LOCH LEVEN – END OF SEASON REPORT 2015

Another fishing season over at Loch Leven and, looking back, at times it performed really well and at other times it was pretty difficult for anglers – that pretty much sums up Loch Leven and wild brown trout for you. However, even on those days when catching them was proving challenging, anglers were usually aware that they were in amongst a good head of fish.

April saw some nice baskets of fish reported and, from the very start of the season, the fish were in beautiful condition and fought just as hard as you would expect from a wild brownie in good condition. Fry feeding was a feature in the early season and small lures fished at varying depths accounted for some good fish.

Pike fishing also enjoyed a very good spell from the third week in April through to the end of May when the weed growth in the ‘pike areas’ really got going and when we think the pike start to confine their feeding activities to the very lush weed beds.

Buzzer fishing enjoyed a lot of success as we moved into June but it has to be said that sport during this period was slightly patchy rather than consistent. Both June & July worked away quietly rather than being really busy with day sessions generally performing better than the evenings.

August saw the return of some serious fry feeding along the huge weed beds in various areas of the loch but the fish were difficult to engage when engaged in fry bashing but some very big fish were caught, some were lost and the rest just teased the best efforts of anglers.

September proved to be probably the most challenging month with lots of fish in evidence but often seeming indifferent to the anglers’ offerings although some very nice fish were caught right up to the end of the season.

Looking back over the 2015 season as a whole, the two big positives were the number of fish in the loch and the quality and size of some of the fish caught. Although nobody landed a real monster this season, we had regular reports, often supported by photos, of cracking fish being caught in the 5lbs, 6 lbs and 7lbs size bracket – more so perhaps than in any previous year that we can remember. Many an angler recorded their Loch Leven PB.

Below is a photo compilation of some of the top fish caught on Loch Leven last season – apologies to those whose photos did not quite make the cut!

L-R from top left: John Reid, Darren Scott, Eck Bolton, Scott Reith, Brendan McWilliam & Donald McGregor

L-R from top left: John Reid, Darren Scott, Eck Bolton, Scott Reith, Brendan McWilliam & Donald McGregor

On the downside, the brownies often proved challenging to hook but I dare say that is just Loch Leven for you – the better you know the loch, the greater seems to be the chance of catching them but quite often one also needs a bit of luck. It would have been nice if the fishing had been a bit more consistent throughout the season but that is perhaps just wishful thinking for a wild brown trout fishery.

As for the evening sessions during the summer, they could also have done with bigger and more frequent fly hatches. This has actually been a disappointing feature of the last 2 or 3 seasons where we have had a distinct lack of hatching chironomids such as the Yellow Owl (Curly Bum). There were a few hatches of these big juicy flies but nothing like what we had a few years ago. Mention of this has been made to scientists who visit the loch about the recent lack of fly life and they are monitoring this now but as yet there is no indication from them as to whether they think this is just a short term cyclical downturn or whether it may be a longer term structural change resulting perhaps say from the improvement in water quality in the loch.

One of the better fly hatches (photo by Corin Smith)

One of the better fly hatches (photo by Corin Smith)

Water quality throughout the season was generally pretty acceptable. Blue / green algae did make an appearance in June & July as usual but never came close to reaching the high biomass status recorded in previous seasons – indeed cyanobacteria (blue / green algae) counts are done fortnightly throughout the season on Loch Leven by CEH and there was only one at the very beginning of August where it moved out of low and into moderate on the internationally recognised World Health Organisation (WHO) scale.

Zooplankton was prolific throughout pretty much the entire season and this provides a plentiful supply of high protein food to all year groups of trout (and of course other fish species in the loch) but particularly for juveniles newly recruited from the streams in the catchment area. Areas of weed growth in the loch have shown a dramatic increase in recent years, confirming the inproving trend in water quality. These weed beds are very important to fish populations generally, providing an environment for many life forms on which the trout feed but it also allows them to engage their predatory instincts and therefore improve their feeding habits generally.

