Lewis/Harris fishing advice

Finglas

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Hi everyone,

My Dad and I are considering a holiday to Lewis/Harris. We are looking to do both trout and salmon fishing, if possible. I have the idea in my head of salmon fishing in the lochs from a boat like in the old paul young videos. We would also try some fly fishing in the sea for sea trout if thats possible up that way.
I am just looking for some advice on maybe places to say, time of years to fish, locations etc.

Any advice would be really appreciated.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year when it arrives everyone :)
 

T7

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Plenty of options to suit all budgets, check out the fisheries and catches etc on fishpal.

for trout, there is a great book on the trout lochs of the island. There is loads of free trout fishing, too many lochs to try so the book is a big help. I’ll dig out the name or google/amazon should find it.

EDIT: Trout fishing in Lewis.

tactics - salmon: stoats tail, silver stoat, small-ish doubles. If fishing loch style try a bushy fly on the top - bumbles, zulus, muddlers etc. Can be exciting surface action. For trout blue/black zulus, bibios etc but in smaller sizes than for salmon.

thats the basics but others can add plenty more. Good luck it’s a great place to fish
 
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Eddie Young's book 'Fisher in the West' is ok if you can find it but there's a better 'Where To' by Norman MacCleod, 'Trout Fishing In Lewis' (Eddie did work on the revised edition in the '80s).
P.M. me if you have trouble sourcing a copy. Although old now, most of the advice on lochs & flies will still hold true (unless smolt cages are now present) and you'll find info on parking, geo-coordinates and ownership, if applicable.

There is some good brown trout fishing in Harris but the fish are often 5 to a pound and most effort is on migratories. Not my patch so I suggest you phone or email Donnie McIver at the Outer Hebrides Fishery Trust for a chat once you've decided where you're going to be based. He's the 'fishery tourist officer' and I doubt anyone knows the islands' fishing better. If you need a gillie for your Hebridean Drift days talk to Donnie about that, too.

Salmon & sea trout tend to arrive in numbers in late June/July, also good trout months, but their access to freshwater is often rain-dependant, and so therefore is the sport.
I'd opt for a mid-July week given the choice but a dry summer can scupper the best laid plans.

There are lots of options open to you - Steinish Sea Pools are just outside Stornoway and a season ticket will probably be under £40. The Gress is £10 a day and can be good given rain and there's the Stornoway A.A., open to non-residents offering loch & river fishing on the Creed system for under £100 p/a, boats extra. The private estates often have day rods for more money, too, Donnie can help you there.

Hope that helps get you started. The scope is enormous and only limited by you & your father's fitness levels, really.
 
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Finglas

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Thanks T7, great advice. I'll check out that book too. Fishing for salmon on lochs would be an entirely new experiece so its great to know some of the tactics.

Thank you,

Jamie
 
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I highly recommend you pick up some Sidney Spencer books if you're inexperienced in loch fishing for salmon & sea trout from a drifting boat. 'Newly From the Sea' is possibly the best but 'Game Fishing Tactics', 'Ways of Fishing' and 'Salmon & Sea Trout in Wild Places' are all excellent too. Spencer fished at Morsgail in Lewis, knew his game well and wrote about it brilliantly, both descriptively and informatively.
 

Finglas

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Hi Lewis.chessman, thanks very much for taking the time to give me that advice, it sounds excellent. I will set about trying to get some of they books. Once im more certwin on where wnd when we are staying i will probably contact the fishery tourist officer. Soujds like there is no shortage of places to fish.

Thanks again,

Jamie
 

Roag Fisher

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Join the Wild Fishing Forum as there are guys on there who come over to the island to fish for trout, and sometimes do well. A couple of local trout fishers are members of that forum, and can offer real time advice. In general, there is good trout fishing to be had, it is just not advertised as much as other destinations.
Over the last few seasons, the grilse and salmon have arrived pretty much in one go in ate June and the first half of July. Great, if you are visiting then and you get water/wind/cloud.
But.
If you visit after July, you need weather conditions to help you, as the vast majority of fish will be stale. You need wind/rain/cloud to get the fish interested.
The quality and quantity of what we are currently seeing and catching suggests that 2019 will be a good year for sea trout.
My advice is do not book anything in advance. Day tickets on Barvas, Creed and Garynahine offer at least a good a chance of fish as the overpriced "famous" fisheries, the estuaries north of Stornoway offer cheap, very good, sea trout fishing on day tickets, and if you are here in a heat wave, save your money and go trout fishing. There are boats on the Garynahine lochs, the Creed lochs and the Barvas loch. Ghillies are easy to arrange.

