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Forest & Land Scotland – River Forth, Aberfoyle

The River Forth at Aberfoyle is a stunning section of water that is a must try for anyone that knows the area. Visiting anglers will feel welcome here too and may wish to include this for a day or two in their itinerary. The pools are mixed with lovely long pools holding salmon and sea trout from as early as May/June and the trout fishing is very special. A difficult river to fish most pools and not managed in any way, however access is not impossible and worth the effort. 

 

There are fresh salmon seen as early as June/July up here, some of them as fresh as you could hope for.

S. McVean

I was so surprised at first sight of the Forth up into the forest at Renagour and then the pools in Autumn down at Fairy Knowe are stunning and hold good Trout, Salmon, and Sea Trout

C. Somerville

Permit Outlets
  • Aberfoyle Post Office
  • Forestry & Land Office Aberfoyle
  • James Baynes, Callander

Location

The River Forth, aka the Old Forth, runs through the Trossachs forming when the Duchray and Loch Ard’s Avondhu rivers confluence near the Eastern slopes of Ben Lomond just upstream from Aberfoyle. The Forth flows through Aberfoyle and then continues East for 29 miles to meet the Teith at Craigforth near Stirling and then on out to form the mighty Forth Estuary. Generally a slow and meandering river, the best section to fish is the beautiful Aberfoyle section. 

Boundaries

The Forest & Land Scotland (FLS) fishing on the River Forth starts at the upper reaches just upstream of the footbridge on the Duchray 100m from the Milton Car Park (aka loch Ard Forest Car Park). The fishing is both banks, however there are several sections that are not permitted. The map provided by FLS states where you can fish, however there is a little uncertainty whether the section from Inverard downstream to the bridge is left or right bank as the map indicates single bank, but the line crosses the river a few times making for confusion.

There is no fishing on either bank in the town downstream of the bridge but anglers can consult the map for details of where the fishing starts again below the Wool Centre. The lower boundary of the fishing is upstream from Cobeleland, please take care to stop fishing where indicated.

The Fishing

The Forth at Aberfoyle for its short length is incredibly varied. The upper and lower sections are anything from boisterous to riffles and pools, and the middle stretch is canal like with plenty of structure for Sea Trout and good Trout to ambush anything invading its space. Spin, fly and bait anglers will find this fishery a delight to visit.

Duchray Footbridge to Confluence with Avondhu

Looking upstream from the footbridge, the fishing begins at the corner you can see. The fishing here is double bank all the way to the confluence with the Avondhu water. This area of river is very pretty with large bouldery runs and overhanging trees. It is as wild as it can get. The fishing here for Trout is challenging, however the pocket water holds some very good fish. Grilse and Sea Trout will be found here too in the Summer. The access is easiest from the Loch Ard Car Park and walking down to the footbridge. There is access down either bank and it is crossable in places depending on the height. This small section of river offers several pools and pockets of water that are ideal for fly fishers, especially nymph fishers and those salmon anglers with single handed rods and swinging a red francis or skating a sunray over the glassy upwells. The high grass in parts can be frustrating, so this puts off many anglers. Perseverance is the advice.

Confluence to the Road Bridge at Kirkton

The river is a lot larger here with the meeting of the two rivers and is swifter too. However, it is like a completely different river too as it is quite canal like in places except for a few lovely runs. Again, there is no clear indication which bank is permitted to fish on the map, however a walk on the road side will give you an insight as to where you may wish to fish. The large overhanging and submerged branches make this a much easier stretch to spin fish or bait fish within the right time of the year (see rules). The banks can be high and undercut, so be careful where you stand/walk.

Wool Centre and Rabbit Hill

This is a varied stretch of water and easily accessed via the car park at the Wool Centre. There is a well formed loop track (known locally as the ‘Rabbit Hill’ which follows the river downstream. Anglers seem to prefer to fish the inside bend of this section, therefore the North bank is ideal. There are some great runs and deep pools that hold Trout, Sea Trout and Salmon and all disciplines of angler will be able to have a cast here. At the top of this stretch below where the burn comes in from Aberfoyle there is a gravel beach on the inside of the bend and this is an ideal place for beginners and children alike, and those who prefer an easier spot for Sea Trout in the evening. Remember however, there is no fishing before dawn or beyond one hour after sunset. Some submerged trees and branches can be tricky further down but the river is worth a look.

Rob Roy Hotel Upstream and Downstream

Prepare to be amazed, the river here is quite special with pools that hold excellent Trout, Sea Trout and the most Salmon holding water of the beat. The Trossachs are displayed at their best with deciduous trees and sphagnum moss lining the banks and wildlife galore. The access is via the back car park of the Rob Roy Motel. Walk through the grounds to follow the cycle path and head upstream and investigate the pools on the left bank, or head downstream along the path and turn right down a footpath which takes you to a beautiful footbridge, thus giving you access to both banks upstream, and the right bank downstream to the end of the fishing. Mostly, spinning water here, however not impossible with a single handed or switch fly rod and very peaceful.

