In the far north-west of Scotland, the turning point of the road network is Durness Village where set amongst breathtaking scenery are some of the most wonderful limestone lochs where Brown Trout fishing is available.
Durness in North West Sutherland is a crofting village set on a limestone outcrop. As a result, its green fields contrast with the surrounding heather-covered peatlands and mountains. This gives a rich diversity of plant, bird and wildlife with numerous fine sandy beaches, dunes and cliffs, an endless source of interest and beauty. There is evidence of very long term occupation in this fertile area dating back to the Bronze Age. Set amongst this spectacular environment are four of the most famous limestone lochs legendary for their fishing.
The four Durness limestone lochs located on the North coast of Scotland, in the county of Sutherland which vary greatly in their character and size of trout and is the place to go for challenging trout angling in gin-clear limestone waters. The lochs produce wild brown trout of unmatched quality. The limestone lochs of the Durness peninsula are world famous with unique brown trout renowned for their size and fighting characteristics. They are found in any of the four limestone Lochs. With water crystal clear and abundant natural food supply, each Loch has unique features offering a different challenge.
They vary in their look and feel but all share similar characteristics: an alkaline limestone source; crystal clear water; generally shallow with a few deep holes; prolific insect life; challenging and often difficult fishing with superb quality wild brown trout. This area has a famous name in the trout angling world. A geological treasure from the angling perception resulted in a large area of limestone being exposed around Durness consequently the waters around the area are alkaline, a rich and fertile environment where trout grow fit and large. Durness is uniquely special in that the lochs sit out on a semi peninsular of limestone surrounded by peat and gneiss studded hills. The area can be a bleak corner of mainland Britain and Durness is a wild and windy place but offers the most exquisite turquoise blue waters.
The lochs here, Borralaidh, Caladail, Lanlish and Croispol are classic challenging waters; anglers need dexterity here for success. The call of these lochs is powerful and gripping with anglers returning to them every year in their quest. The trout are smooth, extremely well-fed (the caddis alone can be 2 inches long never mind the shrimps and snails!), and they grow to excellent average weights of 1.5lb and are caught as big as 5lb plus. They can be exceedingly difficult to attract and you need every bit of an armoury of wet, dry and nymph flies. Small flies seem to work much better than large. Anything from a Sedge Pupae to a Teal and Green will catch but the weather has to be just right. As the average size of fish increases, the numbers reduce and the fishing generally gets harder. Tactics for the lochs usually depend on the weather conditions. In calm conditions or light winds surface dry fly (buzzers) or nymphs will likely be most successful, in medium winds and a light to medium wave traditional Scottish wet fly tactics will probably be best.
To reach these distinctive parts of the world take the A9 north from Inverness to the Tore roundabout. From here there is a choice of the east coast or the west coast route to continue the journey, both are through stunning scenery but the east coast route is about 30 minutes shorter. The shortest route follows the A9 to its junction with the B9176 over Struie Hill to Bonar Bridge and then follows the A836 through Lairg. At a point about 2 miles north of Lairg turn west on to the A838 and from here, the stunning scenery guides you pass Loch Shin, the mountains of Ben Stack, Arkle and Fionaven, before reaching Laxford Bridge. Turn north once more and head for Durness
A small loch, less than 700m long covering 11.55 ha (28.5 acres) and lying at an elevation of only 14m above sea level. Of the 4 lochs, this contains the smallest fish, but still averaging a respectable 1 lb.
The largest of the 4 lochs, at just under a mile long with a surface area of approximately 39.24 ha (97 acres). The loch lies at an altitude of 17m, and there is a large island in the middle of the loch separated from the East bank by a narrow channel. Excellent trout averaging 1½ lbs, but a few up to 3 lbs.
My favourite! A good size loch of 25 ha (62 acres) lying at an altitude of 36m. Largely shallow at between 1.5 to 3m in depth. Excellent trout averaging over 2 lbs, with a few fish of over 4 lbs caught each year.
The smallest loch lying at 36m beside the golf course. A dour loch generally fished at night. A big fish reputation, averaging over 3 lbs, and up to 8lbs, but more likely to frustrate than reward.
As the average size of fish increases, the numbers reduce and the fishing generally gets harder, so Loch Croispol is the most prolific, and although Lanlish produces huge fish, only a few are caught each year.
Tactics for the main 3 lochs usually depend on the weather conditions. In calm conditions or light winds surface dry fly (buzzers) or nymphs will likely be most successful, in medium winds and a light to medium wave traditional Scottish wet fly tactics will probably be best. Strong winds are not desired as petrol outboards are not allowed.
The west coast route, although longer, also passes through superb scenery. From Tore go west on the A835 towards Garve and then on to Ullapool and remain on the A835 until you reach Ledmore Junction. There you turn north on to the A837 driving via Scourie to Laxford Bridge and on to Durness the most north-westerly point on the British mainland and the turning point of the road network.
Rules and records of the lochs