Oh aye......I have never read a freshwater angling book in my life, preferring to work things out for myself. You will learn more in 5 minutes from a competent local angler or ghillie.
 

Wee-Eck

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One thing I would advise is if you are fishing for salmon/sea trout on a loch. It is worth the extra expense to hire a ghillie. Most anglers can after a bit of experience read a river and instinctively know where to fish. A loch is entirely different. You have a large expanse of water in front of you and without prior knowledge of it you could spend the whole day fishing over entirely useless drifts. Also, if there is a wind and you are not experienced at holding a boat on a drift and rowing back into a stiff breeze/semi gale, your whole day could be ruined. Some days it is worth it even just for the 'craik' as the Irish would say.
 

skagitmonster

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whatever you do ,

or where you go take a midge hat and repellent ,I went to uist ,harris,lewis on the longest day so we could pretty much fish all night ,midges were savage when the wind drops,fishing was epic you wont be dissapointed
 
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Finglas

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Thanks everyone that all sounds like great advice. I guess its just the way salmon fishing is but it really is difficult hen you are travelling far and having to rely on the weather!

Not booking in advance is quite a big point i guess, normally we do book salmon fishing in advance but have often lost out because of that. We can normally only really fish on a saturday so it's difficult to wait until last minute. But, if we were on harris/lewis and there was a lot of other options then i guess it makes sense to wait and then choose the best option....

Skagitmonster, the dreaded midges eh, murder, what did you fish for whilst there?

thanks all again

jamie
 

skagitmonster

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we

went to fish for brown trout ,we hooked and lost salmon ,had sea trout and silly amounts of brownies ,we mainly fished uist ,its been quite a while since I went but it burned in my memory what a place it is up there ,lovely people too,next time I,ll fly though as if I recall it took 14 hours by road and ferry
 

T7

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Why not book one or two days in advance and then wing it for the other days? Gives you some definite fishing to plan for but also some flexibility if the conditions aren’t great
 

LukeP

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I guided on the Obbe fishings on South Harris about 14 years ago.. I did have my first (and only) salmon from the tide pool by the local shop there but it was on the basis of watching the water every day for weeks and being in the right place at the right time as a large group of fresh fish came over the sill of the pool on a spring tide (Ally’s shrimp in red was the successful fly).. Given I was (and still am) a very inexperienced salmon fisherman I don’t feel qualified to say whether I could have made more of the opportunities I was presented with other than right time and place paid off that morning. One thing I can say with some certainty is that the trout fishing was great fun!
 

Finglas

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Thanks again everyone, T7, yes i think so. I guess it would be sensible to book even a couple of days and have something to work around and towards :)

Sounds like a cracking experience that with the salmon on the tide!

Thanks everyone,

Jamie
 

Finglas

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Harris trip summer 2019 UPDATE

Well hello all again.... I am coming back to this thread after over a year since my last post. Just wanted to give you all an update on our trip from last summer. Me and my dad did end up visiting Harris for a fishing trip back in July of 2019. I did intend on writing this report shortly after returning from Harris but I am only getting round to it now. I do apologise for not having written and posted this sooner.

Very brief background

Casting my mind back, I remember that it had been dry for quite a few weeks prior to our trip. There was however rain in the forecast and just as we were setting off the weather was beginning to change. Before the trip I spent some time at the vice and tied up some patterns that we have success with elsewhere. Stoats tails, stoats tails with a little blue throat (I forget the name) and some red arrows. We bought a bundle of flies too just to ensure we were stocked up. In summary, we were well prepared and with the weather looking very favourable we were full of anticipation.

