Scottish Stillwaters

Scotland abounds in Stillwater fishing from huge lochs like Lomond, Ness, Shin and Tay, to nests of tiny hill lochs tucked away in mountain country. Add, too, literally scores of reservoirs. To chart them all would take a lifetime. To fish them all would be an impossibility. Indeed, it is doubtful whether any country in Europe can boast so many, the main rivals being Scandinavian countries like Finland and Sweden. For the newcomer the choice is daunting, but a closer look reveals some kind of pattern by which to judge the enormous potential.

First and foremost is the undoubted fact that the species most likely to be on offer is the brown trout. They are native almost everywhere though in many places this native stock has been added to as a result of re-stocking programmes which, not surprisingly, have also included rainbows and browns of Scotland’s own most famous strain -the Loch Leven. As many of the waters are in high places draining wild moorland, the water tends to be acid, a fact which means that while there are often plenty of trout they are, equally often, small. A very fair but very broad generalisation would be that the average size of trout is less than a pound. They are no less attractive for this if fished on reasonably light tackle. Perhaps because trout are native to so many Scottish waters, the swing to put-and-take trout fisheries containing ever bigger fish which is now such a feature in England has not yet caught on in Scotland though there are definite signs that this sort of development is beginning. Some waters have been selected for special comment in the Fishing Guide section which follows. These comments have been restricted to waters of known potential with the addition of others whose controllers chose to give us specific comments about the quality of their fishing. It is fair to add that the majority of the waters mentioned are regularly stocked, with the rider that some lochs (and especially the smaller hill lochs) in the more remote places often rely simply on their own natural stocks of wild trout – some, not surprisingly, being more well blessed than others.

When it comes to really big brown trout, Scotland has some fabulous fish to its credit. To demonstrate this point we give below a list of the 50 biggest. Apart from offering a perspective as to the stature of Scottish trout, the list also offers pointers as to location. On the latter point, it is clear that still waters offer most chances though, for completeness’ sake, river fish have been included in the list. Brown trout: the top 50 39-8-0 ‘Loch Awe 1866 27-8-0 River Tay 1 27-4-0 River Inver 1870 23-8-0 Loch Rannoch 1905 22-0-0 Loch Rannoch 1867 21-0-0 Loch Rannoch 1904 18-8-0 Loch Rannoch 1912 18-2-0 Inchlaggan 1965 17-12-0 Loch Faskally 1961 17-8-0 Loch Killin 1973 17-8-0 Loch Poulary 1957 17-0-0 Loch Awe 1925 17-0-0 Loch Arkaign 1972 16-0-0 Loch Awe 1935 16-0-0 Loch Arkaig 1973 16-0-0 Loch Rannoch 1973 15-4-0 Loch Poulary 1934 15-4-0 Clyde 1973 15-3-0 Loch Awe 1973 14-8-0 Loch Rannoch 1920 14-8-0 Loch Lanish 1935 14-8-0 Loch Lomond 1970 14-8-0 Loch Rannoch 1920 14-0-0 Loch Rannoch 1932 13-8-0 Loch Poulary 1933 13-04) Loch Awe 1930 13-0-0 Loch Awe 1975 13-0-0 Loch Doon 1965 12-10-0 Loch Garry 1976 12-8-0 River Clyde 1968 12-8-0 Loch Fionn 1928 12-0-0 Loch Rannoch 1932 12-0-0 Loch Garry 1934 12-0-0 Loch Treig 1957 12-0-0 Loch Garry 1936 11-12-0 Loch Rannoch 1969 11-12-0 Loch Garry 1937 11-8-0 Loch Garry 1963 11-8-0 Loch Ness 1930 11-8-0 Loch Garry 1963 11-8-0 Loch Rannoch 1937 11-2-0 Loch Rannoch 1967 11-0-0 Loch Awe 1934 11-04) Loch Ness 1937 11-04) Loch Laggan 1973 10-8-0 River Deveron unknown 10-8-0 Loch Rannoch 1921 10-4-0 Loch Quoich 1974 10-2-0 River Endrick 1964 10-0-0 Loch Fionn 1972. 1 once accepted as a British record, this fish, caught by W. Muir on a fly, has been the subject of endless discussion as to whether it really was a trout. There have been suggestions that it was a stale salmon or a sea trout.

