Loch Leven Fishing Report – period ending 19th May

The weather has probably been the dominating factor on Loch Leven with wind speeds approaching gale force persistent during much of the period.  Those anglers, who were brave enough to venture out, were effectively restricted as to where they could fish and the methods they could use.

That said, some very nice baskets of fish were recorded.  On Sunday, fishing the open water onto East Buoy, Tony Black and Stevie O’Neill caught 22 brownies, all of which were returned bar one!  Both anglers were using DI 7 lines and mini lures.  Also on Sunday, Brendan McWilliam was out with his club East Kilbride AC and had a cracking trout weighing 7 lbs 12 ozs (the Facebook post diddled him out of 4 ozs when stating it was 7 lbs 8 ozs!).  Brendan caught his fish in the Hole ‘o’ the Inch on an Orkney fly, the Merkister Maid.

Brendan McWilliam with a cracking 7 lbs 12 ozs brownie caught on a Merkister Maid

Brendan McWilliam with a cracking 7 lbs 12 ozs brownie caught on a Merkister Maid

Yesterday (Tuesday), Alan Campbell had 11 fish also in the Hole ‘o’ the Inch, all on buzzer patterns and all returned.  He reported that 2 of the fish were in the 4 lbs class.  Regular readers will recall that in May 2013, Alan caught the largest brownie ever taken on Loch Leven at just over 11 lbs 5 ozs, beating the previous record which had stood for over 100 years.  By pure coincidence, we received back the record-breaking fish which has been beautifully mounted by Ronnie Glass and we were able to get a nice photo of Alan being reunited with his fish which will have pride of place in the refurbished Boathouse café.

Alan Campbell reunited with record Loch Leven brown trout

Alan Campbell reunited with record Loch Leven brown trout

Also taking place yesterday on Loch Leven was a SANA prelim for the Scottish National.  A total of 46 fish were caught, 22 of which were kept and weighed in at 16 lbs 6 ozs.  The remainder were released with an assumed weight of 1¼  lbs each although several were actually well above this weight.  The top 3 qualifiers were 1st Brian Mackenzie with 14 fish, 2nd Tom Burnett  with 9 fish and in 3rd place was that old campaigner from Dunfermline, Ian Simpson, with 6 fish.  The 3 of them are pictured below, together with the full SANA heat results.  Well done to all the anglers who fished on what was a very challenging day by all accounts.

SANA Loch Leven Prelim podium - Ian Simpson, Brian Mackenzie and Tom Burnett

SANA Loch Leven Prelim podium – Ian Simpson, Brian Mackenzie and Tom Burnett

SANA Loch Leven Prelim results

SANA Loch Leven Prelim results

Pike anglers are still doing well, particularly in the early evening with the fly probably the most effective method.  Top weight this week was an 18 lbs pike caught by Rod McLennan.

Water clarity is very good at the moment, measuring some 4 metres on the Secchi Disc.  There is a profusion of Zooplankton at the moment in the water column and there have been some good buzzer hatches taking place given suitable weather conditions.  The water temperature is still a tad cool at just on 12oC.

Fish are to be found pretty much all over the loch but it probably pays to have a word with Fishery staff before setting out as areas may change day-to-day depending on the wind direction.  Hopefully the weather will now settle down a little and allow anglers to fish with less restrictions laid on them by the weather and also allow some more consistent fly hatches.

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Loch Leven Fishing report – period ending 10th May

There has been a fair bit going on at Loch Leven these past couple of weeks.  Fish are being caught in good numbers and, without exception, they appear to be a really good condition.  All the year groups are now being represented in recorded catches and some very big fish have been caught, all very fit and in superb condition.

Alan Hills had a very successful start to the season, netting a nice 4 pounder on his first outing followed by catches of 2 lbs and 3 lbs on his second outing in what should have been very unhelpful bright conditions. Impressive stuff.

Alan Hills with a nice 4 pounder

Alan Hills with a nice 4 pounder

Alan Hills

Biggest fish of the season to date, as far as we are aware, is this cracking brownie caught by Charlie Wells who was out with ‘Shug’ Shaw a fortnight or so ago.  It was returned without being weighed or measured but it was reckoned to have been over 10 lbs.  Charlie caught the fish on a sparkler on a di-7 at the old Leven Mouth. Between them, they had 3 fish for approximately 17lbs. What a basket of wild trout – and they also had 3 pike up to 8 lbs!

