Guy and Kildonan brown lunch afternoon in the boat boat and brown

 Kinloch on the beautiful Hebridean Isle of South Uist

“South Uist and Benbecula are an angler’s paradise; and no fishing career is complete without a pilgrimage to these lovely, sparkling Hebridean islands.”
Lewis-Ann Garner—The Best Fishing in Scotland 1990

The Fishing 

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Introduction.

South Uist, with its alkaline lochs, has some of the finest and most exceptional wild Brown Trout and Sea Trout fishing in Europe; plus the bonus of the occasional Salmon. The only other fish that swim in the lochs are Sticklebacks and Eels – there are no coarse fish on the islands.

There are perhaps 800 lochs and lochans on the 2 islands (South Uist &
Benbecula), all containing wild brown trout - but in very different numbers and of very different sizes - some contain a large head of small fish, others a smaller number of larger fish. In some of the lochs there lurk the odd monster but these are rarely caught.
A wild 9lb 8oz Brown trout was caught in 2006 – that is a story for another time.

All fishing is by fly only, with the exception of the sea fords where spinning and bait is allowed.

Catch returns:

See www.fishhebrides.com which has a regular update of catch returns for the Estate lochs.

Note the following catch returns are for the Estate lochs only and exclude local Angling catches.

Be careful when interpreting this data – to some extent the numbers just represent the number of rods fishing – if very few rods come in April or July of course the catch numbers will be low – that does not mean that the trout cannot
be caught!



Brown trout

 
  Magnificent 3lb West Ollay brown trout

The finest brown trout fishing is in the machair lochs on the flat pasture land on the west coast. These unique lochs are based on a shell sand bottom and are thus alkaline with superlative feeding.
The best of these lochs represent the “Estate fishing” although the Angling Club can provide access to a few selected machair lochs.
These lochs are shallow, rarely over 6 feet deep, and much of the best fishing water is even shallower. Drifting a boat across these lochs is a unique
experience.
All fish are wild fish – and there are no stocked fish on the island. Fishing pressure is light, and given a high percentage of returned fish, the trout population is self sustaining; enabled by some very high quality spawning burns.


Brown trout returns - season ends September 30th

Year

‘09

‘10

‘11

‘12

‘13

5yr average

April

0

28

129

31

18

41

May

849

976

368

445

229

573

June

713

1153

1077

1054

833

966

July

372

169

333

108

167

230

August

175

359

248

128

111

204

September

156

239

168

212

71

169

Total

 2,265

2,924

2,323

1,978

1,429

2,184


 
  Noddy with a big brown from West Ollay

The above numbers are for fish over ¾ lb. only.

In addition to the above, several 100 trout are caught on SUAC water – returns seriously understate the actual totals but vary between 300 to 600 fish over ¾ lb.

We have a very high average size relative to most other Brown trout fisheries in Scotland.



Sea trout

As with all Scottish systems, the size of the runs of migratory fish have reduced over the century, however as the catch returns show there have been significant improvements over the last couple of years.

Whilst the salmon runs here are modest in comparison with some other fisheries in the Outer Hebrides, the Sea Trout runs have held up extremely well and can justifiably be considered as some of the finest sea trout fishing in Europe.

Ian with Jo Rippier's 7lb sea Ttrout A fine fresh Castle sea trout about to be returned


Sea trout returns - season ends October 31st

Year

‘09

‘10

‘11

‘12

‘13

5yr average

May

1

0

4

1

5

2

June

0

1

3

6

1

2

July

100

33

58

80

12

57

August

201

256

109

118

93

155

September

283

243

272

120

167

222

October

174

107

76

35

122

104

Plea Total

759

 640

 524

360

400

570

Note that prior to 2006 all Sea Trout under 1lb 8oz were reported as finnock – from 2006 the total catch return includes all fish over 1lb.

The Sea Trout come into the systems in good numbers from the end of July, and the run continues right through to the end of October, indeed we catch sea liced Sea Trout right up to the last week of the season.

Remember that the catch returns only include fish of over 1lb – there are many smaller finnock caught. The overall average is well over 2 lbs, significantly bigger than many other fisheries.

For the specimen hunter there are undoubtedly the odd fish of nearer 15lb in the system each year – catching them is quite another matter.



Salmon

 
  Andrea’s big Sea Trout

July and August represent the ideal time to “mix and match” Brown Trout fishing with Salmon fishing when there tends to be very little pressure on the lochs.

The first fish come in after the mid month Spring tide in July. Note that most of the fish from mid September onwards tend to be very coloured.

Nearly all fish are grilse in a range of sizes up to about 10lb.

