Adventure & Sports

Scotland, Europe’s Fishing Mecca

Imagine yourself traveling to a country with more than 31,000 lochs (lakes), 11 major rivers, and 6,160 miles of coastline. You have just pictured yourself in Scotland, a fishing paradise. Whether you want to catch Atlantic salmon or go angling for trout, Scotland is a world-class destination, and you can fish all year long.

Fishing can be a quiet time spent in the raw, natural world. Discover Highland rivers, idyllic hidden lakes, and the peace of waters. It can also be a contest of strength between two mighty warriors. Ocean fishing includes spray on your face, time spent with friends, and a worthy captain—it is the adventure of a lifetime. Below are some of our favorite spots to drop your line or go fly fishing. Wherever you are, you’ll be surrounded by the mystic beauty of Scotland.

Loch Tummel

is in Pitlochry, the heart of Scotland, in the county of Perthshire. Drop your line here and you’re likely to catch brown trout, perch, or pike. This loch is often stocked with trout, so it’s a good bet for beginners and those who want a decent chance of landing a fish. This is a quiet spot with bucolic scenery, and the river runs through the town where you can spend several sweet nights.

Loch Lomond

is more than a stop along the Whisky Trail or a cruise to spot the Loch Ness monster. It is the largest freshwater lake in Scotland’s Highlands, just 23 miles from the city of Inverness, gateway to the Highlands. You’ll find guided fishing trips in the loch and also in the nearby rivers of the Clyde Estuary. The native fish species in Loch Lomond include the European eel, Northern pike, Atlantic salmon, Sea trout, Brown trout, and the Arctic Char. Climb to Grant’s Tower at Urquhart Castle for an unforgettable view of the bay and Loch Ness.

Choose a Limestone Loch

These lochs are rare in Scotland, but well worth checking out. You’ll find the village of Durness in the northwest tip of Scotland. Surrounding this small town are four limestone lochs. These lochs are Brown trout heaven. Loch Borralie, Caladail, Croispolm, and Lanlish have crystalline waters, due to the limestone filtration. Because the waters are rich territory for the foods trout love, the fish here are often twice the size of Brown trout in other lochs. You’ll find excellent, local fishing guides. Also ask them how to find the nearby chocolate factory!

Consider the Galloway and Borders Area

This is an easy region to explore after you get into Edinburgh. Go to the River Tweed for salmon, and head to the countryside lochs for trout. You can try sea fishing in the Solway Firth, 16 miles from Carlisle, and along the shore of the Isle of Whithorn. There are small lochs in the hills that are full of trout.

The River Ness

is just ten minutes from Inverness. If you’re exploring the Highlands, that city is your base. The Ness River covers some of Scotland’s most gorgeous country. It flows from the northern end of Loch Ness then winds northeast to Inverness. It is where the city gets its name—the Scottish Gaelic word Inbhir Nis translates to “Mouth of the Ness.” This is one of the most productive salmon rivers in northern Scotland, with 600 – 700 salmon in a season. There are also Brown trout in the River Ness.

Craufurdland Fishery

is just 20 miles from Glasgow, making it perfect for a day trip. This is a place for fly fishing, and fly fishing only. Set on the glorious grounds of Craufurdland Estate, the fishery is stocked with Rainbow, Brown, Blue, and Tiger Trout. The estate itself, surrounded by woodlands, is a walk through history. The property first belonged to the Crawfords in the 13th century, and the castle was built in the 16th century. Take a boat, or fish from the bank, then enjoy a drink and dining.

The Big Four Rivers of the East Coast

include the Tweed, Tay, Spey, and Dee. The Tweed River produces more rod-caught salmon than any other river in Europe. If you are looking for the heart, soul, and spirit of fishing, then you must venture to the northeast. The Tay is the biggest salmon river in Scotland, and the Spey has some of the best fly water in the world. The Dee River runs past ancient castles and royal estates. All are a dream.

Norman Maclean, a Scottish-American novelist by way of Canada, writes in A River Runs Through It: “The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.”

We feel the eternal nature of rivers, the peace and the majesty of ancient waters, in our bones. A fishing expedition in Scotland is for those who want to sail to the shores where we experience the suspension of everyday life. It is traveling through Scotland that we remember we are part of nature.