Charlie Kelly with an absolute beauty estimated at over 10 lbs

Charlie Kelly with an absolute beauty estimated at over 10 lbs

Last weekend, smaller fish made an appearance especially in the open water drifts near to the drop-offs (banks).  Fish have been found chasing fry since the first week of the season and we now have had some decent buzzer hatches taking place over the last few days and so hopefully we will have some good buzzer fishing to look forward to!  Some boats have had big numbers of fish in a session – Rod McLennan & Rab Walls had 12 fish all on buzzers whilst, more recently, Peter Cameron and his boat partner netted and returned 14 fish  whilst Lewis Kerr and Connor Campbell went even better, catching and releasing  17  fish from East Buoy down to Elbow Buoy pulling Di-3,5 and 7’s,catching on small lures and Snatchers.

Empty Buzzer cases on the surface of the water to the North of Castle Island

Empty Buzzer cases on the surface of the water to the North of Castle Island

Although there are encouraging signs, buzzer fishing as yet has been a bit sporadic but hopefully the recent unsettled weather will calm down and conditions become more conducive.  Mini lures fished at a wide range of depth and speed have also been working, especially last weekend.

Water clarity at the moment is very good, measuring 3.8 metres.  There is plenty of Zooplankton in the water column which have been grazing on the smaller background algae which in turn clears the water.  Clear water is very important for many reasons but the main benefit is that light can penetrate down through the water column allowing macrophytes (aquatic plants) to start to grow.  This in turn encourages a much more diverse ecology with all sorts of feed forms on which trout of all year groups can feed.  Indeed, such has been the improvement in water quality over the last 20 years that Loch Leven is now recognised as being macrophyte dominant rather than algae dominant the way it was pre 1970 or so.

The areas fishing best at the moment are Hole ‘o’ the Inch to Levenmouth, East & Mid Buoys, Reed Bower and the north side of Castle Island were fish are consistently being found.  However, depending on the wind direction, they are being found all over the loch including from Grahamstone to the Prap along the yellow & black – a very old fashioned drift indeed.

Flies catching the fish are probably best categorised rather than individually named – mini lures, silver and gold Sparklers, emergers especially all the many Snatcher variants  and of course Buzzers.  As always, line density is an important decision that anglers have to make and always remember that what you start with may well not be what you end up using for a myriad of reasons (ie changes in light, wind speed, temperature etc).

Pike fishing is available at the moment and some nice catches of pike have been had on lures and on the fly. One boat recently had 23 pike on the fly mostly around the Factor’s Pier and weighing up to 12 lbs.  To date, we have not had a 20 lbs pike reported as being caught but I believe we are closing in on that one!

Evening fishing is now starting and Michael Wilson has been out and enjoyed success even on some of the cooler evenings.  Ally Wells was out last Friday on a very cold evening and had 4 good fish and reportedly ‘lost’ another very big fish.  In years gone by, evening fishing on Loch Leven used to be far more popular than the day session which might be expected in a brown trout fishery.  Nowadays it is very much the other way round and I just wonder whether the period when the loch was stocked with rainbows (which are very much a day time quarry) continues to be influencing anglers’ fishing patterns despite the fact that the loch has reverted permanently to being a wild brown trout fishery.

Kinross AC had their second outing of the season on Sunday and had a very good day despite some pretty wild weather.  The club had 42 fish between its 7 boats.  Donald McGregor had the day’s biggest brownie weighing in at 6 lbs 3 ozs.  A Loch Leven regular, Donald says it is the best fish he has caught on the loch but, looking at the photo below, it is a toss up as to who looks the grumpier, Donald or the brownie (I am reliably informed that is actually Donald’s ‘happy face’!).  Andy Menmuir also had a fish at 5 lbs 8 ozs whilst top rod was Connor Campbell – just out of junior ranks – with 12 trout all measured and returned (as were most of the Club’s fish).

Donald McGregor with a lovely 6 lbs 3 ozs brownie

Donald McGregor with a lovely 6 lbs 3 ozs brownie

As the season gets going in earnest, we are hoping for some ‘top of the water’ action particularly during the anticipated Buzzer hatches.  We could just do with some warmer, more settled weather.