As mentioned earlier, all the different year groups of brown trout have not only been seen in excellent condition but, just as importantly, all year groups are well represented in the loch. The streams throughout the catchment area system are holding good numbers of 0+ and 1+ year old juveniles. Brood stock are now well through their spawning activities and good numbers of these adult fish have been observed in the feeder streams over the last couple of months. Water levels in the streams were a bit low in October but the trout showed considerable determination to get upstream and it was lovely to see the trout on the redds because this augurs well for the future.

Finally, we would like to thank all of the anglers who visited the loch throughout the past season and in particular for their responsible behaviour – by this of course I mean the practice of careful catch & release which anglers have adopted. As you know, we have no bag limits here on Loch Leven because we have found that we don’t need to be Nanny and tell anglers how to behave. Return cards filled out by anglers suggest that more than 6 out of every 7 trout caught are carefully released back into the loch which must surely be helping the fish population. That said, the Loch Leven brownie is delicious to eat and we fully encourage anglers to ‘chap the odd one on the heid’ and take it back for the pot because after all, a key reason behind fishing is to satisfy our ‘hunter gatherer instinct’!

Tam Easton sent in this photo just illustrating the gorgeous pink flesh for which Locj Leven brownies are renowned

Tam Easton sent in this photo just illustrating the gorgeous pink flesh for which Loch Leven brownies are renowned

Looking forward to next season, you will be pleased to hear that:

  1. We have decided that there will be no price increases for boats next season,
  2. Indeed, we are reducing the price of peak season evening boats and early morning boats from £44 to £40.
  3. We are going to continue with the Monday Special discounted boat prices that proved pretty popular last season ( the number of Monday boat turns in 2015 was almost 3 times what they were in 2014)

You can see the full Loch Leven 2016 Boat Charges here

Anyone looking to book a boat or boats for next season should either:

Finally, some other photographic memories of last season here on Loch Leven

An osprey in action on Loch Leven

An osprey in action on Loch Leven

John Reid & Donald McGregor's surprise fishing companion!

John Reid & Donald McGregor’s surprise fishing companion!

Dawn over the Harbour (photo by Tom Drysdale / Sunrise Scotland)

Dawn over the Harbour (photo by Tom Drysdale / Sunrise Scotland)

Alan Campbell reunited with record Loch Leven brown trout

Alan Campbell reunited with record Loch Leven brown trout

 

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Loch Leven Fishing Report – period ending 5th October 2015

So that’s it – another brown trout season finished at Loch Leven. It has to be said that September has been a disappointing month in terms of fish caught although, frustratingly, plenty of fish have been seen on the surface during that time all over the loch.

Our traditional season-ending Loch Leven Championship took place on Saturday and all credit to the anglers who took part because we ended up with a very good result. All might well have been different if I hadn’t had to take to my bed with a serious case of ‘Man Flu’ on Saturday because I was quietly confident that this was going to be my year! However, in my absence, Stan Headley was crowned Loch Leven Champion 2015 with 4 fish. In 2nd place was Stevie O’Neill with 3 fish and in 3rd place was Graeme Connolly who also had 3 fish (in the Loch Leven Championship, trout are measured by length rather than weight and all are then released).

Stan Headley receiving the Loch Leven Championship trophy

Stan Headley receiving the Loch Leven Championship trophy

Instead of heaviest fish, a prize goes to the angler catching the Longest Fish and this year the bottle of whisky went to Connor Campbell with a cock fish measuring 550mm which we reckon would have weighed approx 3 ¼ lbs. In the end, it was a nicely symmetrical result with the 35 anglers taking part catching 35 fish between them. Judging by how difficult September had been, that was a pleasing result.

I will compile a full season report in due course once the ‘dust has settled’ on this season and we have all the boats safely out of the water. I will also give an update on the feeder streams in the catchment area which we monitor because the trout will be running these just as soon as we get a bit of water in the system Hopefully we will get the conditions for a good breeding season.

