South & East Sutherland








Location map of North Inverness-shire.

Sutherland is famed for its wide expanses of spectacular wilderness scenery and myriad of lochs and rivers welcoming the game angler.

The south-east corner is the least remote part, much of it within an hour or so drive of Inverness, but nevertheless, there is some excellent salmon and trout fishing to be had.

Four of the region’s most famous salmon rivers (the Oykel, Cassley, Shin & Carron) drain from the west coast mountains to the Dornoch Firth via the Kyle of Sutherland estuary. Their combined catches are on a par with the 'Big 4' Scottish salmon rivers; the Spey, Dee, Tay & Tweed.

The Fleet is also at the head of a smaller sea inlet, but further north the coastline becomes more rugged and the main salmon rivers, the Brora and the Helmsdale, discharge directly to the open sea.

Some of the best and most easily accessed of the trout lochs in this area lie in a broad belt running north-south from Beannach, about 4 miles north of Lairg, past Loch Craggie, down to Loch Migdale at Bonar Bridge.

South & East Sutherland Trout Lochs

Loch Shin
A huge loch, 17 miles (27km) in length, running NW-SE. Trout are typically ½ to ¾ lb, but there are also much larger ferox trout caught regularly. Fly fishing is the norm, but spinning and bait fishing are also allowed. Boat and bank fishing are permitted. Petrol outboards are recommended.
Lairg Angling Club boat hire from David Ross, Tel: 07768 566691

Loch Craggie
Craggie is recognised as the cream of the Lairg lochs, and the fishing is controlled by Lairg Angling Club. It's famous for both its mayfly hatch and the quality of its trout. These average around the 1 lb+ mark, but many better fish in the 2-3 lb range are caught each season. Fly only, electric motors only.
Lairg Angling Club boat hire from David Ross, Tel: 07768 566691

Lochs Cracail Mor, Buidhe, Laggan & Laro
These lochs are clustered on the hills above Bonar Bridge and are controlled by KoSAA. Loch Buidhe has roadside access, and both boat and bank fishing are permitted. Trout average ½ lb. Cracail Mor requires a 1.5 miles 'walk in', but holds good quality trout averaging ¾ lb, and up to 2 lb.
Boat hire and bank permits from the Kyle of Sutherland A.A. (KoSAA)

Loch Migdale
Loch Migdale is a large tree-lined loch lying above the village of Bonar Bridge at the western end of the Dornoch Firth. The loch runs broadly east-west for a total length of 1.8 miles, providing long drifts along the north & south shores. Abundant trout, typically 6-10 oz. More info on our legacy Loch Migdale page.
Boat hire and bank permits from the Kyle of Sutherland A.A. (KoSAA)

Lochs Lannsaidh & Laiogh
These two remote hill lochs lie to the north-west of Dornoch, and are managed by Dornoch & District Angling Association. Access is via a gravel vehicle track. In addition to the small native brown trout, the club also stocks Laiogh with a few larger browns, and Lannsaidh with rainbow trout, typically in the 1-2lb range.
Permits online from Dornoch & District Angling Association website.

Loch Lundie
Loch Lundie is a hill loch, located 2 miles to the west of Golspie. It has a natural head of native wild brown trout averaging ½ to ¾ lbs. The fishing is controlled by Golspie Angling Club who offer boat and bank fishing.
Membership and permits from Lindsay & Co. in Golspie.

Kyle of Sutherland Rivers

Main Season: Mar-Sep 30th Category: 1

The Kyle of Sutherland is the tidal estuary for the rivers Carron, Oykel, Cassley and Shin, pouring into the Dornoch Firth at Bonar Bridge. Each of these rivers has a large catchment extending to near the West Coast and is a renowned salmon fishery in its own right. Collectively they rival Scotland’s ‘big 4’ salmon rivers.

River Carron
The River Carron is the most southerly of the Kyle of Sutherland rivers. It’s a fast flowing medium-sized river running for some 25 miles from its source near Beinn Dearg in Wester Ross, in an overall Easterly direction to the Kyle at Bonar Bridge. Catches on the Carron are typically in the range of 500-800 salmon/year.

River Shin
The Shin system was developed for hydro-electric power generation in the late 1950s. Although the system is huge, extending for some 25 miles to the north-north-east, the river itself is short, flowing for just 6 miles from the dam at Loch Shin, to the Kyle. Shin Falls about half way along its length is a famed viewing point for leaping salmon. 

River Cassley
The Cassley is the smallest of the Kyle rivers, and a classic spate river. Its source is a chain of lochs on the north flank of Ben More Assynt. From there the river flows south-east for approximately 18 miles to join the Kyle of Sutherland just downstream from the Oykel at Rosehall.

River Oykel
The Oykel is the most prolific of the Kyle rivers, typically producing 1200-1600 salmon/year. It rises on the southern slopes of Ben More Assynt flowing 6 miles to Loch Ailsh and from there for a further 14 miles to the Kyle at Inveroykel. The main river is split by the Oykel Falls into the Upper & Lower Oykel Fishings. The Einig tributary drains a huge area to the east and south-east of Strath Oykel, joining the main stem of the river just below Oykel Bridge.

The fishing on all these rivers is let weekly as advanced lets, and it is difficult to get day permits. However, there is some very good fishing on the estuary, through which all fish must pass, available from the Kyle of Sutherland Angling Association.

KoSAA - Kyle of Sutherland Estuary
The Kyle of Sutherland estuary extends for about 12 miles from the mouth of the River Cassley to a point about 500m below the bridge at Bonar Bridge. The most popular stretch to fish for salmon, is just upstream of the bridge at Bonar Bridge. Sea trout only permits are available for downstream of the bridge.
For all permits contact Kenny Campbell, river watcher, based at the old netting station next to the road bridge at Bonar Bridge.

River Brora

Main Season: Apr-Oct 15th Category: 1

The River Brora comprises two main sections of river separated by the large body of Loch Brora. Above the loch there are several miles of excellent salmon fishing on both the Upper Brora and its even more important tributary the Blackwater. Below the loch are the Lower Brora fishings which extend for about 3 miles to the Estuary. The main river beats are very difficult to get onto, however salmon fishing is available as day lets on the estuary and on Loch Brora.

Brora Angling Club - Estuary Beat
Just under a mile in length, comprising 5 named pools and 2 good runs.
Permits from Linda's Café in Brora. Tel: 01408 621530.

Loch Brora Angling Club - Loch Brora
A large narrow loch 3 miles or so in length, situated in picturesque Strath Brora. Brora Angling Club has 3 boats available.
Boat hire from Cunningham's store in Brora. Tel: 01408 621204.

River Helmsdale

Main Season: Mar-Sep 30th Category: 1

The River Helmsdale has its source in the three interconnecting lochs of Loch Badanloch, Loch nan Clàr and Loch Rimsdale.  From there it flows south east to Kinbrace before heading south down the Strath of Kildonan. The large catchment and control of the flow from the headwater lochs ensures extended periods of good river levels after rain.

The Helmsdale is one of the most productive rivers in the Highlands with annual catches in the range of 800-1200 salmon/year. This renowned Highland salmon river rarely has availability on the private beats, but it is however possible to fish the Association water at the estuary.

Helmsdale Angling Association - Town Water
The Association water is a mile and a half long, half of which is tidal, with lovely fly water and fast streams, including the Flat pool, one of the most productive spring pools on the entire river.
Permits from Thyme and Plaice in Helmsdale.