Image courtesy of Brian Munro

St John's Loch

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1st April - 30th September

St John's is a relatively shallow, marl bottom loch with an average depth of around 1.5m. Due to the depth and the marl bottom, this loch is affected by weed growth and discolours during periods of high wind. The average size of trout that can be expected is around 1lb with plenty of fish in the 2-3lb bracket.

Additional information

  • 12" minimum.
  • Please be careful entering and leaving the harbour as there may still be submerged rocks.
  • No bank fishing from the north bank.
  • Fly Fishing only.
  • Two boats are available in the harbour with easy access for cars.

Map and locations

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History of the loch

By Gordon Douglas

The outlet burn from the loch to the sea is no more than a quarter of a mile long and is fitted with a stem constructed and operated by the St. John’s Loch Improvement Association. The loch holds big, beautifully marked trout which display a remarkable reluctance to rise to the fly. It has to be said that when you hook one it’ll be a good one but only the purist would say, with hand on heart, that the loch provides good sport. Nevertheless there are those to whom the long hours of fruitless casting or the interminable vigil on a dry fly bobbing unheeded on the surface is pure bliss and good luck to them. We were well warned by the locals, while being groomed on the ways of Caithness lochs, never to take an aspiring angler to St John’s, unless you really wanted him to take up golf instead. DFFA held two lets on the loch from 1958. One from Mrs Calder on the north bank and the other from Mr. Miller on the west bank and when these two crofts were sold on, lets were obtained from a Mr. Saxby and Mr. Mackenzie. After some teething troubles the Improvement Association got up and running and DFFA obtained lets from it, having been sponsored by a registered riparian owner. After constructing the stem at the outlet burn, attention focussed on providing a harbour wherein all the boats could be moored and this was sited on the west bank where the remains of a previous landing berth was evident. The harbour, with a good access road, was an excellent facility but, unfortunately, had been located on land belonging to the owner of the House of the Northern Gate who requested a rent of £300 per annum. After much discussion the harbour, with its newly provided picnic table and other facilities, was evacuated in 1993 and another built on the other side of the loch. A hatchery was, from the start, deemed an absolute necessity and, having been unsuccessful in acquiring the shed previously used by DFFA, the Improvement Association set about erecting and fitting out a brand new one. A series of unfortunate accidents over the first few years were experienced and the hatchery became a bit of a disaster area but difficulties were overcome, lessons learned and so successful did the scheme eventually become that anglers were complaining about the huge numbers of small fish in the loch! Henceforth the hatchery was maintained on a two yearly basis but, prior to this apparent success story there was a deal of concern about the lack of fish of any size at all in the loch. To counter this, the decision was made to stock the loch with rainbow trout, to the consternation of not a few of the purists who, quite reasonably, saw the move as a degrading of their pristine loch to the status of a put and take fishery. There may be records in existence showing the number of rainbows caught but they are not much talked about and it is generally believed that the bulk of them, having gorged themselves on the rich feeding of the loch, had a look around and, on locating the outlet burn, (being a migratory fish) obeyed their instincts and headed for the open sea, providing a tasty morsel for the seals.

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