Fishing in Scotland - Everything You Need To Know Before You Go

Scotland is a bucket list destination for many anglers, so we've aimed to distill key things to know ahead of planning a trip, including recommendations of some of the best fishing guide services to book. The ancestral home of fly fishing is even more appealing to anyone fond of history or Scotch, but planning a fishing trip in a new region, let alone in a new country, can be daunting. Whether you are traveling to Scotland for a fishing specific trip, or visiting the UK with your family and looking to get a quick afternoon out on the stream while the rest of the group goes sightseeing, it’s our goal to make it quick and easy to get out on the water, no matter where you are. 

Edward Hill
-CEO and CoFounder

LICENSES AND REGULATIONS: 

  • Scotland has no state fishing licensing system, unlike England and Wales. It is a criminal offense to fish for salmon without legal right or written permission and generally it is a civil offense to fish for other fishes, though these rights can be attained. Please read this document detailing Scottish angling law to be sure you are obeying the law. 
  • To protect the historical, recreational fisheries, Scottish freshwater rivers are regulated locally by private landowners and commissions. If fishing a river, you will be often be assigned a ”beat” and fish that stretch of water the whole day. 
  • Certain rivers, like the River Tweed, are governed by commissions. Research the specific rules for each river, and I would recommend getting a guide so you can be sure to get a beat on the river. 
  • A key benefit of hiring a guide is that licenses and permits will be taken care of by your guide, your place on the of river will be reserved, and you'll be fishing worry-free with an expert. 

SEASONS:

  • Scottish law requires rivers to close annually, and there must be a continuous period of no less than 168 days. The annual close time for the River Tweed, for example, is a constant period of no less than 153 days. 
  • The exact dates of annual close times vary between Salmon Fishery Districts but are generally from about the end of August to mid-February.
  • The River Tweed season for Atlantic salmon and sea trout is from February 1st until November 30th with the prime time being September, October, and November. Brown trout season is from Mar 16th - October 6th. There is no close season for grayling fishing. 

TRAVEL:

  • Scotland has an excellent railway network to take you near any destination. I also recommend traveling by train as it allows you to take in the rolling hills of the countryside. Visit ScotRail to find tickets. 

THE LOWLANDS:

  • The River Tweed, perhaps the most famous Scottish river, is situated 40 miles south of Edinburgh. Ron McCombe of Tweed Guide describes the river as “one of the great rivers of the world and the ideal venue when you want to experience a real river where no one will hurry you, where the scenery is outstanding and the fish are plentiful.” Experience the history and beauty of traditional fishing on the famous Tweed River. 

THE HIGHLANDS:

  • Located in the heart of the Highlands, Inverness is a city that has long been famous for its Trout and Salmon fishing and some of the most spectacular scenery in Scotland. You Fish Scotland is a family run business that strives to give our clients excellent fishing and great hospitality, tailored for all levels of fishers; from fly to lure, they cover all aspects of fishing. 
  • Southwest of Inverness is the famous and (perhaps magical...) Loch Ness! While we may never be able to confirm if fabled monster Nessie has ever roamed the loch, it is full of brown trout, sea trout, ferox, and atlantic salmon. Captain Stuart of Fish Loch Ness is ready to take you and your group on a half-day adventure featuring spinning, trolling, and drift fishing surrounded by breathtaking scenery.
  • Explore the Western Coast of the Scottish Highlands' rarely-fished areas of coastline, sea lochs, and amazing freshwater Lochs. Catch cod, bass, haddock, pollack, conger eels, grayling, trout, and pike to name but a few. Supplied with all the rods, tackle and bait to perfectly suit each location. All you need to bring is a sense of adventure and maybe some waterproofs! It’s nearby to the Oban Whisky distillery so you can finish your day correctly.  
  • If you fancy a DIY fishing trip in Scotland, Tarvie Lochs and Stoneyfield Lochs fishing areas have private boat rentals and are home to massive trout. 


ISLAY:

  • Peaty whiskeys and brown trout. What more could you ask? The home to my favorite style of Scotch whiskey makes for a great fishing destination, too. 
  • Fish the Islay lochs for trout to fully experience all the Island has to offer. 
  • Scotch distillery tour recommendations in addition to fishing: Laphroaig, Lagavulin, and Ardbeg

SPEYSIDE:

  • The Speyside region is steeped in fishing tradition. It’s home to Spey Casting, a fishing technique that evolved on the River Spey in the nineteenth century. Spey casting has no true backcast, and seeing the River Spey you understand why this technique was developed. Learn to wield a Spey Rod from expert Speycaster guide Ian Neale on the River Spey and enjoy a glass of Macallan (or three) after. 

We'll keep adding to this blog as we partner with more Scottish fishing guides, charters, and lodges. If you are a Scottish guide, let us know or get started on a listing here, and we can add our listing to this blog. 

Tight lines!