There has been a fair bit going on at Loch Leven these past couple of weeks. Fish are being caught in good numbers and, without exception, they appear to be a really good condition. All the year groups are now being represented in recorded catches and some very big fish have been caught, all very fit and in superb condition.
Alan Hills had a very successful start to the season, netting a nice 4 pounder on his first outing followed by catches of 2 lbs and 3 lbs on his second outing in what should have been very unhelpful bright conditions. Impressive stuff.
Biggest fish of the season to date, as far as we are aware, is this cracking brownie caught by Charlie Wells who was out with ‘Shug’ Shaw a fortnight or so ago. It was returned without being weighed or measured but it was reckoned to have been over 10 lbs. Charlie caught the fish on a sparkler on a di-7 at the old Leven Mouth. Between them, they had 3 fish for approximately 17lbs. What a basket of wild trout – and they also had 3 pike up to 8 lbs!
Last weekend, smaller fish made an appearance especially in the open water drifts near to the drop-offs (banks). Fish have been found chasing fry since the first week of the season and we now have had some decent buzzer hatches taking place over the last few days and so hopefully we will have some good buzzer fishing to look forward to! Some boats have had big numbers of fish in a session – Rod McLennan & Rab Walls had 12 fish all on buzzers whilst, more recently, Peter Cameron and his boat partner netted and returned 14 fish whilst Lewis Kerr and Connor Campbell went even better, catching and releasing 17 fish from East Buoy down to Elbow Buoy pulling Di-3,5 and 7’s,catching on small lures and Snatchers.
Although there are encouraging signs, buzzer fishing as yet has been a bit sporadic but hopefully the recent unsettled weather will calm down and conditions become more conducive. Mini lures fished at a wide range of depth and speed have also been working, especially last weekend.
Water clarity at the moment is very good, measuring 3.8 metres. There is plenty of Zooplankton in the water column which have been grazing on the smaller background algae which in turn clears the water. Clear water is very important for many reasons but the main benefit is that light can penetrate down through the water column allowing macrophytes (aquatic plants) to start to grow. This in turn encourages a much more diverse ecology with all sorts of feed forms on which trout of all year groups can feed. Indeed, such has been the improvement in water quality over the last 20 years that Loch Leven is now recognised as being macrophyte dominant rather than algae dominant the way it was pre 1970 or so.
The areas fishing best at the moment are Hole ‘o’ the Inch to Levenmouth, East & Mid Buoys, Reed Bower and the north side of Castle Island were fish are consistently being found. However, depending on the wind direction, they are being found all over the loch including from Grahamstone to the Prap along the yellow & black – a very old fashioned drift indeed.
Flies catching the fish are probably best categorised rather than individually named – mini lures, silver and gold Sparklers, emergers especially all the many Snatcher variants and of course Buzzers. As always, line density is an important decision that anglers have to make and always remember that what you start with may well not be what you end up using for a myriad of reasons (ie changes in light, wind speed, temperature etc).
Pike fishing is available at the moment and some nice catches of pike have been had on lures and on the fly. One boat recently had 23 pike on the fly mostly around the Factor’s Pier and weighing up to 12 lbs. To date, we have not had a 20 lbs pike reported as being caught but I believe we are closing in on that one!
Evening fishing is now starting and Michael Wilson has been out and enjoyed success even on some of the cooler evenings. Ally Wells was out last Friday on a very cold evening and had 4 good fish and reportedly ‘lost’ another very big fish. In years gone by, evening fishing on Loch Leven used to be far more popular than the day session which might be expected in a brown trout fishery. Nowadays it is very much the other way round and I just wonder whether the period when the loch was stocked with rainbows (which are very much a day time quarry) continues to be influencing anglers’ fishing patterns despite the fact that the loch has reverted permanently to being a wild brown trout fishery.
Kinross AC had their second outing of the season on Sunday and had a very good day despite some pretty wild weather. The club had 42 fish between its 7 boats. Donald McGregor had the day’s biggest brownie weighing in at 6 lbs 3 ozs. A Loch Leven regular, Donald says it is the best fish he has caught on the loch but, looking at the photo below, it is a toss up as to who looks the grumpier, Donald or the brownie (I am reliably informed that is actually Donald’s ‘happy face’!). Andy Menmuir also had a fish at 5 lbs 8 ozs whilst top rod was Connor Campbell – just out of junior ranks – with 12 trout all measured and returned (as were most of the Club’s fish).
As the season gets going in earnest, we are hoping for some ‘top of the water’ action particularly during the anticipated Buzzer hatches. We could just do with some warmer, more settled weather.