High Above The Halladale
Trout & Salmon|October 2017

Finlay Wilson and friends hunt hill loch trout in Caithness.

Finlay Wilson

IF A GOOD old-fashioned stomp in the hills chasing wild trout ever takes your fancy, and it really should, then the dizzying choice of waters run by the recently formed Forsinard Fly Fishers’ Club is worth serious attention.

We’re not exactly short of hills, trout lochs and wide open spaces with arresting views in the north but the many waters that pepper the higher ground in the Strath Halladale area are right up there in the desirability stakes. Over several visits in the last decade I’ve been fortunate enough to fish a fair few of them and caught several memorable fish, and yet always come away with an impression that the surface has merely been scratched.

Set up as a not-for-profit organisation, the FFFC aims to enhance the fishing in the area for the local community and visiting anglers. Now in its second year it is already doing a fine job of managing and coordinating 41 lochs. There are, undoubtedly, waters to suit all tastes and abilities.

On this trip, my plan was to spend two full days in the rarified heights of the Flow Country to hit lochs – and the list is long – under the club’s West Halladale banner. The A897 road north of Forsinard follows the Halladale as it tumbles to the sea and the golden sands of Melvich Bay. In the hills either side of the strath there are numerous lochs, though there is a particularly rich seam of waters to the west.

The ones we were aiming for can be accessed from just off the A897 or by following a rough track south from Strathy and approaching them from the west. However, we were staying in Strath Halladale and therefore parked at Upper Bighouse to approach from the east. This involves a particularly steep climb at the start, especially on this day to side-step the (slightly) less severe track where a very hard-looking bull stood. The chances were that it was a big pussycat – most of them are docile beasts – but none of us fancied taking the risk of having to outrun it if push came to shove, not at the best of times, never mind with backpacks and fishing clobber.

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