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Loch Leven Fishing Report – Period ending 16th April

The 2015 season has not been long underway and fishing has been fairly slow, albeit not too many anglers as yet have ventured out, perhaps understandably.  Fluctuating air temperatures and low water temperatures have been holding back consistent sport.  That said, there have been some very nice fish caught and, without exception, all have been in very good condition curtesy probably of a pretty mild winter.  Only yesterday, Greig Davie had a lovely brownie weighing a tad under 4 lbs and measuring about 500mm (pictured below being modelled by Steve Rougvie!), which he caught in the Hole ‘o’ Inch.

Greig Davie's 3 lbs 15 ozs brownie (being modelled by Steve Rougvie)

Greig Davie’s 3 lbs 15 ozs brownie (being modelled by Steve Rougvie)

Huge numbers of fry are to be seen in areas all around the loch and brownies have been spotted regularly feeding on these shoals particularly along the shore from the Narrow Neck to Levenmouth and the Black Wood / Grahamstone  area.  The fish feeding on the fry appear pretty single minded in chasing their quarry and have proved difficult to catch.

That said, I was out with Alan Smith fishing from Black Wood to Grahamstone recently and we had 7 lovely brownies between us, all of which were returned.  They were mostly in the 2-3 lbs range with the top weight being comfortably over 3 lbs.  Alan Smith is pictured below (apologies for the camera work!).

Alan Smith with one of the 7 brownies we caught

Alan Smith with one of the 7 brownies we caught

There was one interesting observation from the fish we caught, namely that 2 of them showed damage from predators.  The first one pictured below shows damage to the top half which seems to indicate that it was likely attacked from above and it is our considered opinion that the predator was probably an osprey.  Conversely, the fish immediately below it has damage to its bottom half which we felt was probably the result of an attack by a cormorant which tend to favour attacking from below.  It will be interesting to see if anyone thinks differently.  The good news is that both fish had fought like Billy-o*and, bar this predator damage, were in cracking condition.  There was no indication of any infection in the wounds and there is every likelihood that both fish will make a full recovery.

Osprey damage?

Osprey damage?

Cormorant damage?

Cormorant damage?


Water clarity is good for this time of year at just under 2 meters and the water temperature is still a pretty chilly 8oC.  Zooplankton (Daphnia & Cyclops) have made an early appearance in the water column which is a good sign especially for the young fish and those newly recruited fry from the various streams.

* Note – have just Googled ‘fought like Billy-o’ to check the spelling and found that it probably ought to be ‘fought like Bixio’ (pronounced Biglio in the Genoese dialect) after an Italian soldier in Garibaldi’s army, Lieutenant Nino Bixio who it was said would enter battle encouraging his men to follow him and “fight like Biglio”.  You learn something every day!!

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Loch Leven Pre Season Update

With the start of the new season on Loch Leven today, not surprisingly anticipation is rising.  A number of very hardy anglers have ventured out and it will be interesting to see if they have any early success – the cold, bright conditions at the time of writing this are perhaps not as ideal as they could be!

Last month, we held what has hopefully now become an annual Loch Leven Fish Research Meeting.  Although it sounds a bit dry, the meeting was extremely useful and informative.  Particular thanks must go to SNH, and in particular Denise Reed, for again organising the session and for all those from various organisations who attended.  The Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) again sent a strong team consisting of Linda May (water quality), Dave Carss (cormorants) and Ian Winfield (trout & perch).  It was also nice to have Joanna Girvan present, representing the River Forth Fisheries Trust.

2014 Season Catch Returns

Let’s start with the most important thing – feedback on the 2014 season.  Those who have fished Loch Leven over the last couple of seasons will quite probably have been asked to fill out a Catch Return Card.  Now that the practice of catch & release has become the general norm, the accurate recording of catches has become much more difficult now that few trout are being brought back to the Pier and weighed in.  With Loch Leven being one of the sites of a big EC funded project called OpenNESS, we have agreed to try to provide them with more accurate data on fish catches and boat turns – our Catch Cards therefore are very important and we are extremely grateful to all of you anglers who have taken the time to fill them in over the last 2 seasons and we hope that you will do so again this year.

