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The River Ewe is the largest salmon and sea trout river system within the area. Angling traditions on the Ewe go back to the late 1700s; by the start of the 19th Century its reputation was without peer [1]. In 1852, Osgood Mackenzie caught 30 salmon up to 27.5lb when only 10 years of age [2]; in earlier days catches were even more prolific in the River Ewe when cruives held back the fish in pools where they could easily be netted; Calderwood notes that three cobble-fulls of salmon were taken in a single sweep of the net in the 1830s.

Net fisheries

Net fisheries for salmon operated at many locations along the WRFT area coastline, and took many thousands of salmon per year. G-S [1] quotes catches of salmon and grilse taken at bag net stations at Gairloch and Torridon which averaged between 4,500 and 6,000 salmon and grilse per year during this period. Former employees tell stories of "bottle" fish; for every 100 salmon taken in a day, they would be awarded a bottle of whisky. As recently as 1993, over 3000 salmon were taken in a year at Red Point netting station alone. The following year, 1673 "wild" salmon were taken in a season at Redpoint and an additional 405 fish recorded as "escaped farm salmon". The Red Point Netting station operated until 2000 when catches were so poor that it was economically non-viable. The station operated briefly again in 2004 but has since been abandoned and the building has lost its roof.

Other netting stations that were operated into the 1990s around the WRFT area were the Laide netting station by Gruinard Bay (maximum catch of 2,880 salmon in 1971, minimum 239 salmon in 1990) which was closed in 1992 and the Bad an Tarbert netting station at Achiltibuie which operated until 1998.

In living memory, "lorry loads" of salmon are said to have been taken in nets at Glenelg; declared catches for some years in 1970s show in excess of 1000 salmon taken. Many of these fish may have been destined for rivers further south: the Kyle Rhea narrows nearby is an obvious bottleneck for migrating salmon returning to the rivers of Lochaber and Argyll. The only legal netting station operated in the past two years is in Loch Long (near Loch Duich). In addition to legal netting, there is a long history of illegal netting of salmon, usually of the "one for the pot" for local people sort. Plenty of local anecdotes about that after a dram or two!!

Rod fisheries

There are at least 22 rivers in the Wester Ross area where anglers have targeted and taken salmon within the past 20 years. Several rivers have regularly exceeded 200 rod caught salmon in a season; the River Ewe, Gruinard River and River Carron have traditionally had the highest catch totals. Most salmon are taken during the summer months; in the past several rivers also had substantial spring fisheries for salmon. Currently, all river systems have a "catch and release" policy in place for salmon and sea trout, and the great majority of rod caught fish are returned.


  1. Graham-Stewart (2005), The Salmon Rivers of the North Highlands and the Outer Hebrides. Robert Hale Ltd, London. ISBN 0 7090 7589 8
  2. Mackenzie, O.H. (1921), A Hundred Years in the Highlands. Paperback edition, 1995, Birlinn).

