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The Fhorsa System

The estuary

The Bruton Stream: possibly the most exciting and unique salmon fly water in the British Isles, the Bruton Stream is the short glide where all the water on Uig Sands drains into Uig Bay.  It was Clive Bruton who was the first man to exploit the potential of this stretch of water and to realise it allowed him the rare opportunity of catching salmon in salt water.

As the behaviour of the shoals of salmon vary with the height of the tide, a study of the tide chart is essential for success on the Bruton Stream.  Having travelled up the estuary with the tide, the salmon then tend to drop back as the tide goes out and it is at this point where the Bruton comes alive.  Depending on the height of the tide, the salmon may drop back to sea very quickly, but if you are lucky enough to have a shoal hold up in front of you, the chances of a fish are good.  The best weather conditions for fishing the Bruton, are when there is a strong westerly blowing up the stream.  This produces a good wave, holds back the tide and seems to get the fish very active on the surface.  When the fish start porpoising in the waves, success is almost sure.

It is always better to be early at the Bruton, as if you miss the fish dropping back, that is your chance gone until the next tide. 

Other estuary pools: the Boronish Bridge Pool lies downstream of the lodge and is a good pool for sea trout.  This pool is not noted for holding salmon, but as they run through this pool, there is always a chance and salmon have been caught here.

The Duck and Scar Pools lie upstream of the Lodge and tend only to hold salmon very early in the season.  Later the fish run straight through these pools into the non-tidal pools.  They are however great pools for sea trout and estuary brown trout.

The river

The river has five productive pools – the Corner Pool, the Gorge Pool, the Green Bank/Canal, the Ciste and the Sea Pool.  There are three other named pools which do not seem to produce as much – the New Pool, Upper Falls Pool and the Otter Pool – however, it may be that these pools are less interesting to fish so therefore don’t get as much attention.

The Sea Pool: more a small loch in the river than a pool, as there is no perceptible flow in the Sea Pool.  During times of really high tides, shoals of salmon move in the Sea Pool - some will stay there, cruise around and come within casting distance at times.  If there is a good ripple on the water, this pool can be very productive.

The Green Bank and Canal: this is really one pool with the Green Bank being the head of the Canal, a forty yard stretch of slow moving water above the road bridge.  This pool always holds fish and with a good strong wind, a good wave and careful presentation of the fly, this stretch of water will always produce salmon, especially in high water.

The Gorge Pool: this is the main holding pool in the river – very exciting but can be tricky to fish.  The pool lies below the first falls with fast water at the head, opening out into a large deep hole, before narrowing into the Green Bank/Canal.  The pool is surrounded by high rocky cliffs so you can only fish this from three places: standing directly below the falls, from the rocky ledge at the tail of the pool, or from the ‘General’s Stand’ which has proved to be the most successful.  The General’s Stand is a high ledge on the right hand bank, easily recognised by the two bare patches of ground caused by the feet of many fishermen who have sat in this spot.  From this vantage point and with dark glasses, you can see into the pool and if there are fish waiting to take the falls, they are clearly visible lying in the current to the left of a huge rock knows as the Butterfly Rock.  It is not often you get to observe the behaviour of salmon when presented with a fly and if you are in luck, you will see a fish detach itself from the shoal, come up and take the fly.

The Gorge pool particularly fascinated the celebrated author Arthur Ransome, who stayed at Uig Lodge in 1945 and 1946 whilst researching his book, ‘Great Northern’.  In his book ‘Mainly about Fishing’, he discussed his theory about why salmon take a lure even though they do not feed while in freshwater. He wrote that they are merely "chewing gum" - an observation he made whilst sitting on the bank of the Gorge Pool.  It was here where he experimented with techniques and watched the salmon and their reactions to his fly.   Many generations of salmon fishermen have done the same since and will do for many years to come.

The Corner Pool: this is the last major holding pool before the salmon enter Loch Slacsavat.  If you can get your fly on the water with a strong wind and a good wave, the fish can be very willing in this pool.  Once again, this pool fishes very well in high water.

The lochs

Loch Slacsavat: once the salmon have taken the fresh water, the majority head for the loch.  Generally people fishing this loch will be doing so from a boat in the company of a good ghillie, but there is another side to the loch fishing; the bank.  There are areas around the loch which provide the most exciting and demanding salmon fishing you could hope to encounter.   Many of the lies are in shallow water close to the shore and therefore perfect for bank fishing.  A strong blow is the critical factor between a good day and a hard grind with little chance of moving a fish.

Loch Suainaval: about three miles long, this is the headwater for the Fhorsa System.  Mainly fished from a boat, this loch does produce salmon but is really known for its brown trout and ferox trout fishing.

Other trout lochs

There are several smaller lochs in the hills around Loch Suainaval many of which provide fantastic brown trout fishing.  The best of which are...

Sea fishing

The coastline around Lewis is both dramatic and beautiful and sea fishing trips for mackerel and pollock can be arranged.

“Absolutely delicious and I was very impressed with the quality.”

Madeline Lim, Food & Drink Editor at the Independent Magazine