Example Catch Survey Card

Example Catch Survey Card

We have just received feedback on the initial analysis of the 2014 cards from Ian Winfield and his team at CEH and it is interesting to see how the results for 2014 compare with 2013 which was the first year in which we ran the scheme

2014 Season 2013 Season
Cards Completed



Fishing Hours Covered



Total Brown Trout Caught 1,635


–          Retained

287 (17.6%)

358 (27.3%)

–          Released

1,348 (82.4%)

952 (72.7%)

Catch per Unit Effort      (per boat hour)

0.63 trout

0.494 trout

As you can see, there was a good increase in the number of cards completed and submitted (thank you again!) although interestingly the number of fishing hours they actually cover is little changed.  The number of trout recorded on the cards as being caught showed an encouraging increase and it is interesting to see that the percentage released back into the loch rose by almost 10% to over 82%.  As a fishery, we offer no guidance to anglers about catch & release because we are very happy for anglers to take trout home ‘for the pot’ – that said though, we are extremely appreciative of those of you who carefully release trout back into the loch after catching them!

The important figure though is the CPUE (Catch per Unit of Effort) which gives perhaps the best indication of how the loch is fishing.  The CPUE measures the number of trout caught per hour a boat is out on the loch.  in 2013, boats were catching a trout about every 2 hours (0.494 trout per hour). Last year, the catch returns would suggest it was 1.25 fish every 2 hours (0.63 trout per hour).

The chart below tries to put that into some sort of historical context, illustrating the data from 1975 – 2003 when reasonably accurate catch returns were recorded (and before catch & release took off and rendered the Fishery’s statistics meaningless).


Historical Catch Rates on Loch Leven

Historical Catch Rates on Loch Leven

  • The left hand scale shows the number of fish per boat boat per hour fished.
  • The solid black line plotted represents brown trout
  • The dotted black line plotted represents rainbow trout
  • The bold red horizontal line shows the 0.63 trout caught per boat per hour fished in 2004 (dotted red line shows equivalent 2013 figure)
  • The bold orange line is less meaningful, merely representing the number of brown trout kept (as opposed to released) per boat per hour fished in 2014 (dotted orange line shows the equivalent 2013 figure).

At first glance, the 2014 result of 0.63 trout caught per boat per hour fished looks really positive.  Not only was it nicely ahead of 2013 but it appears to be better than any year since 1975 when we started keeping this data. However, there is an element of trying to compare apples & pears here – the 1975 to 2002 data reflects fish actually weighed in at the Pier before catch & release became popular whereas the 2013 & 2014 figures are derived from anglers’ returns which predominantly include those caught and then released.

Although the 2014 result looks encouraging, one needs to input a further degree of caution. Not every boat took out and completed a card and those that did had an inevitable bias towards local regular anglers who were happy to help in the survey.  Local knowledge has always been an enormous advantage at Loch Leven and therefore the catch ratio of 0.63 is almost certainly higher than it would have been if every boat in every session had completed a catch survey card.

Click on the following link if you would like to read the full Preliminary Report from Ian Winfield (CEH):  Preliminary analysis of 2014 LL catch returns


Loch Leven Fish Population

Although, looking back through last season’s weekly (?!) fishing reports,  the fishing was at times reported as being pretty difficult, anglers were reporting seeing plenty of fish even if they were proving hard to tempt to the fly.  Young fish in particular appeared in huge numbers on various occasions which was hugely encouraging, even if they are frustrating for anglers.  Our feeling is that the trout population is pretty healthy at the moment both in terms of numbers, spread across age groups and their condition.

The most significant factor behind the return to health of the Fishery has got to have been the huge improvement in water quality over the last two decades. The sustained decline in the levels of phosphates & nitrates found in the loch over the period is perhaps best illustrated by the dramatic recovery in macrophytes (aquatic plants) in the loch.  Improved water clarity has resulted in weed banks growing at depths last seen almost a century ago. Not only that but there is a much greater variety of macrophytes being recorded – back in August 2014, Iain Gunn of SNH reported that they had recorded more varieties (20) at Loch Leven in a single year since 1910!

