Canoe Fishing – Catching Brown Trout on Loch Ness

Canoe Fishing – Catching Brown Trout on Loch Ness

A Misadventure to Remember

Ah, the Scottish Highlands – where the air is crisp, the lochs are deep, and the tales of adventure await those brave enough to seek them out. It was on just such a quest that my mates and I found ourselves embarking on a canoe fishing expedition to the legendary Loch Ness. Little did we know the escapades that lay in store.

The journey north from our cozy little town in Cornwall was nothing short of an ordeal. As we broke our trek at a Travelodge in Dumbarton, I opted for the true camping experience – bedding down in the back of my car. Big mistake. Between the main road on one side, the busy railway line on the other, and a twitchy car alarm that seemed to have a mind of its own, sleep evaded me like the famous Loch Ness Monster herself. As if the journey wasn’t long enough, we were then forced to take a massive detour around much of the West of Scotland, only adding to our frustration.

The Adventure Begins

Finally, we reached our starting point beneath the towering Ben Nevis at Fort William. Austen and I had to drop our cars off in Inverness, some 70 miles away, and catch a taxi back to join the rest of the group. By the time we set off on the water, I was plagued by a pulsating headache brought on by a lack of sleep and proper nourishment. But the moment I laid eyes on the vast, majestic Loch Lochy, all of that melted away.

The scenery was quintessential Scotland – sweeping purple heather hillsides, a kingfisher flashing by, and a peregrine circling overhead. As we carved across the deep, black waters of the loch, the sun even managed to make a brief appearance, casting a magical glow over the entire scene. Our advance party had staked out the perfect campsite – an idyllic beach backed by a hazel wood, complete with a roaring fire to keep the ravenous midges at bay.

A Feast Fit for Kings (and Trout)

Supper that night was a veritable feast – a vast spread of pasta, freshly caught (albeit sardine-sized) trout, and homemade banana custard, all washed down with a few drams of Glenfiddich. As the firelight danced and the conversation flowed, my headache miraculously vanished, and I found myself bright-eyed and bushy-tailed the next morning.

That’s when the real action began. As I dropped my spinner down after unhooking a trout, I caught a glimpse of a 3-pound pike lurking right beneath my kayak – an unexpected but thrilling start to the day. We then exited Loch Lochy onto a glassy-smooth section of the Caledonian Canal, flanked by towering Scots pines, before emerging onto the shallow, island-studded Loch Oich.

Whitewater Woes and Tumble Dry Triumphs

At the eastern end of Loch Oich, our group split up – half following the canal, and the other half, including myself, paddling down the uncharted waters of the fast-flowing River Oich. This proved to be quite the adventure, with several white-water sections that had us guffawing as poor Andy took an impromptu swim. But the real kicker came when we rounded the bend into Fort Augustus and spotted a little wooden shed on the end of a jetty, proudly displaying the words “Tumble Dryer” – the perfect remedy for Andy’s soaked attire.

As we embarked on the 25-mile stretch of Loch Ness, Andy’s line suddenly zinged out, and he was convinced he had hooked a monster. Turns out it was just a decent sea trout, but it was still a welcome surprise. By this point, we were all starting to feel the effects of our long day’s paddle, and we began searching in vain for a suitable campsite along the rocky, cliffed southern shore of the loch.

A Lakeside Feast and a Turbulent Finish

Just when we were about to give up hope, we stumbled upon the lovely wooded beach near Foyers – the perfect spot to feast on the dozen or so brown trout we had caught, as well as Andy’s sea trout. As the sun dipped below the horizon, casting a warm glow over the loch, we settled in for another night of revelry and tall tales.

On our final day, the conditions on Loch Ness became a bit more interesting, as a westerly wind picked up and whipped up quite a chop on the eastern end of the loch. While this might have been trivial in the sea at Bude, it was a bit more unnerving with only a few millimetres of plastic separating us from the peaty black depths below. But we surfed our way out of the loch and into the Caledonian Canal, eventually opting to use the River Ness for our final stretch – complete with a couple of weirs to keep us on our toes.

As we hauled out in the middle of Inverness, the only thing on our minds was indulging in the best Indian meal we’d ever had, in the nearby town of Pitlochry. The thought of another Travelodge or night spent with car alarms didn’t appeal, so we decided to drive back to Cornwall through the night. It was a top trip indeed, filled with misadventures, surprises, and a whole lot of delicious trout – the perfect way to experience the wonders of Loch Ness and the Scottish Highlands.

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