Salmon and Trout Fishing in the Highlands
The North Highlands is the premier fly fishing region in the UK and Links House is ideally located, close to some of the most productive salmon rivers in the Highlands. Fishing for wild Atlantic salmon on a picturesque Highland river is an authentic Scottish sporting activity, and one of the great fishing experiences any angler can have.
The area also offers some of the best wild brown trout fishing in Europe, generally to be found in the myriad of lochs (lakes) here, rather than in rivers, which provide richer feeding. Loch-style fishing for trout also has a long tradition, practised since mid-Victorian times.
There are numerous excellent trout lochs that can be fished in a variety of stunning scenery within an hours drive of Dornoch. There is also some river fishing for trout, though it is harder to find as most rivers are fished primarily for Atlantic salmon.
Our various fishing experiences at Links House are organised through our Director of Fishing, Roger Dowsett. Roger gave up his career in 2001 to focus on his main passion in life fly fishing. He is now a GAIC-qualified fly fishing instructor and guide and runs TroutQuest and SalmonQuest, offering guided salmon and trout fly fishing experiences and excursions across the North Highlands.
Please see below for our core fly fishing experiences.
Salmon & Trout Fishing
Fly Fishing Experiences for Novices
For guests who would like to try fly fishing for trout for the first time, we can offer half day fly fishing instruction experiences with a GAIC-qualified fly fishing instructor at the nearby Dornoch Lochans or other local venues.
For the more adventurous wanting a deeper insight into fly fishing and to see some wilder Highland landscapes, we offer full day experiences that combine 2-3 hours of formal instruction, with an excursion to a loch or river for the remainder of the day, to fish for wild brown trout.
Guided Trout Fishing Trips
For guests with some previous fly fishing experience, we offer a variety of half and full day guided fly fishing excursions to local lochs (lakes) and rivers. From April-July we can offer trout fishing on the River Alness, but the best trout fishing in the Highlands tends to be on the lochs. We can arrange loch fishing by boat on Loch Eye or Migdale, both within 25 minutes of Links House.
In addition to our local lochs we can offer several more trout fishing excursions further afield including some very special hill lochs in Inverness-shire, where advanced fly fishers can try for a trophy wild brown trout.
Salmon Fishing Experiences for Novices
If you would like to try salmon fishing during your stay with us, we can offer a half day introduction on a private beat of the picturesque River Alness. Our SalmonQuest guides will introduce you to the tackle and teach you basic fly casting and fishing tactics. Very soon you will be fishing for the ‘king of fish’ – the Atlantic salmon – while you continue to learn about the river and the salmon’s natural history and life cycle.
Guided Salmon Fishing Trips
Fly fishing for Atlantic salmon is an authentic Scottish sporting experience, and there is nowhere better to try it than in the Northern Highlands. SalmonQuest offers day and half day guided salmon fishing on the exclusive beats of the picturesque River Alness, located 25 miles south of Links House. Salmon fishing is available Monday to Saturday from mid-April until late October.
In addition to the River Alness, subject to availability, we may also be able to offer you fishing on one of the other renowned rivers locally, which include the Conon, Beauly, Ness, Cassley, Carron & Shin. Early booking is advised.
If you’ve time, consider a full day trip as it will dramatically improve your chance to catch an Atlantic salmon, one of the most prized catches in angling.
The Highland Salmon Experience
The Highland Salmon Experience is a unique day out combining an introduction to salmon fishing with a local tour through the stunning scenery of South East Sutherland and Easter Ross. We start with the tour which sets the context, relating the natural history of the Atlantic salmon and its cultural and historical importance to the Highlands. Among the highlights is a visit to Shin Falls, where salmon can often be seen attempting to leap the waterfall.
The afternoon session comprises a ‘hands-on’ introduction to salmon fishing on the beautiful River Alness. For the less active, or those with less time, we also offer the half day tour without the fishing component.
River Oykel Salmon Fishing
For 3 weeks each year, Links House has access to daily rotating beats on the Lower part of the River Oykel. The Oykel river system is the premier and most scenic of the North Highland salmon fishing rivers, as well as being the longest, located just 50 minutes west of Dornoch. Available fishing left in 2020 as shown: 28 June to 1 July 2020 - 4 Nights and 3 Days of Fishing (Max number of 3 anglers) and 30 Aug to 2 Sept 2020 - 4 Nights and 3 Days of Fishing (Max number of 3 anglers).
This is a video of a day excursion fishing on Loch Gretal at Tomich.
WHERE DO WE FISH
Links House at Royal Dornoch
Award winning luxury accommodation & fine dining with the charm, grace and elegance of the world's finest small hotels, adjacent to the 1st tee at Royal Dornoch Golf Club
The Oykel is the most prolific of the Kyle's salmon rivers, rising on the southern slopes of Ben More Assynt and flowing for 20 miles to the Kyle at Inveroykel. The main river is split by the Oykel Falls into the Upper and Lower Oykel Fishings.
The extensive Shin system was developed for hydro-electric power generation in the late 1950s. Today, the Shin is just a short river, flowing for just 6 miles from the dam at Loch Shin to the Kyle of Sutherland. Shin Falls about half way along the river’s length is a famed viewing point for leaping salmon.
A large river system harnessed for hydro-electric power. The main fishing beats run for about 8 miles from Loch Achonachie to the estuary on the Cromarty Firth.
The most southerly of the 4 Kyle of Sutherland rivers. It’s a fast flowing medium-sized salmon river running for 25 miles from its source in Wester Ross, to the Kyle at Bonar Bridge.
A small, picturesque, salmon spate river, running for just 11 miles from Loch Morie to the Cromarty Firth. The Alness also offers some excellent trout fishing from April to July.
Limited availability on the Altyre Estate beats of the Lower Findhorn from April to late September.
A pretty, shallow trout loch lying within forestry plantation, ideal for beginners and improvers.
Lying in forestry plantation to the east of Lairg, Loch Craggie is famous for both its mayfly hatch and the quality of its trout.
A hill loch above Dornoch with wild brown trout, also stocked with rainbow trout.
Badanloch and its 2 interconnected lochs Rimsdale, and nan Clar, provide stored water for the River Helmsdale, but also offer some interesting trout fishing.
A long, narrow reservoir lying in picturesque Strathconon.
A large, narrow loch situated in picturesque Strath Brora, recognised more as a salmon fishery than for trout.
A large shallow loch in Sutherland's 'Flow Country' of peatland and heather moorland. An excellent loch for beginners.
Loch Eye is one of the very best trout lochs in the Highlands. It is a large, shallow loch, rich in weed, invertebrates and crustaceans, and home to a large population of wild ‘brownies’ of exceptional quality.
An attractive remote hill loch surrounded by heather moorland, lying high above Dornoch.
A large tree-lined loch lying above the village of Bonar Bridge at the western end of the Dornoch Firth. Ideal for beginners.
The Cassley is the smallest of the Kyle of Sutherland rivers, and a classic spate river. It flows for approximately 18 miles from the north flank of Ben More Assynt to the Kyle at Rosehall.
A medium sized salmon river split into two sections by Loch Brora. Above the loch are the Upper Brora and the Blackwater tributaries. Below the loch are the Lower Brora fishings.
A large river system harnessed for hydro-electric power, with salmon running the main river and its tributaries.
A very large river flowing for just 6.5 miles from the northern end of Loch Ness, through the city of Inverness to the Beauly Firth. Although the river is very short, the catchment is the largest in the North Highlands.
The Helmsdale is one of the most productive rivers in the Highlands, but is essentially private. It flows from the Badanlochs near Kinbrace for about 20 miles to the Moray Firth.