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Changed Forever

Selfish? Ignorant? After the introduction of pike to one of his favourite hill lochs, Allan Liddle warns of the dangers that introducing new predators to new locations can have.


Small in stature but huge in spirit: the resident trout of Lochindorb.
Small in stature but huge in spirit: the resident trout of Lochindorb.

I visited one of my favourite places yesterday, an old friend you might say; somewhere I visit at least once every year and a water I’ve spend many, many hours exploring literally everywhere in the happy pursuit of the resident wild brown trout it holds.

True, these fish were always standard two or three to the pound traditional Scottish Hill Loch fish, small in stature but huge in spirit, lightning fast and ferocious not just in the take but in their desire to get as far away from you as they could.
In recent times they have begun to get bigger, welcome as this is for the visiting angler I also couldn’t help but wonder as to why.  Much of this I’d put down to the possibility of increased food supply in the face of an ever increasing weed growth throughout the loch, which it possibly attributed to the slow influx of fertilised ground leaching into the feeder burns from the surrounding plantations. A silver lining from the cloud of a forestation, perhaps?

A beautiful heather-clad shoreline.

Lochindorb is without doubt one of our best and iconic Scottish Hill Lochs, formed as a result of glacial melt with evidence all around, backdrop of some of our highest mountains, heather-clad shoreline, those fantastic wild browns, there’s even a ruined castle in the middle. In fact all you’d need is a piper (bet there’s not one too far away) a distillery (I know there is more than one not too far away) and a shortbread factory (yup not too far away) and you’d have the entire set.  Hare, grouse, buzzards, osprey, red deer, they’re all there; you could say it’s the ‘perfect’ Scottish Hill Loch.

Lochindorb: one of Allan Liddle's favourite places.

Or at least it was, sadly and I have to say selfishly Lochindorb now has a new resident patrolling its sub surface world as anglers seeking to gain from a venue offering free and easily accessible pike have introduced the species.

The introduction of pike could see this iconic loch changed forever.

Selfish is one way I’d describe this, ignorant is another and without doubt it means this loch has now been altered forever for the sake of a minority of anglers looking to benefit from the addition of another pike venue in the Highlands: simply why?  We have many cracking pike venues already so why desecrate a Scottish Icon when there are plenty literally a few extra minutes away.

Now, don’t get me wrong and let me be clear here, I like pike and I like to fish for them especially with the fly so what’s the problem I hear you say?  Problem is that pike will literally clean out almost all the trout (as has been proven in many other Highland locations over the years) and has the ability to then flourish by predating on itself.

So, old friend, I will continue to come and visit, and chase the trout that will for the next wee while get better in terms of quality, I might even chase the toothy new additions, but I will always now have a heavy heart when I think back at how it used to be, how it was for many years and how it can never again be an iconic Scottish Wild Trout Hill Loch.

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