Around the Lochside
There are many documented reports of organised fishing at the lochs from the 1820s onwards. The actual St Mary's Club came into being in 1933 as a Trout fishing Club and continues to the present day.
The Pike in the lochs used to be netted out and this practice continued until 1995 whereupon it ceased and the lochs were given back to nature to manage, and good old mother nature is making a fine job of it. All species appear to be thriving perhaps an indication that nature knows best!
The Perch and Sticklebacks are very rarely fished for but the occasional "accidental" catch points to there being some very heavy specimens out there. If you target any of these species you will be coming to uncharted waters because no one fishes for them.
Come up in the summer on an early morning outing and you will see a surprising number of Brown Trout rising to the fly, they are very well educated Trout and are not easily fooled.
However, patience is a vital part of the makeup of the wild Trout hunter and usually, the angler is rewarded with a Trout or two for his diligence.
There are also shoals of fish in very deep water around 70-80ft and at this time we do not know what species they are. There used to be Arctic Char in the lochs but it is said that they were netted out in the small river that joins the two lochs. Perhaps one day an angler will connect with one of these fish and the mystery will be solved.
Swims of St Mary's Loch
We currently have 4 boats on St Mary's loch which are available for hire please call or mail our loch keeper (to avoid disappointment pre-booking is recommended). We do not loan outboards, but you are welcome to bring your own (MAX 4HP).
The boats represent the clubs biggest asset so please do not abuse them and in the interest of safety please report any damage so that remedial action may be commenced swiftly.
Our boats are now available all year round to cater for visiting Pike anglers see our news page for any developments.
We now have a boat on the Loch o the Lowes available for hire.
In keeping with the wishes of our Riparian Owners, No private boats are allowed on the lochs.
In the interests of safety, we recommend a maximum of 3 anglers per 14ft boat and 4 anglers per 16ft boat and that the lifejackets are worn (these are now supplied and must be worn). Please note the loch can be unforgiving in inclement weather always err on the side of caution!
Caddis fly larvae
The lochs are rich in organisms and aquatic life, mostly so around the margins which are well-populated by worms, crustaceans and molluscs. Fly life is prolific with the correct conditions, and it is then that Trout can be seen rising voraciously taking their fill.
There is a hefty population of 3 spined Sticklebacks and large shoals of coarse fish fry both of which form part of the diet of the larger residents in the lochs.
An excellent indicator of the health of a fishery is the condition of the Pike, they being at the top of the food chain. It is taken by specialists in the field that if the Pike are healthy (and they most certainly are) the fish lower down the chain will also be in excellent condition.
It warrants mentioning (even though it is subjective) that many of our members who Pike fish other Scottish lochs say the Pike from our two lochs are amongst the hardest fighting fish of all.
At last, the myth of Pike decimating fisheries is being laid to rest with the help of intense research initiated by the Pike Anglers Club GB. Please visit the site and see for yourself the latest research.
We are fortunate to be within the hunting bounds of a family of Osprey who can often be seen fishing in the lochs (most often seen from the dam up to where the Megget enters the loch), their forays often heralded with frantic mobbing by Seagulls and Crows. If you are fortunate enough to see the birds in action it will be an experience you will treasure, as the almost static hovering at great height changes rapidly into freefall and just above the water the talons are extended and a fish is skilfully grabbed and the ascent begins with the fish securely held for the flight back to the nest.
The Boathouse Moose storing pie crust.
Voles/Field Mice are often heard rustling around under the bank vegetation and can often be tempted to come and feed in the open by scattering bread or pie crust which they seem to enjoy. An Otter has also been seen fishing in the lochs.
Chaffinch and Robin are also attracted by the above and often feed happily only inches away from the angler especially in the winter months when natural food is scarce. Goldfinch and Greenfinch can also be seen feeding on seeds along with Blue, Coal and Great Tits.
Osprey carrying dinner
Buzzard, Kestrel, Tree Creeper, Wren, Robin, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Bullfinch, Redstart, Warbler, Heron, Dipper, Pied Grey and Yellow Wagtail, Sandpiper and several water-dwelling birds can also be seen.
For the early morning angler, the Dawn Chorus is a most enjoyable melody with Blackbird, Thrush, Robin and Chaffinch being the most prominent with occasional bursts from Oyster Catcher and Cuckoo. Roe Deer are often seen early in the morning along with some large hares and hooting owls. An Otter has also been spotted fishing in the loch.
