The River Conon season runs from February 11th to September 30th. The first fresh fish are usually caught in late March, with mid-April to mid-May being the most productive time for spring salmon. Water levels can be very high in the spring, and spinning is permitted on most beats throughout April. The grilse runs usually begin in late June and continue throughout August, the most productive month, and into early September. The Lower Blackwater tributary can fish well in the late spring, but salmon don’t generally arrive in the Upper Blackwater until June, with August and September being the best months.
The River Alness is considered a ‘late river’ with spring salmon arriving later than on the Conon and runs of grilse and summer/autumn salmon continuing into early October. The Alness season runs from 1st April to 31st October. There is a small run of quality spring salmon from early May to mid-June, but the main runs of grilse and summer salmon start in early July. Given rain and good water levels, sport can be excellent through the summer months, with August through to early October regarded as the prime months.
Casting for gold on a hill loch
Most of the lochs in Easter Ross open on April 1st and close on 30th September, though there are some minor variations around these dates from loch to loch. Typically shallow and/or low lying lochs will start to fish well in early April, though it may be sometime later before the trout are in peak condition. It takes much longer for the water temperature to rise in hill lochs, and those with deeper water, so depending on spring weather some of these lochs may only really start to fish at their best in June, though they can then fish well throughout the summer.
The salmon fishing on the River Alness is owned or controlled by four parties. The Novar Fishings control the majority of the fishings which are split into two different stretches of water, both double-banked. The upper Novar beats start below Loch Morie and extend for about 3 miles downstream to the junction with the Blackwater. The lower Novar beats start about 2.3 miles further downstream and extend for a further 3.7 miles ending just north of the town of Alness
Between the two stretches of river owned by Novar, Kildermorie Estate own about 0.8 miles of single-bank fishing below the Blackwater and Ardross Castle Estate own a stretch of about 1.5 miles directly below the Kildermorie waters. Both estates generally reserve their salmon fishing for estate guests only. Alness Angling Club control about 2.1 miles of fishing directly below the lower Novar beats to the estuary on the Cromarty Firth.
The River Alness typically produces rod catches of 600-800 salmon & grilse each season of which about two thirds are caught on the Novar Fishings' beats.
Novar Fishings on the Alness.
The largest of Ross-shires rivers flows eastward to enter the tidal waters of the Cromarty Firth. It has four main tributaries, the Black Water, Bran, Meig and the Orrin. In the 1950s the Hydro Power Board constructed 9 dams and 6 power stations for generating electricity. Although most of the dams have a fish pass or a Borland lift very few salmon reach the spawning areas above them.
The river levels are maintained by compensation flow, that is until the power stations start to generate, then the levels can rise at an alarming rate. Below Torr Achilty dam/power station on the Conon, the river flows for 2 miles where it is joined by the Black Water and 2 miles further downstream by the River Orrin. From the junction of the Orrin the river flows for 3 miles to the tidal pools at the rivers mouth.
Brahan beat on the Connon.