The town of Balloch is situated on the South shore of Loch Lomond at the geographical North-South ridge of Scotland. To the North-West lie the mountains of Ben Lomond and the highlands and to the South East fertile farming land across to Stirling.
Balloch has excellent fishing links at its doorstep and has locations and environments to cater for any fisherman. The most popular location is most definitely Loch Lomond as it is the largest fresh water Loch in the United Kingdom. Due to its size it is home to a wealth of fish species including brown and rainbow trout, pike, perch, roach, chub, dace and powan. Salmon and sea trout venture into the waters by way of the River Leven.
The Loch is also regarded as one of the best locations in the UK for pike fishing and is endorsed by the Pike Anglers Club of Great Britain. Over the years the use of live baiting has meant that ruffe has taken over the Loch. It feasts on the eggs of other species and as a result is now the most common fish to be found in Loch Lomond. As a precaution live bait fishing is now banned at the loch.
If visitors are intending to take boats out onto the loch they need to make sure they are registered before doing so. Information about doing this can be found at boatlochlomond.com and balmahaboatyard.co.uk.
There are a number of rivers flowing into and out of Loch Lomond. These include Rivers Endrick, Fruin and Leven and all offer great fishing opportunities.
The River Endrick
This is a very exciting spot for fishing. Species to be had here include: salmon, sea trout, brown trout, roach, dace, chub, perch and pike. The season goes from 15th March to 31st October. As this is the main spawning river of the Lomond system and as such deserves a lot of respect. All anglers taking advantage of the waters here are expected to return all coloured fish to water to help maintain stock levels. There is also Sunday restrictions which prohibit fishing for salmon, sea and brown trout. Permits can be bought for £5 from Spittal Farm and Finnich Blair Farm in Croftamie.
The River Fruin
This river is located on the west side of Loch Lomond and has built a fantastic reputation amongst salmon and sea trout fishers. This is a fast flowing river and for fly bait fishers only, great success can be had with a single handed fly rod. Advice nods to using an Ally’s Shrimp or General Practitioner along with a 10 treble. The fishing season here lasts from 11th February until 31st October, with no sea trout permitted to me caught before April 1st. Fishing here on a Sunday is also prohibited.
The River Leven
This river flows from Loch Lomond to the Clyde estuary at Dumbarton and is another spot that offers great trout and salmon fishing, course fishing is also popular. The river is quite a short one, being just 6 miles long. The only types of fishing that are prohibited in this area are prawn, shrimp and float fishing. Most anglers stick to fly fishing along this stretch as the fish are free risers to the fly. The season here lasts from 11th February until 31st October. The best time to come for salmon is the last week in March and for sea trout during April and May, with night fishing in late June being particularly fruitful. Another exceptional reason to fish here is that the Leven isn’t affected by the weeding up that other rivers suffer as a result of a drought period. Fishing here is excellent in all conditions. Permits are available on application from I and A Gibson on Bank Street in Alexandria. I and A Gibson also provide rod hire, stock live bait as well as arranging fishing boat trips.
The Clyde Estuary is another great fishing location to the south west of Balloch. It takes in port Glasgow, Greenock, Dumbarton, Helensburgh and up to the Gare Loch in the north. This estuary provides a great place to indulge in a spot of sea water fishing for sea trout. Gareloch (not to be mistaken for Gairloch!) has many mackerel (mid-Juneish), dogfish, pollack/coalies and more. Hire a boat from Clynder and drift up and down the loch, you might even hook some cod. If you head far enough north up the loch then you’ll see Faslane naval base too, an impressive submarine base.
The Loch Lomond Angling Improvement Association (LLAIA) is part of the Loch Lomond Fisheries Trust and is responsible for fishing activities in and around Balloch. The information below outlines their permit prices for members and non-members.
Game Fishing Full Members
One off membership joining fee of £ 25 and an annual subscription of £185 for adults. This allows members to enjoy fishing in all areas including the Fruin, Leven, and estuaries. Prices for juniors are £50 and for 65 and over £74. Check pricing info if you are coarse fishing only as some of these areas are permit free!
Non-members can fish a combination of runs for a day, week or season.
Costs can be £15 per day for the Leven, estuary and Loch Lomond down to as little as £5 for the Fruin. A season permit for those that enjoy sea fishing, large river and spate can get a season permit for £116
Discuss different plans for best value for money with the L.L.A.I.A or at the many local shops and retailers who sell permits, hire out rods and reels and give the best information on what bait to use! See http://www.lochlomondangling.com/retailers.htm for more information.
Remember to keep to the season rules for what to fish, and do take advice from the locals on what spots are the best for bagging you a well-deserved desktop photo and conversation piece!