Saturday 20th July

The ferry was booked for around 1830 on Saturday the 20th; we left East Kilbride (just south of Glasgow) at 12 noon. The weather was great for the drive up, dry and sunny. Just the usual stops for us, green welly shop for the toilet, then Fort William for a McDonalds. We had planned a sit-down lunch but we didn’t account for how bad the traffic would be and realised we might not have all that much time to spare. We quickly filled the car with fuel in the Morrisons and got back on the road. After taking in more amazing scenery, we arrived on Skye around 1730. Thinking this would likely be our last chance to get close to mainland fuel prices, we took our chance and filled the car up at the Co-op garage on Skye. We arrived at the ferry with some time to spare, perhaps we could have had that sit down lunch after all!

The ferry crossing was no problem at all. After arriving on the island and driving in what seemed like circles for 20 minutes, we managed to arrive at our cottage in Stockinish. A friend of my Dad's had recently inherited this cottage and the surrounding croft. He kindly offered to host us for the six nights. Although we arrived full of excitement we were definitely tired given it was now around 2100. It had been a long journey but my dad's friend had let some of local fishermen know that he had friends coming. They had then very kindly gave us some fresh crab claws, lobsters and a fine pollock that they had caught earlier that day. Having never tried lobster before it was lovely to experience it pulled straight from the sea. It was a lovely supper being both an excellent end to a lovely but long journey and a harbinger of the great experiences we had coming for the rest of the week.

Here is a picture of the cottage we stayed in and some of the surroundings:cottage view.jpg

And here is a picture of supper: lobster.jpg

Sunday 21st July

With our first full day on the island being a Sunday we knew there would be no fishing. Not only that but there wasn't very much of anything going on! We went for a drive around the island and stopped and asked some of the locals (who our host knew) about where might be good for salmon and sea trout fishing. The weather was now looking excellent; the rain was lashing! Perhaps we weren't seeing the island in all it's glory but we all know how hard it is to hit the rain and river levels right with the salmon fishing so there was definitely no complaining to the fishing Gods, especially not on a Sunday!

On a more serious note, it was quite striking to observe how quiet the island seemed and to see most of the locals we did come across smartly dressed for attending the church. I of the opinion that it is great to see traditions and ways of life like this being continued. Sunday genuinely seemed like the day of rest!

As part of our wee introductory trip around the island we visited luskentyre beach on the Sunday. Even in fairly poor weather it was absolutely stunning. luskentyre 1.jpg

Monday 22nd July

On the Monday the weather was still pretty rough but still looking good for our stay. Given the lock-down on Sunday the Monday following was our first chance to really put the feelers out and establish where we could be fishing. Before arriving on the island we had tried to contact Innes Morrison at Amhuinnsuidhe Castle in the hope of scheduling a day's fishing at some point in the week. Understandably, it was really difficult to get him on the phone (bad signals and I am sure he is very busy with guests). So we thought we would try it the old fashioned way. We made the 35-40 minute drive from Stockinish to the castle. There we met Innes in person and he said we would be able to fish on the Wednesday and just to show up at the castle on the day....bingo! It was great seeing the places that we had seen many times before on the TV watching Paul Young's fishing programmes.

Quick picture of the castle
castle.jpg

And another of the view from outside the castle
Amhuinnsuidhe view.jpg

Leaving the castle it was still early and, after making more calls about potential fishing, we decided to head to Stornoway. We had a quick look around the town and bought some Harris tweed gifts for coming home (I wondered if it was frowned upon to buy Harris tweed from a shop in Lewis instead of Harris…?) After a few phone calls to a very helpful chap at the Stornaway Angling Association we headed to the fishing shop in Stornoway and bought a ticket for the association water on the river Creed. Unfortunately the rain was still thundering down and so we probably didn't have too much of a chance with the water rising. We fished for most of the afternoon and into the early evening. Wind whipped and rain lashed we had only a few finnock to report for our efforts but it was another lovely unspoiled location that was a pleasure to spend some time on.

