A His­tory of Sal­mon Fish­ing on the River Thurso

Trout & Salmon (UK) - - FIRST CAST - By Mal­colm Dutch­man-smith. £25. Med­lar Press (01691 623 225; med­lar­press.com)

FISH­ING ON THE Thurso has un­der­gone many changes in the last 200 years. Mal­colm Dutch­man-smith has done an ex­cel­lent job of doc­u­ment­ing them in the first few chap­ters of this book. He starts with a de­scrip­tion of the river and its fish­ing, with beat maps, and then ex­plains how the fish­ery has evolved from a net-and-coble op­er­a­tion with rel­a­tively unim­por­tant an­gling also oc­cur­ring to to­day’s rod-and-line fly-fish­ing tak­ing prece­dence and the nets off. This is not a purely his­tor­i­cal tome as Dutch­man-smith has fished the river for 35 years and his love for it shines through in ev­ery chap­ter. He has filled the book with anec­dotes about the char­ac­ters who’ve fished the river, de­scrib­ing their id­iosyn­cra­cies, as well as sto­ries about that fine band of men, the gil­lies, who’ve looked af­ter them. There is a chap­ter on fish­ing tech­niques and equip­ment, but more im­por­tantly there are de­tails of the catches made over the years. These re­main sig­nif­i­cant be­cause, un­like many rivers, the Thurso is not liv­ing on past glo­ries. The record year for rod catches was in 2010, which gave 3,022 fish, while only two years ago in July 2016, some 442 were landed in one week. The book ends with de­tails of how the man­age­ment of the river passed from Lord Thurso to a new com­pany, on a 99-year lease, which even­tu­ally be­came Thurso River Ltd un­der the en­thu­si­as­tic and suc­cess­ful di­rec­tion of Si­mon Laird and fac­tor John Drum­mond. This is a use­ful read for those who've never fished this much-loved river be­fore – Peter Grubb

“The Thurso is not liv­ing off past glo­ries. The record year for rod catches was in 2010”

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