Scotland’s wild and wonderful Lake Menteith
This 700-acre lake boasts one of the best put-and-take fisheries in Europe
Heading out for a day’s fishing on Lake Menteith. Facilities at the fishery include a large car park, lunch room, tackle shop, changing room and storage facility. Photograph: George Barron
Boobies and buzzers were to the forefront during a trip to Lake Menteith in Scotland, as I strove to overcome the high energy levels of these superfit rainbow trout. Their fighting prowess challenge even the most experienced anglers.
As part of a group of 14 anglers, this was my first visit to Scotland and the four-day fishing experience was to prove an added bonus. An early morning start from Dublin allowed plenty of time to catch the Stena Line sailing from Belfast to Cairnryan. The coastal journey towards Sterlingshire brought some stunning scenery. Ailsa Craig, a volcanic island some 10 miles offshore in the Firth of Clyde, is renowned for its water-resistant microgranite that make Olympic-standard curling stones.
Onward we travelled to Aberfoyle and the Rob Roy Hotel, our base for the next five days. Situated on the outskirts of the town, the hotel opened in the 1940s and is modelled on the American-style roadside restaurant and motel. During the second World War it was requisitioned by the war office to accommodate prisoners-of-war.
Up until 1959, the Glasgow-bound train stopped at the Rob Roy, however, the railway track is now transformed into a splendid walkway to nearby Aberfoyle.
While maintaining its motel ambience, the hotel has undergone major refurbishment and now boasts 103 rooms.
Lake Menteith beckoned and I couldn’t wait to get going with the fishing. First impressions do count. Wild and wonderful, full of character and wildlife and, hopefully, plenty of those “big ones”. I was impressed.
Facilities at the fishery are first class with large car park, lunch room, tackle shop, changing room and storage facility.
Surrounding landowners secured the fishing rights of the lake in 1966 and with fish farm attached, developed Menteith into one of the most successful put-and-take fisheries in Europe.
There are 30 boats, all ready for a 9.30am start each morning.
“The 700-acre lake is shaped like a figure eight with a narrow bit in the middle and holds a large stock of rainbows, browns and blues, and also pike, perch, bream, tench and dace,” says Quint Glen, one of the two lake stalwarts.
On my first day I was all “at sea”. Overconfident, I thought this was going to be easy. After all, I had caught quite a few trout in my time. How wrong I was.
I tried several different casts but caught absolutely nothing. Yet, I could see rod benders in boats close by. Frustration began to set in!
However, local knowledge is all-important for first timers, and advice from lake stalwarts Quint Glen and Douglas Fraser set me on the right path.
Bingo! Next day I caught five beauties, two over 3kg. This trend continued for the next two days and I went on to claim nine terrific fish (although I lost as many in the process). Conservation was to the forefront with our group and all fish caught were released unharmed.
Needless to say after a hard day’s fishing it was delightful to tuck into a four-course dinner. A typical menu consisted of salmon terrine and tiger prawn salad followed by roast topside of Scotch beef with all the trimmings. Delicious.
Stena Line Ferry from Belfast to Cairnryan. Five return sailings each day. See stenaline.com for deals.
Where to stay
Where to fish
Fishery is open first week in March to second week in November. Fishing times dependent on time of year. Double-day bookings in mid-summer. Up to eight fish take home per boat. Check website for rates. Wheelie boat available.