Angling in the Cairngorms National Park is one of the most peaceful, serene and ultimately satisfying activities available in the region. Plentiful lochs and rivers full of wild salmon and trout make for huge fishing success, whilst the opportunity to truly escape it all and enjoy the UK’s most captivating surroundings is unparalleled. Read on to discover the best locations in the area as well as some useful fishing tips for the Cairngorms.
Best for beginners: Beginner anglers looking for something easy should head to Loch Morlich where plentiful trout are easy to catch.
Best for big fish: The best location for catching big fish is at Loch Dallas where it’s common to catch fish up to 3 lbs in weight.
Best for Arctic charr: The native Arctic charr fish is an increasingly popular choice on the dinner table as an alternative to salmon, but it’s also one that many anglers like to tick off their list. The best loch for Arctic charr is Loch Avon.
Best for trout: Loch Vaa is a good choice for trout as it is home to an abundance of both brown and rainbow trout.
There are two main rivers in the Cairngorms, both of which are excellent locations for fishing; River Spey and River Findhorn. The first, River Spey, is the longest and fastest flowing river in Scotland and is bursting with wild salmon, hence fly fishing is hugely popular here. In fact, the Spey Casting technique of fly fishing originated on this river where high banks necessitated new invention. When the water level is particularly high on the Spey it may even be right for spinning. The most accessible part of the Spey is Boat of Garnet and Grantown where Association Water makes it easy to fish in these towns. The second river, River Findhorn, is also an excellent place to catch both salmon and sea trout.
Another fantastic option both for beginners and for families is to take a visit to a fishery. These dedicated centres for angling offer much higher chances of catches. One very popular choice is the Craggan Fishery located on the Spey near Grantown. Part of Craggan Outdoors, a major outdoor activity centre in the Cairngorms, Craggan Fishery is home to three acres of six, purpose-dug ponds, which are guaranteed to be full of rainbow trout. Most visitors fly fish here although the fishery are happy to let you choose to do spinning, course fly or float fishing too. A day ticket allows you to stay all day and there is a just a small additional fee should you wish to take your catch home for dinner. Equipment is also available to hire making it a great choice for those who haven’t brought their rods with them. Another excellent choice is the Rothiemurcus Fishing Centre, which is located close to Aviemore and the River Druie, a tributary of the Spey.
Though less popular in this part of Scotland, coarse fishing is available in the area for those still eager to catch some pike, which can be found in certain lochs such as Loch Insh and Loch Pityoulish. Coarse fishing via spinning lures and plugs from boats generally takes place in the summer months only.
Fishing tips for the Cairngorms
Many of the lochs mentioned here are home to water sports centres where boats are available to hire for better fishing. In peak times try to arrive at the loch early enough to reserve a boat as most lochs, especially the smaller ones, only have one or two available to hire. Visitors should also note that there is often little or no mobile phone signal around the loch areas. This means that you need to take extra care of yourself or possibly take a radio. Always make sure you are aware of the Annual Close Times for certain fish in Scotland. Salmon, for instance, cannot be fished in the River Spey from late August to late March. It is an offence to fish for wild fish on owned land without the consent of the landowner.
Fishing in the Cairngorms is a wonderful way to relax on a holiday to the region. Many anglers wanting to try their hand at catching wild salmon and trout flock here where they make their long-awaited catch, whilst discovering a taste of true tranquillity.