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Ultimate Guide to Fishing in Scotland

Scotland is a part of the United Kingdom and covers the northern third of the island of Great Britain. Scotland is surrounded by the North Sea to the northeast, the Atlantic Ocean to the west and north, and the Irish Sea to the south. This all leads to some great fishing areas. Scotland is renowned for its salmon fishing on some of the most famous salmon rivers worldwide. 

Where to Fish in Scotland

In Scotland, there are many different places to fish, from evergreen rivers to the loch, the area is a hub for fishing in beautiful surroundings. 

Loch Tummel

When fishing here you will be surrounded by beautiful lakes and greenery with outstanding visuals. If you are looking for pike, perch, or brown trout, this is the place to fish. It is often stocked with trout to help make it more enjoyable for those fishing and to help improve the breeding population. This is the perfect place to fish if you are looking for a relaxing atmosphere away from the everyday hustle and bustle.

 Craufurdland Fishery

This fishing area is located on the Craufurdland estate and the fishery stocks it with a variety of fish. Some of the fish include rainbow fish and blue and brown trout. You can fish from the river banks or go out in a boat. 

Loch Lomond

This is a site that attracts many tourists from around the world all year because of the regular boating rides, breathtaking scenery, and a great place to fish. Here there are guided fishing trips all around the area, around the area of Clyde Estuary, and the rivers. 

Balmule Fishery

This is the ideal place for both beginners and experts in fishing. They encourage families to try their hand at the fishing experience. You can fish for brown and blue trout or rainbow fish. If you do not have your own fishing equipment, you can rent tackle from the fishery and get your permits there too.

River Ness

This river flows through the greenery of Inverness. It is a great place to fish for trout or salmon. The river stretches across the highlands of Scotland. In its picture-perfect scenery, it is one of the most relaxing places to fish.

The Culture Trip shows some of the best places to fish in Scotland.

Fishing Regulations in Scotland

Fishing Licenses

To fish for migratory fish and freshwater fish, whether it is found in the freshwater or the sea, you will need written permission from a fishing club or the landowner. You do not need a fishing license to fish in Scotland but there is one exception. This is when you are fishing in the Border Esk region of Scotland. The reason is that it flows into England so it is thought of as English Waters. You will need a rod license for here and all its tributaries.

There is no permission required when sea fishing in Scotland. You do need to be careful when you are in an estuary of the river when sea fishing. You will need the fishing rights, or permit for the corresponding river.

River Regulations

Every river in Scotland has its own closed season and statutory regulations. There may even be conservation codes that the fishery owners will ban the use of spinner, pawns, worms, etc. for part or the whole season. You can only fish by fly during most of the season in the Tweed River. Some waters are only catch-and-release.

Boundaries

  • Rivers — if you are on a riverbank that is owned by two different proprietors, you will only be able to fish on the bank you have written permission from the landlord. You can cast over the full width of the river
  • Lochs — when the loch is owned by two or more proprietors, you have to have permission from at least one of them that will allow you to fish all over parts of the loch.
  • Migratory fish — they are very strict in Scotland. It is mandatory that you have written permission from a fishing club or landowner. If you do not have written permission you have committed a criminal offense.
  • Freshwater fish — this type of fish includes coarse and trout and is allowed on Sunday and there are no legal restrictions on keeping freshwater fish. Some fisheries do impose limits. From March 15th to October 6th you can fish for brown trout in all rivers. There is no legal closed season for grayling, coarse, rainbow trout, or sea fishing.

Fishing Restrictions

In order to preserve migratory fish, which are sea trout and salmon and regulate fishing, some national rules have to be followed

  • No fishing for sea trout or salmon on Sunday.
  • Fishing on rivers for these two fish are subject to closed seasons, which vary from river to river.
  • You cannot sell any salmon or sea trout you have caught as this would be a criminal offense.
  • Some rivers have a mandatory catch and release policy.
  • Fishing is generally restricted to rod and line only.

Salmon Fishing in Scotland

The times when salmon enter Scotland’s water from the seas will occur at different times in different rivers. Throughout the salmon season, there will be many opportunities to fish for them. Salmon season generally runs from January to November with local variations. In some of the rivers, the season will start as early as mid-January but most will start mid-February. Most of the rivers where you can fish for salmon are open until the end of October.

Generally, the salmon fishing rights on the rivers and lochs are owned and managed by sporting estates. The salmon that inhabits these rivers and the loch is the Atlantic salmon and is considered a prizefighting fish due to its combination of weight, speed, and power.

Sea Fishing in Scotland

With its wealth of species of fish and the long, rugged coastline, Scotland is one of the world’s top sea angling destinations. You can enjoy shore fishing or you can charter a boat and fish year-round.

Some of the popular sea fishing spots includes:

  • Solway — salmon and sea trout
  • Barclay Rocks — large cod during the winter.
  • Loch Ryan — dogfish
  • Loch Goil and Loch long — cod, whiting, mackerel, pollack, plaice, skate and more
  • Cruden Bay, Peterhead, and Sandford Bay — ling, dab, turbot, conga, sea bass

You can also rent a boat and go to the west coast, where you can find cod, Pollack, shark, and large skate. In Scotland, you can enjoy sea fishing year-round but there are certain seasons for different fish. Generally, you can fish for salmon from January to November. This is also referred to as sea angling. 

  • Fall — sea trout
  • Winter — cod, haddock, whiting
  • Spring — flounder, dogfish, bass
  • Summer — wrasse, mackerel, and Pollack

Fish Species to Fish for in Scotland

  • Sea trout — this is the same fish as the brown trout but the difference is that it migrates to the sea to feed and when it is time to spawn, it will return to the river where it was born. It is known as one of the best fighting fish in Scotland. You can catch this fish during the day but is generally fished under the cover of darkness. You can fish for them from January 11th to November 30th in Scotland but all depends on the individual river for the exact days.
  • Brown trout — you can fish for these from March 15th to September 30th but there are some lochs and rivers that open on April 1st and close early October. You can find this fish in almost all of Scotland’s river systems.
  • Rainbow trout — this is a non-species of trout in Scotland but you can find them in commercially stocked fisheries. There is no closed season for this fish.
  • Grayling — these fish are only found in certain rivers and streams and are considered a prized catch. You can catch them with bait or use fly-fishing. When you see these fish in the water it is considered a sign of clean water. There is no closed season for this fish.

Bait, Lures, and Tackle for Fishing in Scotland

In each area, always make sure that you contact the authorities to see what methods of fishing and bait are allowed in that area. When you are sea fishing, you can use float or spinning fishing with light tackle or you can use heavy beach casting.

Conclusion

When fishing in Scotland, it is important that you remember that each fishery can have their own closed season and statutory regulations so make sure before you go fishing that you are fully informed. If you do not want to bring your fishing equipment with you on your trip or decide to go fishing is a spur-of-the-moment thing, there are many places in Scotland where you can rent fishing gear. As you can see, Scotland offers a variety of fish and places to fish from rivers to lochs and you can fish year-round so try your hand at catching brown trout, perch, pike, or salmon.

Enjoy fishing in different countries? Read the Ultimate Guide to Fishing in Italy.