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Scotland's Sporting Fish

Some information on Scotland’s sporting fish.


Atlantic Salmon
Range extends over the North Atlantic from Russia and Labrador in the North to Portugal and Maine in the south. Largest populations are in Russia, Norway, Iceland, Canada, Ireland and of course Scotland.

Salmon breed in freshwater and the small fish enter the sea usually between 1 and 4 years old. They become adults after 1 to 4 years feeding in the Atlantic and grow to weights of between 2 and 30lbs.Then they return to the river and place of their birth to spawn another generation.

Some of the spawned fish return to sea where they recondition and repeat the process perhaps two or three times.

Brown Trout, Sea Trout and Ferrox
These fishes are strains of the same species. The sea trout adopts a lifestyle similar to salmon by migrating to sea to enjoy rich feeding and grow larger. The brown trout remains in freshwater throughout its life.

Some brown trout in the larger lochs change their feeding habits and prey on other fish, especially charr and this rich diet means that they may grow big, to over 20lbs. These record sized trout, known as ferrox, swim deep and are mostly caught by trolling.

Introduced more than 100 years ago, grayling have done well in the clean rivers of Scotland. Unlike the other breeding salmonids they spawn in late spring and offer their best sport in late October and November.

Nymphs or bait such as sweetcorn or worms are the most effective fishing methods but on a warm day there may be hatches and dry fly fishing can be good.

There are 220 genetically distinct populations of arctic charr in Scotland. They spend most of their time in the depths of glacial lochs where they were stranded after the last ice age. Charr do not figure much in catches apart from that magical time in late spring when the water 'turns over' and shoals come to the surface for a few days.

Pike are the main fresh water predators performing a useful function by selecting out weak fish and consuming them. They prefer slow moving rivers and lochs, especially those with plenty of weeds for concealment. The most widespread coarse fish in Scotland, pike move into shallow water to breed and it is here, in springtime, that great sport can be had either fly fishing with large streamers or spinning.


Brown Trout