Please let us know if you spot any Mink.
The loch in freezing temperatures.
It is a rare occurrence indeed for St Mary's Loch to freeze over, the last time was in 1986 when temperatures plummeted to minus 18 degrees centigrade. The smaller Loch o the Lowes freezes over more easily but usually only at the bottom end near the Glen Cafe.
Cold Winter Day
However, in very cold weather it is advisable to check with one of our outlets before setting out, especially if you are travelling a good distance. The Glen Cafe also has a webcam directed at the bottom of the loch o the Lowes which can be most useful to anglers to view the current condition of the lochs. Visit their site via our links page.
The Ettrick Shepherd
There are several historic sites in the vicinity and for a comprehensive resume click on Genuki on the links page. There is also an information board at the top of St Mary's loch with a concise description of the area's history.
We used to think that the following was an old wives tale but its true! In 1934 the inhabitants of Rodono House a Victorian Hunting lodge on the banks of the loch were having one of their famous parties when a couple of inebriated guests drove the car (a Model T Ford presumably in Black) out on to the frozen loch and left it there and when the thaw came it sunk.
Now exactly where it is today god only knows, but the local sub-aqua club has had numerous dives in the area in which it was known to have sunk to see if they could find any remnants of the car and to date have come up empty-handed. So if you have difficulty in pulling in your anchor it may just be that a model T Ford is on the end of it, if so let us know.
According to the locals, the bottom of St Mary's loch is also home to an old tractor which was pushed out on to the frozen loch one day when its useful working life had come to an end.
The loch is also known as the "silent loch" and is reputed to be the coldest loch in Scotland!
Roads in the St Marys Loch area often have sheep wandering on the public roads, please be vigilant and drive appropriately. The roads also attract a large number of motorcyclists, please exercise caution on these roads.
The nearest petrol stations are situated in Selkirk and Moffat both around 16miles away.
All emergency services dial 999, the nearest hospital Accident & Emergency unit is the Borders General Hospital in Melrose around 18miles away (head for Selkirk then Galashiels, then Melrose/Borders General Hospital on reaching the outskirts of Galashiels the hospital is well signposted). This unit includes emergency Dental services.
A Defibrillator is located at the Tibbie Shiels Inn at the top of the loch and also at Cappercleuch Village Hall half way round St Mary's Loch.
Being the anglers of the future we actively encourage youngsters to fish, (Under 16s should be accompanied by a Responsible Adult) and their wellbeing is our prime concern. We operate the child protection policy issued by the Pike Anglers Club (Click here). The policy is currently undergoing revision but will appear here.
Anyone convicted of an offence against children will automatically have their membership rescinded and this ban will remain in place for the lifetime of the offender. A similar stance is taken with persistent troublemakers. We will share this information with other clubs!
All our Scottish Office Wardens have been vetted by Disclosure Scotland!
The terrain around the lochs is rugged and has many rough stony areas and steep banks, there are however several areas that can be accessed by wheelchair users, and If notice is given of an angler who has special needs and requires assistance we will do what we can to help.
Health and Safety
There are areas where sound assessment and judgement is required before action is taken. Boating In heavy wind conditions, wading on rocky ground, walking over soft ground etc can all be hazardous. Please try and assess risk before carrying out any action and be advised by the information given by your permit seller. A mobile phone can be a lifesaver but please note reception is intermittent depending on your location on the loch. Lifejackets are compulsory!
Anglers fish at their own risk!
The bathymetrical map above can be interpreted as follows - the darkest shaded areas are between 100-155ft deep, the next lighter shaded area 50-100ft deep, the next lighter shaded area 25-50ft deep and the lightest area 0-25ft deep. Point C -D (circled) is the deepest area if you would like to see more of this information please click the link to the National library Scotland on our links page. Alternatively, click on the Home page to see more recent Maps.
Permits and boats must be booked in person or by telephone; see our below for these details.
ANGLERS MUST OBTAIN A PERMIT BEFORE COMMENCING TO FISH UNLESS A PRIOR ARRANGEMENT HAS BEEN MADE BY PHONING OUR LOCHKEEPER: -
Mobile – 07412659569 (John) / 07414591455 (Karren)
or if you prefer Email: firstname.lastname@example.org