Loch Leven Fishing Report – week ending 15th August

There have been some very nice baskets of fish recorded over the last week on Loch Leven, mainly from day session boats but evenings too have been producing fish when the conditions have been favourable.

In terms of big fish, we have heard rumours that Lloyd & Scott Mudie, out with Mike Pszowski, had a 3 pounder leap into the boat and then themselves caught one of about 5 lbs but we are trying to track them down to see if there is anything in that rumour (perhaps in next week’s blog).

As it is, Bill Bruce out yesterday (Monday) had the biggest confirmed fish of the week weighing in at an estimated 3-4 lbs which he caught just off Scart Island.

Alan Lindsay and 2 friends had no fewer than 19 fish, all over 10 inches during an afternoon and evening session as well as numerous undersized trout.  Ally Middlemass was out last Thursday on a pretty windy day and had 13 fish with many more undersized fish which he didn’t count. He reported seeing a fish of ‘salmon-sized’ proportions showing just east of Scart Island.

Alan Smith and Connor Campbell were out on Thursday evening and had 18 mainly small trout but all over the 10 inch measure and reported seeing many more undersized specimens. Out on Sunday, Kinross AC had 18 trout for their 5 boats.

Traditional brown trout flies are seemingly working best at the moment, with those such as Kate McLaren, Doobry, Black Hopper, Black Snatcher, various Dabblers and Muddlers and flies with a pearl body all doing well.

The open water is still probably the best bet but huge long drifts especially in a  good fresh wind over the North or South Deeps are worth taking advantage of in the right conditions.  Fish have again started to appear along the edges of a lot of the weed beds and these fish are now chasing fry and can be the very devil to catch although very exciting to see!

Water clarity is a tad better this week at just under 1.8 meters due almost certainly to the algae count appearing lower but the warm, sunny weather of the last couple of days might well reverse that.

As mentioned, big numbers of fry are now being seen above the weed beds and so it is wise to factor in the possibility of a big fish in these areas during a day on the loch!

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Loch Leven Fishing Report – week ending 8th August

Where did those gales come from?  It is early August after all, not November!  The unseasonably strong winds led to all fishing on Sunday and Monday being cancelled which was a shame.

That aside, there were some nice baskets of fish recorded earlier in the week.  On Tuesday evening, Willie Simpson and Garry Ormiston had 9 fish between them, all returned. Alan Smith, out fishing with a pal on Wednesday during the afternoon and evening, had 12 fish which were all returned.  On Thursday, Bradley Chalmers had 5 fish during the day whilst Colin Martin had 10 fish to his own rod fishing the afternoon & evening session – once again, both these anglers returned all their fish.

Biggest trout of the week as far as we are aware was caught by Alex Rankine and weighed exactly 5 lbs.  It was taken on a Kate McLaren Snatcher between Carden Point and the west end of St Serfs.

A good number of small fish are still being caught which is encouraging for seasons to come.  I have to expressing privately some mild concerns a few weeks ago about the number of small fish being seen on the loch but I needn’t have worried.  No sooner had I opened my mouth than there they were!

Open water drifts are still performing the best with both the North & South Deeps holding good numbers of fish.

Best flies too have not really changed since last week.  Flies with pearl bodies or at least a pearl rib are worth a try.  The pearly Kate McLaren has been taking good numbers of fish, as has the Doobry, Wingless Wickham and Black Snatcher.

Water clarity has edged down a little over the last week to 1.6 meters but I think that has been largely down to the high winds churning things up a bit over the weekend.  The same is true of the water temperature which is down slightly at 150C.

Fish have been spotted along the weed beds lately and I have little doubt that they will be resuming their fry bashing activities soon as we would expect towards the end of the season.

