The Thurso River enters the Pentland Firth about 20 miles west of John o’ Groats on the north coast of Scotland. Rod catches during the last 5 seasons have increased by more than 100%, and the 5 year average for beats 2-13 now exceeds 2,000 salmon with the last 3 seasons being the best ever recorded. Last year saw the Thurso River enjoy a particularly prolific spring run with large numbers of strong “springers” running the river in April, May and June (June 2012 was the most productive since June 1931). Whilst favourable weather conditions have played a part in this, we are undoubtedly seeing the results of 6 years of solid investment by the owners, Thurso River Ltd, who took over the fishing rights in 2006. This has resulted in improved access to the more remote beats and a management regime focused on maximising the smolt numbers returning to sea.

Fishing
There are 12 beats varying in length from 1 to 3¼ miles. Anglers rotate beats on a daily basis, working down the river system, fishing both banks. Breast waders are not necessary. The River offers a good variety of fishing with something to suit every taste. Some beats are fast and streamy, others long and deep, and Loch Beg on beat 12 is usually fished from a boat. With the aid of a ghillie and a reasonable wind, fishing the “slack water” can be a very satisfying and fruitful experience. Whilst the season begins on
the 11th of January, the fishing really gets into full swing during March. At this time, upper beats tend to be most productive although during the last 3 or 4 seasons the whole river has fished well from April onwards. The majority of fish taken up until the end of June 2012 exceeded 10lbs. Grilse begin to arrive towards the end of June and catches during July, August and September often exceed 500 fish per month. If you hit the conditions right then the Thurso is capable of delivering fast and furious sport. Catches of 10 fish a day per beat (2 rods) are in no way unusual. The river does need rain or a decent wind to fish at its best. 

Salmon Conservation
From 11th January until 15th June, all salmon and sea trout should be returned safely to the River. From 16th June until 5th October, anglers fishing for a week may retain up to two fish, provided they do not exceed 8lbs in weight or 70cm in length. Any fish incapable of being safely returned must be handed in to either the River Superintendent (Eddie McCarthy) or the Head Ghillie (Dougie Reid) on the day the fish is removed from the River. Treble hooks are not to be used at any time during the season and from 1st September until the end of the season (5th October) all hooks must be barbless.

Ghillies
The use of a ghillie is strongly recommended to every fisherman but particularly those who do not know the river well. The Thurso ghillies are steeped in local knowledge and river lore and will undoubtedly enhance the whole experience and greatly increase the
chances of success.

Rod Size

Spring- 14/15 ft rod, not for distance but for ease of handling heavy lines and flies.

As the water drops it is down to personal preference. Some will fish a 14 ft rod all season, others will drop down to single hander in low water.

Lines

Wise to take at least a floating, intermediate and sinking line. A decent multi tip will suffice. (Floating lines with polyleaders do not fish the fly deep enough in cold conditions)

Flies

Spring- Black and yellow, Kylie, Ice Maiden, Monkey, Willie Gunn

Summer/Autumn- Stoat, Silver stoat, Cascade, Red Ally, Kylie, Willie Gunn, Collie, small hitch tubes.

Local favourites- The Macartair , Fast Eddy, Copper King and the Analyst.

Sizes tubes up to 2.5 inches in high cold water through to micro flies in low water. Many fishers fish 2 flies. For example a shrimp fly on the point and a small dark fly on the dropper. 

Other

Thigh waders. (Chest waders for warmth in the spring)

8-25lb nylon. (Diameter dependent on size of fly being cast to ensure decent turnover)

Midge repellent/net. 

The Ulbster Arms Hotel is located right on the banks of the River Thurso in the village of Halkirk. The Ulbster is one of Scotland’s last great fishing hotels and specialises in catering for anglers. The hotel and its cheerful staff ass enormously to any fishing week. Recently refurbished, the rooms and facilities have all been upgraded and anglers who stay here will enjoy priority treatment and generous discounts when they book a hotel and fishing package. 

The Ulbster is able to cater for all tastes and there are 3 different types of accommodation available- cabin, hotel and lodge. All are spotlessly clean and comfortable but they are pitched at different price points. 

Transport
For those travelling by car, Thurso River is 2 hours north of Inverness. There is an airport at Wick, 20 minutes from the river and a train service linking to Inverness. Guests can be collected from both Wick and Inverness Airports and Thurso train station. A 4 x 4 is helpful to access some of the beats although not essential (if the fishers are prepared to  walk slightly further!) 

Call our team of sporting professionals direct on +44 (0)1738 451 600 or make an enquiry through our contact form.

Enquire
  • Array
  • Array
  • Array
  • Array
  • Array
  • Array
  • Array

Thurso River - Estate Info

The Thurso River enters the Pentland Firth about 20 miles west of John o’ Groats on the north coast of Scotland. Rod catches during the last 5 seasons have increased by more than 100%, and the 5 year average for beats 2-13 now exceeds 2,000 salmon with the last 3 seasons being the best ever recorded. Last year saw the Thurso River enjoy a particularly prolific spring run with large numbers of strong “springers” running the river in April, May and June (June 2012 was the most productive since June 1931). Whilst favourable weather conditions have played a part in this, we are undoubtedly seeing the results of 6 years of solid investment by the owners, Thurso River Ltd, who took over the fishing rights in 2006. This has resulted in improved access to the more remote beats and a management regime focused on maximising the smolt numbers returning to sea.

Share this location