The Kyle of Sutherland offers some of the finest Salmon estuary fishing in the country.
When the weather is dry, and the rivers are low, Salmon congregate in the Kyle, where they can be taken on the fly.The Kyle fishes best from the top of the tide to the end of the ebb. Knowing exactly when these times are is a bit of an art – but the tides are usually about 2 hours later at the top of the Kyle.There is a lot of water to cover – over 14 miles – but most anglers concentrate on a few areas – sometimes neglecting other stretches which can be productive!
When to Fish
Salmon can be difficult to catch in June but what they lack in quantity they usually more than make up for with regard to quality. Grilse are usually present at this time of year but the angler is probably just as likely to encounter a salmon in the 8-20lb class, almost certainly in exceptional condition. At this time of year, persistence is the key to success.
The second or third week of July usually sees large runs of grilse and arguably the cream of the salmon fishing on the Kyle. Summer salmon, typically around 8lb, are also usually in evidence with the occasional bigger fish also putting in an appearance. An extended dry spell at this time of year will usually result in fish being caught off each tide.
In terms of the numbers of fish caught, August almost invariably represents the peak month of the season. The bulk of the catches will, as with July, be made up of grilse and small salmon. Towards the end of month, however, a run of larger fish (many of them cock fish) usually enters the Kyle. The majority of these fish will be in the 8-10lb class but some can be much larger and fish in excess of 20lb have been captured at this time of year.
Fish will continue to enter the Kyle until the end of the season and many fish that have entered the estuary earlier in the season appear happy to remain in residence even if the rivers have good flows. Angling pressure is usually light during this period but good catches can be made. The majority of fish are coloured, however, and most anglers choose to carefully return the fish that they capture.
The weapon of choice for most salmon anglers on the Kyle is a double-handed rod of 14-16 feet in length although shorter rods can also be usefully employed, particularly in August and September. A reel that can hold a substantial amount of backing (100 yards plus) is essential as even a small grilse will have the opportunity to make long runs at times. Floating lines are typically used but in the vicinity of Bonar Bridge the flow can be surprisingly rapid and sinking poly/braided leaders are usually employed to prevent the fly from skating. Elsewhere on the Kyle these are usually not necessary. Intermediate or slow sinking lines have their uses at times, particularly in the early part of the season, although they appear to have fallen out of favour in recent seasons. Many Kyle regulars believe that the depth at which the fly is fishing is of paramount importance.
Most patterns of flies will catch fish on the Kyle but in recent years the use of patterns such as Stoat’s Tail, Hairy Mary and Munro Killer has been superseded by the use of Oykel GP, Ally’s Shrimp, Kylie Shrimp, Cascade, Ness C and Irish style shrimp flies such as Curry’s Red Shrimp and Langoustine. Popular flies in recent seasons have been the Red Frances, Scap Shrimp and the Pot Bellied Pig in various colours. Size used tends to vary with the time of year with larger sizes used in June and September (#6-8-10) and smaller sizes in July and August (#10-12). It should be noted that outwith the areas of faster flows, the smaller sizes of fly are often likely to yield better results and it often pays to experiment with size of fly as well as pattern, of course this might also bring a sea trout or two.
The Kyle is tidal and must be treated with great respect. Not only are the currents extremely strong at times, but the bottom can be treacherous. Be very careful when wading. Waders with felt or studded soles are essential to cope with slippery, round stones. Always wear a buoyancy aid and carry a heavy wading stick. If in any doubt, don’t wade – particularly on your own!