Tuesday 7th May 2013 is an historic day for Loch Leven.  Around 6pm, Alan Campbell from Kirkcaldy arrived back in the harbour proudly displaying the largest brown trout ever caught on Loch Leven.  He hadn’t just broken the all-time Loch Leven record, he had smashed it!

The fabulous brown trout weighed in at an official 11 lbs 5 3/8 ozs. Confirmation can be seen below

Weighed in at 11 lbs 5 3/8 ozs

Weighed in at 11 lbs 5 3/8 ozs

Alan had actually landed the trout around noon and so it almost certainly would have weighed several ounces more if done then but 11 lbs 5 3/8 ozs will go down as the official weight.

Alan is a Loch Leven regular, fishing more or less every Tuesday, and so everyone here connected with Loch Leven Fisheries is delighted for him.  He sought to give credit to Willie & Michael Wilson for recommending he tried Hole ‘o’ Inch and that is exactly where he caught the fish, using a Black / Red Buzzer, again on their recommendation – I suppose the law of averages suggests they will get it right occasionally!  Luckily the fish went deep rather than making a break for it, when there could have been problems, and fought for 15 minutes or more before being landed.

Alan Campbell with his record-breaking brownie

Alan Campbell with his record-breaking brownie

A Campbell 3rThose with a knowledge of Loch Leven history will know that the previous record had stood for over 101 years in the form of the 9 lbs 13 ozs brown trout caught by Colonel Bob Scott on 8th September 1911.  More recently, and almost exactly 100 years to the day later (4th September 2011), Michael Mackenzie had gone close with a lovely specimen weighing 9 lbs 6 1/8 ozs but nobody had ever reached double figures until today.

Congratulations Alan – you are in the history books!

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  1. Brian Peterson. says:

    Think there are still bigger ones there to be caught if you can hold on to them.

    • alan campbell says:

      There are definitely bigger fish than the one I caught Brian if you’ve
      not fished Loch Leven lately give it a go you maybe surprised at how
      good the fishing is A.C.

  2. Jim says:

    well done that man, great fish

  3. How old would that fish be?

    Well done Alan.

  4. Graeme Connelly says:

    Well done Alan, what a fish.

  5. Ian Campbell says:

    All that hard work at the 50+ flytying class has paid off!
    Well done, couldn’t happen to a nicer person

  6. Having never fished Leven, I’ve no knowledge of the geology, topography, or the quality or volume of feeding in the loch, but it surprises me that such a big body of water hasn’t produced a double figure fish until now. Here in Ireland, a trout of that size raises no more than a bit of localised commendation. Loughs Corrib, Mask, Sheelin etc regularly produce fish of this size on the fly. When it gets to 16-22lbs there’s more mention made of it. Has anybody any idea what accounts for the difference?

    • Limestone loughs are very different, in terms of productivity, to Scottish lochs, with mainly acidic peat water feeding them.

    • Hi Crispin,

      I think it is too simplistic to compare Loch Leven trout with your lochs / loughs in Ireland, or indeed elsewhere. Every loch and related catchment area will have its own unique ecosystem. For example, Loch Corrib covering 178 sq km is almost 14 times the size of Loch Leven. The mean depth in Loch Leven is 3.9m whereas Loch Corrib has a mean depth of 8.44m in its large upper lake. Loch Leven is deemed a eutrophic lake with water clarity varying considerably from zero (during heavy algal blooms) to 5m or so at best whereas Loch Corrib is a limestone loch where I am told water clarity is exceptional, thus allowing sunlight to penetrate consistently to lower depths to the benefit of macrophytes etc. All these factors (and more) will have an impact of growth rates of wild brown trout and therefore influence the sizes they can attain.

      Since fishing records began here at Loch Leven in the 1880s, around 2 million brown trout have been weighed in at an average of just under one pound – which we would argue is actually a good size in normal circumstances. The increased occurrence of Catch & Release by anglers in recent years has seen the average size of trout weighed in rise, making the long term records less relevant. Also, the dramatic recovery in water quality here over the last 20 years has significantly improved the quantity and variety of foodstuffs for trout in the loch, thus presumably improving their potential growth potential.

