Wildlife to spot while fishing in Argyll

Duncan lives in Inveraray and runs Fishinguide Scotland, a guided fishing service providing hassle-free trips to lots of hidden corners of Argyll. Trained as an biologist and then as a teacher, Duncan has found the perfect blend for his skills in guiding. In his posts he'll be sharing his infectious passion for fishing and the wildest kinds of outdoor adventure.

Duncan Pepper

There's no shortage of wildlife in Argyll but many of our creatures are elusive, they do their best to remain unseen, and they are pretty good at it. Spotting otters, pine martens, ospreys, beaver, golden eagles and deer are not everyday occurrences, but when you're quiet, blending in with your surroundings, and spend some time without moving too much it's amazing what can be revealed.

I have seen all of those animals listed above and many more on fishing trips. We anglers use our rods as binoculars to access the beauty of the creatures which lie beneath the mirror, and while doing so we're often treated to spectacular sights above the surface too.

Something I try to convey to my guests is the need to blend in with your surroundings, be like the otter, so perfectly in-tune with its environment that it catches fish at will. Slipping gracefully into the water these beautiful creatures exemplify poise and control, their fishing is an agile dance, never a jerky movement they seem to be playing, they seem to be the definition of perfect design. Then you discover you can approach otters while they are feeding and as long as you do so gradually you can get very close without them bothering. I have been two arm lengths from an otter watching it wrestle with and munch on a eel, an animal that our hands find almost impossible to hold. It was an amazing experience I will never forget. The otter had a rough, tough, boyish demeanour, it became aware that I was there and would occasionally stop to look my way, then in a dismissive way would go back to chomping on its writhing eel. Wonderful stuff! Having an otter treat you with contempt is an experience I recommend to all, it really puts you in your place!

On most trips we see a few species of duck usually including the beautifully marked sawbill ducks like goosander and merganser, the tufted mochichan look of the merganser combined with it's dramatic colouring make it an attractive and curious looking diving duck.

I'm a strong believer in wild experiences helping to ground us as people, to give us perspective and help us relate better to our environment, which in turn enriches our lives. Something that anglers are rewarded with special insights to is the magical and sometimes un-worldly world of insects. One of the most fascinating and important to learn about if you want to catch trout on the fly is the ephemeroptera this class of insects (one of which is colloquially called the Mayfly) is an astounding bunch. The name ephemeroptera refers to how ephemeral, or short lived they are. Some species spend only 38 minutes alive as an adult, but that's after two years or even more as an aquatic nymph. Their nymphs look like jurassic heavily armoured war craft and the adults like elegant, delicate ballet dancers, they are astounding. They have been around since before the dinosaurs, and still continue today, in some places they exist in such numbers that snow ploughs are necessary to clear the roads of their spent bodies.

In Argyll on Loch Awe, Loch Avich and the beaver Loch Coillie-Bharr there are hatches of Green Drakes (ephemera danica) and Yellow Mays (heptagena sulphurea) and the trout key into them to the extent that they will ignore anything else you offer, no matter how good the cast and presentation.

Kingfishers are often seen by the rivers I fish flashing by in a glint of cobalt blue, and if you're lucky they'll stop to allow you to see their incredible plumage and fishing