Salmon & grilse returns - season ends October 31st

Year

‘09

‘10

‘11

‘12

‘13

5yr average

June

0

1

0

1

0

0

July

2

23

23

23

11

18

August

29

53

37

41

12

34

September

27

34

26

11

14

23

October

20

21

21

23

9

19

Total

78

142

107

99

46

97


Ownership/Management:

The fishing is split between “the "Estate fishing"” and the local angling club water managed” by "South Uist Angling Club" (SUAC).


All fishing on South Uist is owned by the community company Storas Uibhist.
All bookings for the Estate lochs are through the Estate office.

Contact Lorna Macleod 01878 700 101. Email: fishing@storasuibhist.com.

Note that bookings have significantly increased over the last couple of years and early booking is highly recommended.

John Steele the new fishing manager will arrange ghillies as required.

Rates shown are for the 2013 season and these are unlikely to change significantly.

Note that access to fishing is in no way conditional on staying at any particular establishment.

It should also be noted that there is a very heavy demand for fishing in 2014 and prospective guests are urged to confirm arrangements asap. The same caution should apply to the availability of ghillies – there are only a few active ghillies on the island and they too will be heavily booked for 2014.

     
Bag Limits    
Whilst we do not have specific bag limits, we are asking, and anglers are increasingly agreeing to, only kill those fish they require for the table. We have a uniquely rare wild resource, it needs protecting.

If you have never eaten a red fleshed machair trout you cannot know how good they taste.

Let me barbecue them by the loch, with some salad and a fine white wine, or smoke them for you.

 

Guy Greenway with a fine
sea trout from Roag
     
“The charm of the Outer Hebrides for the true angler, the man who feels the full joy of the sport, lies in the sense of solitude which broods over their desolate moors. The island is a land of matchless cloudscapes above the western horizon, where the sea and sky meet. Days of calm and days of storm, days of sunshine and days of mist and rain come in alternate bewildering sequence, and each gives to the lone land of lakes a new delight.”

Hamish Stuart - Book of the Sea Trout 1916

 


70 Lochs - A guide to Trout Fishing in South Uist
 
Written by John Kennedy, then fishing manager for South Uist Estates, this guide is based on some 25 years experience this guide is essential reading for the angler visiting the island for the first time, and an invaluable reference for the local angler. I would recommend it to you.
“As well as a comment on the general character and
favourable conditions, each loch described in this guide has an O.S. grid reference, and many are accompanied by a neat sketch map showing approach from the road, boat site and the best areas for fishing.

There can be no doubt that this handy pocket-sized book will save many a blank day for visitors and residents alike.

This is thus worth every penny of its modest price, and is indeed, one of the best things of its sort that the writer has yet seen”

D. B. West Highland Free Press

 


The Fishing Year
   
As with any fishing, the weather will play a key role in the behaviour of the fish.

Bearing in mind the weather here is totally unpredictable, and will vary by month significantly from one year to the next, let alone one day to the next, it is very difficult to be dogmatic about the best fishing times.

To that extent great sport can be had from day one right through to the end of the season.

 
Loch Bee, South Uist
     
February 1st   Salmon and Sea Trout season opens on Angling Club waters.

Note:There are only intermittent runs at this time of year, a very few fish being caught in the Fords and sea pools.

The Estate does not offer sea trout or salmon fishing before the beginning of July.

The exact time of the first runs will be very much dependent upon the amount of rainfall.
     
March 15th   Brown trout season opens, and after a mild winter the fishing can be surprisingly good as the trout feed hard to put on weight after spawning. But the weather as ever is quite unpredictable and can be very wild.
     
April
  Again weather dependant, but it can be very pleasant around Easter, and the trout fishing can be excellent.
     
May/June   Potentially the cream of the brown trout fishing. Long days mean trout can be caught early to late, it doesn’t get dark until well after 11.00 pm at the end of June.

With luck there should be some olive hatches, and sedges in the evening.
     
July   The first runs of sea trout and salmon arrive, usually on the first high tides in the middle of the month.

This run continues to arrive with absolute regularity despite a reduction in total numbers of fish.

     
August/Sept   The runs continue through the summer.

Brown trout fishing, which can be dour in the middle of the summer tends to pick up significantly from mid August as fish start feeding hard, putting on weight before spawning.

Brown trout season finishes on Sept 30th.

     
October  
Over the last few years the October sea trout run has been one of the most consistent providing a significant number of medium sized fish - 2 1/2 to 4lbs often with sea liced.
 
Andrea, Maxi and a fat Sea Trout
 

"Asked where to find Scotland’s finest wild brown trout fishing, I would have no hesitation in pointing anyone in the direction of South Uist.”

Stan Headley—Trout & Salmon

 
Permit availability and prices—2014 season

Estate Lochs
Prices for the estate lochs are based on the hire of a boat including fishing permit costs for 2 anglers.

Whilst there is some very fine fishing from the bank, a boat is essential to get the best out of the fishing.

