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