|The North West Highlands is one of the last remaining wilderness areas in the UK, and the Assynt area offers some of the most spectacular scenery of all, and a myriad of lochs holding wild brown trout. There are also two spate rivers, the Inver and Kirkaig, running west to the sea that allow the passage of salmon and sea-trout into some of these lochs.
Most of the brown trout fishing in Assynt north of Elphin is controlled by two organisations: the Assynt Crofters' Trust and the Assynt Angling Group. The Assynt Crofters’ Trust controls about 200 lochs north of Lochinver including Loch Crocach, Loch Poll, Loch Drumbeg and Loch Cul Fraioch. Most of the fishing to the south is controlled by the Assynt Angling Group, a partnership between the local angling club and a number of estates. This is a large area comprising over 150 lochs, some much larger such as Assynt, Veyatie and Cam, and is divided into 3 fishing zones (West, East & South).
|The fishing in the Assynt area is generally characterised by large ‘baskets’ of very hard-fighting small trout, typically weighing in at 2 or 3 to the pound, but on most lochs there are also reasonable stocks of better fish around the pound mark, and a few fish of 4 to 6 lbs are caught each year. Additionally a number of lochs have populations of Arctic char and ferox brown trout that prey on them.
The Inchnadamph area is famous geologically for outcrops of the Durness Limestone and many lochs have limestone spring sources or outcrops sub-surface. A by-product of this is that a number of lochs enjoy a mayfly hatch albeit in June, and this can provide some excellent sport.
Lunch on Cam (Suilven behind)
There are too many lochs to mention, never mind fish here, but here are some brief descriptions of a few:
A loch of 1 mile (1.6km) in length lying at an elevation of 500 ft (154m). Loch Awe has a surface area of 32 Ha (80 acres) and is generally shallow, with a number of islands making it very scenic. Large numbers of ½ lb + trout, and a few larger ones. Salmon also enter the loch.
Veyatie lies at an altitude of 381 ft (116m) and is 4 miles (6.5 km) long, running north-west to south-east. It is generally only 200-500m in width with steep sides, dominated by the peaks of Suilven to the north-west and Cul Mor to the south-west – a spectacular place to fish. The centre-line of the loch is deep at 20-30m, and the most productive fishing is along the shore line (particularly the north side) and in the shallow bays. Again, brown trout of ½ to ¾ lb are the norm, but there are larger fish and the loch is also renowned for ferox. The mayfly hatches in June can be steady though not prolific, and great sport can be had on mayfly patterns such as French partridge wets, Grey Wulffs and mayfly nymphs.
Urigill lies at the top of the chain of Urigill-Cam-Veyatie at an elevation of 515 ft (157m). It is a sizeable loch of 196 Ha (483 acres), with a length of 1.8 miles (2.9 km) north-west to south-east. It is a shallow loch, rarely exceeding 5m in depth. The best fishing is at the south-east end near the inlet burns and around the islands. Expect large ‘baskets’ of trout of 2 or 3 to the pound, but there are some much bigger fish in the loch also.
‘Cama’ is another large loch with an area of 256 Ha (633 acres) and a length of 3.3 miles (5.4 km). It lies at an elevation of 407 ft (124m), and reaches depths of over 30m towards the north-west end. The south end of the loch, conveniently closest to the moorings at the cemetery, is generally shallow however offering great drifts, particularly around the islands, and is often sheltered when the far end of the loch can be unfishable. Trout generally average ½ lb, and char are also caught frequently.
Loch Ailsh lies at the head of the River Oykel system draining to the Kyle of Sutherland on the East coast. The loch lies at an elevation of 505 ft (154m), and is approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) in length north to south, and approximately half that in width, with a surface area of 105 Ha (261 acres). It is a shallow loch reaching 6m in depth but generally 2-3m and holds salmon and sea-trout as well as good quality brownies. While most of the Assynt lochs are open for the statutory season, closing on October 6th, Loch Ailsh closes on September 30th, and there is no Sunday fishing allowed.
Lying at an altitude of 213 ft (65m), and at 6 miles (10km) in length in a NW-SE direction, Loch Assynt is the largest loch with a surface area of over 800 Ha (~2000 acres). It is generally deep, reaching a maximum of >80m, and the best fishing is along the shoreline and in shallow bays. The trout average ½ lb, but the loch is also famed for its ferox trout and salmon, that are mostly caught by trolling. Like all the larger lochs in the area, Assynt can become very exposed in windy conditions and when fishing from a boat, make sure that you have use of an outboard engine, are wearing a life-jacket and that you are carrying spare shear pins. As the loch contains salmon and sea trout there is no Sunday fishing allowed.