Isle of Islay
Islay is the most southerly Hebridean island. It covers an area of around 25 miles north to south and 20 miles east to west. Bowmore, in the centre of the island, has the largest population. There are ferry terminals at both Port Askaig, in the north west, and Port Ellen, in the south. Both of these ports are served by Kennacraig on the mainland, which is south of Tarbert, Loch Fyne. For information on ferries please see the link to Caledonian MacBrayne on the links page. Islay airport, which is a few miles north of Port Ellen, has scheduled flights to Glasgow.
Islay's coastline is quite diverse, with high cliffs, rocky outcrops, caves and sandy beaches. The western side of the Island, being open to the Atlantic Ocean, offers good opportunities for bass fishing. Loch Gruinart, to the north of the island, can also produce bass and good sea trout from April onwards.
There are a large number of shipwrecks around the coast which hold a good number of sea species such as cod, ling, conger and pollack. Loch Indaal is good for tope around September time - in a recent tope competition a fish of 62lb was caught. The Sound of Islay has numerous good pollack marks. Tidal streams here run at 5-7 knots with only a short period of slack water. Mackerel can be caught from just about any shore mark from May onwards.
There is a charter boat based at Port Askaig offering wreck and reef fishing - contact 01496 850436.
Trout & Salmon Fishing
There are dozens of good trout lochs on the island. We've only managed to fish a handful of them so far and you'll find more detailed information on them at the top right of this page. There's salmon and sea trout fishing on the spate rivers Laggan, Sorn and Uisg an t-Suidhe. The river Laggan is the most productive with salmon averaging 7lb. Double-figure fish not uncommon.
Islay was host to the 2003 European Fly Fishing Championship, the biggest fishing event ever to be held in Scotland. The competition ran from 8-12 September and the venues were Loch Ballygrant, Loch Finlaggan, Loch Kinnabus and Loch Gorm. Poland took first place with the Scottish team second and England third.
This is one of seven lochs run by Dunlossit Estate. Access is from the A846, Bridgend to Port Askaig road. Turn off at Ballygrant village, take the Mulindry road and bear left after 500m. Follow the sign post to the kennels, where cars can be parked. The loch is a short downhill walk which leads you to the boathouse, where there are two well fitted out boats available for hire.
Boat fishing is the best option as the shoreline is heavily wooded. There are a number of small bays and a couple of islands which make interesting fishing. The loch is no more than 30ft deep and the majority of it is less than 15ft. The fish here are hard-fighting wild brown trout, weighing up to 3lb.
The facilities offered to the visiting angler, in common with the other lochs run by Dunlossit Estate, are very good. The boathouse offers shelter in inclement weather, and has seating as well as a fireplace.
Loch nan Cadhan
This is another of Dunlossit Estate's lochs. Access is the same as for Loch Ballygrant except that you take the second entrance on the left towards Loch Ballygrant. Follow the track around the loch and leave your car at the Loch nan Cadhan signpost.
There is a boat available for hire but as the loch is fairly small it can easily fished around the shore in a couple of hours. It has a couple of small islands and some reedy bays and is popular with local anglers for the odd large fish it produces.
Tickets for this loch are available from Islay Estates, Bowmore. You reach here via the A847 Bridgend road, then the B8018. There are a number of boats available for hire from the Estates office as well as from Balinaby Farm on the northern shore.
Loch Gorm is the biggest freshwater loch on Islay at a mile and a half wide and is in an exposed location with no cover. Boat fishing is preferable due to the size of the loch. It is generally very shallow and, although it is surrounded by peat, has a sandy bottom. There are plenty of shallow bays, rocky outcrops and a few islands.
Early season will see a number of small fish but the fishing improves later in the season, with May and June being the best months. The average size of brown trout is 12oz but many larger fish are taken.
This is run by Dunlossit Estates. Access is as per Loch Ballygrant but continue uphill past the kennels.
It is a very attractive loch which has good bank fishing. A walkway has been constructed to give access to the larger island from the southern shore. There are a wide variety of features from shallow, reedy bays to deep drop-offs. Two boats are available for hire which give access to the wooded shoreline and the other islands.
This loch fishes well all season and has a good variety of hard-fighing wild fish.
Skerrols is around a mile out of Bridgend on the A846. The loch is signposted from the road.
Fishing from the bank is limited as much of the shore is overhung with trees and shrubs. There are two boats available for hire on the loch. Due to its setting this loch can offer shelter when windy conditions would make fishing on other lochs difficult.
There are many free-rising wild brown trout here and patience will help you get through to the better fish.
Permits are available from Islay Estates.