Loch Tay is not usually associated with
ferox trout fishing. Specialist anglers
make a bee line for Loch Awe or Loch Rannoch.
But Loch Tay also holds charr and thus
ferox. There is very little real angling
pressure in summer and as a result few captures
are reported. "Ferox" trout is
perhaps a misnomer. The
name Ferox suggests "cannibal" and
this is not quite true. All trout will eat
other trout, but at a certain point in their
growth cycle some find that eating other
fish is easier and more biologically efficient
than chasing small insects. This practice
into its own when insects are few (deep highland
lochs) where other fish (usually rich fatty
I have caught
crackers from Loch Tay of 12lb, 13lb, 16lb
All have been returned unharmed. All weights
have been estimated as I try not to take
the fish out of the water to release them.
Over the years I have lost count of the number
of five and six pound trout from the Loch.
The best areas seem to be off Ardtalanaig,
Copper Mines and Bay of Plenty.
of capture bears examination. I rarely
specially for ferox. All have fallen to
lures intended for salmon. All have
on static rapalas! It usually occurs when
I have stopped the boat to untangle the
mess at the back of the boat. In a matter
of minutes of stopping the boat a rod which
has been left in the water suddenly goes
berserk. All have been takn in high summer.
Best conditions are a dark overcast and a
wave and static, but a flat calm has also
the advice given by Loch Tay ghillies for
fishing. Traditionally salmon fishing takes
place in spring and autumn in big waters. The
popular concept is to fish slow for salmon
and fast for trout. This makes sense for
these times of year when water is cold and
mixed (no termoclines). Desperate trout will
go for anything.
But come the summer the charr move to the
surface as do the small trout. They hunt
early morning, dusk and in overcasts looking
for insects. Their predators follow. Ferox
are to my mind the white sharks of the lochs.
They attack from below, ambushing slow
moving or static fish.
How can you tell a ferox trout from another
brown trout? Frankly as an angler you can't.
A big highland trout is more likely to be
and thus a ferox. A highland trout with a
big head and kype is more likely to be a
equally could be a big male seatrout.
If you want to learn more about ferox fishing
I can recommend Ron Greer's book "Ferox Trout
and Arctic Charr - A predator, its pursuit
and its prey". Published by Swan Hill Press
(1995) ISBN 1 85310 486 8.
Paul Fishlock 14 Nov 2008
Quotes from leading experts:
Alastair Thorne and Alisdair I. MacDonald
Fisheries Biologists, FRS Freshwater Laboratory,
Pitlochry, Perthshire, Scotland. ( 2007)
Joe L. Thorley
Fisheries Biologist, Poisson Consulting Ltd.,
Nelson, BC, Canada.
"Ferox trout" is a term commonly used
to describe large, piscivorous brown trout
Salmo trutta, which are the top fish predators
in many Scottish lochs.
(Campbell 1979). In some lochs, ferox trout
are reproductively isolated and genetically
distinct from the other sympatric brown trout
(Duguid et al.2006). Indeed, ferox trout
were previously considered a separate species –Salmo
Currently, however, most fisheries biologists
consider ferox trout to be members of the
brown trout species complex that have adopted
strategy of delayed maturation, extended
longevity, piscivory, and rapid growth (Mangel
and Abrahams 2001). Nevertheless, the species
status of ferox trout may require reassessment
(Duguid et al. 2006).
Based on a study of 141 ferox trout from
22 Scottish lochs, Campbell (1971,1979) concluded
that typically ferox trout grow slowly until
they reach a critical length of 35-40 cm,
whereupon they undergo a rapid increase in
size associated with a switch to piscivory
(Campbell 1971,1979). Although ferox trout
do eat smaller brown trout (Grey et al. 2002),
examination of stomach
contents has revealed a preference for Arctic
charr Salvelinus alpinus, which abound in
most lochs where ferox trout occur (Campbell
1979). Ferox trout live for many years and
can grow to over a meter in length. The current
United Kingdom (UK) rod-caught record stands
kg (31 lb-12 oz) with the oldest fish recorded
in the UK being 23 years of age."