      Until Michael Mackenzie caught a lovely 9 lbs 5 ozs brown trout here in 2011, nobody had come close to matching the record 9 lbs 13 ozs trout caught by Colonel Bob Scott almost exactly a century earlier (1911). Occasionally there were 5 and 6 pounders landed (and exceptionally a 7 pounder) but these were regarded as exceptional. The fact that the record has now moved smartly higher to 11 lbs 5 ozs is truly, for us, an historic moment at Loch Leven. Our best explanation is that the improvement in water quality as a result of concerted efforts on many fronts over the last 20 years has so improved the feeding environment for our brown trout that the growth potential / size potential bar has been raised and there is every chance that 11 lbs 5 ozs could be broken again in the coming months and years.

      The Loch Leven trout is a unique species of brown trout and we have been careful over the years to keep it pure in Loch Leven. So highly regarded were they even a century ago that they were exported and introduced to lakes and streams all over the world on every continent. There, they have been found to readily adapt to their new environments and, for example in New Zealand, I have seen specimens of 15 – 20 lbs being netted in lochs in the Southern Alps. So they can grow to the sizes you mention if the conditions are conducive, but the restricting factor here will always be the size and ecosystem of Loch Leven.

      In the light of all of this, the one caught here yesterday was truly historic and so I hope you can allow us a measure of genuine excitement, even if it is small compared to your Irish bigguns!!

      • John says:

        Congratulations on your new record and many thanks for the great info provided.
        I would like to have a day soon. What is your phone no. and/or website ?
        Tight lines,

  7. Mark Caffrey says:

    Mr Campbell, take a bow. Congratulations on landing such a majestic fish

  8. R. Thomson says:

    I hooked and lost a massive fish ( the one that got away) in the bay at the back of St Serf’s Island in 1989. Having caught many large wild browns, this was by far the largest , but the hook was straightened and fish lost after a few minutes. I can only guess the weight of it but I reckon it must have been close to this fella.

  9. terry jones says:

    congratulations to Mr Campbell on his record breaking fish,may it stand for another 100 years.
    well done
    tight lines and happy hunting for the future


  10. James says:

    A photograph and confirmation of the weight length and girth would have been sufficient. Was it absolutely necessary to kill it? Aye, well done indeed.

  11. Don says:

    Well done Allan!

  12. Regular Rod says:

    Whilst the angler is to be congratulated, why did the fish have to be killed? It surely would not make the best eating at that size…

    Regular Rod

    • Hi Regular Rod,

      Although we had no say in whether the fish was killed or released (It was caught around noon and the first we heard was when Alan arrived back in the harbour at 6pm), we at Loch Leven Fisheries were delighted he brought back the fish with him. Loch Leven has a long and varied history as a world renowned brown trout fishery and this fish was truly historic, being by some way the largest brown trout ever caught, surpassing the previous one which had stood for over 100 years.

      True, it could have been weighed, measured for length and girth, photographed and released if the anglers had all that necessary equipment to hand – and who knows what condition it would have been in after all of that and whether it would have been in any shape to survive once released particularly after the fight it put up before being landed? However, we would still be reliant on the evidence of 2 anglers and a weigh-in of limited accuracy. Bearing in mind its significance in the history of Loch Leven, we were delighted to have been able to officially confirm it as a record. It is not going to be eaten (you may or may not be right about how it might taste) but instead be preserved, mounted and displayed alongside the trout that has previously held the record for over 100 years.

      Had it been released, it may or may not have survived. However, in all likelihood when the scales are analysed by Marine Scotland, we will probably find that the fish is around 10 years old. If that is the case, it would be very much in its twilight years and likely to die from natural causes if for no other reason within a year or two. We dont know for sure how old Loch Leven trout can live to but, Willie Wilson, with all his 50+ years dealing with brown trout in this part of Scotland, has never known one to be aged by the laboratory at more than 11 years old.

      Various anglers have lamented that, by no longer being alive, the trout would not be able to pass its genes to future generations of potentially large specimens. I would not worry too much about that – I suspect it has been happily spreading its ‘genes’ around for many years up until now.

      We at Loch Leven Fisheries are hugely appreciative of the increasingly responsible attitude taken by anglers about catch & release over the last decade or so. That said, we are 100% in support of anglers who do kill some of the trout they catch where they are taking them home ‘for the pot’. After all, fishing for food is arguably the fundamental rationale for fishing for trout in the first place. Indeed, we encourage anglers to take them home to eat because, as a unique pink fleshed brown trout, they are utterly delicious to eat. Where we would look on askance would be if killed fish were subsequently just dumped which some ‘put & take’ fisheries have anecdotally experienced.