Further Information

Facilities

  • There are plenty of places to park depending on where you would like to fish
  • There are paths along most of the fishing and a cycle path too.
  • There are plenty of cafe/bakery/shops for meals and snacks and a petrol station.
  • The town of Aberfoyle offers many accommodation options so it is worth staying the night to fish early to late.
  • Aberfoyle is within an hour of Glasgow and Perth and 30 minutes from Stirling.

Top Tips

  • Prepare to fish for everything from June onwards. Trout, Sea Trout and Salmon can all be caught.
  • Opt to fish a dropper when fly fishing if you want to improve your chances i.e. have a small salmon fly and a trout/sea trout wet/nymph on at the same time and hold on tight.
  • Spinning with a blade is more successful in higher coloured water. Small black Flying C’s are very effective, as are Mepps.
  • Fish the river as it is dropping ideally, or for the short window as it is rising fast before it colours up in a spate.
  • Nymph fishing is a great option for fly anglers for all three species.
  • Swinging wee traditional wets is very popular for trout and Sea Trout anglers.
  • A large scoop net is ideal for all species including salmon on a single hander.
  • You will mostly be on the banks so rubber soles are a better choice than felt due to slippery wet grass and muddy tracks. 

Equipment seasonally

  • For fly anglers, a#5, #6, #7/8 single hand rod will cover the three species all year. Of course that is up to the angler if targeting one species only. The tree lined and tight pools upstream are easier fished with a single hander over-head. The lower stretches are suited to both single hand and switch rods.
  • Floating line all season, leader sink and/or intermediate to slow sink tips. A bigger fly in higher water, but not too big i.e. Up to #8
  • Fly recommendations for salmon are an Ally’s Shrimp, Flamethrower and Executioner size #8 to #14, however, don’t be afraid to experiment with a Sunray or Snaelda
  • Fly recommendations for trout are Greenwells Glory, Black Spider, and a selection of nymphs and dries as small as #16, 18, 22 caenis (for Sea Trout also)
  • Flies for Sea Trout are your usual favourites of Black Spider, Bloody Butcher, Stoat’s Tail, and Silver Stoats, or small Sunrays on tubes.
  • The favourite leader for Salmon and Sea Trout is 8-10lb Maxima Ultragreen, 6lb for sea trout at night
  • Spinning is best with lighter equipment, small river and short casts
  • Always carry and use a net for C&R purposes.

Factfile

  • Species fished for: Brown Trout, Sea Trout and Salmon. Pike and Perch are in the river but not stated on the Forestry Commission(FC) permit for the Forth. Other FC fisheries in the area have Pike and Perch available. Ask about Loch Achray, Chon and Drunkie.
  • Access: Easy through to difficult with some lumpy ground in the forestry section at the top, however most of the rest of the river has public footpaths/cyclepaths and slipping down into the river is easy.
  • Overall season: 1st February to 31st October, trout season 15th March – 6th October
  • All legal methods
  • Worm permitted: 1st June to 26th August
  • No night fishing – see rules on permit
  • No Salmon or Sea Trout fishing on Sunday
  • 2mi (approx.) of fishing in total
  • Fishing by permit
  • Local day permit outlet is the Forestry Commission office on the A821 just East of Aberfoyle. Address: Cowal and Trossachs Forest District, Balanton Offices, Aberfoyle, Stirling FK8 3UX. Or James Bayne Tackle Shop Callander.

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Permits

Day, weekly and season permits available from James Bayne Tackle Shop Callander or the Forest & Land Scotland office on the outskirts of Aberfoyle. Permits available either for all forestry waters or a specific water such as the Old Forth or Loch Drunkie etc. 

 

Permit Type Cost
Annual Salmon Permit (All waters) (Adult)  £200
Annual Salmon Permit (All waters) (Concession)  £150
Annual Trout/Pike Permit (All waters) (Adult)  £150
Annual Trout/Pike Permit (All waters) (Concession)  £100
Annual Salmon Permit (specific fishery) (Adult) £100
Annual Salmon Permit (specific fishery) (Concession) £75
Annual Trout/Pike Permit (specific fishery) (Adult) £50
Annual Trout/Pike Permit (specific fishery) (Concession) £35
Weekly Salmon Permit  (Adult)  £50
Weekly Salmon Permit (Concession)  £35
Weekly Trout/Pike Permit (Adult)  £25
Weekly Trout/Pike Permit (Concession)  £20
Daily Salmon Permit  (Adult) £20
Daily Salmon Permit  (Concession) £15
Daily trout/pike Permit  (Adult) £10
Daily trout/pike Permit  (Concession) £7

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