The Lochs of Scotland

In Scotland the general word for a lake is "loch" and one of the great sources of pride north of the Border is that Englishmen cannot pronounce the word! Most of Scotland's lochs and reservoirs have a good population of native brown trout and many have also been stocked with rainbow trout.


Here is a selection of some better known Scottish lochs:


Loch Watten

Located to the east of Wick, one of the most famous lochs in Scotland is to be found. Amongst locals, there is an assertion that Loch Leven was originally stocked with trout from Watten but, in truth, it is more likely that the reverse is the case. Whatever the facts of the matter, there is a remarkable similarity between the fish in the two lochs.

Loch Watten is shallow throughout its area and produces good hatches of fly when conditions are right and, at such times, the trout can be very free-rising. Boats fishing is the norm and traditional Scottish methods are favoured.
Boats can be booked from a number of local hotels and tackle shops. Try the Loch Watten Hotel itself if you are in the area..


Fishing for Wild Trout in Scottish Lochs
by Lesley Crawford
(click image for more info)

Loch Calder

Another well known Caithness water, Loch Calder is situated a few miles south of Thurso and, although it is quite deep in parts, the best fishing tends to be obtained around the shallow margins. This is one of those waters in the north of Scotland where and average basket will contain a good number of small trout but where there is always a chance of a bigger one. Fish in the 2 - 2 lbs. class are not uncommon although the average is probably under 1 lb.

As with most Caithness lochs, traditional flies dressed a little on the bushy side tend to do well. A good rule for southern visitors is to fish a size larger than you would at home using, for example, size 12 flies in conditions which would suggest size 14 farther south.

On Loch Calder, no-one seems to object to anglers just turning up and fishing from the bank. It is courteous, however, to ask permission before walking over farm land and some farmers have boats for hire.

Tarvie Lochs

In stark contrast to most of the wild waters of the Highlands, those two little lochs near Strathpeffer have been developed as a commercial fishery and stocked with rainbow trout. Fish of over 12 lbs. have been caught and a wide variety of techniques can be used.

Bookings can be made by phoning 01997 421250.


Loch Leven

Situated beside the town of Kinross, Loch Leven has the distinction of being the most famous trout loch in the world. Famed for its unique strain of brown trout, the fishing in the loch declined sadly during the 1970s and 80s until, amid a great deal of controversy, rainbow trout were stocked in 1994.

For once the sceptics were proved wrong. Loch Leven rainbows proved to be every bit as special as the native brown trout and, without any doubt whatsoever, are the finest rainbow trout available anywhere in Britain.

Fishing is by boat only and, like the trout, the 18' clinker craft on Loch Leven are the best in the country. Normally three anglers share a boat and fish by drifting beam-on to the breeze. Traditionally small wet flies, fished four to the cast, were the standard on this loch - with "wee doubles" in patterns such as Peter Ross, Grouse and Claret, the Butcher clan, Wickham's Fancy and Greenwell's Glory being the mainstay of regular anglers. Nowadays, however, larger flies on sinking lines are sometimes successful when conditions are difficult and, in direct contrast, dry fly fishing has become popular on summer evenings. Many of the 6 - 9 lb. class of rainbows fall to this technique.

Bookings: Phone 01577 863407

Loch Fitty

Lying below the village of Kingseat to the east of Dunfermline, Loch Fitty was one of the early rainbow trout fisheries in Scotland but apart from rainbow trout, it is also stocked with brown trout, salmon and steelheads.

Fishing is mainly from well appointed 19 foot boats which drift beautifully beam on no matter the strength of the wind. Like most modern fisheries each boat is fitted with an outboard engine and an anchor. There is also good fishing from a defined area of the bank. Fish can be any size from 1 lbs upwards with plenty in the 6-8 lbs class being taken each season. Lures, nymphs and wet flies will all take fish when conditions are right. Soldier Palmer, Invicta, Dunkeld, Wickham's Fancy, Grouse and Claret and Black Pennel are firm favourites amongst more traditional fishermen while black lures such as Ace of Spades, Viva and red or green Montanas often do well early in the season.