      Catch & Release, when done with care, will certainly have helped in the recovery of the Loch Leven trout population over the last decade or so but we suspect it is only a relatively small factor. For any number of contributory reasons, not least the huge improvement in water quality which has resulted in abundant foodstuffs on which trout can feed, the current fish population in terms of numbers is more than capable of sustaining the relatively small proportion of brownies that are killed each year, both by anglers and cormorants etc. If we felt for one moment that there was an issue about numbers, we would pass that on to anglers and review our policy of having no specified limit at all on trout caught by anglers. But we dont have any concerns at the moment about either trout numbers or irresponsible anglers. We think, and hope, that we have a good balance here at Loch Leven.

    • John says:

      My wife and i ate a 15.5lbs brownie i caught on fly a few years ago and it was delicious,
      cooked in an ABU Smoker. It took us a fortnight to finish it, in steak form. I have a pic. I also returned a 25lb rainbow the same night………John

  13. Erik arthur says:

    Well done alan! Cant have happened to a nicer guy,cant say im not jealous!

  14. Thanks for that very thorough explanation. I was in no way trying to downplay or demean what was a historic capture and I salute Alan on his remarkable fish. I was genuinely interested to hear the reasons for the difference between the fish of the lochs and loughs. You’ve done that very comprehensively. It’s great to hear how conditions and quality of fish are improving on Leven!

  15. John Waddell says:

    im impressed my biggest brown comes from leven i could be tempted back i last fished the loch many years ago when the rainbows had been introduced and vowed not to be back but im very encouraged by the earlier comments by my fellow anglers

  16. Hi Willie, I would like to post an article on my web site http://www.scottishfisheries.com congratulating Alan Campbell on his record Brown trout.I would like to obtain permission to use the image on your Blog. If this is your image can I have your permission to use the it, if this is not your image can you please furnish me with details of who to contact. My e-mail address is john@scottishfisheries.com.

    I am looking forward to the month of June when I intend to have a few outings on the Loch until then I will be glued to your reports, any additional tips would be greatly appreciated.

  17. Weebo says:

    Shame it was killed, real shame!!!

  18. L Anderson says:

    Well done that old man can fish. Happy days

  19. Congratulations Alan, having landed a large fish from the loch myself
    I know how you must have felt on the way back to the harbour.
    I hope you get your fish mounted.
    I have had a great pleasure in seeing my fish hanging on the wall
    (my wife says even more pleasure in showing it of to anyone who
    cares to listen to me)
    Congratulations to Willie and Mike, the fishery obviously improving
    year on year.

  20. alan campbell says:

    Thanks for the congrats Michael still recovering from the shock
    not expecting the interest there has been.

  21. Alan you say you were lucky, luck may have played a small part in the size of the fish but only skill allows a fish of this size to be brought to the net. Congratulations Alan you have also earned a place on the front page of http://www.scottishfisheries.com.

    As for the comments about the fish being killed, the only way a New Record can be established is by having the fish weighed and witnessed, this has also allowed Loch Leven Fisheries the opportunity to have the fish preserved, mounted and displayed alongside the trout that has previously held the record for over 100 years giving a great deal of pleasure to every angler and visitor to the loch.

    Surely nobody wishes to deny Alan his well deserved place in history.

  22. BRIAN D. STEWART says:

    Mr. Allison just to the west of Vane Farm cast my 13lb 2oz Draycote brown and made a brilliant job of it, (turning it into a real work of art). Hopefully, that’s where it is bound. Would have advised earlier but just back from hols.
    All the best Alan!

  23. Susann and Sven says:

    Alan, congratulations on your victory! Seems you did a great job there. Looking forward to hearing all details on our next walking trip.
    Greetings from Rüsselsheim
    Susann and Sven

  24. Donald says:

    Well done Alan, a truly splendid fish and a historic achievement. Just when I thought I was oot you pulled me back in (to paraphrase The Sopranos!) as your catch has fair inspired me and hopefully many others too…. Hasta la vista ba (that’s enough paraphrasing – Ed)

  25. R. Thomson says:

    Would be interesting to learn the results of the scale analysis and also any observations on the big fish’s stomach contents, assuming these were examined.

  26. Pingback: Rainbow trout fly fishing tips | How to Trout Fish - How to Fly Fish

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