Salmon fishing

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A Guide to Fishing the Grimersta

The Grimersta on the west coast of the Isle of Lewis in Scotland's Outer Hebrides is widely regarded as one of the most prolific small salmon fisheries in Europe. Fishing is by fly only with eight Rods sharing the four principal beats.

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An evening cast on the Grimersta First Stream....


A typical Grimersta summer Grilse....


Upstream from the Battery Pool....


Grimersta Loch Faoghail Chiorabhal with the Harris hills to the south....

Isle of Lewis
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Fishing Guide

(for latest reports click here)

by Jason Laing, Estate Manager

Battery PoolSalmon, grilse and Sea trout enter the system from late May. The main run is traditionally at its height in mid July but fresh run fish occur until the end of the season on 15th October. There is also excellent wild Brown trout fishing on innumerable lochs. We have a superb team of ghillies including qualified instructors.

As a rough guide, a single-handed rod of 10'- 11'3" rated AFTM 7-9 should be used. It is worth bearing the following in mind when choosing a rod for loch fishing:

This is a rod that you will be fishing with for long periods of time, so it must be light and comfortable enough for prolonged use, but strong enough to bring fish in reasonably quickly, especially if fish are to be released.

Using the slightly longer rod (11'3") allows the dropper to be fished more efficiently.

Fly selection will depend on conditions, but generally flies size 12-14 on the tail. A larger fly, usually Blue Elver or Muddler 8-10 is recommended on the dropper. A good selection of classic Grimersta flies are available from the Estate Office. Floating lines are suitable for virtually all conditions.


Loch fishing boat fishing grimersta style

Boat fishing at Grimersta differs from elsewhere in that both anglers sit in the stern of the boat, which is drifted with the bow into the wind. Two Rods may fish simultaneously, however fishing in turns prevents fatigue and helps maintain concentration. Your ghillie will advise on the most suitable course.

A reasonably long line can be fished (up to 20 yards) casting directly down wind. Keep casting in the same direction, as the boat will cover the drift. Generally, a fast retrieve is best and it is important to keep the fly moving. Towards the end of each retrieve gradually raise the rod until the dropper fly is bouncing on the surface and cast again. Try to leave enough line out to avoid having to false cast.

It is important to keep alert and watch your flies at all times, as you will nearly always see some movement in the water when a fish comes to your fly.

There is always great discussion at Grimersta about the strike - raising the rod quickly to tighten in to a fish. Some Rods believe that you should strike as soon as you see any movement to the fly, others insist you should not strike until you feel the fish. Either way you should be alert and strike fairly quickly.

There are, however exceptions to this — as with so many things in fishing!
If a fish slowly takes with a head and tail movement wait until the fish goes down with the fly before tightening. Sometimes a fish will chase the fly, swirling at it but not taking it. If this happens keep the fly moving and the fish may take. Sometimes fish will take very close to the boat.

Remember to have your fly line running over the index finger of the hand holding the rod while retrieving, and clamp the line against the rod when striking. Once the fish is hooked, keep the pressure on him but let him run if he wants to.

Conditions on the lochs can be dangerous in high winds, and our experienced ghillies may decide on occasions that it is too rough for boating, in which case there are the alternatives of fishing the lochs, rivers and streams from the bank. The ghillie has final responsibility for boat safety.

Loch fishing is very different to river fishing, and there are occasions when there can be periods of inactivity. However, when the fish come on the action can be fast and furious.Then it is one of the most visual and exciting forms of fishing you will ever experience.

Fishing the Rivers and Streams

Although Grimersta is predominantly a loch fishery, the rivers and streams connecting the lochs can be very prolific. Usually the rod you use for fishing on the loch is ideal for the river, however in high water and strong winds a longer rod of 12'-14' may be useful.

Fly size on the river will depend on water height, and your ghillie will advise on this. A dropper is optional and may be useful, especially for dibbling the fast water at the top of the pools, but there is always the chance of losing fish by getting the second fly snagged on the bottom.

It can be difficult, after reacting quickly on the loch, to remember when fishing the river, to allow the fish to turn with the fly, and not to pull it out of the fish's mouth!

Our ghillies wear life jackets when in a boat and all Rods must do so also. Your ghillie will provide a life jacket upon request. We also recommend the use of suitable eye protection.

Link here to Fishing and General Rules


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