Loch Leven Fishing Report – period ending 19th July

BREAKING NEWS!  Well, not actually the sort of ‘Breaking News’ that we get used to from the BBC or SKY.  Instead what we have been witnessing over the last week on Loch Leven has been some big trout giving anglers a bit of a ‘going over’ with some fairly brutal behaviour when hooked.

Last night for example, 3 different anglers reported being broken by some pretty big fish – in all three cases, the anglers had been using 8 lbs up to 9 ½ lbs breaking strain leader material.

John Patrick with a big 6 lbs 7 ozs brownie caught early last week near the Green Isle

John Patrick with a big 6 lbs 7 ozs brownie caught early last week near the Green Isle

Big fish ‘specialist’ Frank McFarlane had 2 fish last week between 6 and 7 pounds.  Stevie Stuart was out fishing last Friday evening with Lochgelly SRC AC and had a fish at 6 lbs 13¾ ozs using a floating line and Kate McLaren.  His boat partner Davie was ‘broken’ when two pretty big fish took his flies at the same time.  Archie Ferguson was also out fishing with Lochgelly and had a very nice fish at 4 lbs 1 ozs.

Evening fishing is still somewhat unpredictable.  On Monday evening for example, there was a big hatch of various flies including some nice big Yellow Owl and yet the fish appeared on that occasion to be somewhat reluctant to get involved . That said, however, Alan Lindsay did have 7 trout for his boat, Dunfermline Railway AC had the same number between their 2 boats and Ian Harper had 3 nice trout while out fishing with Central Scotland Police AC and so perhaps we are just being fussy!

All the recognised fishing methods appear to be working when the fish have a mind to respond.  Buzzers are still taking fish especially during the day sessions whilst one angler had a brace of trout one evening last week on a dry fly of his own tying.

The best area at the moment is probably the North Deeps, fishing from Scart to the North Buoy as this covers some very good fish holding water.  The Reed Bower, Gairney and the west point of St Serfs have also produced some good action over the last week.

Water clarity is holding up well considering how far into the summer we are and is currently reading 2.4 meters on the Secchi Disc.  Water temperature has edged higher to 160C (but will have moved higher still during the hotter weather of the last few days). Zooplankton are still showing up in huge numbers at all our sample points which is a really good food source for all year groups of trout.

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Loch Leven Fishing report – week ending 11th July

Much to my relief after flagging it up in several weekly reports, at long last we have seen some pretty substantial hatches of Yellow Owl on the loch last week. Yesterday evening, Rod McLennan and a friend got into a big hatch and it served to bring fish up  to the surface and they had 4 very good fish between them in the last hour or so of daylight.

The feature to look out for are gulls feeding on the water – the small black-headed gulls are the ones to keep an eye open for rather than the large predatory black backed gulls based on St Serfs.  Last night, many hundreds of these gulls were seen between Scart Island and the Green Isle and Rod commented that it was the most black-headed gulls he had seen in the last 4 years!  John Reid was out one evening last week and had 7 fish in that same area where again there had been a big hatch of fly.

Big fish are still making fairly regular appearances in catch returns.  Last Tuesday, Jeff Lawson had a nice 5 pounder amongst a total bag of 6 fish.  Frank McFarlane had a lovely fish on a buzzer weighing 6 lbs 8 ozs last Wednesday  whereas the following day Alan Campbell had another weighing about 6 lbs.  Out last night, John Patrick from the Falkirk area had a fish at 6 lbs 7 ozs near the Green Isle and reported losing another even larger fish.

Frank McFarlane

As a result of the fly hatching, the last hours of daylight can provide some good sport but it is dependent to an extent on the weather and, if conditions aren’t right for whatever reason, it can still be pretty hard going as some anglers have found.  Hopefully however, these hatches of Yellow Owl will continue and ‘kick off’ in a few more areas of the loch.

Water clarity has improved significantly to 2.7 meters as the recent localised algal blooms have started dying back.  Conversely, Zooplankton is still prolific at all the sites where we gather our records.  Water temperature is 15.70C.  As reported last week, weed growth appears to have peaked and some fish are being seen in and around the large weed beds where food supply is abundant.

