Skip to content

Brown trout and sea trout (Salmo trutta)

Trout spawn in small streams that flow into Loch Maree in October or November. During their first two or three years after hatching, all trout look much the same. However, after 3 or 4 years in freshwater, some trout turn silver and go to sea, leaving their siblings to remain as brown trout within the loch. 'Finnock' (small sea trout) return to freshwater after a few months of feeding in coastal waters. Larger sea trout may return to spawn several times during their lives - formerly reaching 80 cm or more in length. The Loch Maree sea trout population collapsed at the end of the 1980s and has yet to recover. Sea trout were affected by sea lice epizootics in Loch Ewe, most recently in 2001, 2003 and 2007. Sea trout populations elsewhere in the WRFT area have also been affected by sea lice and other factors.

There are several forms of brown trout in Loch Maree including ferox. Ferox are large brown trout that eat other fish especially charr. Ferox are much like other trout when they are small, feeding mainly on insects around the shores of the loch. However, when they reach about 30 cm in length and 5 years old, their diet is almost entirely of charr and small trout. By age 10 years, ferox may be over 60cm long. There are also numerous isolated wild brown trout populations in Wester Ross in streams and hill lochs above waterfalls that are inaccessible to sea trout and salmon.

A Fionn Loch trout         [Close]
Finnock and sea lice         [Close]
Gairloch hill loch trout         [Close]
Gairloch hill loch separated from Loch Maree (behind) by waterfalls         [Close]
Garbhaig falls trout (Steve Kett)         [Close]

Trout Gallery

Click a photograph to see it enlarged.

Related Downloads

To download a file, right-click over it's name and choose Save Link/Target As...

  • Finding Salmon and Sea trout around the Wester Ross MPA
    This presentation by Peter Cunningham introduces the main wild salmon rivers that flow into the Wester Ross MPA and describes some of the issues, including infestation by sea lice from poorly regulated open cage salmon farms, which threaten wild salmon populations and sea trout within the Wester Ross area. Can the wild salmon populations around the Wester Ross MPA be given additional protection?.  Posted: 27/10/2022 (11.01MB)
  • Recaptured Gairloch sea trout April 2021
    Photographs of a sea trout caught in September 2019 and then again in April 2021 in the Flowerdale estuary, Loch Gairloch by the Wester Ross Fisheries Trust sweep netting team. .  Posted: 01/06/2021 (562KB)
  • Wester Ross: a stronghold for wild trout diversity? Presentation by Peter Cunningham 30th April 2019
    Wester Ross remains a stronghold for wild brown trout some of which spend their entire lives in freshwater streams and lochs, others migrate to sea. This presentation, with illustrations of Wester Ross trout by Paul Vecsei, highlights some of the remarkable diversity within the area and some of the challenges for trout populations and fisheries.  Posted: 28/05/2019 (11.17MB)
  • Loch Maree Wild Trout population structure: first look by Vu Dang
    Summary of the main findings of a genetic study of wild trout diversity in and around the Loch Maree catchment area with suggestions for conservation management by V Dang (MScRes. student) of Middlesex University.  Posted: 28/05/2019 (3.61MB)
  • Gairloch sea trout sample 19th April 2019
    This file provides details of a sample of 30 sea trout taken using a sweep net in the Flowerdale estuary, Loch Gairloch on 19th April 2019. These fish carried high numbers of sea lice. .  Posted: 22/04/2019 (536KB)
  • Wester Ross Wild Trout Workshop 30th April 2019
    This workshop at Kinlochewe Village Hall will focus on the diversity of wild trout in the Wester Ross and Isle of Skye areas and on conservation and fisheries restoration. .  Posted: 15/03/2019 (429KB)
  • Skye and Wester Ross Fisheries Trust Review February 2018
    This review summarises the work of the Skye and Wester Ross Fisheries Trust during the period June 2016 to December 2018.  Posted: 06/02/2018 (7.46MB)
  • Loch Torridon Sea trout report 2015
    This report presents some of the results of investigations to gather information about sea trout around the Loch Torridon area in 2015 following reports of exceptionally high concentrations of parasitic sea lice (Lepeophtheirus salmonis) on salmon farms within the area during the first six months of 2015 . Sea trout were sampled by Wester Ross Fisheries Trust during the period May-July 2015 using sweep netting, rod and line and electro-fishing. In October and early November 2015 a fyke net trap was operated in a tributary of the River Torridon to learn more about the spawning population of trout within that river system.  Posted: 05/01/2016 (7.75MB)
  • Problems for Sea trout in Wester Ross
    This presentation has been tidied up from one given at the sea trout and sea lice management workshop at Aultbea Village hall on 20th February 2014. Data for sea lice and other factors affecting sea trout in Wester Ross are summarised. The presentation concludes with an outline for a Scottish Sea Trout Project aimed at improving our understanding of how different factors affect sea trout in different parts of Scotland.  Posted: 21/02/2014 (6.57MB)
  • Mamo, Sara (2013) Trophic Status and Ontogeny: An Analysis of Brown Trout (Salmo trutta, L.1758) Growth and Diet in Wester Ross, Scotland
    This thesis by Middlesex University student Sara Mamo investigates the diet and growth of brown trout in Loch Coire na h-Airigh and Loch Feur, Wester Ross.  Posted: 13/12/2013 (1.17MB)
  • Dang, Vu H. (2013) Preliminary investigation of Aquatic Macro-Invertebrate Biodiversity in the Gairloch Hill Lochs, Wester-Ross Shire
    This thesis by Middlesex University student Vu Dang investigates the aquatic macro-invertebrates biodiversity of lochs at varying altitudes, located in the Gairloch district, Wester Ross Shire, Scotland.  Posted: 13/12/2013 (2.35MB)
  • WRFT Sea trout Monitoring review 2012
    This report presents the results of sea trout and sea lice monitoring in 2012 within the WRFT area, and considers the occurrence of larger sea trout in Wester Ross and other parts of the West of Scotland.  Posted: 12/04/2013 (6.05MB)
  • Recaptured male Gairloch sea trout 2012
    This wild sea trout, named 'Squaretail', has been caught 5 times in Loch Gairloch by the WRFT sweep netting team, providing further useful information about growth and migration of sea trout within the coastal waters of Wester Ross.  Posted: 28/09/2012 (972KB)
  • Ferox trout 700m Loch Maree 25 October 2011
    This is one of the largest trout recorded in the River Ewe - Loch Maree systems in the past 10 years. It was temporarily removed from a spawning stream. Scale reading suggests it is a 'ferox' trout with growth rate that increased when aged 7 or 8 as its diet changed.  Posted: 10/11/2011 (425KB)
  • The Wild Trout of a Coastal Stream System in Wester Ross
    Poster showing some of the wild trout and their prey and predators found in a coastal stream system in Wester Ross.  Posted: 24/05/2011 (1.05MB)
  • Wester Ross Sea Trout Scale Catalogue April 2011
    The document provides links to photographs of sea trout and their scales from the sea and river estuaries of Wester Ross. The catalogue will be updated in response to comments received.  Posted: 05/04/2011 (989KB)
  • Estuarine trout, Kerry Bay 7 June 2010
    This trout, the largest taken in the sea by the WRFT sea lice monitoring team, was taken in the sweep net; and the file shows photographs of scales from which the age has been assessed.  Posted: 07/06/2010 (508KB)
  • WRFT Wild Trout Project Report 2006-07
    Posted: 24/06/2008 (1.24MB)