Loch Leven has been renowned, both nationally and internationally, as a brown trout fishery for well over a hundred years. It has been known for its unique strain of brown trout, salmo levensis, which has been used to stock rivers, lakes and lochs not only in this country, but also all over the world. After trials of stocking both brown trout and rainbow trout during the latter half of the 20th century, Loch Leven has reverted to once more being a natural brown trout fishery.
The loch is some 3,600 acres of predominantly shallow water with an average depth of about 12 feet, making it an ideal water for fishing. The Loch Leven trout is fast growing with a pink flesh, similar to a sea trout, and is known for its fighting qualities. The condition of trout being caught in recent years has been as good as anyone can remember and a significant number last season weighed in at between 5 – 7 lbs which is historically well above average for Loch Leven. Much of this is a result of the significant improvements in water quality that has been seen over the last two decades.
All fishing on the loch is “fly only” and must be from one of the fishery’s boats as there is no bank fishing. Boats are available for day and evening sessions and as well as early morning session on Saturdays during the summer months.
Fishing on the loch is under the management of Loch Leven Fisheries, which has a well-maintained fleet of 18 boats with outboard motors, some of the boats being of the original clinker design and others of a more modern fibre glass design . These operate from a main pier at the southwest corner of the loch, where facilities include the Boathouse Restaurant and Coffee Shack as well as toilet facilities. There is also a big shed for weighing in the catches and ample parking.
Apart from fishing, Loch Leven is also famous for being a National Nature Reserve and one of Europe’s most important wetland sites, with great numbers and variety of breeding wildfowl and up to 20,000 pinkfoot geese in the spring and autumn.
For those interested in history, there are the remains of the old Priory of St Serfs on one of the islands and, of course, Loch Leven Castle, famous as the last prison in Scotland of Mary Queen of Scots. It was from here that she escaped to England to eventually be beheaded by her cousin Elizabeth, Queen of England.