A Trout Fisherman's Paradise
by Deborah Leggate -
by Shetland Anglers Association
SHETLAND has over 300 trout lochs ranging from rich limestone lochs to dark mysterious, peaty pools, sprinkled all over the mainland and main islands. This is truly a trout fisherman's paradise. Be prepared for hard fighting, wild trout in wild places, where your only fishing companions may be otters and herons.
Trout fishing in Shetland is unbelievably cheap and excellent value. The permit of £25 can be bought on-line at www.shetlandtrout.co.uk or from LHD Ships Chandlers and from the Tourist Board Office, this permit entitles the visitor to temporary membership of Shetland Anglers' Association and almost unlimited fishing on the mainland lochs. The few lochs on which restrictions apply are detailed on the permit. If you intend fishing in Unst or Whalsay, cheap local permits are available from the Baltasound Hotel (Unst) and Tetley & Anderson's shop (Whalsay).
The Shetland Anglers' Association also has boats for hire on the lochs of Spiggie, Tingwall, Clousta, Northhouse, Benston, Sulma Water and Punds Water. Again, a permit of £30 provides unlimited use of these seven boats. Bookings are arranged through LHD Tackle Shop, Tel. 01595 692379.
Shetland has a wide variety of loch types and the new Trout Fishing Guide, which is a must for visiting anglers as it provides detail on all the main fishing lochs, will be available in April 2011.
A positive point for visiting anglers to note is that access to lochs in Shetland is generally unrestricted, providing anglers park cars considerately, close gates and do not unduly disturb animals. Many of the roadside lochs have recently had stiles erected to improve access.
A recommended schedule for a visiting angler on a week's visit would be along the following lines:
Spiggie Loch in the south end is a must. The loch contains a large head of silver trout averaging 12oz. This is a fly only loch and if the fish are not surface feeding, nymphs fished slowly in mid water can be very effective. Within easy range of Spiggie are Broo, Clumlie and Vatster and these are all worth a visit.
The lochs of Tingwall and Asta are almost joined together and should be on the 'to do' list. Over the last few years, the Tingwall trout have tended to bottom feed so if things are looking dour, try the more free rising Asta trout. If you are keen on walking, the chain of hill lochs to the west of Tingwall makes an enjoyable day out.
The lochs in the Nesting area also make a good day's fishing. These are big fish waters with Girlsta, Benston and Houlland all capable of producing trout over 3lb and better. It is worth repeating that the secret of successful angling in Shetland is to change lochs rather than persevere with changing flies on a loch where the trout are not co-operating!
When a visiting angler looks at the map of Shetland's west side for the first time it must be a daunting thought to select the best waters. Perhaps it is best to concentrate initially on the lochs in the Clousta road (Northhouse, Vaara, Clousta and Clingswater). A day exploring in the Sandness and West Burrafirth roads is also recommended. If you are after really big fish, try Upper Brouster where trout reach the teens of pounds due to the rich feeding around the cages.
The north mainland also has some excellent fishing. The Eshaness lochs produce specimen fish every year, particularly early season, and as a bonus the scenery is tremendous. The roadside lochs of Haggrister, Punds Water and Eela Water are also worth an hour or two on the way past. If you are a hill walker with a trout rod, the ultimate day out will be a trip to the Ronas Hill lochs – remember not to pass even the smallest of ponds, anglers have been surprised before!
As you can see, the fishing week has been filled already and we have not been able to get to the Whalsay, Yell, Fetlar and Unst lochs.
Visitors are welcome to visit the Shetland Anglers' Clubrooms in Burns Lane, Lerwick, open on Tuesday and Friday evenings, where they will get up to date information on what lochs are hot and what lochs are not! The club is not licensed, but you are welcome to bring your own alcohol for consumption on the premises
If you have little, or maybe too much, luck in the lochs why not try a cast or two from the shore for some sea trout, scarcer nowadays but worth the effort if you manage to catch one. Sea angling from boats is also popular in the isles with eela competitions and fishing festivals organised throughout the summer. Check locally for information.
Posted in: Exploring Shetland