Loch Leven Fishing Report – week ending 22nd August

Loch Leven Fishing Report – week ending 22nd August

Anglers have experienced mixed fortunes fishing on Loch Leven over the last week.  Fish were proving difficult to hook although anglers were moving a number of fish who were reported as seemingly ‘window-shopping’.  It can be somewhat frustrating watching fish up to 3 or 4 pounds cruising in to inspect one of your flies only to turn away untempted!

Fish were however caught and mostly returned and some very nice ones were appearing in catch returns.  Rab Wilson from Dunfermline had what we believe was the week’s biggest fish at 4 lbs 4 ozs on a Silver Invicta  near the Reed Bower last Wednesday.

Open water drifts are still working even in the recent fresh winds that we have been experiencing.  Fish are also holding along most of the weed beds but, as mentioned last week, these are often proving the most difficult to tempt.  Fish are also now showing in the estuarial areas of the 3 burn mouths, particularly at the North Queich where some very big trout have been spotted.

The brown trout are now ‘colouring up’ in preparation for their spawning activities later in the year.  This is obviously encouraging for the long term and fingers crossed for some good spawning conditions in the burns this autumn.  However not all trout will show their breeding colours as there are many juvenile trout yet to become sexually mature.  Also, some of the older trout – mainly females – will for some reason miss out on a year’s spawning activities.

Pearly bodied flies are doing well but interestingly so are Black or Claret Hoppers at the moment.  As usual, much depends on wind strength.  Line density is also important but of late the fish have tended to be mostly in the top 2-3 feet of the water column.  Water clarity remains at about 1.7 meters, water temperature is 160C and Zooplankton are still plentiful at our various test sites.

Talking of testing, we yesterday had Ian Winfield & Bryan Spears of the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology here at Loch Leven to do their annual hydroacoustic survey of the fish population of the loch using their extremely expensive kit.  They started this in 2007 and so this is their 10th survey.  Loch Leven is not ideal for this equipment as much of it is fairly shallow which is why they have their regular monitor sites mostly in the deeper areas of the loch where they can get clearer results.  The equipment cannot differentiate between fish species (trout, perch or pike) but it does record size as well as numbers and size can give a general steer (ie perch will tend to be in the smaller size categories). We won’t know the results for a few months yet.

Many thanks to Bryan Spears for sending these photos in.

Ian Winfield getting all the equipment ready

Ian Winfield getting all the equipment ready

Ready to start gathering the readings

Ready to start gathering the readings

Hopefully all those bright coloured lines on screen indicate loads of fish!!

Hopefully all those bright coloured lines and black dots on screen indicate loads of fish!!

Great photo of the boats in the harbour in the moonlight at the end of the trip

Great photo of the boats in the harbour in the moonlight at the end of the trip

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Loch Leven Catch Survey Update (to end July)

You may recall that, just over a month ago, we produced our first attempt at analysing data from the Angler Catch Return cards that many anglers had been good enough to complete when they go out and fish on the loch in April & May. This was published on the blog on 9th July and you can refresh your memories regarding the background if you wish by clicking HERE.

APRIL MAY JUNE JULY YTD
Total Boat Turns 88 313 304 248 953
Anglers Cards Completed 20 74 92 104 290
23% 24% 30% 42% 30%

As you can see, we had a total of 196 completed Catch Survey cards handed in for June & July which brings the total for the season to date to 290. representing just under 1 in 3 of the total boat turns (boats x sessions fished).

However cards are only currently completed by trout anglers whereas quite a number of boat turns were by pike anglers particularly during April & May – we will probably look to introduce pike return cards next season because we estimate that over 1000 pike have been caught this year. In reality, cards were probably completed by about 40% of boats fishing for trout – whilst that is a guesstimate, it is still a very impressive percentage and illustrates tremendous cooperation from anglers!

APRIL MAY JUNE JULY YTD
Total No of Rods / Anglers 39 147 144 218 548
Total Hours Angling Effort 304 1127 1056 1437 3924
Total Boat Hours 156 584 558 724 2022

The Catch Survey cards record the number of anglers per boat (rods) as well as the number of hours fished. From the completed cards, we can see that boat hours  total 2,022 hours in total for the season so far and that the total hours of angling effort represented by the cards  (a boat with 2 anglers fishing 8 hours each = 16 hours angling effort) comes to 3,924 hours!