Related Downloads

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  • Still too many sea lice?
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    This interactive plan provides information about pressures affecting wild salmon and sea trout populations in the Wester Ross area, and proposes a series of actions required to protect, support and strengthen wild fish populations in the Wester Ross area. Comments are welcome, please contact the WRFT Biologist at .  Posted: 05/04/2024 (372KB)
  • Rod catches of salmon 2004-2022
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  • Juvenile salmon production and nutrition in Wester Ross 2023
    This report summarises the results of the juvenile salmon survey in Wester Ross in summer and early autumn, 2023. The report focusses on contrasting the size and biomass of juvenile salmon at different sites. There was much variation in growth; some sites had high densities of larger parr; at other sites parr were small and thin. Important missing food items for parr at some sites may include caddis fly larvae, terrestrial insects, and surplus washed-out salmon eggs which in some rivers may have been of crucial importance for pre-smolt salmon parr. Is it time to provide supplementary food for juvenile salmon in some rivers? .  Posted: 05/02/2024 (1.65MB)
  • WRFT Newsletter October 2023
    This newsletter provides a summary of work during the period March to September 2023 including sea trout sampling, juvenile salmon surveys and production, workshops and some other activities. .  Posted: 07/10/2023 (2.24MB)
  • Angus's Boat song 16 April 2023 words and story
    The song Angus's boat tells the story of the fisheries around Gairloch, Wester Ross. Angus was a fisherman who lived at Big Sand, by Loch Gairloch and whose wooden row boat was pulled up on the shore by the Sound of Longa. WRFT Biologist, Peter Cunningham often met Angus on the shore when he lived nearby; Angus also told his stories to Sue Pomeroy as part of the herring fishers project. Gairloch Museum also has recorded conversations with Angus. .  Posted: 17/04/2023 (171KB)
  • Finding Salmon and Sea trout around the Wester Ross MPA
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  • Status of Juvenile Wild Salmon in Wester Ross Northwest Scotland 2022
    This report provides a summary of the results of the 2021 juvenile fish survey in the Wester Ross area, and discusses findings and associated issues relating to the conservation and management of important wild salmon populations in the northwest of Scotland .  Posted: 01/02/2022 (5.70MB)
  • Skye Fisheries Management Plan 2010
    The Skye Fisheries Management Plan was produced with support from the Scottish Government and a variety of other grant providers. The plan presents summaries of 14 rivers on Skye, assesses regional and local pressures affecting salmon and sea trout populations, and presents actions needed to support and restore wild fish populations and fisheries. .  Posted: 20/01/2020 (1.84MB)
  • First cast on the River Ewe 2017
    Alexander MacLean of Gairloch High School makes the first cast of the 2017 salmon fishing season on the River Ewe, 11th February 2017. .  Posted: 21/02/2017 (727KB)
  • Billier, Geoffrey (2014) A study of macro-invertebrates and the feeding behaviour of juvenile salmon in the Little Gruinard River SAC, 2014
    Geoffrey Billier sampled macro-invertebrates and investigate the feeding behaviour of juvenile salmon in the Little Gruinard river, during a three-month internship for WRFT, as part of his studies at Ecole Nationale Sup?rieure Agronomique de Toulouse 'ENSAT'. This report provides much new information about the biodiversity of macro-invertebrates in the river, drift patterns (day & night) and the diet of salmon fry, parr and smolts.  Posted: 30/09/2014 (3.22MB)
  • Salmon catches 2010 & 2011: three Wester Ross rivers compared
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  • Little Gruinard FMP April 2011 Part 4 & 5
    Little Gruinard River FMP April 2011 Part 4 & 5.  Posted: 03/02/2011 (3.64MB)
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    Little Gruinard River FMP April 2011.  Posted: 03/02/2011 (6.81MB)
  • Escaped farm salmon and wild salmon at Dundonnell, October 2009
    Higher resolution photograph of the two large male salmon from the Dundonnell broodfish tank, 30th October 2009. Photos of scales from each of the fish are also shown. Fish photo by Ben Rushbrooke. Thank you to Alasdair Macdonald and Dundonnell Estate for permission and support.  Posted: 18/11/2009 (2.59MB)
  • Little Gruinard juvenile fish assessment 2006 report
    This illustrated report presents the results of the 2006 WRFT Little Gruinard electro-fishing survey. Relationships between juvenile salmon abundance and habitat characteristics are discussed. The natural production of juvenile salmon in this Special Area of Conservation (SAC) for Atlantic salmon could be strengthened through restoring levels of natural fertility within the Little Gruinard catchment area.  Posted: 22/09/2008 (964KB)
  • Land Use and Salmon Smolt Production in Wester Ross
    Presentation given by Peter Cunningham at the WRFT Ecosystem Fertility and Salmon Smolt Production Seminar on 30th November 2007. Describes growth of juvenile salmon in Wester Ross and how this relates to soil fertility and land management. Note large size of file!.  Posted: 05/09/2008 (22.41MB)
  • Ecosystem Fertility & Salmon Smolt Seminar November 2007
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  • Otters and Salmon carcasses study 2002
    The findings of a study to investigate levels of mortality of salmon along spawning streams and what happens to their carcasses are reported in this report to project sponsors, the Atlantic Salmon Trust.  Posted: 18/07/2008 (3.12MB)