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Scotch Whisky and Salmon Fishing in Scotland

A man standing waist deep in a flowing river, with a fly line swirling majestically overhead really does paint a classic picture of Scotland. In turn, Scotland puts you in mind of Whisky. Salmon fishing and whisky have always been fine bedfellows. The world famous rivers and lochs throughout Scotland sustain a good head of salmon and trout, the water from these sources also help to nourish the peat and barley used to make what the Gaelic Celts called 'uisge beatha', otherwise known as the water of life or whisky but never whiskey. In Scotland, there seems to be a bespoke malt whisky to the particular river or loch you happen to be fishing, such is the marriage between whisky and salmon fishing.

The rivers and lochs in Scotland are quite beautiful, as is the whisky, flavoursome, smooth and rich. The distillery for Gaelic Pure Scotch Whisky draws its water from a nearby river, crystal clear and as inviting as a glass of our exquisite whisky. The river near our distillery has always been famed for the quality sea trout cought there and whilst these fish are still caught in abundance, the river is also fished for brown trout and salmon today.

Should you feel like a spot of boat angling, why not head for one of the local lochs. These are sometimes jumping with trout and favourite flies used are the Black Pennel, Grouse or Mallard and Claret, and Cinnamon & Gold, having said that, the good old hairs ear or pheasant tail nymph goes down about as well as a wee dram of our whisky. Just remember to take things easy as our whisky is at cask strength and if near water you need to keep a level head.

Another famous destination for the brethren of the angle is Loch Lomond. The loch produces 1,000 salmon and 1,500 sea trout most seasons. Salmon tend to average 8lb in weight, sea trout 2lb 8oz. Boat fishing seems to bring the best results and the most popular fly fishing drifts are at the shallow, south end of the loch where the River Leven leaves the loch on its journey to the Firth of Clyde. So why not pour another small glass of our Gaelic Pure Scotch Whisky and dream about a memorable day fishing from the bonny bonny banks of loch Lomond.

A libation of Gaelic Pure Scotch whisky into the river Spey at the start of the salmon fishing season

Some of the finest game fishing comes from the fast flowing river Spey, the ideal place to hone the gentle art of fly fishing and in particular the Spey cast. Don't forget to keep up with local tradition and spare a drop of our whisky for the river though.

The Spey cast

Spey casting is a casting technique used in fly fishing for salmon mostly. Spey casting can be accomplished with either a normal length fly rod, or a rod referred to as a double handed fly rod, often called a Spey rod. Spey rods can also be used for standard overhead casting.

Spey casting is used for fishing large rivers for salmon and large trout such as steelhead and sea trout. Spey technique is also used in saltwater surf casting. All of these situations require the angler to cast larger flies long distances. The two handed Spey technique allows more powerful casts and avoids obstacles on the shore by keeping most of the line in front of the angler.

The history of Spey casting originated in the heart of Scotland in the mid 1800s. The name came from the Spey River in Scotland, which is where the cast originated. The Spey River has a strong current and in contains minimal places without trees or brush covering the banks. Therefore, the Spey Cast was developed so one could successfully cast on a river such as the Spey. When Spey Casting was introduced, 22 foot rods were used. These rods were made of greenheart, a heavy wood imported from British Guyana. Today, rods are only 12-15 feet in length, and can cast a line up to 80 feet.

The Isle of Skye

Skye is beautiful but does experience the heaviest rain in Scotland, which can be a bit of a drag. However, the upside of this rain is that it brings on a fantastic run of Salmon and a number of streams can provide very good sport indeed. So while you wait for the heavens to clear, why not break out the fur and feathers and make a killer pattern over a glass of Gaelic Pure Scotch Whisky.

The best of the fishing in Skye is to be found amidst its trout lochs. The main body of water is the Storr Loch to the north of Portree. This water contains some very large specimens as well as a unique strain of Arctic char.

What to fish for in Scotland

The Salmon

The salmon is the one species of fish that most game anglers want to catch. Salmon live along the coasts of both the North Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and have also been introduced into the Great Lakes of North America. Salmon are intensively produced in aquaculture in many parts of the world.

Typically, salmon are anadromous, meaning that they are born in fresh water and then migrate to the ocean, only returning to fresh water to reproduce. However, populations of several species are restricted to fresh water through their lives. Folklore has it that the fish return to the exact spot where they were born to spawn; tracking studies have now shown this to be true, and this homing behaviour has been shown to depend on olfactory memory which refers to the recollection of odours.

The Arctic Char

The Arctic char is closely related to both salmon and lake trout, and has many characteristics of both fish. Nice bushy patterns of fly seem to work best here, the Soldier Palmer, Black Zulu and Blue Zulu are true killers on these waters.

The Rainbow trout or Steelhead

The rainbow trout is a species of salmonid native to tributaries of the Pacific Ocean in Asia and North America. The steelhead is a sea run rainbow trout usually returning to freshwater to spawn after two to three years at sea; rainbow trout and steelhead trout are the same species. Several other fish in the salmonid family are called trout; some are anadromous like salmon, meaning they live in the sea and return to breed in fresh water, whereas others are resident in freshwater only.

The Brown trout

The brown trout is an originally European species of salmonid fish. It includes both purely freshwater populations and anadromous forms known as the sea trout. The latter migrates to the oceans for much of its life and returns to freshwater only to spawn. Sea trout in the United Kingdom and Ireland have many regional names, including sewin in Wales, finnock in Scotland, peal in the West Country, mort in North West England and white trout in Ireland.

The Sea trout

The sea trout is simply a brown trout that lives at sea and returns to the river of its birth to spawn.

So why not dust of those fly rods, reels and creels and head for the Highlands of Scotland for some memorable angling. Remember, take a good supply of Gaelic Pure Scotch Whisky and spare a little for a libation into your chosen water. Finally, we wish you tight lines!