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"The Original source of information on The Thurso"

Background Information | The Fishing | Other Conditions | Contacts | Pricing

Background Information

The Thurso is among the best salmon rivers in the north and is often coupled with the Helmsdale and Naver. It enjoys a long productive season, from 11th January to 5th October, and fish can be caught during every month. Currently the river fishes best from March to October with the larger catches occurring from July to the end of the season.

On average the river produces around 2000 salmon per year and fishing is by fly only. In recent years the catch has been rising and, as can be seen from the chart overleaf, numbers of early running fish are increasing. This is of interest in that, historically, the Thurso offered some of the earliest and best spring fishing in Scotland.

Some heavy fish have been caught on the Thurso, with fish of 47 lbs, 44 lbs and 36 lbs being taken during the 1920s. Nowadays, the vast majority of spring fish exceed 10 lbs and in 2008, fish of 25lbs were taken.

From mid-March to the end of May the Upper Beats tend to be most productive. The grilse can provide tremendous sport from July onwards and sea liced summer salmon enter the river, given the right water conditions, right through to the end of the season

The Fishing

Two rods fish on each stretch moving downstream by two beats each day allowing both Upper and Lower water to be fished in one week. The beats provide a wonderful variety of fishing and whilst many parts of the river have a fine running character, some beats, particularly 3, 6, 7 and 12, are long and deep. These pools are invaluable for the conservation of fish stocks in hot, dry weather conditions and with a good wind to ruffle the water, they can be very productive.

The beats vary in length from just under one mile to three and a quarter miles, each having a variety of pools   For more detailed information on the beats, you can click here.

Other Conditions


Fishing is by fair fly only and fishing with bait, prawn, worm, spinner, spoon or any other lure is expressly forbidden. Fishing is from both banks and breast waders are not necessary.


It is a prerequisite of fishing on the River Thurso that anglers sign and deliver the GYRODACTYLUS SALARIS DECLARATION FORMS (supplied via post) to the river superintendent upon arrival of their first day at the river and before they commence fishing.  Anglers who have not signed and delivered the declaration, will not be permitted to fish.


Salmon Conservation – From 11th January until 21st June, all salmon and sea trout should be returned safely to the River. From 22nd 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.


Trout fishing – complimentary trout fishing is available to salmon anglers during poor ‘in river’ conditions, subject to availability and upon payment of a fee for the use of the boat.


Ghillies – if the service of a ghillie is required, there is a charge of £60/day and this can be organised through:

The River Superintendent, Braal, Halkirk, Caithness, KW12 6XE Tel. No. 01847 831591

Useful Contacts

Letting Agent

Contact Anthony: 01847 831 641

River Superintendent

Eddie McCarthy
Braal Road
KW12 6XE
Tel: 01847 831 591
Or Ask Eddie!


Please see the Pricing and Particulars document for most recent pricing (pdf, approx 400k)