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  1. Scotland
  2. Lochy
  3. When and where to fish

When to fish

Fishing on the west coast of Scotland generally starts on March 15th with the opening of the brown trout fishing; Migratory fish are here in good numbers by May. The latest rivers close on 31st October.

The fishing on many of the Lochaber rivers is generally best after some rain when a spate will bring fish into the rivers in numbers. However on rivers such as the Lochy, the fishing is good across a wider range of water heights as the river is not a spate river. The fishing picks up as the season progresses with the months from May onwards providing the best of the sport.

Whilst some of the rivers can be fished with single-handed rods the sensible approach for all anglers is to take at least one rod 13' - 15' in length as the main rod to use and back this up with a smaller single handed rod.

The rivers, given the right conditions, can be extremely productive with several rivers now experiencing year-on-year increases in catches due in no small part to the active management of the rivers by the owners and Fisheries Trust.

Even if the rivers are unfishable due to lack of, or even too much, water the local areas offer some of the very best wild brown trout fishing to be had in Scotland.

Some of the lochs are on the roadside while others require a high degree of fitness and commitment being several miles off road in the wilderness, the reward for the latter being that you are likely to have the lochs to yourself

Some pools use the boat.

Seatrout water.

There are also some great lochs to fish for sea trout. Fishing on these waters is usually done from boats either fly-fishing, spinning or dapping for sea trout - an experience once tried never to be forgotten.

A fine spring salmon.


Where to fish

Wild Trout fishing

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!

The River Aline on the Ardtornish Estate.

In the shadow of Ben Nevis

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