Fishing in the Gairloch Area

'Welcome to Gairloch' by Harry Davis

It was in 1959 when I first fished fabulous Fionn Loch, sampled the rugged remoteness of Loch na h-Oidhche and savoured the tranquillity of Loch Bad a Chreamh but it was exactly one year later when I decided that this was the place I should live in. It was almost midnight in late June and darkness had yet to envelope us as we sat in the 14’ clinker built on Loch Tollie. A tremendous rise of fish was on although few were taking. We fished on into the darkness, then unbelievably, two hours later, daylight was creeping up over the mountain tops to the east. As it grew lighter on a beautiful still morning the trout were still rising all over the loch. That was the moment I decided to stay in the Gairloch area. Deciding was one thing, convincing the wife was another. However, my wife and I have never regretted moving to this beautiful, almost remote, part of Scotland.

Many Shires and Districts claim to be the bonniest while others claim to have the finest fishing. Undoubtedly Perthshire and Argylshire are bonny and undeniably Uist, Durness and Caithness produce wonderful trout but the majestic scenery coupled with an abundance of trout in its lochs must put Wester Ross in a class of its own. The Gairloch area has many excellent trout lochs but it is also fortunate in having landowners who not only protect and conserve this beautiful and unique part of Scotland but are also enthusiastic in their support for local angling clubs, hotels and shops which control the permits for the estate lochs. The lochs described in this book are on the Gairloch, Aultbea, Letterewe and Fisherfield estates.

I will always remember my best return from the River Ewe. It was a Saturday in July and by 6pm eight salmon and four large sea trout were safely in the back of the Land Rover. This was followed a few days later with a 14lb salmon from the River Kerry. I am still trying to better my own record of a 29.5lb fish from the Tay. I will not subject the reader to detailed trout catches over the years, suffice to say that when fishing with my good friend Ronnie Crerar on the local lochs we would expect to have a forty plus basket averaging 1/2lb on a few occasions at least during the season. Sadly Ron died some time ago and we miss a great fisherman, a great mate and a fabulous story-teller.

Local knowledge is a valuable commodity to the visiting angler and I hope this book goes a long way to supplying that information. When asked, I usually advise the visitor to give his own fly selection and technique a fair chance before taking local advice. Don’t be afraid to try the dap, it does take larger fish than the wet fly. For those who would like to try dapping without going to the expense of buying a special rod, just tie a 25’ length of dapping line to the end of your fly line, add between two and five feet of nylon and allow the wind to carry the fly out in front of the drifting boat. Dry fly fishing can be exciting and very successful on the lochs mentioned in this book. A number of lochs in this area have dangerous rocks just below the surface. Treat them with great respect. When fishing the hill lochs always carry an extra woollen jersey as the temperature can drop ten degrees in an hour on top. On a stormy day never take the boat far from the jetty.

Tight lines and remember, when you hook the big one don’t panic.

Harry Davis