Rivers & Lochs in Scotland

The variety of the rivers & lochs in Scotland means that Scotland  has a huge amount to offer for fishermen of all levels.  From pike on Loch Lomond to Salmon on the Tweed, Scotland can offer a huge variety of fishing for the visiting angler from the seasoned veteran to the enthusiastic beginner. Click Here to design your perfect fishing vacation in Scotland.

Brown trout lochs

Wild brown trout populate most of Scotland’s lochs. In areas of the country where the weather is more benign and the insect life prolific, the trout can be large and numerous. In the wilder, northern Highlands, where there is less insect life, the trout tend to be smaller but more aggressive. Wet fly fishing from boats is the most common method used. Notable lochs with superb fishing include;

Loch Leven, The lochs of Orkney, Shetland and Uist, Loch Watten, Loch Morar, the Fairy Lochs, Loch Shin, Loch Assynt, Loch Laidon and Loch Arkaig

Limestone lochs

There are not many limestone lochs in Scotland, due to the predominance of our metamorphic and igneous geology. However, they are worthy of special mention because of the large (sometimes huge) trout these lochs hold. The alkaline waters support an abundance of fly life, which in turn provides ample feeding for the trout. The clarity of these waters can make fishing difficult, but in the right conditions and with skill, the fishing in these lochs can be spectacular!

Cape Wrath lochs, selected lochs above Inchnadamph in Assynt and the Reay Lochs

Rainbow trout stocked fisheries

Rainbow trout are not native to Scotland and they do not breed in our lochs or rivers. Most fishing on lochs stocked with rainbow trout is from a boat. There are a huge number of such lochs; many in the Central Belt of Scotland, near Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling and Perth. The quality of these fisheries is variable. The best ones offer excellent fishing for large numbers of big, hard-fighting fish. Some of our favorites;

Lake of Menteith, Butterstone, Loch Fad, Carronvalley Reservoir, Glencorse and Loch Frandy

Pike lochs

Scotland has a number of exceptional pike fishing lochs. In these lochs the pike population has dominated over the trout, so it tends to be the case that the lochs do not fish so well for trout. As a general rule; the larger the loch, the larger the pike. Fishing is by spinning or with dead baits from the shore or from boats. It is illegal to use live bait in Scotland.

Loch Awe, Loch Tay, Loch Lomond, Loch Ken and Loch Rutten

West coast rivers

The salmon and trout rivers of the north west coast tend to be smaller and shorter than those of the east coast and the best fishing relies on elevated river levels. For this reason, these are known as “spate” rivers. The rivers of the south west coast are not so reliant on rain and are therefore more reliable when booking in advance.

Nith, Stincher, Bladnoch, Awe, Kirkaig, Morar and Annan

East coast rivers

The east coast rivers are dominated by the “big four” salmon rivers; Tweed, Tay, Spey and Dee.

The Tweed is one of the most prolific salmon rivers in the world, producing more rod-caught salmon than any other river in the European Union. This is the spiritual home of salmon fishing in Scotland. The biggest salmon river in Scotland, the Tay provides the opportunity to spin, harl and fly-fish for seriously large fish in stunning surroundings. The Spey is a beautiful river which has some of the best fly water in the world. If the Tweed is the King of Scottish salmon rivers, then surely the Dee is the Queen. Famed for its Spring run, the river flows past historic castles and royal estates and includes some of the most famous stretches of fly water in the world.

Other excellent east coast rivers include;

Teith, Don, North Esk, South Esk, Findhorn, Earn and Deveron 

Famous trout rivers

All of the salmon rivers also offer superb fishing for brown trout and grayling. However there are a few rivers which are more famous for their trout than their salmon. The most notable of these is the River Don. We have access to seven miles of the private Forbes Estate water – probably the most beautiful and productive trout water in Scotland.

Clyde, Tummel, Glass and Annan

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