The famous ‘limestone’ lochs of both counties contain wild brown trout which grow quickly due to the abundant fly life. In Sutherland the lochs of Durness, Lochs Lanlish, Croispol, Borralaidh and Caladail hold hard fighting, wild brown trout averaging 1 ½ lb but can be caught up to 5lb. Caithness probably has a greater number of ‘limestone’ lochs including the famous Loch Watten, wild brown’s to around the one pound size but with plenty up to 3lb. Slightly less well known are St John’s Loch and Loch Calder with fish averaging around the ¾ lb mark. Other areas worth considering are the lochs around Thrumster. Outwith the limestone lochs the peatland areas of Sutherland and Caithness contain so many lochs and lochans with varying numbers and sizes of wild brown trout, not all specimens, that you could spend a lifetime trying to fish them all.
Salmon and sea trout fishing is also abundant in the area. The Helmsdale, Naver and Shin systems all offer great opportunities. Further to the west are many ‘spate’ rivers which if fished at the right levels can produce some great fishing. Loch fishing for salmon and sea trout can sometimes be overlooked. Loch Hope is renowned for its catches of migratory fish, sea trout in particular.
Visitors can also shoot grouse, pheasant and woodcock and snipe. Not in as high numbers as some of the more well known shoots in Scotland and probably ‘walked up’ rather than driven. The smaller bags are more than made up for by the scenery and atmosphere of the area.
Duck flighting and goose shooting, with considerable numbers of greylag arriving in late October and November, are also available.
Stalking is available for both red and roe deer. Roe Deer stalking is more abundant in Caithness. Due to the lack of trees Sutherland can present some very traditional red deer stalking involving a long walk and crawl to get in position.
Set yourself a challenge and try for a McNab, a grouse, a salmon and a stag in 24 hours!
Photos on this page by James Gunn.