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Loch Leven Fishing report – period ending 1st August

There have been some pretty good baskets of fish recorded at Loch Leven over the last week. David Wales, out fishing on Saturday, had to our knowledge the biggest fish of the week weighing in at 6 lbs 1 oz. David caught the fish on a Hummungus using a DI5 line at the North Deeps. He and his boat partner Jordan Scott managed a number of fish between them, mostly small, but good sport nonetheless in quite windy conditions.

On Thursday evening, Alan Lindsay had 9 fish whilst, the following evening, Kinross AC had 10 fish for their 5 boats.  Alan Smith and Ian Simpson were out last night and had 9 fish that ‘measured’ (ie above the min size limit) and a load of smaller fish.  That same session, Colin McGonigal  had 5 fish that measured as well as a number of wee ones.  Although these small, young undersized fish can be a bore for anglers, it is nevertheless lovely to see them making their presence obvious in numbers because, after all, they are the adult fish of future seasons – which augurs well for the fishery going forwards.

During the day session yesterday (Monday), Frank McFarlane had 6 good trout after giving the buzzers a good workout!

The North Deeps are holding good numbers of fish and is indeed probably the most productive area at the moment.  That said, all the open water drifts are producing results when the wind direction is suitable.

There have not been as many sightings this week of fish feeding on fry (as reported last week) but it has been pretty windy most of the week which may explain it.  Buzzer methods may now be just appearing to be easing off and fish are now being contacted higher up in the water column which does give opportunities to fish traditional patterns using various line densities at variable speeds.  It very often seems to be paying off to get out into the wind on a good drift where anglers can cover large areas of water on a single drift.

The best flies at the moment seem to be Black Snatcher, Doobry, Kate McLaren, Pearly Muddler and various Dabblers. Some of the well known fry imitations are also working when the fish are in ‘fry feeding mode’.

Water conditions are pretty much the same as last week – water clarity is steady at 1.8 meters on the Secchi Disc and water temperature remains at 16.50C.  Zooplankton are still showing up in prolific quantities in the water column at all the sites we regularly test.

As the season ‘matures’, pulling a team of wet flies will probably become increasingly the ‘go to’ method. The key will be finding the depth where the fish are to be found and that will depend very much on the conditions of the day.

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Loch Leven Fishing Report – week ending 25th July

The fishing on Loch Leven has been a little patchy on Loch Leven over the last week although anglers did well when the conditions happened to be right.  On Tuesday evening, Ally Middlemass and David Bowie had 8 good fish – all returned – at the Mid Buoy.  Most anglers that night had a fish or two including a big fish weighing an estimated 5 lbs+ which was caught and returned by Hugh Jenkins.  It was caught just to the north of the East Buoy and was feeding on fry when hooked.

Probably the most memorable session of the week though was early morning on Wednesday when 3 boats were out at dawn. A huge thanks to Jon Crowther for posting the three photos below together with the following comments “Caught with lightning going off over the hills at 5am on a size 12 Muddler with a figure of 8. I’ve wanted a fish like that forever -.thank you Loch Leven..makes getting oot ma pit at 1am worth it. Fish safely returned too!”

Great photo of Jon Crowther with his fish and then returning it

Great photo of Jon Crowther with his fish and then returning it

“We were just really lucky with the lighting. It was like the storm was all round the loch 360° but blue sky directly above the loch – definitely worth it, an amazing morning’s fishing. The fish are top class.  It was only on the way back across that the storm hit the water, rods all put away, heads down low and a b-line for home in the biblical rain!!”

Wonderfully evocative photo of returning to harbour during the storm

Wonderfully evocative photo of returning to harbour during the storm

After having reported some quite encouraging fly hatches over the previous couple of weeks when we saw hatches of buzzers and big, juicy Yellow Owls, the evening hatches last week were rather disappointing. For some reason, they became very intermittent evening on evenings which appeared quite promising.

