For visitors and beginners the hardest part of starting out is knowing when, how, why and where. Faced with the immensity of Harray or the hundred miles of sea trout shoreline, the inexperienced angler can be forgiven for feeling more than daunted.
The following chapters will attempt to put such anglers on the pathway to success. This is a "starter pack" which won't contain every detail, but the enthusiastic and energetic angler will soon fill in the spaces

The close season for brown trout in Scotland is from 7th October to 14th March, both dates inclusive, and the close season for sea trout is from 1st November to 24th February, both dates inclusive.

If you would like to email Jim Adams, direct or through the web site contact form he can put you in touch with a local ghillie

How are the lochs fishing
A very good way to see how the fishing season is progressing is to visit our competition reports and results pages for a up to date guide on how the lochs are fishing and what methods and flies are working

Click Here to view Fly Competition Programme
To view the Competition report and full result click link on the competition number and date



Click on lochs to view larger map

Harray Loch Stenness Loch Boardhouse Loch Swannay Loch Hundland & Boardhouse Loch

From the Bank: The best bank fishing, or wading as it is known locally, is generally at the beginning of the season from March until the end of June. From July onwards, the bulk of fish can be expected to be offshore and mainly out of range of even the deepest wading angler. The exception to this rule would be Stenness, of which more later, and last light and first light forays everywhere in mid-season.
The principal mistake that southern bank anglers make in Orkney is that they do not cover enough ground. Rainbow trout are fast moving creatures, and if you stay in the same spot long enough every fish in the pond will swim by you. Not so wild brown trout - to catch more than one you will generally need to keep on the move. Locals employ a "step & cast" approach, never dropping the flies in the same piece of water twice.

In the early months - March & early April - feeding fish will be found in very shallow water (6" - 18" deep) and it is often counterproductive to step in the water. As the water and the days warm-up the fish will spread out over the shallows, staying within casting distance of knee-deep water until late June.

The best big Orkney wading lochs are Harray, Stenness with Hundland and Swannay bringing up a poor joint third. Harray has large areas of shallows where wading anglers can ply their trade - Josey's bay, Bankhead Bay, Merkister Bay, Nistaben, Ballarat, Kirk Bay are reckoned to be the best of it. Stenness is a loch where the fish are bound to the shoreline. Theoretically, Stenness should be the easiest wading venue, but the fish can be remarkably fickle. This is due, in no small part, to the fact that the loch contains brackish water, with the neap & spring tides emptying & filling the loch with Atlantic water on a fortnightly basis. Many locals are Stenness fanatics but they expect a large number of blank trips to make up a years outings on this tricky water.

Hundland can supply good wading, but do take care - some of the loch's deepest holes are within feet of the shoreline. The extreme northern & southern ends are best. Swannay can also be tricky as the rocks which make up its bed can be remarkably slippery - a good place for tungsten-studded waders. Fish the Dale Shore on the northern shoreline for best results.

As regards tackle, floating lines in the shallow waters should suffice, and wet flies or nymphs will do the trick. Have a few dries and emergers tucked away for that evening when the midge (non-biting) are hatching or the cow dung flies are coming down on the water

Boat Hire on Orkney Lochs

Recently we have been receiving a number of enquiries regarding boat hire on the Orkney Lochs. Over the past few seasons the number of local land owners making boat hire available has decreased probably due to the rising costs involved in offering this service.
Local OTFA members in general do not hire out their own boats, engines and equipment but a few local anglers offer a ghillie service with boats and motors on all the lochs but again do not advertise and rely on word of mouth. The aforementioned if by far your safest option and should guarantee excellent boats, motors and fishing – but comes at a price.

If you would like to email or through the web site
contact form
he can put you in touch with a local ghillie

To our knowledge the following are at present hiring boats on our lochs:

Harray Loch:
Merkister Hotel, telephone: 01856 771366

Billy Hay, Castlehill, KW17 2LZ : Mobile 07769828534
Barony Hotel, telephone 01856 721327

Mr R Breck, telephone: 01856 721281

Click here for Membership Details

Click here for Orkney Tourist Information

All Local and visiting anglers are reminded that NO overnight camping is permitted on any of the OTFA sites.