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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Loch Leven Fishing Report – week ending 21st September

Over the course of the last week, shoals of fry have become far more conspicuous and the brownies have turned their attention to ‘bashing’ these shoals hard at times.  As you would expect, some big fish have been showing but they have been seemingly preoccupied with the fry and wary of anglers’ offerings.

Alan Smith had the week’s biggest fish to our knowledge, estimated at comfortably over 5 lbs (Alan returned the fish).  It was a mature cock fish in breeding colours which was puzzling as it was caught east of St Serf’s Island which is about as far away from the various burn mouths as it could possibly have been!

Not surprisingly, fry patterns are probably your best bet at the moment.  Peter Ross variants, Alexandra, Dunkeld and teal blue & silver or indeed any  teal winged fly with silver or pearly body are worth a try.  Snatchers, Dabblers & Muddlers, when fished in the open water, are also still working.

Fish feeding on fry have been found all along the south shore from Cavelstone Strip to Carden Point.  The area east of St Serfs all the way to Old Levenmouth saw a lot of fry feeders on Tuesday & Friday whilst the South Deeps from Reed Bower to St Serfs is also showing up well.  The burn mouths are also holding good numbers of fish in anticipation of water to run up and spawn – judging by the settled weather pattern currently overhead, they may have a bit longer to wait!

Water temperature is still holding at 14oC which is comfortable for the fish.  Clarity is also unchanged at 1.5 metres with quite a bit of background algae present in the water column.

With the end of the season approaching, fry feeders should continue to be a factor up until then as they normally continue with their fun until the water temperature drops away.  It is very exciting to watch some of these big fish in amongst the large shoals of small fry because one never knows when they might be tempted by one of our imitation patterns!

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Loch Leven Fishing Report – week ending 14th September

There have been some pretty big fish being seen by anglers over the past week here at Loch Leven and, judging by the splashes made, some must have been pretty hefty indeed!  Some nice ones have been caught as well.  Bill Sawright, fishing with Loanhead & District AC, had a good fish weighing 3 lbs 4¼ ozs on a Claret Bumble fly in the Mid Deeps.  Sandy Lyon (I hope I have the correct name!) was out with the Good Companions AC and had a lovely brownie at 3 lbs 12 ozs just off the South Queich on a Kee Hee.

Bill Sawright with his 3 lbs 7 1/4 ozs brownie (thanks to Brian Young for the photo)

Bill Sawright with his 3 lbs 7 1/4 ozs brownie (thanks to Brian Young for the photo)

Biggest fish of the week, as far as we know, was caught, weighed and released by Scott McGregor.  It tipped the scales at 5 lbs 13 ozs and was taken on a green tailed Kate McLaren Muddler off Carden Bay using a DI3 line.  This fish was one of three caught by Scott and he reckoned that he lost another at least as big as the one mentioned above.  Scott was fishing with the Rescobie AC from the Forfar area.

Scott McGregor with his 5 lbs 13 ozs beauty

Scott McGregor with his 5 lbs 13 ozs beauty

The weather over the past week has been extremely calm and at times bright, meaning that conditions for angling on the loch have not perhaps been ideal for brown trout fishing.  The flies mentioned already give an indication of the fly patterns that were proving most effective.  Dabblers and Snatchers in fiery brown or claret were also working and some fry patterns were well worth a try as fish are now showing more around the large weed beds particularly all along the south shore from Carden Point to Cavelstone Strip.  All the buoys on the main drop off at the shallows are holding good numbers of fish, as is the south side of St Serfs.

Water temperature has remained much the same as last week at just below 15oC.  There are quite a lot of mainly background algae in the top 4-5 feet of the water column which means that water clarity has remained around the 1.5 metre mark.

Big fish are likely to remain a feature in catches right up to the end of the season on Loch Leven but small fish are still around in good numbers and, as I have said often in previous reports, they are a joy to see – for us at the fishery anyway!

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Loch Leven Fishing Report – week ending 7th September 2014

As usual, weather conditions have been a key factor in the sport available to anglers on Loch Leven over the last week. On several days, there were light winds or indeed flat calm conditions which, coupled with cloudless skies, meant that fish were hard to tempt. When the wind picked up, the open water drifts did produce some sport.  Also, along the shoreline weed beds, fish were found feeding on a wide variety of food stuffs, ranging from small fry down to Daphnia and Cyclops (Zooplankton).

Biggest fish of the week that we are aware of weighed 4 lbs 1 oz and was caught by Michael Wilson on Sunday.  Jeff Lawson had a lovely 3 lbs 6 ozs brownie mid week.

At the moment, fish are being found mainly in the top 3-4 feet of the water column. Fishing with different line densities at varying speeds should contact fish – if they are in the mood!

As just mentioned, the open water drifts are pretty much all working at the moment.  The area from Mid Buoy to East Buoy is holding good numbers of fish, as is the south shore all the way from Cavelstone Strip to Carden Point.  When they ‘switch on’, these areas of the loch can show prolific numbers of fish.  The area around Reed Bower is also well worth a try particularly in a fresh south west wind.

The flies to try again have not changed a great deal over the last few weeks.  Muddlers, Hoppers and all the Snatchers seem to be working – fiery brown, black and claret are the most talked about colours.  The optimal size of fly is largely dependent on light intensity and wind strength.

Water temperature near the surface is just on 15oC and clarity is currently around 1.5 metres.

With the end of the season getting closer, fish are just starting to congregate in the burn mouths.  They are usually more aggressive and sometimes a very big fish is available!

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Loch Leven Fishing Report – week ending 24th August 2014

The fishing on Loch Leven has been very interesting at times.  On some days – Sunday in particular – large numbers of fish have been seen on the surface feeding on small flies.  Most of these trout were fairly small but some big fish were feeding amongst them and were catchable when conditions ‘clicked’.

Ronnie Dyer had the week’s biggest fish, weighing in at 5 lbs 11 ozs and caught just off the mouth of the South Queich on an old fashioned Blue & Silver Teal size 12. Ronnie was fishing with his club Crown Fly Fishers who have had some very nice fish from Loch Leven in the past.

Ronnie Dyer with his beautiful brownie weighing 5 lbs 11 ozs caught off the South Queich

Ronnie Dyer with his beautiful brownie weighing 5 lbs 11 ozs caught off the South Queich

Flies with Muddler heads have been doing well, as have Dabblers & Hoppers.  In fact, on Sunday, a fly incorporating a Muddler head with Hopper legs helped Michael Wilson to a bag of 4 very nice brownies, the largest estimated at over 3 lbs.  Michael also had 8-10 small (under sized) trout which were a real joy to see.

The areas of the loch currently working are the open water drifts, both North & South. But, as suggested in last week’s report, the weed beds along the shore lines are producing some nice fish which are now homing in on the fry using the weed beds for shelter.

Water temperature is now very comfortable for the fish at 14.50C courtesy of some very cold nights recently.  The water clarity is slowly improving and now stands at just over 1.6 metres with background algae levels dropping.

As we enter the latter part of the season, fish often seem more inclined to chase flies presented near to the surface, providing some good, old-fashioned, ‘top-of-the-water’ sport.

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