The only cautionary note was expressed by Dr Linda May  (CEH) who noted that 2014 had seen a small upward tick in what was a strong downward trend in phosphate levels in the loch.  They will be keeping a close eye on whether this was a blip due to weather conditions or whether the improving trend is showing signs of leveling off.  As luck would have it, CEH are due to carry out one of their 5 yearly Loch Leven Catchment Area phosphate & nitrate loading surveys starting imminently (results due in August 2016) and this should give us a much better idea.

Returning to the fish population, CEH (Ian Winfield & team) having been carrying out annual acoustic surveys of the fish population since 2007.  In 2008 & 2011, his team carried out gill net surveys at 3 sites on the loch and, keeping up the 3 year programme, they did so again last year.  What they found was very interesting.

CEH - 2014 Gill Net Summary Results

CEH – 2014 Gill Net Summary Results

The number of brown trout caught continues to increase.  However, Ian Winfield pointed out that there are indications particularly from the acoustic surveys that the trout population is now dispersed much more evenly around the loch than was the case a few years ago, quite probably because the improved habitat means that food sources are much more widely spread.

The perch population findings are equally interesting.  In 2011, there was a big spike in the young perch population (50-60 mm).  As you can see from the diagram below, 3 years later in 2014, there is a much more even spread across the size bands.  There appear to be far fewer smaller perch but many more larger ones (which will be predating on the small ones!).

CEH _ Loch Leven Perch Population

CEH _ Loch Leven Perch Population

Ian Winfield commented that these results showed an extremely positive trend for perch and exactly the sort of text book profile that they would expect from improving water quality.  There were also indications that Pike numbers were growing and Stickleback are now being seen in huge numbers.  All in all, it seemed very positive.

Loch Leven Catchment Area

The condition and performance of the many feeder streams in the Loch Leven Catchment area is obviously of paramount importance to a wild brown trout fishery such as ours.  The days of rearing hundreds of thousands of young trout from eggs in the fish ponds at Tarhill on the north shore to stock the loch are disappearing into the distant past.  The trout population of the loch is now totally reliant on recruiting juveniles from the various feeder streams every year.

Willie & Michael monitor the various feeder streams throughout the year but there is obviously particular attention paid every autumn as the adult trout run the burns to breed. This year, gratifyingly, they observed healthy numbers of brood stock in all of the burns and this was backed up by the Redd counts.  The run starting in the first week of September and lasting right through until the first week in November.  The water conditions during the spawning season were very good – consistent spates without too much flood.

In the past, there have been periodic studies of juvenile trout in the burns and their tributaries.  Back in 1994, Ross Gardiner of FRS Pitlochry (now part of Marine Scotland) carried out an extensive survey of juvenile trout populations at 18 sites within the catchment area using electro-netting as a means of counting the fish population at those sites.  He then carried out a smaller scale study in 2009 when 8 of the original sites were revisited and electro-netted again. His summary findings made interesting reading

‘Given the relatively small size of the catchment supporting the population of trout in the loch, the burns have to be very productive. 8 of the previous 18 sites from 1994 were re-visited. Comparative photos showed that in some sample sites the channel characteristics had changed, with bank-side cover becoming slightly less, but others were very similar. The slightly later time of year could account for some of the differences.


There were generally higher densities in 1994 than 2009 and fish were slightly bigger in 2009. This may be due to the cover being slightly less and therefore fish may have moved off.  Other reasons may be that the number of ascending brood stock is less. In at least one case, the drop in densities may be at least partly due to a large stocking effort in the mid-90’s at a particular site, stocking no longer takes place on the catchment. [What Ross Gardiner is referring to here is that, back in the 1980s & 1990s, there were only so many young brownies that the fishery could grow on in the fish rearing ponds at Tarhill.  Any excess fry were released into the higher reaches of burns and their tributaries in the catchment area. He was pointing out that, in at least one of his survey sites, counts might have been boosted by this stocking of surplus fry.  This practice had long stopped by 2009].

It was confirmed that the brown trout densities are still high for the UK. Anecdotal information from KEC suggested that there were bigger numbers of ascending brood stock last year than for a number of years.

 Other issues arising in the discussion of the findings were: might brown trout stay in the stream with the proportion dropping back to the loch becoming reduced? Flow is critical to the density of juveniles; are there density dependent effects on age of maturity? Fishermen are finding a wide range of age classes in the loch. In the 1960s there was a distinct smolt run but there is no recent information on what proportion of trout recruited to the loch is as fish which have undergone smoltification.’