APRIL MAY JUNE JULY YTD
Total Fish Caught 28 197 164 178 567
Released 18 144 110 115 387
% 64% 73% 67% 65% 68%

From the 290 completed cards, we were able to see that 567 brown trout had been recorded as caught during the first 4 months of the season, out of which 387 (68%) were released and 180 (32%) kept.

APRIL MAY JUNE JULY YTD
Average catch per boat per session 1.4 2.7 2.0 1.6 2.0
Average catch per boat hour 0.18 0.34 0.29 0.25 0.28
Average catch per angler per session 0.72 1.34 1.14 0.82 1.03
Average catch per angler per hour 0.09 0.17 0.16 0.12 0.14

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 July was 2.0 trout and the average angler caught a fraction over 1 fish per session (1.03 to be exact) on average.

Bearing in mind that we are looking at a wild brown trout fishery, the fishing results for May and to a slightly lesser extent June look pretty good. July’s figures though confirm what we have been reporting in the blog that fishing on the loch was pretty difficult in terms of the number of fish being caught with the usual culprits such as conditions being too bright or windy, lack of fly hatches etc being cited at different times.  It reminds me sometimes of race horse trainers who always have a list of excuses as to why their horse has come in 6th!

Although we have not yet started analysing the cards for August, it is clear already that far more fish are currently being caught and could even be on course to improve on even May’s figures – famous last words! Perhaps that is not so surprising because at this stage of the season, the small trout tend to emerge from the weed beds and this starts to stir everything up.

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 7 hours 8 minutes  (0.14 fish per hour) which is an hour longer than the figures suggested in May.  Again, it looks as though August will lead to a sharp improvement and hopefully that will continue through to the end of the season.

APRIL MAY JUNE JULY YTD
No of boats catching 0 trout 9 23 34 35 101
No of boats catching 1-2 trout 7 28 39 44 118
No of boats catching 3-5 trout 3 10 13 19 45
No of boats catching over 5 trout 1 13 6 6 26
Anglers Cards Completed 20 74 92 104 290

The first thing that jumps out at you is that 101 of the 290 total cards submitted up to the end of July have recorded no fish being caught which is equivalent to 35%.  Gut feel suggests that is probably pretty representative of the actual position and nobody who knows Loch Leven will be too surprised.  The loch has always been one of the more demanding waters to fish and makes you fight for each one.  Getting the tactics right for the conditions (where to fish, what depth in the water column, fly patterns etc) is of paramount importance which is why Loch Leven regulars have a huge advantage over those who fish here relatively infrequently – fishery staff are only too willing to pass on advice to anyone who wishes it!

APRIL MAY JUNE JULY YTD
No of Trout measured for length 27 124 133 134 418
Average Length (millemetres) 415 407 389 378 393
No of Trout weighed 11 89 53 75 228
Average weight (lbs) 2.08 2.42 2.39 2.48 2.42

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 418 trout were measured for length and 228 in total were weighed.  Before anyone queries why 418 + 228 = 646 which is more than the 567 total recorded fish caught, 79 fish were both measured & weighed!

The average length of fish measured had been 409 mm at the end of May but that has now dropped to 393 mm at the end of July and will probably drop a bit further in August now that young fish are more in evidence. Data taken to date suggests that a fish measuring 390 mm in length would weigh about 1 lb 5 ozs, 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 2.42 lbs (2 lbs 7 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 so far this season has been about 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.

What is interesting too is the number of big fish being caught.  Although there are no real whoppers as yet that have been caught (although there have been various anecdotal reports of them being seen), barely a week has gone by without someone recording one of 6 lbs or more and the various photos that have been sent to us show them to be fabulous specimens.

APRIL MAY JUNE JULY YTD
Total Trout measured / weighed 28 197 164 178 567
Trout measuring > 480mm / 3 lbs 9 46 25 23 103
Trout measuring > 590mm / 5 lbs 0 10 10 11 31

As  you can see from the table above, so far this season, 31 trout have been recorded as having weighed more than 5 lbs or measured more than 590 mm (which we estimate from data collected represents a fish of about 5 lbs) which represents 5.5% (or 1 in 18 or so) of the total fish recorded to date this season.  I doubt Loch Leven has ever had a higher frequency (actual or relative) of fish of this size being caught.

If we broaden the scope to include all those fish weighing over 3 lbs, (and / or measured 480 mm), then the ratio falls to under 1 fish in 6 (103 out of 567).  I suppose you could say that Loch Leven emphasises quality more than quantity most of the time.  It is always lovely to hear anglers coming back to the pier saying that they have caught a ‘fish of a lifetime’ – which hopefully makes up for those times that you come back empty-handed!

