About the Hebrides
The Outer Hebrides consists of a chain of islands approximately 130 miles in length and lying just off the north-west coast of Scotland. The islands range from Lewis in the north, through to Barra in the south via Harris, North Uist, Benbecula and South Uist.
The enormity of fishing locations across the Hebrides makes any angler's experience one to remember. It's here that an angler's thoughts wander no further than on the enjoyment of fishing - in some locations the only sounds you're likely to hear all day is your line whizzing above your head, the eagle soaring high above, the red deer munching on the heather near by or your line tightening and the splendour of a Hebridean fish breaking the water's surface and leading you a merry dance. Experience all this in spectacular surroundings where the air is fresh and the mind is free. It's no wonder that the Outer Hebrides has become the prized and enjoyed location of anglers year after year. You will feel truly revitalised as you breathe in the fresh Hebridean air.
The variety of angling opportunities in the Hebrides is outstanding. River catchments vary from vast peat moorlands that hold infinite still waters to rough uplands with steep rocky burns and rivers. The western Atlantic fringe consists of productive lochs on grassy machair, while the east coast (facing the mainland) is made of fjordic inlets fed by spate rivers.
The sheer ratio of freshwater mass to landmass in the Outer Hebrides, with over 2000 fishable lochs at the last count, means that the islands guarantee the game angler a fishing experience of discovery and adventure.
Grimersta's Record Catch
Amongst other things, the Outer Hebrides can boast a UK record which was set on the waters of the famous Grimersta Estate. Back in the summer of 1888 Mr Naylor landed 54 salmon in one day (314lb) and also managed 15 sea trout (72lb). This is a feat that is never likely to be matched again and the sheer enormity of this achievement leaves anglers today in awe with admiration, professional jealousy and absolute amazement that such an event could actually have taken place - certainly in present day terms this is hard to comprehend despite the good run of salmon entering the crystal clear waters of the Grimersta system each year. Mr Naylor also managed 45 salmon the following day before giving up at lunch time.
The account of this magnificent day in history can be read in the pages of Cecil Braithwaite's book, 'Fishing Here and There'. The book is quite rare now but should still be available in the reference section of most local authority libraries in Scotland and is well worth a read, as it's sure to whet your appetite.
Cecil Braithwaite (right) with a fine brace of spring salmon
Ghillie about to net a Summer salmon at Macleay's Stream, Grimersta
An abundance of species
The wild, freshwater species to be found in the Outer Hebrides are: salmon, sea trout, brown trout, Arctic char and ferox trout. Salmon of over 20lb are occasionally caught with fish in the high teens caught each season. Brown trout are typically around 8 to 12oz with frequent fish of 2lb to 5lb caught.
Searching for sea trout and salmon on Loch na Craobhaig (Hamanavay)
Some spectacular sea trout of up to 14lb have been recorded with fish of 1 to 2lb being common. Unlike many other angling destinations, sea trout are, as a rule, caught during daylight hours in rivers, lochs and estuaries throughout the Hebrides. As mentioned, ferox trout are present in the Outer Hebrides and fish of over 11lb have been landed with the potential of heavier fish. The elusive Arctic charr are also to be found throughout most of the islands of the Hebridean Archipelago with just over 200 lochs nationally containing this elusive fish.
At the height of midsummer the Hebrides can claim a massive 22 hours of daylight, so you can enjoy a relaxed picnic lunch safe in the knowledge there's plenty of time left for all the delights that angling offers.
Loch Langabhat - the largest loch in the Outer Hebrides
The Outer Hebrides have over 2000 freshwater lochs, the chain of islands seem as much water as land with having only 1.3% of the UK land mass but boasting an impressive 15% of the freshwater surface area.
"For all the lochs on the Isle of Lewis alone, it would take one angler, fishing one loch per day for six days of the season, more than six years to fish them all!" (Eddie Young, 'Trout Fishing in Lewis').
A view of the Achmore brown trout lochs