Wild Trout Fishing In Scotland

Nowhere in Europe offers such a wide variety of fishing for wild brown trout as Scotland.

At one end of the spectrum there is sport to suit the specialist or expert fisher seeking to outwit difficult but highly rewarding lowland river trout. At the other extreme there are literally myriads of lochs teeming with comparatively uneducated fish, which at times can appear suicidal.

River fishing

In late spring and early summer there is challenging dry fly fishing, mainly concentrated in the more sedate lowland rivers of the east and the south west such as Tweed (and its tributaries), Tay, Don, Clyde and Annan, all of which support rich feeding. The fish here are 'educated' and demanding, requiring skill and precision casting to present an upstream dry fly or the traditional wet fly cast across and down.

There is also a wealth of small river fishing including the upper reaches of the big lowland systems; here the riffles and glides support large numbers of less discriminating trout, allowing good bags to be taken.

Several of Scotland's better rivers (and indeed some areas of the Highlands including much of north-west Sutherland) are subject to trout Protection orders in the interests of conservation; these are designed to allow easier access to the fishing through the issue of permits, but control the number of rods and the methods of fishing.

Loch fishing

At the other end of the trout spectrum there are boundless opportunities for loch fishing within a vast swathe of territory stretching from Argyll and Perthshire in the south right up through the Highlands and virtually all of the islands. A cursory glance at a map will give an indication of the tremendous amount of freshwater in this area; indeed it includes the great majority of Scotland's 35,000 lochs and lochans.

Essentially what this means is that wherever one is within this area, there is unlimited fishing on offer. Once the visitor has decided on a location, then it makes every sense to carry out as much research (obtaining leaflets and other literature on the fishing in the particular locality) before arrival to help make the most of the trip; increasingly the internet is an excellent source of information.

When fishing the fly from the bank on lochs, it is desirable to keep moving in order to cover as much water as possible. A boat is really an aid to achieving this. Traditional loch-style fishing from a boat, casting and retrieving a team of two or three wet flies on a steady drift (if necessary slowed down by the use of a drogue), is the most popular method. Other tactics also have their merits. One of the most visually exciting is dapping- bouncing a large bushy fly on the surface by means of a section of very light silk-floss line fished on a long rod. In addition dry fly and nymph fishing (the latter fished on an intermediate line) have their place.

One of the great joys of exploring the small remote lochs of a particular part of the Highlands or Islands is that of 'discovering' a real gem. There are many such, often unnamed and without any sort of reputation, which in the right conditions can provide unforgettable days. Once they have stumbled upon such a gem, anglers tend to guard their exact location jealously!

Whilst the fish populations of the majority of Highland lochs are dominated by trout of 8oz or less, they are usually free-taking; such lochs provide children with an ideal introduction to angling. There are also a great many lochs where the feeding is better and the average weight is considerably more with the occasional trophy fish between 2lb and 6lb (sometimes even heavier). This class of loch includes some that are not typically Highland in character including the fertile low-lying waters of Orkney and parts of Caithness and the limestone lochs of Durness.

The deeper lochs of the Highlands usually contain small populations of ferox trout, a strain of slow growing heavy brown trout often with cannibalistic tendencies, which can grow to great weights (up to 20lb or more). They are most prevalent where there are healthy numbers of charr and their capture sometimes entails the use of highly specialised tactics such as lures trolled at considerable depths.

List of wild trout fisheries

Trout clubs and associations

Wild brown trout rising

Wild brown trout rising.
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