Anglers consider Scotland a paradise. Its fast-flowing rivers harbor Atlantic salmon (the king of all game fish). The rivers and numerous pristine lochs allow you to enjoy some of Europe's most beautiful scenery, and local innkeepers are extremely hospitable. Note that permits for fishing (often arranged by your hotel) can be expensive. For one of the grand beats on the River Tay, a week's permit could run as much as hundreds of pounds. However, there are many lesser-known rivers where a club ticket costs only a few pounds a day.
The Tweed and the Tay are just two of the famous Scottish salmon rivers. In Perthshire, the Tay is the broadest and longest river in the country. The Dee is the famous salmon-fishing river of Aberdeenshire. The royal family fishes this river, and the queen herself has been seen casting from these banks. Other anglers prefer to fish the Spey, staying at one of the inns along the Malt Whisky Trail. Certain well-heeled fishermen travel every year to Scotland to fish in the lochs and rivers of the Outer Hebrides.
In general, Scotland's season for salmon fishing runs from late February until late October, but these dates vary from region to region.
Types of Fishing
Here's a breakdown of terms you're likely to hear even before you cast your first line into the country's glittering waters:
Coarse Fishing -- This means going after any species of freshwater fish except salmon and trout. Especially prized trophies, known for putting up a spirited fight, are carp, tench, pike, bream, roach, and perch. Because few lochs actually freeze during winter, the sport can be practiced throughout the year. Local tourist boards all over the country can provide advice.
Game Fishing -- Salmon and trout (brown, rainbow, or sea) are the most desired of the game fish and the ones that have inspired the image of a fly fisherman whipping a lure and line in serpentine arcs above a loch. Many vacationers dream of donning bulky rubber waders up to their waists and trying their luck in streams and freshwater lochs. Fly-fishing for salmon and trout is subject to seasonal controls and sometimes requires a permit. For details on game fishing, contact the Salmon & Trout Association (Scottish Branch), The National Game Angling Centre, The Pier, Loch Leven, Kinross KY138UF (tel. 01577/865-620; fax 01577/864-769; www.salmon-trout.org).
Sea Fishing -- This simply means fishing from a beach, a rocky shoreline, or a pier. Inshore fishing involves dropping a line into ocean waters within 5km (3 miles) of any Scottish coastline; deep-sea fishing is done from a boat, more than 5km (3 miles) offshore, in a style made popular by cigar-chomping tycoons and Hemingway clones. Offshore waters have produced several species of shark, including porbeagle, thresher, mako, and blue shark. For information on what to expect from offshore waters, contact the Scottish Tourist Board, 95 Ocean Dr., Edinburgh EH6 6JH (tel. 0845/225-5121; www.visitscotland.com).
Getting permits and information on worthwhile places to fish is easier if you join one of the more than 380 fishing clubs headquartered in Scotland. (The oldest angling club in the world, the Ellem Fishing Club, was founded in Scotland in 1829.) Each of its activities is supervised by the Scottish Anglers National Association (tel. 01577/861-116; www.sana.org.uk), which firmly believes that newcomers should learn at the side of the more experienced. Courses in the fine art of fishing are offered in or around Scotland. For details, contact the Scottish Tourist Board .