Fry feeders have been spotted over the past week which is pretty early in the season for this activity.  Some of the fish spotted ‘fry bashing@ have been very big indeed. Along some of the now well-established weed beds is where you would expect to find fish feeding in this manner particularly those weed beds with quick access to deep water such as the west side of the Horn Bank, the south side of St Serfs Island, the south shore from the Cavelstone Strip virtually all the way to the Sluices.  Catching fish feeding on fry can often be tricky because they seem to get into a state of near frenzy but it can be done and then you are in for some good sport.

Recommended fishing methods have not changed much since last week.  Both traditional pulling methods as well as buzzers are still catching fish.  Open water drifts are working well, both during the day and evening sessions, when the fish decide to play.

Water clarity has dipped down to 1.8 meters with the water temperature holding pretty steady at 16.50C.  Weed growth is pretty extensive but may now have peaked and so there could be some good action in these areas over the coming weeks.

And finally another two nice photos sent in by Dusty Miller who was out fishing with Willie Fotheringham on Thursday evening

Dusk over Loch Leven

Dusk over Loch Leven

"...... and it was this big - honest!"

“…… and it was this big – honest!”

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Loch Leven Fishing Report – period ending 19th July

BREAKING NEWS!  Well, not actually the sort of ‘Breaking News’ that we get used to from the BBC or SKY.  Instead what we have been witnessing over the last week on Loch Leven has been some big trout giving anglers a bit of a ‘going over’ with some fairly brutal behaviour when hooked.

Last night for example, 3 different anglers reported being broken by some pretty big fish – in all three cases, the anglers had been using 8 lbs up to 9 ½ lbs breaking strain leader material.

John Patrick with a big 6 lbs 7 ozs brownie caught early last week near the Green Isle

John Patrick with a big 6 lbs 7 ozs brownie caught early last week near the Green Isle

Big fish ‘specialist’ Frank McFarlane had 2 fish last week between 6 and 7 pounds.  Stevie Stuart was out fishing last Friday evening with Lochgelly SRC AC and had a fish at 6 lbs 13¾ ozs using a floating line and Kate McLaren.  His boat partner Davie was ‘broken’ when two pretty big fish took his flies at the same time.  Archie Ferguson was also out fishing with Lochgelly and had a very nice fish at 4 lbs 1 ozs.

Evening fishing is still somewhat unpredictable.  On Monday evening for example, there was a big hatch of various flies including some nice big Yellow Owl and yet the fish appeared on that occasion to be somewhat reluctant to get involved . That said, however, Alan Lindsay did have 7 trout for his boat, Dunfermline Railway AC had the same number between their 2 boats and Ian Harper had 3 nice trout while out fishing with Central Scotland Police AC and so perhaps we are just being fussy!

All the recognised fishing methods appear to be working when the fish have a mind to respond.  Buzzers are still taking fish especially during the day sessions whilst one angler had a brace of trout one evening last week on a dry fly of his own tying.

The best area at the moment is probably the North Deeps, fishing from Scart to the North Buoy as this covers some very good fish holding water.  The Reed Bower, Gairney and the west point of St Serfs have also produced some good action over the last week.

Water clarity is holding up well considering how far into the summer we are and is currently reading 2.4 meters on the Secchi Disc.  Water temperature has edged higher to 160C (but will have moved higher still during the hotter weather of the last few days). Zooplankton are still showing up in huge numbers at all our sample points which is a really good food source for all year groups of trout.

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Loch Leven Fishing report – week ending 11th July

Much to my relief after flagging it up in several weekly reports, at long last we have seen some pretty substantial hatches of Yellow Owl on the loch last week. Yesterday evening, Rod McLennan and a friend got into a big hatch and it served to bring fish up  to the surface and they had 4 very good fish between them in the last hour or so of daylight.

The feature to look out for are gulls feeding on the water – the small black-headed gulls are the ones to keep an eye open for rather than the large predatory black backed gulls based on St Serfs.  Last night, many hundreds of these gulls were seen between Scart Island and the Green Isle and Rod commented that it was the most black-headed gulls he had seen in the last 4 years!  John Reid was out one evening last week and had 7 fish in that same area where again there had been a big hatch of fly.

