The Lochy – Queen of Scottish Rivers

“No other Scottish river, not even the majestic Spey, can provide a panorama to outrival that which unfolds itself to the gaze of the angler standing near the Lochy’s Falls Pool, or at Loy Mouth, or at Camisky, as he casts his eyes east and southwards towards Ben Nevis’ snow-capped peak. All around him stretches an unforgettable display of heather, woodland, and steep hillside, as far as the eye can reach in every direction.”

From John Ashley Cooper, author of A Salmon Fishers Odyssey.

Looking onto the Ben

Introduction :

At the west end of the Great Glen, on Scotland’s beautiful West coast, following the  famous Caledonian Canal from Inverness south, you reach a town called Fort William. It is here that the River Lochy flows into Loch Linnhie, an estuarine loch which extends some 35kms all the way down to the Sound of Mull and the Atlantic Ocean.

The Lochy itself is a relatively short river, extending only 12kms from top to bottom, yet, no-where in Scotland can rival its scenic splendour and its panoramic views.  With Ben Nevis,  Britain’s highest mountain, as your backdrop, mouth-watering pools, glides and riffles and fresh salmon and grilse coming in on every tide, it is no surprise that this river was once a haven for the British aristocracy.  Thankfully, times have changed and the once “dead men’s shoes” fishing is now accessible to all “chasers of silver,” who seek something a bit more special.

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Being the biggest and most productive river on the West Coast of Scotland, comparable with the middle Dee in terms of width and flow, the Lochy is not your typical west coast spate river. Being partly loch fed, the river will hold its height for much longer than other rivers in the region. With it’s choppy, gravelly runs, open-banked deep-flowing pools and tantalising glides it’s  simply a fly-fishers dream.  Not only that, very large fresh salmon run this river. Twice in the last 12 years it has won the prestigious Malloch Trophy for the largest salmon caught in UK Rivers. No mean feat form a river of this size!

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The River and Fishing :

The river is divided into four beats, with each beat fishing up to a maximum of four rods;  Beats are about approximately 4kms in length and double bank fishing throughout.   In addition, all fishers have access to the productive pools both below the Dam at Mucomir (top of river) and at the Tailrace beat (at the river mouth)

Each beat enjoys exclusivity and although you are only a few kilometres from civilisation you have the feeling of being in a wilderness and the day to day noises of a modern society are immediately forgotten.

A June evening at the wonderful Falls pool – Beat 3  with the last hints of sunlight hitting the top of Ben Nevis, the river cascading over the falls into the gorge below and salmon showing as they come over the falls into the pool above…….it doesn’t get much better for a salmon angler!  And maybe a small whiskey just to keep the knees steady!

As the river makes it way through the Great Glen its character changes from beat to beat ensuring great variety in your fishing and offering a new challenge each day. There is access to both banks via boats on each beat.   Most pools are easily accessible by car and/or foot.    You rotate beats each day.

The Prize : 

Salmon start entering the Lochy system in May.   From then right through to mid July the average size of salmon is around 14-15lbs.  Salmon up-to and exceeding 30lbs are hooked most years.  These big fish are strong and powerful so only a few are landed  with many lost after epic battles.

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From  Mid-July the Grilse make an appearance along with some smaller summer salmon.  This run typically extends right through August, peaking around the middle of the month.  September and October can be a beautiful time on the Lochy.  Populated pools of salmon and grilse and the changing colour of the landscape make it a special place to be at that time of year.

Other stuff you should know :

Rods are available for both Spring and Summer 2018 on FishPal – book here.

Our season is about to get underway in the coming weeks and we anticipate much improved fishing and river conditions than prevailed last season.  For more information visit to the River Lochy News Page.

Although we can never guarantee you catch a salmon, we do guarantee you will enjoy the river, the scenery and the wonderful relaxed environment we offer.   There is no pressure on fishing times, there is no fixed rotas for lunch or dinner.  You make you own agenda and enjoy your time on and off the river.

We do offer ghillies and guides but this is entirely optional.

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FACT  FILE : 

The River : it runs clear even in high water. During the season water temperatures never get too low and usually averages in and around the mid 50’s °F.  Being a short, relatively shallow river, the fish are typically very fresh and fight extremely hard.

Rods :   12-15ft, rated 8-11wt.   Most pools are open and casting is unhindered; but the ability to Spey/ underhand cast is a major plus and will help to maximise your chances.   Distance casting is not often required but some pools maybe 50-60m wide so it helps to be able cover the water.

Lines : Both traditional speylines and shooting heads will work here, although for maximum flexibility and ease of casting, in all locations, shooting heads offer a distinct advantage. Floating lines/heads with various densities of sink tips will cover most situations and times of the year.  However, it is always useful to have different densities of lines just in case the need arises.

Flies :  Many of the traditional shrimp style patterns work well here for the summer grilse,  typically in sizes 8-12 or small coneheads.   Equally as good is the Sunray Shadow or Monkey fly in various lengths.  Fished fast in the clear pools, the results can be spectacular.     In late summer and autumn smaller and darker flies such as stoats tail, red-butt and black francis can work well. These can be tied on small hooks and/or micro-tube fashion.

Fishing :  Early season is all about searching for those MSW fish which tend to migrate through the river quickly.  It pays to fish key taking spots many times over the course of the day.   You can’t over fish a “good” spot at this time of year.    When the grilse arrive it pays to check tide times as this can often coincide with a run of fish. They can often enter the river 2hrs before high-tide and make passage upstream.   Obviously the lower down you are (beat 4) the more crucial your timing will be.   High summer can mean early starts and late finishes, particularly when bright weather /warm persists.   As late summer and autumn arrives, varying tactics will often pay-off as many fish will have seen most fly selections.   Another point to note is that the Lochy is a clear river and thus, in times of low water, fished can be spooked easily.  Stealth is key to success.

Guiding :  We have a list of excellent self-employed guides who know the river well.  For first timers to the river, I’d recommend a taking a guide.

Travel :  The Lochy is situated 3hrs north of Glasgow and Edinburgh and 1hr 30mins south of Inverness.  It is mandatory to have a car as you need to drive between the beats.

Accomodation : There is an extensive variety of accommodation to suit all tastes in and around Fort William. From top Hotels to campsites to self catering cottages and B&Bs – there are many and some are very close to the river itself.

Other Activities  :  Lochaber is the outdoor capital of the UK.  There are many activities in and around the area,  ranging from adventure seeking – Kayaking , Canoeing or mountain biking to more leisure like – golf, hill walking or just relaxing on one of the many beaches out west with no one is sight!!

Of course you could always take a hike up Ben Nevis or take the Harry Potter train down to Mallaig or visit the famous distilleries in and around the area – you will never be bored!!

For more information : 

Fishing details, photos, videos and  more on the River Lochy go to – WWW.RIVERLOCHY.COM

Or contact John.Veitch@riverlochy.co.uk

(Accommodation options are listed here also)

For Bookings go to – FishPal.

Other Activities in the area – www.outdoorcapital.co.uk

General information, things to do and places to stay – https://visitfortwilliam.co.uk

About FishPal Global Online booking system for fishing

FishPal are a global online information and booking system for all types of fishing. Our site has the latest rod availability, permits can be purchased online or via our customer services team and are issued immediately. New for 2015 Insurance that included Inability To Fish Cover.
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