The onshore facilities at Loch Fitty are excellent with a well stocked tackle shop; a coffee shop serving breakfasts, lunches and plenty of bacon rolls; good toilets; a spacious car park and a small area for caravans. Loch Fitty is open for fishing from mid-February until the week before Christmas. But from the beginning of November to Christmas the fishing is by any legal method - except live bait fish - in order to reduce the large stock of rainbows before the extreme cold of January and early February.

Bookings and information: Phone 01383 620666

Linlithgow Loch

Dominated by Linlithgow Palace, this little loch is a spectacular place to fish. It was once famous for very large brown trout but, nowadays, most of the sport tends to be provided by stockie rainbows. Having said that, the feeding in this loch is particularly good and the fish rapidly gain both weight and condition.

Standard fly patterns can be successful but some of the best catches in recent times have gone to the static nymph fished from an anchored boat. The loch is fairly shallow and areas of it can weed up in a hot summer.

Bookings: Phone 01506 842943


Portmore Loch

Located beyond Penicuik, Portmore Loch has developed a reputation for very large trout. Fish of up to 15 lbs. are not unknown and there is one story of a competition angler weighing in a bag of more than 80 lbs.

One experienced Portmore angler swears by sedges on summer evenings but a large range of flies and lures can be successful. Dry flies, in particular, are making a big impact on this water - try a smallish claret hopper or a black and claret emerger fished on fine nylon.

Boat and bank fishing are allowed and there is a limit of 10 fish per boat or 4 for a bank permit.

Bookings: Phone 01968 675684


Butterstone Loch

This is one loch where the wildlife often give more thrills than the fishing! Ospreys, geese and a huge variety of other waterfowl can be seen and it is not unusual for deer to come to the water's edge. To be fair to the fishery, it is always well stocked but the rainbows won't always take traditional flies. Those anglers who are prepared to resort to sinking lines and lures will often winkle a fish or two out, even when conditions are tough.

Butterstone is on the Dunkeld to Blairgowrie road and is immensely scenic. The boats are a bit shallow-draughted for day-long comfort but they are perfectly stable. Electric outboards are permitted. The limit is 6 fish per rod but many anglers will be content with a smaller basket, especially if it contains some of the larger fish for which Butterstone is famed.

Bookings: Phone Rick Knight on 01350 724238


Loch Awe

Loch Awe is one of the most famous trout lochs in Scotland and also one of the longest. It contains not only native brown trout but also escapee rainbows, the fearsome ferox, salmon and sea trout, a a variety of coarse fish, including some very large pike.

The traditional method of fishing a team of wet flies in front of a drifting boat works well for the brownies when conditions are right and flies such as the Soldier Palmer, Ke-he, Invicta and Greenwell's Glory are well established favourites. Anglers pursuing rainbow trout will often use standard lures such as the Ace of Spades or Cat's Whisker while ferox hunters and salmon are most often taken by trolling.

Permission and boats can be obtained from a number of riparian owners One of the most popular sources is the Portsonachan Hotel near Dalmally.

Lake of Menteith

Many anglers would claim that the Lake of Menteith (Scotland's only lake) is one of the most beautiful places to fish. It is stocked with rainbow trout and, in recent years, a small number of browns have also been put in. Fishing is from boats and the use of outboard motors is permitted.

One of the problems at the Lake is finding the fish. Those which are well established will be well spread out over the water, which is generally fairly shallow, but recently stocked fish tend to move about in shoals and the lucky angler who finds a shoal can have a good day's sport. Traditional wet flies and small lures can be effective but this is one stillwater where dry fly fishing has really caught on and many of the best baskets each season are taken by angers fishing patterns such as small hoppers, heather flies and emergers in the surface film.
The Lake of Menteith is the venue for the heats and final of the Scottish Clubs Championship, so don't try to book a boat for a Saturday evening during the summer - they'll all be in use by the cream of Scotland's club anglers!


Bookings can be made by phoning 01877 385664.

Ochiltree Loch

Ochiltree Loch, near Newton Stewart is one of a large number of smallish lochs in the south-west of Scotland which can provide good sport when conditions are right. Fishing is from both bank and boat and the loch is stocked by the Newton Stewart Angling Association.

In the main, traditional loch patterns of fly do well but this is one loch where it is worth experimenting with patterns, depth and rate of retrieve. If it is a windy day (which it often is on Ochiltree!), try a fairly bushy palmered fly on the bob.


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