Big fish are still making fairly regular appearances in catch returns.  Last Tuesday, Jeff Lawson had a nice 5 pounder amongst a total bag of 6 fish.  Frank McFarlane had a lovely fish on a buzzer weighing 6 lbs 8 ozs last Wednesday  whereas the following day Alan Campbell had another weighing about 6 lbs.  Out last night, John Patrick from the Falkirk area had a fish at 6 lbs 7 ozs near the Green Isle and reported losing another even larger fish.

Frank McFarlane

As a result of the fly hatching, the last hours of daylight can provide some good sport but it is dependent to an extent on the weather and, if conditions aren’t right for whatever reason, it can still be pretty hard going as some anglers have found.  Hopefully however, these hatches of Yellow Owl will continue and ‘kick off’ in a few more areas of the loch.

Water clarity has improved significantly to 2.7 meters as the recent localised algal blooms have started dying back.  Conversely, Zooplankton is still prolific at all the sites where we gather our records.  Water temperature is 15.70C.  As reported last week, weed growth appears to have peaked and some fish are being seen in and around the large weed beds where food supply is abundant.

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Angler Catch Survey – April and May

Anglers who have fished here at Loch Leven will be aware that, since 2013, we have been asking those that are happy to do so to complete Catch Survey cards as part of a research collaberation with Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH).

Up until about 15 years ago, nearly all fish caught on Loch Leven were ‘chapped on the heid’ and weighed in back at the Pier.  Our detailed fishing records covering over 1 million brown trout go back to the late 1800s. However, since 2000, there has been a dramatic change towards catch & release with around 75% of trout caught on Loch Leven being returned.

Whilst catch & release has to have been a huge help in the recovery of Loch Leven as a wild brown trout fishery, it has completely knackered our historical fishing records!!  The Catch Survey was therefore introduced 3 years ago to try to get data on all brown trout caught on the loch regardless of whether they were kept or released.

1st Catch Survey card for the 2016 season

Until now, all cards have gone straight to CEH where the data is extracted.  It is inevitably pretty time-consuming and so this year, to help them out, we agreed to input all the data from the Catch Survey cards onto an Excel spreadsheet.  We recently completed all the cards for April & May and thought that you might be interested in seeing what initial results have been thrown up.  The one caveat is that we have no pretensions about be statisticians and so what we will show below is derived from the simple raw data and therefore our comments present simply our superficial deductions and we would advise against placing too much importance on the actual figures.

Total Boat Turns 88 273 361
Anglers Cards Completed 20 74 94
23% 27% 26%

As you can see, we had a total of 94 completed Catch Survey cards handed in for April & May which represents 2 just over 1 in 4 of the total boat turns (sessions times boats that went out). However cards are only currently completed by trout anglers whereas quite a number of boat turns will have been by pike anglers (we do not at the moment record what boats are fishing for). In reality, cards were probably completed by about 40% of boats fishing for trout – but that is a guesstimate!

Total No of Rods / Anglers 39 147 186
Total Hours Angling Effort 304 1127 1431
Total Boat Hours 156 584 740

The Catch Survey cards recrd the number of anglers per boat (rods) as well as the number of hours fished. We can show that by the number of boat hours (749 hours in total in April & May) or by the total hours of angling effort (a boat with 2 anglers fishing 8 hours each = 16 hours angling effort) which came to 1431 hours!

Total Fish Caught 28 197 225
Released 18 144 162
% Released 64% 73% 72%

From the 94 completed cards, we were able to see that 225 brown trout had been caught in the opening few weeks of the season, out of which 162 (72%) were released and 63 kept.