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Angler Catch Survey – April and May

Anglers who have fished here at Loch Leven will be aware that, since 2013, we have been asking those that are happy to do so to complete Catch Survey cards as part of a research collaberation with Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH).

Up until about 15 years ago, nearly all fish caught on Loch Leven were ‘chapped on the heid’ and weighed in back at the Pier.  Our detailed fishing records covering over 1 million brown trout go back to the late 1800s. However, since 2000, there has been a dramatic change towards catch & release with around 75% of trout caught on Loch Leven being returned.

Whilst catch & release has to have been a huge help in the recovery of Loch Leven as a wild brown trout fishery, it has completely knackered our historical fishing records!!  The Catch Survey was therefore introduced 3 years ago to try to get data on all brown trout caught on the loch regardless of whether they were kept or released.

1st Catch Survey card for the 2016 season

Until now, all cards have gone straight to CEH where the data is extracted.  It is inevitably pretty time-consuming and so this year, to help them out, we agreed to input all the data from the Catch Survey cards onto an Excel spreadsheet.  We recently completed all the cards for April & May and thought that you might be interested in seeing what initial results have been thrown up.  The one caveat is that we have no pretensions about be statisticians and so what we will show below is derived from the simple raw data and therefore our comments present simply our superficial deductions and we would advise against placing too much importance on the actual figures.

Total Boat Turns 88 273 361
Anglers Cards Completed 20 74 94
23% 27% 26%

As you can see, we had a total of 94 completed Catch Survey cards handed in for April & May which represents 2 just over 1 in 4 of the total boat turns (sessions times boats that went out). However cards are only currently completed by trout anglers whereas quite a number of boat turns will have been by pike anglers (we do not at the moment record what boats are fishing for). In reality, cards were probably completed by about 40% of boats fishing for trout – but that is a guesstimate!

Total No of Rods / Anglers 39 147 186
Total Hours Angling Effort 304 1127 1431
Total Boat Hours 156 584 740

The Catch Survey cards recrd the number of anglers per boat (rods) as well as the number of hours fished. We can show that by the number of boat hours (749 hours in total in April & May) or by the total hours of angling effort (a boat with 2 anglers fishing 8 hours each = 16 hours angling effort) which came to 1431 hours!

Total Fish Caught 28 197 225
Released 18 144 162
% Released 64% 73% 72%

From the 94 completed cards, we were able to see that 225 brown trout had been caught in the opening few weeks of the season, out of which 162 (72%) were released and 63 kept.

Average catch per boat per session 1.4 2.7 2.4
Average catch per boat hour 0.18 0.34 0.30
Average catch per angler per session 0.72 1.34 1.21
Average catch per angler per hour 0.09 0.17 0.16

This is where it starts to get a bit more interesting.  The data suggests that the average catch per boat per session up until the end of May was 2.4 trout and the average angler caught 1.2 fish.  Whilst that looks pretty low against what other fisheries might offer, we have to bear in mind that Loch Leven is a wild brown trout fishery with zero stocking.  All of you who fish on the loch know only too well what a test it is and that recording blanks (more on that later) are just part of the experience. We would like to think that the fishery offers quality over quantity and when you hook a good Loch Leven brownie, it is a memory to be treasured!

We are now sure how meaningful the catch per hour figures are but it would suggest that an angler should catch a brownie on average once every 6 hours 15 minutes  (0.16 fish per hour) – I suspect some anglers will think ‘if only’!

No of boats catching 0 trout 9 23 32
No of boats catching 1-2 trout 7 28 35
No of boats catching 3-5 trout 3 10 13
No of boats catching over 5 trout 1 13 14
Anglers Cards Completed 20 74 94

Talking about ‘blanks’, you can see from above that about one boat in every 3 (32 out of a total of 94) handed in nil returns.  A further 35 boats recorded catching 1-2 fish whereas 27  boats (29%) had 3 or more fish of which 14 were really in the money and 6 or more fish.

No of Trout measured for length 27 124 151
Average Length (millemetres) 415 407 409
No of Trout weighed 11 89 100
Average weight (lbs) 2.08 2.42 2.38

Although we are obviously interested in the numbers of fish being caught, we are also gathering information on the sizes and therefore age groups of the trout.  The above table shows that a total of 151 trout were measured for length and 100 in total were weighed.  Before anyone queries why 151 + 100 = 251 which is more than the 225 fish caught, some were both measured & weighed!