Finally, a big thank you from all of us at the Fishery to all our many loyal anglers who fish Loch Leven with great diligence during the season. Fishing for wild brown trout can be demanding enough but Loch Leven, with its size and now very rich ecosystem, often takes this to new levels. However, hopefully you will agree that when your diligence and tactics pay off and you successfully land a Loch Leven brownie, the time spent in diligent pursuit is amply rewarded because there is no doubt in our minds that the quality and condition of the fish are as good as they have been in living memory here at Loch Leven. It is wonderful to see how the loch has recovered over the last 2 decades and that we now have a viable wild brown trout fishery again here in Central Scotland. Tight lines!

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Loch Leven Fishing Report – period ending 21st September

Although the fishing has been pretty quiet over the last week on Loch Leven, there is action still being found close to the drop offs and along the weed beds. Fish are still chasing and feeding heavily on fry which are prolific in the loch at the moment.

Anglers are still though managing to lure a fish or two. Indeed, on Sunday, fish were only just sub surface and were being contacted pretty regularly to a fair selection of methods and flies.

No really big fish have been reported to us this week as having been caught but a fair number have been seen splashing around waiting to take part in the spawning activities in the burns. All fish being caught are still in excellent condition as we have come to expect but the mature brood stock, especially the male fish, are now beginning to colour up.

The best areas are still the open water around the Reed Bower, all along the weed beds, particularly those along the south shore of St Serfs, Gairney Mouth to Dog Island area. East and Mid Buoys are also still worth a visit.

Traditional flies are still to the fore, as are some of the smaller lures in various colours are all working such as gold, silver black & green.

The water clarity has improved slightly to 1.4 meters and the water temperature at 140C is very comfortable for the fish.

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Loch Leven Fisheries Report – period ending 14th September

Fry feeding trout have been taunting anglers for much of the last week at Loch Leven. On some days, large numbers have been seen on the surface but, frustratingly, they are often proving quite difficult to catch. Anglers have reported have reported seeing very large fish right up close to the side of the boat but they are seemingly single minded in their pursuit of fry.

That said, some good fish have been taken. Scott Reith was out on Sunday with Rescobie Loch anglers and had 3 fish, two of which were of average size but one was estimated to be in the 5 ½ – 6 pounds range, taken on a green tailed Kate McLaren. Scott returned all his fish – the big one was said to be in excellent condition and will no doubt produce some good healthy offspring when it runs the burns shortly.

Scott Reith with a his 5 1/2+ lbs trout caught last weekend on a Green Tailed Kate McLaren

Scott Reith with a his 5 1/2+ lbs trout caught last weekend on a Green Tailed Kate McLaren

Alan Campbell was out on Monday with Ian Simpson had a lovely trout estimated at 4 ½ lbs amongst 4 in total that he had and all of which he returned. The big fish was also a hen fish looking ready for the forthcoming spawning season. He took it on a Claret Bumble.

The Reed Bower, the south side of St Serfs, Gairney Mouth and the open water around the small islands are all holding good numbers of fish.

As mentioned at the start, the fish are currently feeding heavily on fry but also at times are feeding on Zooplankton, both of which are food sources currently in almost limitless supply in the loch. This probably explains why the fish are sometimes ignoring anglers’ offerings. As a result of the bountiful food sources, the fish appear to be in top class condition.

Water clarity has remained steady at 1.2 meters with a lot of background algaes in the water column. Water temperature has been trending down to a current level of just under 15oC and the weed beds are now visibly smaller but are still holding vast numbers of both perch fry and stickleback.

Finally, a fabulous photo taken of dawn over the harbour last weekend.

Dawn over the Harbour (photo by Tom Drysdale / Sunrise Scotland)

Dawn over the Harbour (photo by Tom Drysdale / Sunrise Scotland)

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Loch Leven Fishing Report – period ending 7th September

Fishing has remained fairly tricky over the last week on Loch Leven but, that said, there have been some very nice fish caught all the same. Out on Thursday, Jim Thomson had a nice fishing at 4 lbs 3 ozs on a green & orange Booby which he caught just off the Reed Bower.

