The Forss House Fishings

by Thurso, Caithness, Scotland

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The annual meeting for Forss House Fishings

Saturday 25th November 2017 at 2.00pm in the Tamdhu room of the Holiday Inn Hotel, 132 Corstorphine Road, Edinburgh, EH12 6UA.

River Opening Ceremony 2018

Owners please note that the river opening ceremony in 2018 will take place on Monday 12th February and that a bottle of Old Pulteney Whisky will be presented to the Owner catching and returning the first fresh fish after 1st April. We will also again be presenting a bottle for the largest fish caught by an Owner during the season.


Victoria Ross has taken over the Administration of the Forss House Fishings as from 26th September 2016 with Morven assisting her through to the AGM on 3rd December. Both will be attending the AGM in Edinburgh.

A big thank you to Morven for all she has done for the Fishery

FORSS RIVER OPENING DAY was held on Thursday 11th February 2016

A bright and crisp morning welcomed 25 friends of the Forss on Thursday, 11th of February for the opening of the 2016 season.

The party was led by piper John Macrae and assembled at the Falls pool.

Michael Miller of Old Pulteney Distillery Wick toasted the river with a Quaich of Old Pulteney.

Sarah Anderson made an elegant first cast to signal the start of the 2016 season.

After the ceremony all the guests retired to the Forss House Hotel where they appreciated the traditional bacon rolls and coffee served by Hotel Manager Anne Mackenzie.

Click on image to enlarge

The party was led by piper John Macrae and assembled at the Falls pool. Michael Miller of Old Pulteney Distillery Wick toasted the river with a Quaich of Old Pulteney
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Sarah Anderson made an elegant first cast to signal the start of the 2016 season.

All photographs courtesy of John Macrae


Two views of the new kitchen installed by David in the Bothy and completed in early December 2015

David has now completed his installation of the new kitchen, which he was fortunate to obtain on behalf of members in return for a £75 donation to charity.  David has done all the work himself. Well done, David! and, on behalf of all our owners, a huge 'Thank You'
Hitchen Dec 2015 Kitchen Dec 2015

FlysFlys for Sale

We now have flys of various patterns/sizes available to buy at the bothy.

The flys were tied by Pat Nicol (Thurso River Ghillie expert and fly tyer). They vary in price from £2 to £2.70 each.







River opens for business 2015

Falls of Forss - Wednesday 11th February, 2015

Blue skies, golden drams and smiling faces: Friends of Forss enjoy the Caithness fresh air, before heading to the Forss House Hotel for complimentary breakfast rolls and hot coffee.

There's always something magical about the opening day of a new salmon season, when spirits and hopes spring eternal. And our beautiful Forss River is no exception

In bright sunshine and with the backdrop of the magnificent Falls of Forss, our modest Band of Hope, ably welcomed and led by the skirl of John McRae's tuneful pipes, paid tribute to Salmo salar, the King of Fish. 

The first of these early spring travellers may well have wondered what all the fuss was about. Nobody really expects to actually catch an opening day fish, but one or two could already be nudging their way upstream, waiting for the temperature rise which will encourage them to take the falls. Until then, the bottom two beats will hold the silvery key to success.

The temperature may have nudged 6 degrees this morning, but in a light but snell breeze, it felt more like a couple of degrees above freeziing. However, Malcolm Waring, Old Pulteney Distillery manager, had a grand solution. After blessing the river, the fish and the season ahead by distilling a quaich of whisky into the peat-coloured waters, there was an ample sufficiency of more to warm the hearts of the anglers.

The first cast was ably, graciously and gracefully made by Helen Gordon, our Fishery Superintendent David Holmes' partner. 



The honour of first cast this season was ably and graciously made by Helen Gordon, our Fishery Superintendent's partner. David Holmes had obviously lent a guiding hand to ensure the fly found its mark. Our Fishery Administrator Morven Coghill ensured that everything else went smoothly.

Malcolm Waring, Old Pulteney Distillery manager, toasts Salmo salar, the Atlantic salmon and the start of the 2015 season on the River Forss, Wednesday 11th February.

If the whisky also did the business, then the welcoming hot crispy bacon butties and coffee at the Forss House Hotel were equally appreciated and there was no rush to see whether indeed there was a fresh fish awaiting our attentions.

As a conservation measure towards early spring salmon, The Scottish government has introduced a strict catch and release policy for all salmon up to April 1

The lucky Forss angler to successfully land and release the first salmon of the season will however have the compensation of knowing their fish will continue on its travels upstream over the falls. A fishing companion for more than 40 years, Borrobol ghillie Johnnie Hardy once told me that the Helmsdale fish didn't run the falls until the frogs crossed the road. Both fish and amphibians of course are dependent on warmer temperatures to give Nature a nudge.  The bonus for the lucky angler on the Forss to land that elusive first fish, will be he or she also lands a bottle of Old Pulteney's best

I'll drink to that!

Mike Shepley


A further note from Mike Shepley:

"The new season is well and truly underway although the river could benefit from some rain: it will take a rise in water levels perhaps before the first fish comes to the net.

 Thanks go to David Holmes for deputising for Chairman Robin Mackinlay and Board Member Michael Wycherley in their absence. And we wish them both well and a speedy return to the river.

Thanks too to Morven Coghill on opening day for assisting with photographs as well as her own duties as Fishery Administrator.

For 2015, all spring salmon have to be returned by law until April 1. The now traditional bottle of Old Pulteney donated by Malcolm Waring will go to the first angler to catch and release a spring salmon. It is essential to photograph the fish and if possible, carefully weigh or measure the salmon before release. And to notify the River Superintendent at the earliest opportunity.

If necessary, salmon should be carefully held, head upstream in the current to regain strength, before being released to swim off under their own power. TIGHT LINES - THE FORSS IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS..

.All photographs taken, with many thanks, by our Piper John McRae "


 Important New Legislation 

All rods should be aware that it is now illegal, under the Conservation of Salmon (Annual Close Times and Catch and Release) (Scotland) Regulations, which came into force on 9th January, to kill any salmon, by rod and line or nets, before 1st April.  

Further information is available at: 

If there is an accidental killing of a fish, the act stipulates that it must be “returned to the river”.

The Wild Fisheries Review (WFR) Proposed New Legislation 

The report of the independent Wild Fisheries Review (WFR), was published in October 2014. It makes 53 wide ranging, and some would say draconian, recommendations for change to the management system for wild fisheries in Scotland.  

The full report is available on:

The most important of the recommended changes are the introduction of a new central, and clearly expensive, bureaucratic system of management boards, a ban on the killing of wild salmon except under licence, the introduction of an advance licensing system for the catching and killing of salmon and the tagging of killed fish. There are many others.

They are set out in detail on:

Consultation on the Proposed New Legislation

The Scottish Government has committed to consult in Spring 2015 on broad policy options for a new fisheries management system followed by further consultation on a draft wild fisheries bill before the end of the Parliamentary session.

 Details of this consultation process are set out in a document entitled “Consultation on proposed conservation measures to introduce a licensing system for killing wild salmon in Scotland”. It isavailable on:

Rod owners are encouraged to make their own views known via the consultation process.

Members Area

It has been decided to close the Members' Area of the website.

The decision was taken because of a problem with the suppliers of the software and data base used for the area. Also because less than 40% of our members had registered to use it and only 10% had looked at it in the past three months it was thought not worthwhile to re-invest in another Members' Area.

All items of general interest have been transferred to the open website. Members wishing to see the more confidential information e.g. Accounts, Budgets, AGM papers e.t.c. can request the Administrator to send them by email or post.


11th February 2015