Finally, once again, 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.

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Loch Leven Fishing Report – week ending 15th August

There have been some very nice baskets of fish recorded over the last week on Loch Leven, mainly from day session boats but evenings too have been producing fish when the conditions have been favourable.

In terms of big fish, we have heard rumours that Lloyd & Scott Mudie, out with Mike Pszowski, had a 3 pounder leap into the boat and then themselves caught one of about 5 lbs but we are trying to track them down to see if there is anything in that rumour (perhaps in next week’s blog).

As it is, Bill Bruce out yesterday (Monday) had the biggest confirmed fish of the week weighing in at an estimated 3-4 lbs which he caught just off Scart Island.

Alan Lindsay and 2 friends had no fewer than 19 fish, all over 10 inches during an afternoon and evening session as well as numerous undersized trout.  Ally Middlemass was out last Thursday on a pretty windy day and had 13 fish with many more undersized fish which he didn’t count. He reported seeing a fish of ‘salmon-sized’ proportions showing just east of Scart Island.

Alan Smith and Connor Campbell were out on Thursday evening and had 18 mainly small trout but all over the 10 inch measure and reported seeing many more undersized specimens. Out on Sunday, Kinross AC had 18 trout for their 5 boats.

Traditional brown trout flies are seemingly working best at the moment, with those such as Kate McLaren, Doobry, Black Hopper, Black Snatcher, various Dabblers and Muddlers and flies with a pearl body all doing well.

The open water is still probably the best bet but huge long drifts especially in a  good fresh wind over the North or South Deeps are worth taking advantage of in the right conditions.  Fish have again started to appear along the edges of a lot of the weed beds and these fish are now chasing fry and can be the very devil to catch although very exciting to see!

Water clarity is a tad better this week at just under 1.8 meters due almost certainly to the algae count appearing lower but the warm, sunny weather of the last couple of days might well reverse that.

As mentioned, big numbers of fry are now being seen above the weed beds and so it is wise to factor in the possibility of a big fish in these areas during a day on the loch!

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Loch Leven Fishing Report – week ending 8th August

Where did those gales come from?  It is early August after all, not November!  The unseasonably strong winds led to all fishing on Sunday and Monday being cancelled which was a shame.

That aside, there were some nice baskets of fish recorded earlier in the week.  On Tuesday evening, Willie Simpson and Garry Ormiston had 9 fish between them, all returned. Alan Smith, out fishing with a pal on Wednesday during the afternoon and evening, had 12 fish which were all returned.  On Thursday, Bradley Chalmers had 5 fish during the day whilst Colin Martin had 10 fish to his own rod fishing the afternoon & evening session – once again, both these anglers returned all their fish.

Biggest trout of the week as far as we are aware was caught by Alex Rankine and weighed exactly 5 lbs.  It was taken on a Kate McLaren Snatcher between Carden Point and the west end of St Serfs.

A good number of small fish are still being caught which is encouraging for seasons to come.  I have to expressing privately some mild concerns a few weeks ago about the number of small fish being seen on the loch but I needn’t have worried.  No sooner had I opened my mouth than there they were!

Open water drifts are still performing the best with both the North & South Deeps holding good numbers of fish.

Best flies too have not really changed since last week.  Flies with pearl bodies or at least a pearl rib are worth a try.  The pearly Kate McLaren has been taking good numbers of fish, as has the Doobry, Wingless Wickham and Black Snatcher.

Water clarity has edged down a little over the last week to 1.6 meters but I think that has been largely down to the high winds churning things up a bit over the weekend.  The same is true of the water temperature which is down slightly at 150C.

Fish have been spotted along the weed beds lately and I have little doubt that they will be resuming their fry bashing activities soon as we would expect towards the end of the season.

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Loch Leven Fishing report – period ending 1st August

There have been some pretty good baskets of fish recorded at Loch Leven over the last week. David Wales, out fishing on Saturday, had to our knowledge the biggest fish of the week weighing in at 6 lbs 1 oz. David caught the fish on a Hummungus using a DI5 line at the North Deeps. He and his boat partner Jordan Scott managed a number of fish between them, mostly small, but good sport nonetheless in quite windy conditions.