Last year, we were very grateful to the River Forth Fisheries Trust for offering to again survey juvenile trout population in the catchment area now that this type of activity is no longer carried out by Marine Scotland.  Dr Joanna Girvan and her team surveyed 8 upstream sites within the catchment area, 5 of which corresponded to original sites surveyed in 1994 by Ross Gardiner.

Catchment Area Survey Sites (1994 & 2014)

Catchment Area Survey Sites (1994 & 2014)

Whereas Ross Gardiner reported in 2009 that counts had fallen from 1994 levels (albeit the fish appeared slightly bigger), Dr Joanna Girvan’s findings were overall positive – counts were either similar or higher than in 1994 (and therefore more so than in 2009) in the 5 corresponding sites.  She went on to point out that the comparisons between the 2 sets of data if anything understate the 2014 results because she only electro-netted each site once. Back in 1994, Ross Gardiner had electro-netted each site several times in quick succession to ensure they got a full count and that none were escaping.

Comparing fry densities (0+ year old)

Comparing fry densities (0+ year old)

Comparing parr densities (1+ Year old)

Comparing parr densities (1+ Year old)

We are very grateful to Dr Joanna Girvan and the River Forth Fisheries Trust for undertaking this study and she is hopeful that she will have the time and resources to be able to repeat these surveys every few years going forward.


Willie always insists that mention is made of the cormorants on Loch Leven in our pre season reports.  Neil Mitchell of SNH gave us the 2014 cormorant count details which showed a continuing gradual increase in average numbers.  If you happen to be a ‘glass half full’ type of person, you can take encouragement from this.  Cormorants are extremely efficient predators and they would not be here on Loch Leven if there was little for them to catch.  Might their slowly rising headcount indicate a growing fish population?

Most anglers understandably cannot find any silver lining in cormorant numbers because of the huge damage they can do to fish populations.  Here at Loch Leven, we suspect the damage to the trout population is actually being reduced by the continuing recovery in perch, pike and stickleback populations mentioned earlier which will help satisfy the cormorants hunger.  Many of you will have seen Michael’s recent post on our Facebook page:

‘Don’t say I’m not honest and cover all aspects of what goes on. Working on the loch today and came across about 100 cormorants feeding in the Hole ‘o’ Inch. They all got up. However, as quite often happens the more heavily laden with fish birds regurgitate what’s in there throat. Two cormorants had a pike each plus around 50 to 100 sticklebacks. Not what I was expecting. Hopefully good news for the trout. Fingers crossed the other 300 cormorants are eating the same. Both pike were about one pound.’

What the cormorants were eating!

What the cormorants were eating!

Unfortunately, gone are the days when we could reduce the numbers of cormorants on Loch Leven by shooting an agreed quota.  We have tried for a licence but have to accept facts that we are not going to be given one due to Loch Leven’s status as a National Nature Reserve amongst other things.  We are having to cheer on the Sea Eagles who have been seen harrying the cormorants on the loch – go, boys, go! Looking further ahead, we are exploring in collaboration with SNH the possibility of carrying out in the near future a controlled cull of a number of cormorants to enable a scientific analysis of their stomach contents to ascertain changes to their diet.  The signs are reasonably hopeful if resources can be made available to analyse the stomach contents.

FRS Pitlochry carried out cormorant diet surveys back in 1991 and then 2001 (click here to see the FRS Cormorant Survey 2001).  As mentioned earlier, our suspicion is that the proportion of the cormorant diet made up by trout could well have fallen sharply from the 85-90% found in the earlier surveys – but it would be fascinating to see if that were actually the case.

The new 2015 Season

Our season on Loch Leven has just begun today with a number of intrepid anglers out in boats.  As always at the start of the season in March, there is the usual anticipation about what the forthcoming season will bring.  Water clarity throughout the winter months has been in the main very good.  Huge shoals of stickleback have been seen pretty much all over the loch all winter, providing ample food supplies for fish and birds.

Tight Lines to one and all and we hope you have a cracking season wherever you are fishing!

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Loch Leven – End of 2014 Season report

The ‘dust has well and truly settled’ on another season at Loch Leven (not sure that is an entirely appropriate idiom – Ed) and, like all seasons here, there were high spots as well as low ones when fishing was pretty hard work.  However, such is the way with wild brown trout fishing – it doesn’t always go as planned but the rewards when they do come are well worth waiting for.

