Fishing in the Gairloch Area

Fionn Loch

Fionn Loch (The White Loch) is situated on the Letterewe estate to the north-east of Gairloch and is considered to be one of the best wild brown trout lochs in the area. A typical basket, which could number twenty to thirty fish, will probably average just under half a pound. On a good day several fish in excess of a pound in weight can be taken. A trip to Fionn will long be remembered. The abundance of fish together with their fighting qualities and the chance of a huge wild brownie taking one’s fly combine to offer excellent fishing. The experience is further enhanced by the remote nature of the loch which is situated in an amphitheatre of superb mountain scenery.

Anglers coming here who appreciate historical associations with the sport should read Osgood Mackenzie’s account of the fishing on Fionn in days gone by. In his book ‘A Hundred Years in the Highlands’ he recounts how he witnessed the weighing of four fish which together totalled fifty-one pounds. He recalls the capture of two twelve pounders on a night line and the netting of a trout of eighteen pounds. The largest trout he ever saw in Fionn was one he hooked and lost on the fly in Sandy Bay. He claims it weighed twenty five pounds!

When traversing the track from Poolewe to Fionn, it is poignant to reflect that before Mackenzie constructed the road he and his men hauled boats manually by this route up to the loch.

All who fish the loch regularly have their own ‘hot spots’. Without being prescriptive, the suggestions given here are intended to save the first time visitor much valuable fishing time on this large expanse of water. Most of the shoreline fishes well but areas marked on the map such as Sandy Bay, Boat-house Bay etc. will sometimes produce better than average fish. In days gone by, when trolling was allowed, large trout and ferox were regularly caught but since the fly-only restriction was introduced, big fish are much more difficult to catch.

Front cover of Fishing in the Gairloch Area

Chapter on Fionn Loch

How to get to Fionn Loch

Front cover of Fishing in the Gairloch Area

Large fish, however, are still present. Most of the big fish taken today are caught ‘on the dap’ or on fast-sinking lines and large flies. However, a short line fished on or near the surface with a Soldier Palmer on the bob can produce a good day’s sport.

Fionn Loch contains many submerged rocks which lie just beneath the surface and are potentially dangerous to the non-wary navigator. Many such rocks are to be found well out from the shores and hence, extreme care should always be taken when out in a boat. It must be said that on days when rocks of this nature are hidden by waves, anglers inexperienced on the loch would be well advised not to leave the bay by the jetty. By way of compensation, this bay has a very good head of free-rising fish. Recommended flies are Black Zulu, Peter Ross, Connemara Black, Ke-He and Invicta. A Soldier Palmer works well on the bob in summer.

How to get there
Fionn Loch is closely controlled. Vehicular access is restricted. The loch is reached by a track from Poolewe which is only suitable for 4-wheel drive vehicles. Anglers fishing the loch should report in to the keeper at Keepers Cottage, Kernsary, both on the way up to the loch and on the way down. The Letterewe Estate imposes strict time limits on access to Fionn. Vehicles should not pass Keeper’s Cottage before 8.30am and should return past the cottage by 8pm. From Gairloch, take the road to Poolewe and turn right up Riverside Road immediately after crossing the River Ewe in Poolewe. After 1.5m, fork left before Inveran Lodge. Pass through Fisherfield gate No. 3 with Loch Kernsary on the left. Keepers Cottage is a short distance past the loch on the right. Fionn is a further 2m up the track. Allow approximately 40 mins for the journey.

Permits
The fishing on Fionn Loch is strictly controlled by the Letterewe Estate. The estate currently affords Gairloch Angling Club the management of a boat on the loch which is fitted with an outboard motor. Bank fishing is not allowed. Conditions on access to the loch vary from time to time and enquiries on the current situation are best directed to K. Gunn’s newsagent. Visitors should also be aware that a condition of the lease is that every fourth season there is no fishing at all on this great water.