Average catch per boat per session 1.4 2.7 2.4
Average catch per boat hour 0.18 0.34 0.30
Average catch per angler per session 0.72 1.34 1.21
Average catch per angler per hour 0.09 0.17 0.16

This is where it starts to get a bit more interesting.  The data suggests that the average catch per boat per session up until the end of May was 2.4 trout and the average angler caught 1.2 fish.  Whilst that looks pretty low against what other fisheries might offer, we have to bear in mind that Loch Leven is a wild brown trout fishery with zero stocking.  All of you who fish on the loch know only too well what a test it is and that recording blanks (more on that later) are just part of the experience. We would like to think that the fishery offers quality over quantity and when you hook a good Loch Leven brownie, it is a memory to be treasured!

We are now sure how meaningful the catch per hour figures are but it would suggest that an angler should catch a brownie on average once every 6 hours 15 minutes  (0.16 fish per hour) – I suspect some anglers will think ‘if only’!

No of boats catching 0 trout 9 23 32
No of boats catching 1-2 trout 7 28 35
No of boats catching 3-5 trout 3 10 13
No of boats catching over 5 trout 1 13 14
Anglers Cards Completed 20 74 94

Talking about ‘blanks’, you can see from above that about one boat in every 3 (32 out of a total of 94) handed in nil returns.  A further 35 boats recorded catching 1-2 fish whereas 27  boats (29%) had 3 or more fish of which 14 were really in the money and 6 or more fish.

No of Trout measured for length 27 124 151
Average Length (millemetres) 415 407 409
No of Trout weighed 11 89 100
Average weight (lbs) 2.08 2.42 2.38

Although we are obviously interested in the numbers of fish being caught, we are also gathering information on the sizes and therefore age groups of the trout.  The above table shows that a total of 151 trout were measured for length and 100 in total were weighed.  Before anyone queries why 151 + 100 = 251 which is more than the 225 fish caught, some were both measured & weighed!

The average length of fish measured was 409 mm which, according to recent data, would suggest an average weight of one and a half pounds, give or take a couple of ounces either way.  And yet the average weight of those fish weighed appears to come in much higher at 2.38 lbs (2 lbs 6 ozs) – why the big differential?  We can only surmise that it tends to be the larger fish that are weighed whereas the smaller ones are more likely to be measured. The true average therefore is somewhere between the 2 figures with a definite bias towards the bottom end of the range. So let’s perhaps say for sake of argument that the average size of fish caught in April & Mat was 1 lb 10 ozs or thereabouts.  We have said it before and will say it again that the average size of the million+ trout caught on Loch Leven in more than a century up to the 1990s was 15 ounces whereas nowadays the average is approaching double that.

Why is this happening?  Who knows?  But we suspect that it is probably something to do with the improvement in water quality over the last decade or more which is now producing an abundance of different foodstuffs for the fish in the loch to feast on.  Whilst this is frustrating for anglers in that it means that the trout are often not so interesting in taking the fly when there are plenty of other food options in the water column, it does mean that the quality and condition of the Loch Leven brownie is better than it has ever been.  Hardly a week goes by these days without someone catching a 6+ pound brownie or someone reporting that they have been broken / smashed by a big trout.

Total Trout measured / weighed 28 197 225
Trout measuring > 480mm / 3 lbs 9 44 53
Trout measuring > 590mm / 5 lbs 0 10 10

As a final thought, we felt that we should try to guage the numbers of bigger fish being recorded.  Whilst we obviously know the weights of those actually weighed (?!), we have tried to estimate the weight of those measured but not actually weighed.  It looks from what we can see that a fishing measuring 480 mm is going to weigh about 3 lbs whereas one measuring 590 mm will weigh about 5 lbs.  Using this as a very unscientific ‘rule of thumb’, it looks as though almost one fish in every 4 (53 out of 225) caught up until the end of May weighed 3 lbs or more and 10 fish weighed over 5 lbs.

Our sincerest thanks go out to all anglers who make the effort to fill in the Catch Survey cards and return them to us and we hope that giving this feedback on the results makes it feel worthwhile.  As and when time permits (extracting all the data from the cards is pretty time-consuming), we will provide further updates during the season.


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