters along with Loch Lomond are the cornerstones of Scotland's Pike angling providing great sport for those who visit. The fish in these waters can be widely spread and can take some tracking down, but once found take baits freely. Some outstanding catches have been made in the past, with fish regularly over 20 pounds / 10 kilos / 1 metre being taken.
Further afield Lochs Oich, Garry, Arkaig and Loyne in the Great Glen provide the most rugged backdrop to some of the most under exploited fishing Scotland has to offer. Among the beautiful and dramatic scenery these lochs produce some of the most spectacular acrobatic fighting fish that are more than willing to take top water baits. These lochs vary in depth considerably, and are best fished from a boat. As with all boat fishing, please think safety first and ensure you go suitably equipped and all members of your party wear life jackets.
Perhaps as stunning an area, but much easier to reach from Glasgow or Edinburgh is the Trossachs, as inspiring today as they were in Sir Walter Scott's time. The Lochs Katrine, Achray and Venachar provide tremendous sport all year round, permits and boats again are easily available.
Finally please ensure you go equipped to deal with a large predator, appropriate unhooking tools are as important as the rods and reels you use. Practice catch and release and ensure others can enjoy the sport you have in the future.
A proud angler with his specimen catch from Loch Awe. Kilchurn Castle is in the background