Fishing on Sunday on a Kinross AC outing, Ally Middlemas had a lovely fish weighing 5 lbs 11 ozs. In another boat, Alan Smith had a very big hen fish which measured slightly less than Ally’s in length but it was stuffed with roe and probably weighed a good few ounces more. Alan’s fish was returned and swam off very energetically indeed!

Ally Middlemas with a lovely brownie weighing 5 lbs 11 ozs caught on a Viva with a pearl fritz head and gold wing

Ally Middlemas with a lovely brownie weighing 5 lbs 11 ozs caught on a Viva with a pearl fritz head and gold wing

Some very big fish have been seen ‘fry bashing’ pretty much all over the loch. Fry are present in huge numbers and the trout are hitting them hard at the moment.

Best flies currently seem to be small (size 10 or 12) lure and fry imitation patterns but good old traditionals are still attracting fish especially on a day with a good fresh blow from any direction. Soldier Palmer, Kate McLaren, Bibio along with various Dabblers and Snatchers are all worth a try.

Fish are now lying back off the main burn mouths, getting ready to begin their journey into the burns to spawn – this should start to happen anytime now given a good flow of water.

Water clarity is little changed from last week at just over 1 meter with a lot of background algae present at the moment. Water temperature has actually risen slightly to just on 16oC.

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Loch Leven Fishing report – period ending 1st September

Not much change really – very good numbers of fish seen on the surface, feeding presumably on the huge shoals of perch fry and stickleback, but at the same time proving very tricky to catch. Good numbers of Corixa are now active around the weed beds which is also keeping the trout occupied.

The south shore of St Serfs and the stretch from Cavelstone to Carden Point are both reportedly holding a lot of fish, with some very big specimens among them. The weed beds down at The Sluices are also supporting huge numbers of fry which are keeping the fish on the move.

Zooplankton is still prolific all over the loch which is providing a great food supply for the fish, particularly for the newly recruited juveniles which do require a high protein food supply to kick start their new lives in the loch.

Water quality remains at about 1.2 meters courtesy of a high count of background algae whilst the water temperature has settled at 14.5oC.

The weed beds have now probably peaked in size and will now start to shrink. This can often prove beneficial to anglers as it tends to concentrate the fish that feed in these areas. The water in the Shallows (inside the marker buoys) is much clearer and we think this is because the large amount of weed that carpets these areas competes with the algae, using up the available nutrients. With the slightly clearer water, these areas are certainly worth a try.

Fry imitations such as Silver or Pearly Invicta, Alexandra and Humongous are well worth giving a go as well as all the usual traditional flies.

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Loch Leven Fishing Report – period ending 27th August

Once again, the fishing has been a tad challenging on Loch Leven over the recent period. On Sunday for instance, a very strong east wind was coupled with unbroken sunshine all day. Despite these normally near impossible fishing conditions, fish were up on the surface especially near the weed beds but they proved mighty difficult to catch. However it was a joy to see these fish in evidence, often in good numbers.

The previous day, Alan Temple had some good sport fishing dries on the edge of the weed beds along the South Shore near to Cavelstone Strip. Alan lost a couple of good size fish, one of which ‘broke’ him, then had 3 nice fish and covered ‘countless more’ in a couple of hours.
Fish are now ‘patrolling’ the large shoreline weed beds in good numbers. The main attraction for these fish is undoubtedly the large shoals of perch fry and stickleback. But Corixa are also now showing up and will definitely be featuring in the trouts’ diet.

Open water drifts are still producing results especially in a good steady blow with full cloud cover. It is also worth watching the esturial areas of the main burns from now on as they will start filling up with fish, both big and small. The fish that normally move into the burn mouths usually drag numbers of non-breeders along with them. In fact, I have recorded non-breeders running the streams presumably on a sort of ‘dry run’!

Recommending specific flies at the moment is quite difficult. Some anglers have had success on dries and on very small traditionals on the calmer days but the traditional brown trout patterns arestill working. Fry patterns such as Peter Ross and Alexandra teal blue & silver are certainly well worth a try among surface moving fish suspected of fry bashing.

Water clarity remains much the same as last week at 1.3 meters whilst the water temperature has risen slightly to 16oC.

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