A river of considerable character and quality, managed over its entire, useful salmon length by the one estate. Public access to the beats is available but such is the popularity of this Caithness river that much of the fishing is booked well in advance by regular visitors.
It is one of the earliest Scottish rivers to open for angling, January 11 being the starting date. Depending on weather conditions, salmon are taken early on in the season though April and May are the peak spring months with July and August providing the best of the summer salmon sport. It is not a trout river of any note.
The Thurso rises close to the border with Sutherland and runs about 20 miles to Loch More, but in the upper reaches and in the waters which flow into Loch More the salmon fishing is of little consequence. Their main interest is in being able to provide suitable spawning grounds for future stocks.
The water level in Loch More is controlled by a dam and in periods of drought or extremely low water, ‘compensation flow’ is allowed out of the loch to encourage runs of migratory fish. This means that, save in very exceptional years such as 1976, the river can be kept at a reasonable fishing height for most of the time, even during the summer when anglers on other northern rivers are beginning to despair.
The Thurso is a river of sharp contrasts. The top beats consist of broken, streamy water while the lower ones have a much more slug-gish appearance, almost canal-like, but with a reasonable riverflowthe water is still moving at some pace.
Fly fishing only is the rule but netting is strictly controlled through the estate and it is fair to say that anglers on the Thurso probably get a higher proportion of salmon than those fishing other rivers where commercial nets are in operation.
SOS: Feb 11-Aug 26 (Net); Jan 11-Oct 5 (R&L)
Thurso, Caithness, Highland TS 113 miles in areaBB DT: (L3)ATS (A. A. MacDonald, 25, Sinclair Street, Thurso. NB:also tickets for loch fishing in area) –
Thurso, Caithness, HighlandTS Entire river from Loch More to ThursoBB DT:(L depending on bookings and time of year)K (River Superintendent at Ulbster Arms, Halkirk, between 8.30 am and 10 ameachday. All rodsformorethan onedaytied to accommodation at this hotel) or ARO (Thurso Fisheries Ltd, Estate Office, Thurso East) – ioJan 11-Oct 5e Truim. See R. Spey Tummel. See R. Tay