From the above, it is clear that the biggest trout tend to come from the biggest waters though the dates quite clearly indicate that they do not make their presence felt on the end of a line all that often I

Next in the pattern of Scottish Stillwater fishing are the many lochs connected to rivers containing migratory fish and in some cases lochs which are actually formed by riversthem-selves in the valleys through which they flow. Wherever this situation prevails, the visitor can add the chance of salmon and, sometimes, sea trout to his list of possibilities. Some lochs are particularly famous in this respect. Loch salmon do not tend to be anything like as big as those caught in rivers but the sea trout can be the reverse. Some of the biggest taken in Scotland were loch fish. Among lochs which produced them were Eilt, Hope and Maree, the latter perhaps the most famous of Scotland’s sea trout lochs.

Still with game fish, it should be added that many of Scotland’s stillwaters, especially in the Highlands, have been harnessed to provide hydro-electric power. Though these activities have led to complaints of serious effects on river sport in some places, it must be added that the Scottish Hydro-Electric Board pursue a vigorous policy of exploiting the fishing potential of the stillwaters they control. All their waters appear in their appropriate place in the Fishing Guide section.

Finally, the question of coarse fish which are not nearly so common or varied in Scotland as they are south of the Border. While the majority of Scottish anglers are game fish orientated, it is clear that an increasing number of tourist anglers are interested in Scotland’s coarse fish despite the lack of variety. In the lowlands, south of a line drawn from the Forth to the Clyde, roach are common in many waters and can reach specimen size. North of this line as well as in the Forth itself, they are found in Loch Lomond and in the lower Tay, these latter being considered some of the most northerly roach in the British Isles. Bream are rare, cer-tain Dumfriesshire stillwaters being about the only place they are known to be numerous. Chub, too, are not generally found, being restricted to some of the rivers flowing into the Solway Firth, especially the Annan system. Carp and tench are rarer still though some are known. Perch are the commonest coarse fish of all and can be found throughout Scotland, in some places of specimen size. Of greatest interest, perhaps, are pike, for it seems real leviathans of this species could still be disco-vered. Expert calculations based on the size of ancient skulls suggest that Scotland’s big lochs have produced pike of 60 or 70 lb, and that the conditions which produced these greatfish still prevail in at least some of the waters. There are some lochs, with almost continuous runs of sea trout and salmon, which have perfect food chains, and in the case of Loch Lomond there is a bonus for the predators – vast shoals of powan. Many of the more northerly lochs have never seen a pike angler, and it is anyone’s guess what could happen if and when they do.

Though private still waters remain in Scot-land, access for the visitor is generally good, with every indication that it is constantly improving.

Readers are reminded of the Sunday rule in Scotland. By law no angler may fish in water for salmon or sea trout on Sundays, a factor which in this section mainly affects those lochs which permitthe entry of these migratory fish. Though a similar legal ban does not exist in the case of brown trout or coarse fish, there are still areas where these forms of fishing are not permitted on Sundays. For this reason, readers should look carefully for the special symbol relating to Sunday fishing on the following s.

Close seasons.For salmon and sea troutfishing in Scotland-and many lochs contain these fish – close seasons can vary. For brown trout, the statutory close season is the same for the whole of Scotland, There is for rainbow trout or coarse fish. In all instances, however, there can be variations at the discretion of the controller who may lay down a longer close season than that laid down by law but a shorter one. Where such variations exist, controllers were asked to give details of their seasons and these are listed in every case against individual waters. The casual visitor is, however, urged to double check in advance.