Here is a few pictures of the creed where we fished:
river creed 1.jpg
river creed 2.jpg
river creed 3.jpg

Completely soaked through, we started the short drive back from Lewis to Harris. The rain was coming off the hills like nothing I had seen before. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, it was a moment when you really appreciate the power of nature. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to stop and get any pictures.


Tuesday 23rd July

By Tuesday the rain had let up and there was 5 fish off the same stretch of water we had been on the previous day, typical!

We bought a ticket for Borve Estate and we fished Loch Fincastle in the morning. On the day the weather was good. We met the Ghille early, got the key for the hut and after giving us some advice he left us to it. Given there was no other rods out, we were able to fish both Loch Fincastle and the smaller loch about 1 mile upstream, Loch Laxadale, which apparently is the smallest fresh water salmon and sea trout loch in the world. The two lochs are joined by a short stretch of river with one main fishable stretch called “the old pool”.

Here is a picture of part of Fincastle with Luskentyre in the background:
fincastle with luskentyre view.jpg


After giving Fncastle our best efforts we came away without anything to report. The water was still thundering into the loch and it was fairly dirty……..that sounded like a reasonable excuse at the time!

Here is a picture of the water coming out of Fincastle at high tide:
looking out to luskentyre.jpg

We headed upstream and took the boat out on Loch Laxdale. After fishing there for a few hours we still had nothing to show for our efforts. Around early evening we left the loch, drove down stream and parked up beside the old pool. Here is a great pic of the old pool:
old pool.jpg

After fishing for a short while my dad heard what he described as slapping sounds. To his amazement he looked and saw salmon leaping the falls below and coming into the pool we were fishing. With fish heading and tailing around in the pool we were about to have about 45 minutes of the kind of sport you read about in the Trout and Salmon!
My dad hooked and landed a salmon of around 4-5lbs. The first fish of the week and I think we were just both relieved to be able to report at least one fish for all the travelling we had done! After a couple of pics we quickly got back to the fishing.
salmon 1.jpg

Within a few minutes my dad had hooked another fish and again landed a salmon of a similar weight to the first. Both were caught on a silver stoats tail tied by myself on an old single silver salad hook.
salmon 2.jpg

With the fish safely released we were back to the casting and hoping to capitalise on what was obviously a run of fish passing through. As they moved around like U-boats, briefly showing themselves before quickly disappearing, we could hardly believe our luck. Casting across the small stretch my flies had only touched the water when a fish head and tailed over my butcher and the line went tight. Finally a fish! It was up and down the pool and in and out of the water a few times. However, alas the line went slack and the fish was off! We all know what it’s like losing a fish so no need for me to labour the point. It was as sickening as ever. I thought perhaps my wee butcher on a trout hook had just given out but on inspection the leader had broken at the point where the dropper connected to the mainline. Chances are I had a wind-knot in the leader, I know, I know, rookie mistake!

Wednesday 24th July

After having previously spoken with Innes Morrison on the Monday we set out on Wednesday morning eager to get round to Amhuinnsuidhe. When we arrived we were taken through to the fishing room where the ghille opened a large model map of the estate. He pointed to Scourst and told us we would be fishing there for the day. We waited in the room for a short while, marvelled at some of the catches from years gone by and, after clarifying directions, we headed off to Scourst. Again the weather was great for it. It was a brilliant wee drive in and the loch looked great when we arrived. There was a stone fishing hut which was locked and when we managed to contact the ghilles they weren’t keen on allowing us access. Perhaps it’s standard practice not to allow access to the hut unless you are accompanied by the ghille. There was a boat on Scourst and we had been told when we bought the tickets that without the ghille they wouldn’t allow us to use the boat.

Writing this now and thinking back it does make me think perhaps they thought we were a couple of chancers! Even if that was so, we were a couple of chancers who were about to get in among the fish!

