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Sea trout

River Ewe and Loch Maree

Loch Maree hotel ghillies in 1980s

Loch Maree hotel ghillies in 1980s

The River Ewe - Loch Maree system was until the 1990s, one of the most famous sea trout systems in Scotland. During the 1970s and 1980s, the Loch Maree Hotel employed 9 ghillies through the fishing season (April to October). Hotels in Kinlochewe also employed several ghillies. The art of dapping was developed on the loch in the 1920s, and is still used today for fishing for trout and sea trout. With the collapse of the sea trout fishery, the majority of fisheries related jobs around Loch Maree were lost, and two up-market hotel establishments have become holiday lets with the additional loss of jobs.

For the Ewe system as a whole, the 5-year average catch of sea trout fell from 2,500 in 1982 to 800 in 2000. There has always been some difficulty in deciding what a sea trout is and what a finnock is. Many of the fish taken in 2007 in the River Ewe were early returned "sea trout" which had spent only a short 2nd summer at sea, returning prematurely with sea lice infestation.

A further indication of the collapse in the sea trout stock is the lack of larger sea trout taken in rod catches over recent years. Only a handful of fish of over 2lb were recorded in either the River Ewe or in Loch Maree in 2007. Further details of this fishery and its collapse can be found in Butler and Walker [1].

The Kanaird, Broom, Gruinard, Balgy (including Loch Damh) and Carron and many other rivers were also formerly noted for their sea trout fisheries with several hundred fish taken by rods in some years.

Dapping in Loch Maree



Dapping is a special kind of "fly-fishing" using a long fishing rod, with a length of floss line to catch the wind, and a big bushy fly which is danced to and fro over the waves. The art of dapping was developed on the loch during the first half of the 20th century, and it remains popular with many anglers around the world. Both sea trout and brown trout - often quite large ones - readily chase the dapped fly, sometimes leaping clear of the water to catch it. It is likely that dapping flies are taken because of their resemblance to dragonflies or daddy-long legs both of which are common around the loch in summer and autumn. Spot the bushy fly...


  1. Butler, J.R.A. & Walker, A.F. (2006), Characteristics of the Sea Trout Salmo trutta Stock Collapse in the River Ewe (Wester Ross, Scotland), in 1988-2001. In Sea Trout: Biology, Conservation and Management. Published Online: 15 Nov 2007, Pages: 45-59

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