The bright, hot weather of the past week, whilst great for those attending T in the Park, has not made it easy for those anglers trying to catch wild, brown trout on Loch Leven. That said, there have been some lovely fish being caught. The water temperature soared at one stage in the middle of last week to a peak of 210C which is positively Mediterranean! The slightly cooler weather of the last couple of days has seen the water temperature in the 2 feet closest to the surface dip back to just under 200C. We don’t really know what effect much warmer water temperatures has on brown trout but it was obviously not hot enough to see them trying to cool down by leaping into the boats!
And, despite the warm bright conditions, water clarity is holding up surprisingly well. Normally these sort of conditions trigger algal blooms but, when measured on Saturday, the minimum reading was 2.7 metres and the maximum was a pretty clear 3.8 metres. In truth, we do have algae showing up in the loch at the moment but it is fairly minor at the moment with few if any background algae showing up – there are still huge quantities of zooplankton in the water column which are almost certainly grazing on these background algae, keeping them well under control. Daphnia are the predominate zooplankton but Cyclops are also present in good numbers.
Weed growth is now as prolific as we have seen it for many a year. When the loch was in its hay day in the middle of the last century, old timers (ok, Willie) remember almost a quarter of the loch with weed reaching the surface – a real problem for the boatmen who had to row the boats through it. Although the current weed on the surface is nothing like as extensive as that, certain areas of the loch are no longer really accessible for boats which can be a nuisance to anglers. However, the plus points of having this weed growth definitely outweigh the disadvantages because not only is it an excellent indicator of the health of the loch and its ecosystem but it also provides a great environment for freshwater fish and brown trout in particular. As a wild brown trout fishery, this is exactly what Loch Leven needs to ensure the future looks bright.
As all anglers will be only too aware, beautiful summer conditions usually make fishing pretty tough and that certainly proved to be the case last week although there were some nice fish caught and some good baskets. On Thursday, Anthony Keenan had a beautiful fish weighing 5 lbs 8 ozs which he caught on a Diawl Bach at the back of Castle Island. Earlier in the week, on Tuesday, Tom Dow had 9 fish at the North Buoy on buzzers, all of which were returned.
On Friday night, Ally Wells and a pal had 12 brownies fishing down the south side of St Serfs and again all were returned. Meanwhile, during the early morning session on Sunday, David Barry experienced a really good rise of fish responding to an excellent hatch of Yellow Owl during which he caught 4 fish and ‘lost’ quite a few others. He was fishing at the East Buoy and said trout were appearing at one stage from weed in about 8 feet of water.
Hatches of big chironomid flies like Yellow Owl are key to getting fish up to the surface and we have been waiting, wondering when these hatches will happen this year. With David Barrie experiencing just such a hatch yesterday morning, it looks like we might be getting very close!