Lairg Estate, River Shin
For excellent summer and autumn salmon fishing, or just a Highland holiday in an extremely comfortable and beautifully sited private lodge, the Lairg Estate is unrivalled. As well as 3 miles of double-bank fishing and fully staffed accommodation within the Lairg estate, the area offers more than 20 golf courses within one and a half hours' drive, including Royal Dornoch; stately homes, castles, and gardens, including Dunrobin, Cawdor and the Castle of Mey; several distilleries which are open to the public, including Glenmorangie, Clynelish Dalmore and Glen Ord; a post office, doctor's surgery, chemist, petrol station and railway station in the nearby village of Lairg.
The estate has a variety of accommodation available to suit all budgets: Lairg Lodge (which sleeps up to 14), the new house called Phil's (which sleeps 6 with two en suite bathrooms and a further double bedroom with a shower room) and a newly refurbished croft house called Reid's (which sleeps 4).
Sitting on a hillside, overlooking Loch Shin, Lairg Lodge offers three miles of double-bank fishing on the Upper Shin. It was built in 1886 as one of the Duke of Sutherland's sporting lodges. For the past 30 years it has been in the ownership of the same family. Recently refurbished, the Lodge retains its original character whilst offering the highest levels of comfort. There is plenty of hot water, deep Victorian baths; bedrooms have new beds and soft furnishings, thick towels and Egyptian cotton sheets. There are two sitting rooms, the dining room seats up to 16 and there is also a billiard room.
The Lodge's various levels and wings provide a series of complex spaces and its 10-double/twin bedrooms and one single ensure that large numbers are absorbed effortlessly, whilst smaller groups suffer no lack of intimacy. With 6 bathrooms (2 en-suite) and 3 further loos, laundry room, drying room and a big kitchen, guests feel instantly at home. Occupancy of the Lodge is limited to a maximum of 14.
The Lodge is fully staffed. It enjoys a justifiably good reputation for its standard of cooking and has a resident housekeeper and 2 further staff to ensure high levels of domestic service. A ghillie is also included for all sporting requirements.
The River Shin is one of Scotland's best kept secrets. Although the river was dammed in the late 50's thus effectively denying the returning salmon access to their natural spawning grounds, a comprehensive re-stocking program has been in place ever since, and the returns of salmon and grilse have been consistently stable. The Fishing on the Lairg Estate water starts towards the end of May and closes on the last day of September.
The Lairg Estate water starts at the dam below little Loch Shin, in the new artificial pool appropriately named the Dam pool, and continues down river for approximately three miles until a pool called Grief. There are over thirty named pools on the upper Shin. The Estate water is split into two beats, and each beat has up to four rods fishing at any one time. The beats rotate every day at 1 pm. The Lairg Estate water is all double bank and most of the pools can be fished from either side. The fishing is for fly only. Most of the pools can be fished from the bank without wading, but a few require some wading. We recommend thigh waders and it is advisable to use a wading stick in certain pools.
The size of the Shin salmon vary greatly depending on time of year. It is not uncommon for rods to come into contact with fish in the 20lb bracket early in the season. As summer progresses, the grilse appear in greater numbers and give wonderful sport.
Rod size is a matter of endless speculation. The water is easily covered with a 12' rod. Equal fun can be had with a small single handed rod. For the championship caster there is room for the longer rod.
The river is rocky in places and we would suggest that in the early season it is advisable to use a tippet material of at least 15lb. The early fish tend to run hard and have a tendency to leave the pools, so a heaver tippet gives the angler the option to play fish harder and land them faster for the process of catch and release.
Brown trout in Loch Shin average ½lb, but very large fish are taken early in the season and around the fish farm cages! The Estate has several excellent rivers, small lochs, and burns to chose from. Experienced guides can be arranged. Loch Beannach has some exceptional Trout, and in the past few years fish of up to 5lb have been caught. All the fish are wild native brown trout. Special trout fishing weeks are available on the Lairg Estate's water on the Shin, during April, May and June. Daily bags of up to 40+ trout are possible.
The estate consists of 8,000 acres (3,500 hectares) of open hill and a further 12,000 acres (5,000 Hectares) of commercial conifer forestry. Access to the hill is reasonably easy and extraction of the stags is done by Argocat. The hill walking is reasonably good by Scottish standards and not too steep, but some areas are tough walking because of deep heather and rough ground, so as is normal for Scottish Stag stalking, hunters need to be fit and able walkers!
20-25 stags are normally shot each year and a limited number of hinds. There is one guide on the estate and therefore we normally have one hunter on a 1:1 basis or 2 hunters sharing the guide when on the open hill.
Excellent summer and autumn salmon fishing on the River Shin
Lairg Lodge, Lairg, Sutherland IV27 4EH
It is a three minute drive from Lairg Village centre and approximately an hour's drive from the city of Inverness with its main line rail terminal and nearby international airport (20 minutes from the city centre).