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HomeArticlesDestinationsThe Diversity of the Scottish Fishing Scene

The Diversity of the Scottish Fishing Scene

Category: Fly Fishing Destinations | Author: Sandy Forgan

There is a remarkable range of sport fishing available in Scottish waters...

Loch Leven

There is a remarkable range of sport fishing available in Scottish waters. To categorise the individual types into sections, by species, venue or activity, may be a little misleading because some types of fishing fall into more than one description. For instance, you may bait fish for mullet in the sea, or fly-fish for them when they venture into the brackish water of an estuary, or even spin for them with tiny lures. Nevertheless, making a list serves to convey the width of interest and variety of Scottish sport fishing.

Sea Fishing

Around Scottish shores there are plenty sandy beaches to fish for flat-fish; there are cliffs which offer excellent rocky shelves for cod fishing; there are places exposed to the waves to enjoy surf fishing for silvery bass; there are off-shore wrecks for conger; there are wide bays which tend to accumulate mackerel, tope and spur-dog; there are sheltered estuarial areas which have a huge variety of species; there are warm-water outflows close to industrial plants and power stations where mullet congregate; there are deep-water ocean shelves where giant halibut and side of-house skate swim in the clear green depths; and there are countless piers and jetties around our shores where youngsters cut their fishing teeth catching small fish - and the occasional larger one!

River Spey

River Fishing

Rivers are, by their nature, wholly variable. No two pools are ever the same, and the volatility of conditions of water height and season create a constantly-changing riverine environment. But each river is also different from each of its brethern. There are the majestic sweeping pools of the great salmon rivers of Scottish east-coast rivers like the Tay and Tweed; there are the swift 'glide-to-pool-to-glide' of the classic medium-sized salmon rivers like the Spey and Dee; there are the highly acclaimed smaller salmon rivers like the Helmsdale, North Esk and Brora; in the west there are spate rivers which need rain to put the foaming flesh of flood water on their otherwise skeletal bones to encourage the fish to ascend the system; there are Highland 'freestone' rivers, rocky and tumbling, where small trout sport under the foam flecks; there are the sedate meandering ox-bows of the lowland streams where perch and pike join eels and roach; there are cascading burns and awe-inspiring floods, there are upper tributaries and wide brackish estuaries. What a wealth of river fishing!

Loch Fishing

When we consider Scottish stillwaters, the array of fishing and venues is just as stupendous and mind boggling. There are literally thousands of tiny lochans - some tainted by the salt-tang of the sea - whilst others nestle in the sub-Alpine conditions of the highest corries of the Scottish mountains; there are carefully-managed small 'put-and-take' fisheries with unnaturally large, cultured, rainbow trout; there are remote lochs in the depths of genuine wilderness which have never had a fish put in them but where populations of charr and trout live in splendid isolation; there are highland lochs fringed with peat and rocks; there are lowland lochs with patchworks of fields dotted with tranquil cattle; there are high dams and deep reservoirs; there are small machair lochs beautifully fringed with beaches of pure white shells; there are rock-bound lochs as big as seas, dotted with islands, each of which benefit from the shade of native trees of great antiquity; there are tiny ponds with lily pads and bright-finned perch and voracious yellow-green camouflaged pike; there are lochs which salmon and sea trout run into; there are magical places tucked away from prying eyes where exotic species have been introduced. The list is as endless as your imagination - and you will need every ounce of your imagination, fitness and skill to be able to fish even a small proportion of them.

Pictures by Glyn Satterley.

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