Before I quickly discuss the fishing, here are a few pictures taken whilst fishing scourst:
scourst 1.jpg
scourst 2.jpg

This pic is taken at the head of the loch looking back down and you can see there was a great wave on the water and good cloud cover:

scourst 3.jpg


I went to the tail of the loch and fished up from there. My dad started around the middle of the water and fished towards the head. After about an hour or so fishing I hadn’t touched anything nor seen any fish moving. Clambering round the banks I managed to get into another fishable stretch of shore. Suddenly I saw some fish moving just outwith casting distance. Fishing on with renewed confidence I soon saw fish moving slightly closer to the shore. With the camera on I was able to capture the moment when I connected with a lovely fresh sea trout (I will try and post the video soon). After bringing the fish in I got it back as quick as possible.

sea trout 1.jpg

Getting the flies back in the water I had missed another fish after only a few more minutes fishing. Around 5 minutes or so after that I had another fish on and managed to land another sea trout around the 1.5lbs mark. Not the largest of sea trout but very very welcome. Both were caught on a standard double hook stoats tail.

sea trout 2.jpg

Things went a little quiet after this and I continued stepping and casting round the loch. Just before lunch I rolled another fish just off the end of my rod but didn’t connect with it.

I caught up with my dad around lunch and he had’t had any success with the sea trout or salmon. He had however caught an excellent brown trout of about 3lbs. We both had an excellent day here and although I think we would have caught more fish if we had been able to take the boat out to where we could see the fish moving it was still an excellent day and worth every penny of the ticket.

Thursday 25th July

Come Thursday we weren’t too sure on where to fish. After a few phone calls we decided to venture back down to Borve estate. Although we had a lovely day we unfortunately didn’t manage to strike lucky with the fish. The closest we came was rolling a few fish near the outlet of Laxdale. It was a lovely day with the sun splitting the sky. Not ideal for fishing at all but at least we did get to see the island in a little more of it’s glory.

Friday 26th July

It was an early rise on Friday to catch the early ferry leaving Harris and going back to Uig. With the sun out it was fine weather for driving back down to Glasgow. We basically retraced out steps. We stopped at the co-op garage on Skye for fuel, then at McDonalds in Fort William and then a third and final stop at the green welly shop. It was a long drive and the following week in work I felt, and probably looked like, a total zombie. A lot of early rises and long drives really took it out of me but it was well worth it for a fantastic and genuinely memorable experience.

If you have managed to read this far then thanks very much. I hope some of the pictures and stories have been of some interest. Unfortunately, we didn’t catch a great number of fish but to be honest I’m not sure any of us really expect to catch a great number of fish anymore! Beyond that, and probably because it was our first trip to the island, it did feel like we spent quite a bit of time trying to get our bearings and find out where might be good to fish. It was a great experience over all and we couldn’t really have hit the weather much better. Everyone that has given me advice through the forum was a great help too and both me and my dad really appreciate all the help. I can only apologise for having taken so long to report back on how the week went.

Thanks again,

Jamie
 

Lamson v10

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Well that was certainly worth the wait :nod: what a fantastic report Jamie and great photos :thumb: glad you both enjoyed your trip and at least got some fish to show for your efforts :thumb:
Seriously the best report this forum has seen for a long time :thumb:

All the best Arnold
 
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Thanks, Jamie, that was a great read on a Sunday morning. I felt I was walking with you for much of it. :)
I think you did pretty well for folk new to Heb salmon fishing and you saw the place at its best weather-wise. I suspect that if you already knew your water you could have had half a dozen off the Borve system that day in the right places at the right times - when they're on here in a falling spate - they're ON! ;)
And aren't Fincastle and Scourst special places to throw a line?
Next time you come you'll be better prepared, more confident and loose less time sorting the fishing out. I hope!

It is with sincere regret, though, that I must inform you that your first fresh Harris lobster will probably be the finest you will ever eat anywhere in the world. It's downhill on the lobster front from here on, I'm afraid - unless you return to the Hebs!

Thanks again for the write-up, glad you enjoyed your time here.
 

Finglas

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Thanks for all the kind responses.

Thanks Lewis.Chessman. Yes I definitely feel like/when we go again we would be much better prepared. On the first day on Borve, with the fish on I think, as you say, we could definitely have managed a few more fish knowing what we do now.

Haha yes, the lobster really was excellent. Although they are quite small there was plenty of them and I was fed up on Lobster that evening haha!

Thanks again for all your advice, we might be back up again this year but we haven't decided yet.

Jamie
 
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