The Uists are a chain of islands off the north west coast of Scotland comprising North Uist, Benbecula and South Uist. They lie to the south of the bigger, more populated isles of Lewis and Harris and you can reach them by island hopping with your own car from the north via the ferry from Ullapool. Alternatively you can take the ferry via the ports of Oban or Uig on Skye or fly into Stornoway on Lewis or even Benbecula airport on the middle section of the Uists. Whichever way you travel the trip is well worth it for the angling paradise which awaits can never be fully appreciated until you are there amongst it all. My visit was a family orientated one but a few days fishing here and there across these wonderfully tranquil lands was thankfully permitted in return for the usual chores like cooking and entertaining the children!

Where to begin is a definite problem, the choice of waters is vast and daunting to the casual fisher. I had already heard of the glittering machair lochs of South Uist where such jewels as Loch Bornish, Grogarry and Stiligarry lie in shallow saucers of calcium rich shell sand in flat fertile fields. These are waters which have excellent stocks of wild trout up to 2 - 3lb in weight and they are fished from the Lochboisdale Hotel. Guests have priority on the fishings, nevertheless as the guests usually want to fish the hotel lochs which may also contain salmon and sea trout, there might be a chance for you to fish those exceptional brown trout lochs. If there is, take it, for the waters all hold supreme fighting fish . Direct your enquiries straight to the fishery manager John Kennedy at the hotel in the first instance. Also note he has produced an informative guidebook `70 Lochs, A Guide to Trout Fishing in South Uist' and purchasing a copy of this saves quite a bit of trekking around.

As the weather seemed hell bent on producing bright Mediterranean sunshine (a kiss of death to shallow gin clear machair waters) I plumped for the equally fine lochs of the South Uist Angling Club. While these waters may not have quite the reputation of the machair jewels, they are still capable of producing some exceptionally fine trout in a stunning wilderness of hill and peatland. All South Uist waters have their own unique character. Many are shallow, clear, darkly rocky and studded with unusual small islands. Some of these `islands within islands' are actually `Duns' or ancient fortifications used by our ancestors who no doubt caught a trout or two in their time. Lots of the lochs near the coastline are brackish, i.e. they contain a higher than average saltwater content. Though you may not notice a salt taste, you will definitely notice your fly line becoming oddly sticky as you fish. Don`t worry, it's just the `brack' which you should wash off in freshwater at regular intervals, especially if you want to maintain that elegant cast.

The best times to visit the South Uist waters are probably from May to mid July and then again in September but really any day with dull, warm breezy conditions can produce a trout. The average sizes of fish is very good (trout and sea trout of 1lb 4oz are common) indicating excellent local crustacean feeding. Snail, caddis, pea mussel and shrimp abound and with such rich bottom fodder the trout tend to only rise when there is an exceptionally profuse surface hatch. During my visit in late July black sedge, damsel fly, heather moth, Coch Y Bondu beetles and midge were all in evidence though the very bright sun did not exactly encourage much of a rise. However, do not let seemingly hopeless conditions deter you as trout usually lie very close in, next to the numerous promontories, weed beds and skerries along the Uist loch shores. Neither be put off fishing the numerous waters lying right by the road. On the mainland these can be quickly fished out but not on Uist where the number of anglers is small and fishing pressure very light. Consequently trout lie near the fertile shoreline and long distance casting is unnecessary.

Tackle and tactics tend to be very traditional on Uist with a travelling rod of around 10ft quite sufficient to cover most waters. Floating line and 4 - 6lb nylon are locally recommended, the more weighty nylon being used where the fish are given to explosive takes (which is just about everywhere!). Flies are normally size 10 - 12 in the Bumble, Zulu and Palmer series but there is scope for everything from copper nymphs to dry 'sit up and beg' Sedges. I found flies with a touch of orange like the Doobry or Dunkeld very productive though this might have been because of the prevailing bright sunshine. Wind speed is critical on Uist and these exposed lands, whipped by salty Atlantic gales, are rarely without a breeze of varying velocity! Best fly presentation is usually across the wind and the wave and for productive results a WF floating line is normally recommended. Bank fishing is just as productive as boat angling, boats only being useful to reach inaccessible corners of larger waters while giving yourself a seat rather than a very long walk.

Uist trout are beautifully marked fat specimens with deep bellies and small heads. Migratory brown trout, i.e. sea trout, find their ways back through many of the water systems and much cross breeding has obviously taken place with some lochs producing golden green backed fish while others hold silvery sleek specimens. The South Uist AC indicates size limits for all anglers and these should be respected especially in these straightened times of disappearing sea trout.

The Uists have an unsurpassed natural tranquil beauty. Fishing long into a sunset of burnished gold in total silence takes your breath away, so much so you can feel a million miles from the stresses and strains of city living. - Leave behind your baggage of computers, phones and faxes and hitch a ferry to South Uist for some top notch trout. I guarantee you may never want to leave.

Day Tickets available through South Uist AC, fishings may also be available through the Lochboisdale Hotel.