The Loch Ness Mini-Monster
There’s more to Loch Ness’s ecology than an imaginary plesiosaur
Are there really monsters in Loch Ness? It depends on whether you’re a human or a char. The recent “discovery” that plesiosaurs, swimming dinosaurs from the Cretaceous period, may have inhabited freshwater lakes is so obviously pseudo science clickbait on par with that old Gen X TV favorite “In Search Of” that I’m hesitant to even mention it. Even if plesiosaurs had once inhabited Scottish lochs, the chances that these coldblooded reptiles could have somehow adapted to a vastly cooler climate over the stretch of 66 million years seems ridiculously sketchy. Really, the Loch Ness monster “rediscovery” is just another distraction that keeps us from looking at the miracle of still-extant wild ecosystems and the species that could be relegated to myth should the present human assault on the climate continue.
It was only when we’d worked our way back our starting point that the rods finally bent. I lunged for the rod hoping that we’d indeed hooked the monster.
That said, there is a kind of monster in Loch Ness that I may or may not have encountered on a fishing trip to the famed lake. To fish Loch Ness one follows the River Ness from Inverness (Inverness meaning literally “the mouth of the Ness” in Gaelic). Once past the Village of Dores the road narrows to a knuckle-whitening single track that in spite of all logic takes traffic in both directions with a sixty mile an hour speed limit. Eventually one turns off at Foyer’s Pier where if you book far enough in advance you might be able to get out on Stuart MacDonald’s boat and go in search of something big.
On my particular angling day the wind was blowing hard out of the west which meant we’d have to hug the shore and troll large spoons. The hope was one of three trout cousins might hit our lures. Cousin number one was Atlantic salmon — the cousin that chooses to go out to sea for years at a time, get big and silvery and return to its natal creeks upstream of Loch Ness to spawn. Cousin number two was brown trout — the homebody cousin that keeps to its trout-like ways, eating bugs and grubs and the occasional minnow but staying mostly below a foot in…