- Lana Richardson
Donald, where's your waders?
I have wanted to fish for Salmon on the Isle of Skye for a long time. I had heard that one of the best places to do this is on the River Snizort.
I got in touch with Danny (@skye_fishing on instagram) who looks after the Snizort. He suggested that as I was only able to come over for one day, that I waited until there had been some rain. We kept in touch for a few months over the summer to try and figure out a day where he had availability, I was free and there was also favourable conditions.
At the beginning of October, the plan came together. I left home near Aviemore around 5am and made the 3 hour drive to Skye. For the first couple of hours the drive was in darkness but once the sun started to come up, around the point I reached Loch Carron, the view's on the rest of the journey were incredible.
I arrived at the Skeabost hotel near the mouth of the Snizort, met Danny, got kitted up and headed up river to one of the higher beats. After the river being in flood the day before and still managing to produce a couple of fish, it had dropped off nicely, I unusually had high hopes of getting a fish. Being someone who is usually quite modest and defeatist with their fishing, it was strange that on this occasion I felt so sure that I was going to hook at least one fish..! I have recently been told that this is the attitude to have, you have to have confidence, confidence catches...
We walked for half a mile or so up to the top of beat 10. The all round views were really impressive and although we weren't overly far from the road, you got a feeling of real remoteness. All of the pools I could see on the walk up river looked unbelievably fishy, the water was perfect. We reached the 'gorge pool', there was a nice frothy run into the gorge which opened up nicely into a big gliding pool, which has lots of fish holding features and lies.
I got my fly into the water, an inch long Willie Gunn snaelda fished on a full float line with a fast sink tip, I chose to use my 11'6 7wt Loop 7x switch rod for the day. I started to fish my way down the pool and had a small fiesty trout and a greedy parr, both which increased my heart rate substantially. The water looked so good that with each cast I was anticipating a take! I got a good tug from a salmon half way down the pool, after that all I could think was 'any second now...'.
I arrived down into the part of the pool which Danny told me was 'the spot', right enough, after a few casts, I was in! The salmon fought for a few minutes and then Danny netted her for me, she was a lovely chunky hen grilse of around 5lbs. I hadn't seen such a lovely looking 'coloured' fish before, I couldn't help but think about how solid and perfect she would have been a month or two prior as a fresh silver fish into the river.
As the day went on, we made our way further down the river. I had a few more pulls and tweaks in the morning but as the afternoon came on the fish seemed to go quiet, as fish sometimes do; for whatever reason, water level, temperature, pressure...? I think all of the fish caught that day were caught in the morning, I would love to learn more about exactly why that happens, rather than just speculating, which is what I usually do! As it got later into the afternoon, my early morning started to catch up with me,. If I had been staying the night on Skye that evening, I definitely would have fished on later than 6pm, but the thought of a 3 hour drive ahead of me encouraged me to pack away my kit and hit the road after what had been a very successful day.
Perhaps I would have had another fish if i'd have given it an hour longer, I will never know..!
One of the great things about the Snizort is the varying habitat's and terrain's which surround the river from top to bottom, even within the same beats. We all prefer fishing different types of rivers but the Snizort really has something for everyone. You might encounter open moorland areas, compact fast flowing gorges, bubbly rocky falls, deep bedrock pots, sweeping gravel bars and long meandering pools surrounded by fields, to name only a few! It all varies in width and speed too. In some places I wished I had set up a 9ft single-handed rod and others i'd have been happy with a 13ft double-handed rod.
I cant wait to get back over to the Snizort in the 2023 season. Danny is a superb ghillie with a wealth of knowledge about the river and a huge passion for fish and fly fishing. Meeting like-minded people like him and being fortunate enough to spend the day with them is one of the main reasons which makes fishing special for me, the cherry on top is when your efforts are rewarded with a beautiful fish.
Fishing on the Snizort can be booked by using the following link - https://skyehotel.co.uk/salmon-fishing/