The average length of fish measured was 409 mm which, according to recent data, would suggest an average weight of one and a half pounds, give or take a couple of ounces either way.  And yet the average weight of those fish weighed appears to come in much higher at 2.38 lbs (2 lbs 6 ozs) – why the big differential?  We can only surmise that it tends to be the larger fish that are weighed whereas the smaller ones are more likely to be measured. The true average therefore is somewhere between the 2 figures with a definite bias towards the bottom end of the range. So let’s perhaps say for sake of argument that the average size of fish caught in April & Mat was 1 lb 10 ozs or thereabouts.  We have said it before and will say it again that the average size of the million+ trout caught on Loch Leven in more than a century up to the 1990s was 15 ounces whereas nowadays the average is approaching double that.

Why is this happening?  Who knows?  But we suspect that it is probably something to do with the improvement in water quality over the last decade or more which is now producing an abundance of different foodstuffs for the fish in the loch to feast on.  Whilst this is frustrating for anglers in that it means that the trout are often not so interesting in taking the fly when there are plenty of other food options in the water column, it does mean that the quality and condition of the Loch Leven brownie is better than it has ever been.  Hardly a week goes by these days without someone catching a 6+ pound brownie or someone reporting that they have been broken / smashed by a big trout.

Total Trout measured / weighed 28 197 225
Trout measuring > 480mm / 3 lbs 9 44 53
Trout measuring > 590mm / 5 lbs 0 10 10

As a final thought, we felt that we should try to guage the numbers of bigger fish being recorded.  Whilst we obviously know the weights of those actually weighed (?!), we have tried to estimate the weight of those measured but not actually weighed.  It looks from what we can see that a fishing measuring 480 mm is going to weigh about 3 lbs whereas one measuring 590 mm will weigh about 5 lbs.  Using this as a very unscientific ‘rule of thumb’, it looks as though almost one fish in every 4 (53 out of 225) caught up until the end of May weighed 3 lbs or more and 10 fish weighed over 5 lbs.

Our sincerest thanks go out to all anglers who make the effort to fill in the Catch Survey cards and return them to us and we hope that giving this feedback on the results makes it feel worthwhile.  As and when time permits (extracting all the data from the cards is pretty time-consuming), we will provide further updates during the season.


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Loch Leven Fishing report – week ending 4th July

Rather like the weather, the fishing on Loch Leven over the last week has been somewhat mixed. Indeed, over the weekend, strong winds made fishing very difficult as the unfortunate Aberdour AC found out although their dogged determination did see them manage to catch a few trout.

On Saturday, which was probably the more difficult of the two days, produced a fine example of Loch Leven ‘newcomer’s luck’!  Pablo Mullings came up from London on a brief visit to see friends and was taken out on the loch for the first time -, you’ve guessed it, he proceeded to catch a superb brownie weighing 5 lbs 13 ozs in about 6 foot of water just inside the Mid Buoy!

First time out on the loch and Pablo Mullings lands this 5 lbs 13 ozs beauty

First time out on the loch and Pablo Mullings lands this 5 lbs 13 ozs beauty

The weather quietened down somewhat yesterday (Monday) and some sensible catches were recorded.  Jeff Lawson & Eck Dewar had 6 fish between them, two of which weighed just over 4 lbs.  Alan Lindsay and pal had 3 fish whilst Alan Campbell had 4, one of which weighed 5 lbs 8 ozs.

Out on his own on Monday evening was Ken Lindsay who is 87 years young and still ties his own flies.  Ken caught and released a lovely 1½ lbs trout on one of his pheasant tail nymphs – well done Ken!

Water clarity has actually slightly improved over the week and stands at just over 2 meters whilst the water temperature is slightly lower at 14.50C thanks to some decidedly chilly night time temperatures (I actually recorded ground frost on one morning last week!).  Zooplankton are prolific all over the loch which is great to see and weed growth has probably now peaked.

Evening fishing is still a bit slow but we are seeing small hatches of Caenis  which have been bringing trout to the surface.