On Thursday evening, Alan Lindsay had 9 fish whilst, the following evening, Kinross AC had 10 fish for their 5 boats.  Alan Smith and Ian Simpson were out last night and had 9 fish that ‘measured’ (ie above the min size limit) and a load of smaller fish.  That same session, Colin McGonigal  had 5 fish that measured as well as a number of wee ones.  Although these small, young undersized fish can be a bore for anglers, it is nevertheless lovely to see them making their presence obvious in numbers because, after all, they are the adult fish of future seasons – which augurs well for the fishery going forwards.

During the day session yesterday (Monday), Frank McFarlane had 6 good trout after giving the buzzers a good workout!

The North Deeps are holding good numbers of fish and is indeed probably the most productive area at the moment.  That said, all the open water drifts are producing results when the wind direction is suitable.

There have not been as many sightings this week of fish feeding on fry (as reported last week) but it has been pretty windy most of the week which may explain it.  Buzzer methods may now be just appearing to be easing off and fish are now being contacted higher up in the water column which does give opportunities to fish traditional patterns using various line densities at variable speeds.  It very often seems to be paying off to get out into the wind on a good drift where anglers can cover large areas of water on a single drift.

The best flies at the moment seem to be Black Snatcher, Doobry, Kate McLaren, Pearly Muddler and various Dabblers. Some of the well known fry imitations are also working when the fish are in ‘fry feeding mode’.

Water conditions are pretty much the same as last week – water clarity is steady at 1.8 meters on the Secchi Disc and water temperature remains at 16.50C.  Zooplankton are still showing up in prolific quantities in the water column at all the sites we regularly test.

As the season ‘matures’, pulling a team of wet flies will probably become increasingly the ‘go to’ method. The key will be finding the depth where the fish are to be found and that will depend very much on the conditions of the day.

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Loch Leven Fishing Report – week ending 25th July

The fishing on Loch Leven has been a little patchy on Loch Leven over the last week although anglers did well when the conditions happened to be right.  On Tuesday evening, Ally Middlemass and David Bowie had 8 good fish – all returned – at the Mid Buoy.  Most anglers that night had a fish or two including a big fish weighing an estimated 5 lbs+ which was caught and returned by Hugh Jenkins.  It was caught just to the north of the East Buoy and was feeding on fry when hooked.

Probably the most memorable session of the week though was early morning on Wednesday when 3 boats were out at dawn. A huge thanks to Jon Crowther for posting the three photos below together with the following comments “Caught with lightning going off over the hills at 5am on a size 12 Muddler with a figure of 8. I’ve wanted a fish like that forever -.thank you Loch Leven..makes getting oot ma pit at 1am worth it. Fish safely returned too!”

Great photo of Jon Crowther with his fish and then returning it

Great photo of Jon Crowther with his fish and then returning it

“We were just really lucky with the lighting. It was like the storm was all round the loch 360° but blue sky directly above the loch – definitely worth it, an amazing morning’s fishing. The fish are top class.  It was only on the way back across that the storm hit the water, rods all put away, heads down low and a b-line for home in the biblical rain!!”

Wonderfully evocative photo of returning to harbour during the storm

Wonderfully evocative photo of returning to harbour during the storm

After having reported some quite encouraging fly hatches over the previous couple of weeks when we saw hatches of buzzers and big, juicy Yellow Owls, the evening hatches last week were rather disappointing. For some reason, they became very intermittent evening on evenings which appeared quite promising.

Fry feeders have been spotted over the past week which is pretty early in the season for this activity.  Some of the fish spotted ‘fry bashing@ have been very big indeed. Along some of the now well-established weed beds is where you would expect to find fish feeding in this manner particularly those weed beds with quick access to deep water such as the west side of the Horn Bank, the south side of St Serfs Island, the south shore from the Cavelstone Strip virtually all the way to the Sluices.  Catching fish feeding on fry can often be tricky because they seem to get into a state of near frenzy but it can be done and then you are in for some good sport.

Recommended fishing methods have not changed much since last week.  Both traditional pulling methods as well as buzzers are still catching fish.  Open water drifts are working well, both during the day and evening sessions, when the fish decide to play.

Water clarity has dipped down to 1.8 meters with the water temperature holding pretty steady at 16.50C.  Weed growth is pretty extensive but may now have peaked and so there could be some good action in these areas over the coming weeks.

And finally another two nice photos sent in by Dusty Miller who was out fishing with Willie Fotheringham on Thursday evening

Dusk over Loch Leven

Dusk over Loch Leven

"...... and it was this big - honest!"

“…… and it was this big – honest!”

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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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