For the energetic angler, the house is within walking distance of Kinnabus and Glenastle lochs, which offer fantastic fishing for brown trout. Kinnabus has been a venue for major fly fishing competitions. Guests are covered by Beach Cottage’s permit for all the lochs on The Oa, the headland on which the house is located. Use of the rowing boats located at some of the lochs can be arranged through Lauries grocers in Port Ellen, next to the Islay Hotel. Lauries stocks flies and other fishing tackle.
Contact Iain Laurie on 01496 302264 and see the Port Ellen Angling Club website for more info.
Islay also offers excellent salmon fishing on the Laggan River, which enters the sea at the top of Laggan Bay, about ten miles from Beach Cottage. Both lower banks are owned by the Laggan Estate while the upper sections of the river are shared between Islay Estates and Dunlossit Estate. A day’s fishing in the salmon season (July-October) costs between £45 and £60 with Laggan Estate, who can also hire rods and put novices in touch with a ghillie to provide an introduction to the art of tickling the king of fish. Call Fiona Marrion on 01496 810235 for more information.
You can fish off the shore in front of Beach Cottage or from the rocks between the house and the lighthouse. Our side of the bay has a local reputation as being a good spot for sea trout, and there are certainly enough fish to keep the seals coming back into the shallows.
If you want to be sure of actually catching something, a mackerel fishing trip is a safer bet and a magical day out with kids.
Islay Estates offers a season permit covering a number of lochs in the north and centre of the island for £40 pounds (half-price for under-15s) and boat hire for £30/day. Estate office number is 01496 810221.
Dunlossit Estate, owned by the Schroder banking family, has seven lochs in the north of the island, including lovely Ballygrant Loch. Boat hire is £20/day, the services of a ghillie and provision of rods is £104 for a half-day. Office number 01496 840233
These mackerel ended up being steamed in foil with Thai red curry sauce, which you can also buy at Lauries, the grocers in Port Ellen!
Nothing beats the taste of fresh fish, as Toby, the friendly seal that hangs around in Port Ellen harbour, will testify.
Herring, mackerel, cod and skate were all once plentiful around Islay but dwindling stocks mean professional fishing on the island is now restricted to lobsters and brown and velvet crabs, which are mostly exported to France and Spain. Ask at the pier in Port Ellen if you want to get hold of some live shellfish.
Islay is also a major centre for the production of scallops, which are mostly dredged although you can get dived ones. You can buy them direct and super-fresh from the Islay Crab Exports base opposite the airport, where they are de-shelled, cleaned and packed.