As usual, the start of the season was pretty slow with April producing few fish numbers-wise but some very good fish were recorded and without exception all were in cracking condition.  Even the season’s brood stock appeared to have recovered their condition very quickly.

May & June both saw some good ‘buzzer action’, especially just off the Reed Bower east towards St Serfs on the huge 14 foot plateau.  Some very good baskets of fish were also using pulling methods mainly on high density lines and usually very close to the drop offs nearer the marker buoys (ie East Buoy to North Buoy).

Dennis Davitt with his 5 lbs+ brownie caught at the Hole 'o' the Inch in May

Dennis Davitt with his 5 lbs+ brownie caught at the Hole ‘o’ the Inch in May

July saw large numbers of mainly small trout at or near to the surface.  On some days these young fish were to be found on the surface over large areas of the loch which, from a fishery point of view, is a joy to see!

Evening fishing though was a little disappointing over the summer months due we think to the inconsistent and sporadic hatches of the large chironomid (Yellow Owl).  On those occasions when we did get a good fly hatch, the trout did certainly respond with some very nice baskets of fish taken during these ‘events’.  Unfortunately, they were not as regular as we would have liked for some reason.

August & September proved to be a rather mixed bag.  At times, the fish could be found close to the surface chasing the huge amount of fry but usually they proved pretty single-minded about their ‘fry bashing’ and were difficult to tempt with anglers’ offerings.  Interestingly, anglers were most successful catching these fish when there was a good breeze and a nice big wave, fishing just below the surface, and it was great to be amongst these fish when they performed.

2014 Loch Leven Champion John Reid with his 5 lbs 15 ozs fish

2014 Loch Leven Champion John Reid with his 5 lbs 15 ozs fish

To summarise, I think that the 2014 season on Loch Leven has again showed us that we are still in recovery mode.  The season once again showed that there were very good numbers of fish were in evidence pretty much all over the loch.  All the age groups of trout have been represented.  Importantly, the numbers of small trout (up to 10 inches in length appear to be continuing to increase year on year which, whilst sometimes frustrating for anglers being pestered by them, is nonetheless very encouraging for future prospects for brown trout fishing on Loch Leven.

The current condition factor and innate fighting quality of the Loch Leven brownie is also a joy to behold and this is surely a reflection of the improving water quality in the loch.  This continuing improvement in water quality is providing a wonderful environment for our wild brown trout with abundant sources of food. The water column this past season showed lower average counts of algae , even at peak temperatures when the algae tends to flourish, as well as increased weed growth.  Loch Leven is nowadays dominated more by weed than algae during the summer months of May, June and into July when water clarity remained as high as 4 metres as measured by the Secchi Disc.  It is the improved water clarity that has led to increased weed production as light has penetrated deeper into the water column.

The change in the weed environment within the loch has also increased the diversity of life within the water column, with greater abundance of invertebrates, zooplankton (Cyclops & Daphnia) and small fish species such as Stickleback and Perch fry, all of which are very important food items for brown trout.

As mentioned earlier, fly hatches on the loch were rather more sparse than in previous years, especially the midseason evening hatches of Yellow Owl.  I am not too concerned as these chironomids are prone to cyclical peaks & troughs and that chances are that we are currently at or near the low point in the cycle rather than experiencing a longer term structural change.  But we will keep an eye out for possible clues as to what is actually happening.

With this article being written in early December, the trout have just completed their spawning activities.  Brood stock were seen in encouraging numbers in all of the main burns and their tributaries.  Fortunately this autumn we have had very good water conditions to allow fish access to these burns & tributaries throughout the spawning season, from early October through to the end of November.  We are very fortunate at Loch Leven to have this huge spawning facility within the catchment area.  The streams all enjoy good water quality which encourages the production of good numbers of healthy juvenile trout which are then ‘recruited’ into the loch to grow on.  We do keep a close eye on these important feeder streams throughout the year just to make certain that everything gets a fair chance and that occasional pollution incidents are dealt with swiftly.

Finally may I take this opportunity to thank all anglers for their support of Loch Leven, to wish you all the very best over the festive season and to say that we are all at the Fishery very much looking forward to seeing you all back here next season when that big fish will definitely not get away!  Tight lines.