There is no fishing on Estate lochs on Sundays, but one is welcome to bank fish for brown trout away from the road.

 

Fishing at certain times of year is heavily booked, and advance booking is therefore highly recommended.

Prices are based on 2 rods sharing a boat.

 
One of the Esatate 15 1/4 ft. Loch Lomond "slow drifter" boats. Ideal for drift fishing in almonst any conditions
 
Period
Cost per boat for 2 rods

Brown Trout

April 1st to Sept 30 th
£30 - 45

Salmon & Sea Trout
July 1st to July 31st
£60
 
Aug 1st to Sept 30th
£60 - 80
 
 
Oct 1st to Oct 31st
£60

Angling club permits.
Visitor permits are available by the day or week.


Bank fishing permit: £6.00 per day, £30 per week.

Boat permits are an additional £7.00. per day.

Note: Under 18s fish free.

East Bee: The angling club share the fishing on this premiere loch with the Estate. Both have boats on the loch. The boat rate is £30.


Ghillies
I would strongly recommend you use a ghillie, most particularly if this is your first time fishing here.

Many of the lochs are relatively shallow and there are a significant number of skerries, often just under the surface of the water. If you do not know where they are it can be quite dangerous.

All ghillies will provide their own outboards.

Bear in mind that fish will not lie all over any given loch and unless you have fished them for many years you are unlikely to know the best lies. Hopefully my knowledge will significantly increase your catch, and the Kelly’s kettle can provide a welcome break on a cold morning.


The Estate Lochs
The Estate lochs are split between brown trout lochs and migratory fish lochs. Whilst the latter contain brown trout, they tend to be on the small side. It is essential before booking to decide which species one is after - and bear in mind there are times of the year when a mixture of days fishing for browns and the rather more elusive sea trout can make for the ideal mix.
 
Brown Trout    
  Grid ref.   Grid ref.
Altabrug
745345 Mid Ollay 761313
Bornish 733295 Stilligarry 756384
East Bee 782429 Upper Bornish
745294
Grogarry 763395 Upper Kildonan 735277
Hallan 740220 West Ollay 745325
 
Sea Trout & Salmon
An Eilein (Castle)
768373
Mill
745273
Bharp
787205
Roag
755356
Fada
754348
School House
765365
Lower Kildonan

737276
 
Ian Kennedy with a 13 1/2lb sea trout from Loch Kildonan Sept. 23rd 2002. One of the largest sea trout caught in the last 10 years.
 

Out of bounds

A number of spawning lochs are out of bounds. All guests should double check that they do in fact have permission to fish on any given loch.
 
Angling Club Lochs
The local angling club SUAC have the use of the remainder of the lochs.

These are primarily brown trout lochs. Some lochs will have small runs of sea trout and even the very occasional salmon - but you will need local knowledge to find these.

As the photograph shows there are some very large trout in some of he SUAC lochs.

 

Wegg with a 5lb wild brown trout caught from a SUAC loch, a few minutes from the roadside

It has to be said, however, that one needs to know the lochs and also be prepared to put in the time. This is similar to specimen hunting anywhere. I had fished this loch on 12 different occasions without a single take before catching this fish. It does however go to show the quality and size of fish in our water.
 
Angling Club Boats
The local angling club have 14 boats which are available for hire. Some of these boats and lochs are suitable for outboards - some are not. Whilst not all of the boats are the quality of the Estate “Loch Lomond” boats, they are essential to get the best out of many of the lochs.

Final locations for boats for 2014 have yet to be confirmed but are unlikely to change significantly from those in 2013. On some lochs boats are moved from one loch to another, usually at the beginning of July.

       
Loch Grid Ref Loch Grid Ref
North Olavat
(no engines)
807545
Nan Clach Corr
(no engines)
803523
East Olavat
802507
West Olavat
802509
Heouravay
821508
Langavat
845482
Caslub
833418
East Bee
783432
Dun na Cille
743193
an Duin Mhoir
778417
A Chlachain
757296
Until July
After July
Toronish
735305
Na Duchasaidh
743314
Eilean an Staoir
734263
Aird an Sgairbh
731268
A’Phuirt Ruadh (Fraser’s)
769356
Ceann a’Bhaigh (Bayhead)
763302
 
Care of Boats
Boats must be returned to correct location, irrespective of where found. It must be pulled well clear of water, and secured to mooring stake. Oars to be tucked under boat seats.
     
Safety    
All using boats must wear a life jacket or buoyancy aid. I will arrange for these to be made available.

The weather can change very rapidly, and whilst the lochs are generally not large, they tend to be shallow and contain many skerries often just under the surface - you have been warned!
 
The bridge pool at the mouth of the Howmore River
Juniors
Under 18 Years of age must be accompanied by an adult.

 

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storas