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Loch Leven Fishing Report – week ending 26th June

Some very nice baskets of fish have been caught at Loch Leven over the course of last week but that doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story. Whilst plenty of fish were being caught in some sessions, others proved really tricky as the fish seemed to ‘switch off’ for no obvious reason.

Best basket by far was caught by Jeff Lawson & Eck Dewar who caught 27 brownies between them with one comfortably over 6 lbs.  They were fishing buzzers in 20 feet of water just west of the Elbow Buoy in the North Deeps. Their ‘basket’ was not only the largest of the week but also of our season to date! To show it was no fluke, the 2 of them were out again on Friday and caught a further 11 fish between them whilst separately Stuart Moodie had 5, Alan Campbell 4 and Frank Naismith 3, all using buzzer methods.

Jeff Lawson & Eck Dewar with a 6 lbs+ brownie - part of their combined basket of 27 brownies

Jeff Lawson & Eck Dewar with a 6 lbs+ brownie – part of their combined basket of 27 brownies

Some very nice fish are showing in the open water areas with one angler reported seeing 4-5 fish over the course of a one hour period just east of St Serfs all of which in his words ‘looked like grilse’.  Unfortunately he didn’t manage to get any into the boat although he hooked one which he reported as having broken his leader with ease!

The are some areas of algae which have started showing up in various places on the loch but at the moment anyway it appears localised and nothing like the huge biomass we had a few years ago. Outside of those areas, water clarity is still around the 2 meter mark and water temperature is standing at 15.50C.

Best areas seem to have been around the North Buoy and Elbow Buoy, from Scart to Green Isle, Old Manse Bay and the east end of Cavelstone Strip.

Buzzer methods, as you will have gathered from the first part of this report, are probably proving the best choice – weather permitting – but pulling traditional flies on various line densities isalso working when the wind is up and a good open water drift is possible.

Evening fishing is still not properly getting its act together and we are still waiting for some big Yellow Owl hatches (I seem to have been saying that for a few weeks!).  We are continuing though to see small hatches of Caenis at night which have been bringing up some very local rises of fish.

There are still a few pike being caught by anglers willing to give them an hour or two.  An angler had one at 11 lbs and a second at 12 lbs last week off the Factor’s Pier.

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Loch Leven Fishing Report – period ending 20th June

Fishing has been a bit patchy on Loch Leven over the last week buy nevertheless there have been some nice fish and indeed baskets recorded.  Last Monday, Jeff Lawson was out with Eck Dewar and they had 6 fish between them, the largest of which caught by Eck weighed 6 lbs 7 ozs.  Then, on Thursday, Alan Smith was out practicing for the SANA semi final the following day and he had 4 fish and ‘contacted’ several more from the North Buoy to Black Wood.  Sadly Alan didn’t convert his information into fish caught on the Friday because he failed to qualify in many a year – obviously getting too old!

The semis on Friday proved very hard going indeed, compounded by a strong to near gale force north to north westerly  accompanied by very low temperatures.  The top qualifier with 3 fish was Ally Middlemas, 2nd place with just one fish (but it did weigh 5 lbs 1 oz) was Billy Neil from Kilmallie AC whilst 3rd place, and final qualifier, was Brian Duffy from Kirkcaldy with one fish weighing 3 lbs 13 ozs.

On Saturday,  Colin McGlone had 4 fish on buzzers whilst the following day, Steven Walker was out with Stuart Moodie and he continued the trend of big fish being caught when he landed a nice one weighing 5 lbs 8 ozs which was weighed and returned.  On Monday, Frank McFarlane had 4 fish on buzzers whilst Joe Brown from Dunfermline had a nice one at 5 lbs 4 ozs and then rose another of seemingly much the same size while fishing east of Scart Island using a home tied Invicta variant.  Joe’s fish were moved at or very close to the surface and he was fishing with a floating line all day!

Steven Walker with a nice brownie weighing 5 lbs 4 ozs

Steven Walker with a nice brownie weighing 5 lbs 4 ozs

Water clarity is holding fairly steady at 2.6 meters  pretty much all over the loch and there is now the first signs of green algae showing up in the water column although as yet only in small amounts.  Water temperature though has dropped sharply down to just 140C courtesy of the persistent north winds and some very chilling spells of rain.  As one would expect for this time of year, Zooplankton are still showing up in big numbers all over the loch.