Largest  brownie in 2015??

Largest brownie in 2015??

 Willie Wilson                                                                                         5th December 2015

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Loch Leven Fishing Report – week ending 5th October 2014

It is always a sad moment when the curtain falls on yet another season at Loch Leven as it did last weekend.  In line with tradition, the main event was the Loch Leven Championship which was fished on Saturday in pretty reasonable conditions despite the weather forecast earlier in the week looking a tad dodgy.

As usual, the Loch Leven Championship was based on the lengths of fish caught rather than weight, thus ensuring that virtually all fish caught are promptly released after being recorded. The one downside to this arrangement is that we no longer have the excitement of the weigh-in as anglers tipped their basket of fish caught onto the weighing scales – nostalgia no longer rules!

The 2014 Loch Leven Champion was John Reid from Kinross AC with 2 fish measuring 910mm ((36 inches) in total.  His largest fish pictured below weighed in a smidgeon under 6 lbs (ok – 5 lbs 15 ozs to be exact!).  Runner-up this year was Les Gunn with  2 fish measuring 770mm (approx. 30 inches) in total and , in 3rd place, was Paul Sharp with one fish measuring 572mm. John Reid would have also won Largest Fish followed by Paul Sharp but we try to spread the prizes around and so winner of the bottle of whisky for Largest Fish outwith the main prize winners went to Mr Mathieson from Aberdour  with a splendid trout measuring 510mm.  All of these big fish were estimated within a 5 lbs – 6 lbs weight range which was encouraging to see.

2014 Loch Leven Champion John Reid with his 5 lbs 15 ozs fish

2014 Loch Leven Champion John Reid with his 5 lbs 15 ozs fish

The open water drifts between Mid Buoy and East Buoy as well as the south shore along the Gairney front appeared to produce most of the fish but the area off the North Queich also saw some good action.

Over the last few days, we have seen some serious rain – indeed more rainfall was recorded here Friday overnight into Saturday than was reported for the whole of the month of September.  Fish will now have certainly begun the spawning runs up streams with this first spate and will surely continue now to do so when conditions are right because most fish caught in recent weeks have been in ‘breeding livery’.  I will report more fully on the spawning activities more fully in due course.

Finally, all of us here at Loch Leven would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all those diligent anglers who have come to fish Loch Leven this past season.  Loch Leven can, and usually is, a challenging place to fish – but then that is wild brown trout fishing for you!  However, the sheer quality of the Loch Leven brownie can make for some memorable outings.  Thanks too to anglers for returning the vast majority of their hard earned catches, thereby helping to preserve the fish population although we still actively encourage anglers taking the occasional specimen home for the ‘pot’ because they are tremendous to eat.  Finally, a special thank you to all those anglers who so diligently completed the Angler Return cards during their outings here because these are now our only source of catch data.

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Loch Leven Fishing Report – week ending 28th September 2014

To be honest, there has been very little changed since last week’s report.  Some good sized fish are splashing about and large numbers of smaller trout are appearing in the open water drifts but all classes of fish seem to be wary at the moment.

Best fish of the week weighed in at 3 lbs 13 ozs but there were reports of a much larger one being hooked, played and then lost almost at the net by a very frustrated angler – it was his first brown trout hooked!

Fish are still to be found in the open water drifts all along the drop off from the Elbow Buoy to East Buoy.  The south shore is also holding good numbers of fish from Cavelstone Strip to Carden Point, as is the south shore of St Serfs and the deep water east of St Serfs right to the Levenmouth Bank.

Fry feeders are still showing even in the deep water, particularly in calm conditions, and they are now congregating in numbers in the burn mouths waiting for Nature’s call to spawn.

The most successful flies have not really changed in over a month – Dabblers, Muddlers and Snatchers are all working, as are fry patterns such as teal winged, pearly bodied imitations in particular. Fish are being found mainly in the top 3 feet of the water column.  In fact one angler commented to me on Sunday after coming in after a day session that unless you ‘scratched the surface with your flies’, you probably were not going to move fish at all!

Water clarity remains unchanged at 1.5 metres with quite a lot of background algae still present.  Water temperature is holding up well for the time of year at just under 14oC.

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