Loch Leven is a freshwater loch in Central Scotland covering over 3,700 acres (1,500 hectares) and is primarily known as a wild brown trout fishery.

All fishing for wild brown trout on the loch is “fly only” and must be done from a boat as there is no bank fishing permitted.  The fishing is under the management of Loch Leven Fisheries which has a well-maintained fleet of 18 boats, most of which are still 18 foot clinker built boats dating back over 100 years – but there have been some recent additions of Coulam 16 boats made from glass-reinforced plastic.  All boats are equipped with outboard motors and life jackets.

All brown trout under 11 inches in size must be returned to the loch.  There is no limit to the number of brown trout that can be landed by anglers but we would ask that anglers respect the fact that Loch Leven is a wild brown trout fishery and that they keep what they would like ‘for the pot’ but otherwise practice catch & release.  The pink fleshed wild Loch Leven brown trout is delicious to eat and so anglers should have no concerns about taking some home with them to enjoy.

Below are some of the lovely brown trout caught by anglers during last season (2016)

 

Background

Prior to the installation of the sluice gates and the lowering of the water level in the loch in 1830-1832, a large variety of different species of fish were to be found in the nutrient-rich waters of Loch Leven.  Historical records suggest species such as atlantic salmon, trout (brown, grey, speckled and black head), charr, pike, eels and flounders were caught.

Once it became impossible for fish to run into the loch from the North Sea, the number of species has dwindled.  Nowadays the predominant species is brown trout.  Of the others, pike and perch remain and there are clear signs that numbers of both have recovered strongly since almost being wiped out in the later decades of the last century.

Many anglers consider the Loch Leven brown trout to be the perfect trout, both for its graceful form and for its sporting qualities.  The species is classified as Salmo Levenensis and, when found in Loch Leven, is clearly distinguishable on account of its dark colouring and pink flesh.  The wonderful quality of the trout owes much to the abundance of food which the loch affords.

Over the last 150 years, Loch Leven brown trout have been introduced to waters all over the world, from New Zealand to South America (and most places in between!).  The first documented introduction of the Loch Leven trout to North America appears to have been made in Long Pond near St John’s, Newfoundland in 1884 and the species can now be found in every province except Prince Edward Island.

When introduced to other waters, Loch Leven trout interbreed freely with any other brown trout in the water and rapidly lose their distinguishing characteristics.  This change in appearance also seems to occur even when there are no other species of brown trout present.  The only place to see the trout in its true state is Loch Leven.

The loch itself does not produce very large fish with the average size of fish caught averaging around the 1.5 lbs mark.  However, as the water quality has improved over recent years, so the size of fish being caught is undoubtedly increasing.  Last year, trout weighing 6 lbs+ were caught fairly regularly during the main part of the season.  The all-time record had stood at 9 lbs 13 ozs for almost exactly a century before being smashed in May 2013 by Alan Campbell with a specimen weighing 11 lbs 3.375 ozs.

Elsewhere in the world, the species has flourished in warmer waters in more temperate climates and have been known to grow to over 20 lbs. On Loch Leven itself, the indigenous brown trout make up for their relative lack of size against their foreign relatives with renowned fighting qualities.

 

Alan Campbell with the largest ever brown trout (11lbs 3.375 ozs) caught on Loch Leven in May 2013