Evening fishing too has been a little patchy. There have been some nice rises of Caenis which has been good to see but as yet we are still waiting for some hatches of Yellow Owl which normally prompt some good action from brownies.

As you will have gathered, all the usual methods have been working to an extent over the last week when the appropriate conditions have prevailed.  As always, much depends on the conditions on the day as to what best to use and where you should go.  Do please ask us if you want any guidance before you go out as we are only too happy to share what we have gathered from anglers.

Stop Press – Some nice catches have been recorded from anglers out today (Tuesday) but we will save the details for next week’s report!

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Loch Leven Fishing Report – week ending 13th June

Following the extended period of dry, bright weather during May and early June, conditions abruptly changed on Friday as overcast conditions and an often brisk easterly wind set temperatures plunging and made fishing pretty tricky on the loch.

First boats set out to brave the conditions on Saturday morning for the Loch Leven Pairs Classic

First boats set out to brave the conditions on Saturday morning for the Loch Leven Pairs Classic

The Loch Leven (Pairs) Classic was fished over two sessions, starting Friday afternoon / evening and continuing for the day session on Saturday with all fish caught being measured and returned.  The leaders at the half way stage on Friday evening were none other than Alan Smith partnered by yours truly (Willie Wilson) whose 5 fish between us had given us a narrow lead but it was close and all to fish for on Saturday.  Although fish that day proved hard to come by, our lead was whittled away and the eventual winners turned out to be Jeff Lawson & Ewan Clark.  Alan & I did just enough to cling onto 2nd place with Ally Wells & Dougie Wells in 3rd place.  Jeff Lawson ended up with the biggest fish of the competition measuring 540mm which turned out to make all the difference.

Pairs Classic Winners - Runners UP Alan Smith & Willie Wilson, Winners Jeff Lawson & Ewan Clark and 3rd place Pair Ally Wells & Dougie Banks

Loch Leven Pairs Classic  – Runners Up Alan Smith & Willie Wilson, Winners Jeff Lawson & Ewan Clark and 3rd place pair Ally Wells & Dougie Banks

In addition to the £1000 in cash prizes handed out, we would very much like to offer a big thank you to our sponsors, namely Neil Anderson from Angus Angling in Forfar, Ian Christie from Flybox in Perth and to Julie & Jason from the Boathouse Restaurant here at the Pier.  Many thanks also to all the anglers who took part in what turned out to be a lovely, friendly competition.  Our intention is to stage this revived Loch Leven Pairs competition again next year and hopefully we can fill all the entries.

Despite the dramatic change in conditions, there have still been some very big fish showing up in catches.  Michael Wilson, out fishing with Kinross AC on Sunday had what we think was the biggest of the week weighing  6 lbs 7 ozs which he caught at Brock’s Hole near the Sluices.

Michael Wilson with his 6 lbs 7 ozs brownie caught at Brock's Hole

Michael Wilson with his 6 lbs 7 ozs brownie caught at Brock’s Hole

Best areas over the last week have been North Queich, North Buoy, Reed Bower, Carden Bay and the open water east of Scart Island.  Buzzer methods are still working well but pulling wet flies is accounting for fish as well, particularly in the evenings.

Water clarity is holding at 2.8 meters on the Secchi Disc and the water temperature has held up pretty well at 18.50C despite the chilly air temperatures.  Zooplankton are still in evidence in the water column in abundance and weed beds are now well established.

Pike anglers are still enjoying good success and indeed 2 out fishing on Friday caught 17 between them just off Alice’s Bower.  We do not record the numbers of pike caught at the moment but we estimate that comfortably over 1000 will have been caught so far this season on Loch Leven.  After many decades where few if any have been seen in the loch, it is another illustration of how the improving water quality has changed things.  The brown trout population has certainly benefitted both in terms of quantity and quality but we are now seeing  discernible recoveries in other species such as pike, perch and sticklebacks.

Some reasonable fly hatches have been observed and indeed we have had some very localised hatches of Caenis (White Moth or, as some anglers refer to them, the ‘curse’!).  Fish have been responding to these hatches but usually the activity has been in short, sharp bursts as hatches occur.

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