Highland Wild Trout Challenge

Anyone that knows me understands I am not keen on loch fishing or competitions. So why then have I just taken part in a competition on a loch and had a thoroughly great time. So good in fact that I am really looking forward to my next session on a loch.

From beginning to end we had a great time at the Highland Wild Trout Challenge on the 14th and 15th of July 2007. Fishing buddy Alex had suggested we take part ages ago and after a quick that sounds like a good idea I then almost put it to the back of my mind, the even then caught up with me and was upon us like a flash.

I was paired with Douglas Fairbairn, winner of many competitions and expert at working the bob fly however he must have been thinking he had drawn a dozer considering I have only fished lochs from a boat much less than a dozen times. We all had a few drams before getting in the boats, Alex had warned me that the competitors liked a whiskey to settle the old nerves before the comp and I managed to gulp down a few before waddling off to the boat.

However the guys in this competition are professionals (professional whiskey drinks that is) and I watched as many more drams were drunk as we all belted (it took us almost 2 hours) up to the top of the loch

The size limit was 10 inches and I certainly caught many just below that mark and a few just above it the first day. I am still in awe how hard these loch trout fight; even on a 7 weight rod these trout were giving a good account of themselves usually after vicious takes.

We camped out on the Saturday night after an evening session on “Little Loch Shin” which is stuffed with small trout.

Sunday was more of the same, the day flashed by and I caught some bigger trout but nowhere near enough to win a prize. I think I was around midway on the table – not bad for a bloke that fishes rivers I thought.

I did not like to think about the ethics involved in fishing this competition. All the trout caught over 10 inches had to be killed (unlike the river competitions) however I am assured the loch is stuffed full of trout and can handle the occasional harvesting. All the trout were put in a box and were given to the local hotel. I have heard of some horror stories on the big lake competitions where anglers were simply putting there catch away in bins as there freezers were so stuffed with stocked rainbows they could not think of what else to do with them. I am glad to say I can never see me go down that route.

I think if Alex and I had just travelled up together we would have probably done better, for a start we would have headed to places that only he knows about and we would have no time constraints put on us. As it was on the Sunday we headed out again after the competition and caught even more trout, we got rained on and I was freezing but not wanting the evening to end. Alex was particularly impressed at my lack of moaning – something which I am renowned for apparently.

I was certainly not moaning about the welcome I received at Alex’s parent’s house, I was most grateful for a warm bed and a meal.


  1. Alex · July 17, 2007

    Yes there’s something about being afloat that lends itself to a dram rather nicely. I am usually drunk as a skunk by the time we reach the top of the loch!!

    A fantastic weekend, marred only by the uncouth rabble that is the teenage population of Lairg. Saturday was the local gala day, which means that the youths celebrate the town and it’s rich history by getting legless and cavorting drunkenly around the vicinity of the campsite.

    Next time, I will leave them to it and go to Shaun’s party instead!!

  2. Ross Middleyard · July 17, 2007

    Hey Alistair.

    Like the pics of the competition. I used to fish down in Lairg a lot 7 yrs ago. Used to fish both little loch shin and it’s big bro back in 2000. Used to go out with the local Gala Queen at the time cause her folk’s owned land out in Clach Mhor Shinness so big loch shin was right on my doorstep. That meant free fishing whenever i wanted. I agree with your comment on how hard those wee trout fight. Biggest i caught off the bank was a nice 2lb’er and that certainly made a fool of me. Like i say great pics, brings back happy and most fond memories of the place. Alls you need now is drive that extra 70 mins North and you’ll be in Caithness where the trout fishing is top notch!!! If you do a google search for trout fishing in Caithness, you’ll see what we have on offer.

    Regards and tight lines


  3. Alistair · July 17, 2007

    Thanks for the comment Ross, I was suprised at the quality of the trout in little loch Shin – we caught loads and they fought like little devils.

    Where abouts do you fish now ?


  4. Ian Scott · July 17, 2007

    Interesting post, Alistair. I’m quite interested in knowing more about specific flies and techniques you used – as you might know, I’m fishing this year’s Canadian Championships and it’s all going to be loch style casting with DI-5, DI-7 and Intermediate lines mostly.

    My loch or lake fishing experience is limited – and going from fishing 9′ 5 wts, floating line to 10 1/2 foot with intermediate line is… quite interesting!

    How did you enjoy sitting on those thwart boards? Using those is enough to make me think I need a few good drams in me – enough to last four hours to ease the pain in my arse! I haven’t done enough bicycle riding I imagine.

    By the way, my apologies for your recent comment at my place not showing up – for some reason, it went into the moderation queue which I seldom check.

  5. Alistair · July 17, 2007

    Hi Ian,

    I caught most of my trout on a 7 weight floating line on the bob fly – it was a claret bumble. I found casting a 7 weight ok actually – it was a nice change from a 4 or 5 weight. When it comes to the actual fishing part I am not saying there is no skill in it but it does make a change from reading the water and thinking about drag on rivers. It was a relaxing way to fish.

    My arse was killing me after a couple of hours, got by that by standing up every hour or so to stratch the legs šŸ™‚

    Let me know how you get on !


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