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The best fishing spots in Scotland

Best Fishing Spots in Scotland

Scotland is blessed with over 30,000 freshwater lochs and hundreds of productive game fishing rivers. The biggest and best rivers in Scotland are (by length):

  1. River Tay 193 km (120 miles)
  2. River Spey 172 km (107 miles)
  3. River Clyde 171 km (106 miles)
  4. River Tweed 156 km (97 miles)
  5. River Dee 137 km (85 miles)
  6. River Don 132 km (82 miles)
  7. River Nith 112 km (71 miles)
  8. River Forth 105 km (65 miles)
  9. River Findhorn 101 km (63 miles)
  10. River Deveron 98 km (61 miles)
  11. River Annan 79 km (49 miles)
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A superb Autumn River Tay salmon about to be released

In Scotland, the rivers generally flow west into the Atlantic or east into the North Sea. The River Tay is the river currently holding the UK record for Atlantic salmon. Miss Georgina Ballatine’s monster tipped the scales at 64lb and the record has stood since this fantastic capture in 1922.

With all this choice and variety of rivers and lochs throughout Scotland, how do you know where to fish? If you are coming to Scotland for the first time, how do you optimise your trip and get the very best experience?

Employing a professional fishing guide with local knowledge is the quickest way to identify the best spots. Fishing guides want guests to catch fish. Our livelihood depends on it! Our team of professional guides are based all over Scotland and have spent a lifetime of fishing searching out the secret fishing holes and the most productive locations and venues.

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Male Grayling displaying dorsal fin

Knowledge of where to go is one thing, however how to fish these waters is another. I know a loch in Shetland which holds monster wild brown trout and I have had guests catch some huge specimens over the years. However, you would not want to wet a line until the conditions are right. It’s very easy to spook trout during the day in this gin clear loch, however waiting till the evening is the secret. Then, of course, you need to know what flies to fish. This requires knowledge of the natural food source and also triggers that work according to conditions. Triggers such as dancing a Sedge pattern over the nose of a rising trout with the correct speed and action.

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Wading in the River Annan

Weather in Scotland plays a key factor and when guests make an enquiry, we try to find the best fishing for the time of year that they request. As a quick example, mid to late April can be the best time for trout fishing on the River Annan. Cold January days can be the best for grayling fishing on the River Tweed. Late May and June are the best for the Highland lochs and the West coast salmon rivers are highly productive for Atlantic salmon. Brown trout in lochs throughout Scotland get quite sparky and aggressive in September, pre-spawning and big specimens can be captured. Each river system and loch has its time. There are too many variables to mention.

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River Earn At Lochlane and Laggan

Using good fishing tackle is also a way to improve your chances of success. Alba Game Fishing has invested a great deal of money into ensuring the clients have the best possible chance, by using up to date fishing tackle and techniques.

Scott Mackenzie, Salmon Rod, Spey Casting, 15ft, Perflex, Danielsson Control
Danielsson Control Reel

We carry a stock of 35 pairs of Orvis wading boots in all sizes and all fitted with Posi-Grip tungsten studs to ensure a safe grip and comfort when wading. Our waders are Orvis breathable and again we provide them in all sizes. You can also enjoy trout fishing with the excellent Orvis Helios 2 and Helios 3 trout rods on river days with us as well as the new Clearwater rods, which offer excellent performance and value for money.

For salmon fishing days, we offer guests the chance to fish with Mackenzie fly rods. We carry the DTX G2 in 14 and 15ft lengths as well as the Perflex in both lengths. These are married to Rio Scandi fly lines, which are ideal for learning and improving your Spey Casting techniques.

The West Coast of Scotland offer some truly fantastic rivers, like the River Lochy, Garry and Oich. These are all accessible from Fort William. In addition, Loch Garry and Loch Arkaig offer superb early season wild brown trout fishing, and huge wild trout can be caught on the fly or by trolling. These trout are ferox, or cannibals, in that they eat other fish. Knowing where they are and at what depth to fish is crucial and having the right gear.

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River Garry