Scotland is a beautiful country with rolling hills, purple heather, unspoiled beaches, and plenty of lochs and rivers. Scotland is one of the world’s top destinations for freshwater and sea angling, with world-class fishing available across the country throughout the year. In Scotland, you will be able to fish for some beautiful species of fish such as salmon, brown trout, pike, perch, carp, roach, and rainbow trout. If you are serious about fishing, Scotland needs to be on your bucket list. Here are a few tips on how to plan a fishing trip to Scotland.
What to Take
Aside from the obvious clothes (make sure they are warm and waterproof), tickets and passport, you will need to compile of list of fishing equipment you will want to take on your journey. If you have to take a flight to Scotland, you may be limited in what you can take with you on the airplane and may have to hire equipment when you get to Scotland.
Anyway, if you are superstitious, you will probably want to take your favorite pieces of kit to bring you good fortune. If you are lucky enough to own an Ugly Stik, you are more than likely going to pack that in your bag! Ugly Stiks are the highest selling fishing rod in history and have landed more fish than any other rod on the planet!
Once you have decided which fishing rod you will take, you need to consider if other fishing equipment pieces are worth taking. You might have lucky floats, hooks, plummets and split shot weights you wish to take instead of hiring. Obviously, you cannot take live bait such as maggots on an airplane so that could be bought when you get to Scotland. Other essentials such as a landing net and handle, seat, and tackle box are too big to take on board, as is a soft unhooking mat that is used to protect fish from being damaged. Some fisheries will insist you use an unhooking mat.
Where are the Fish?
You will discover a tremendous variety of species when fishing in the hundreds of rivers and lochs around Scotland. From beautiful Highland rivers to secluded island lochs, there are excellent salmon, trout, and coarse fishing opportunities in some of the most picturesque areas of the country.
You should decide if you want to fish in lochs, rivers, or if you prefer sea fishing, then Scotland’s long and rugged coastline provides fabulous angling opportunities for both boat and shore anglers.
If you are keen to fish for salmon, four of the best salmon rivers in Scotland are the River Tweed, River Tay, River Spey, and River Dee.
The River Tay is Scotland’s largest salmon river at 117 miles in length, and its catchment covers a massive 2000 square miles of central & highland Scotland. The famous River Tay is easy to reach from the major Scottish hubs of Glasgow & Edinburgh, which are both approximately 90 minutes away by car. The River Tay salmon fishing season opens on the 15th of January each year, and a fresh run salmon are present at this time and throughout February. Once the month of March arrives, things always change dramatically as many more Salmon appear in more significant numbers as they migrate to Loch Tay & rivers Isla and Tummel. March usually brings a little bit more warmth, which encourages fresh Spring salmon to push up the river.
The river Tweed, in the Scottish Borders, is about an hour’s drive from Edinburgh and is also a great place to catch salmon. Brown trout and grayling are also abundant in the Tweed in the river’s 97-mile body.
Loch Tummel and Loch Lomond are beautiful locations where you can catch Brown Trout, Perch, and Pike.
The great thing about Scotland is that you don’t have to travel vast distances to get to fishing locations. If you want to stay in a hotel and see other sights, you are best to settle in Edinburgh, the capital city, or another big city such as Glasgow or Dundee. Edinburgh offers an abundance of things to do, such as sightseeing at the Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile, and visiting numerous museums. Bars are on every street corner where you can sample whiskeys and beer. Fill yourself up on local cuisine in one of the hundreds of eateries.
If you are more of a country lover, there are many idyllic waterside cottages, lodges, and cozy log cabins that can offer some excellent fishing right on your doorstep. These include access to some of the best rivers, freshwater and sea lochs, and canals.
You can organize your fishing trip yourself, or it might be easier to purchase a bespoke fishing holiday with a travel company, that way, you will have your flight, transfers, accommodation, and fishing expeditions arranged for you. All you will need to do is turn up. Check online for companies that specialize in Scottish fishing expeditions. Good agencies will arrange any permits you may need, supply you with a guide to show you the best spots, and provide you with all the necessary fishing tackle.
The Legal Bit
In order to fish for freshwater fish and migratory fish (sea and freshwater), you need written permission from the landowner or a fishing club. Depending upon where you are looking to fish, licenses and local permits will be required for certain waters in Scotland. Do look out for seasonal fishing and local bylaws.
The salmon season runs from mid-January through to November and the brown trout from March to October. You will not be permitted to fish for salmon or sea trout on a Sunday – this is an attempt to preserve these migratory fish. You can fish for brown trout, coarse fish, and graylings on a Sunday, though.
A fishing package holiday is probably the best option for overseas visitors to Scotland as your guide will sort out all of the legal requirements before your trip and keep you within the law.