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Water levels as low as 1976 on River Thurso

By Georgia Clyne

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WATER levels on the River Thurso have been at their lowest in decades during the recent dry spell, according river expert Eddie McCarthy.

Mr McCarthy, who retired as river superintendent in 2016, has manned the river for 37 years and says that the dry weather of the past few weeks has resulted in water levels comparable to those in the 1976 heatwave.

Levels in 1984 were similarly low.

One or two anglers have travelled up for pre-booked fishing trips only to change their plans after seeing the low water.

However, overall this has had minimal impact on the river angling business, according Mr McCarthy.

“The anglers are usually quite hardy,” he said. “They’ll take their golf clubs up or will go trout fishing.”

Despite the rain returning on Monday, Mr McCarthy is unsure when the water levels will return to normal. “We need 72 hours of proper rain for it to rise. We need much, much more but I don’t know when it’ll come. There’s been nothing in the forecast.”

Anthony Kevill, general manager of the Ulbster Arms Hotel, said: “A few salmon are still being caught, albeit not in the same numbers as recent years.

“We had a German guest persevere all week in tough fishing conditions and his efforts were rewarded with two fish on Saturday morning, which just goes to show that with a bit of determination and a positive attitude the line could go tight on any cast!”

The lack of rain has not affected the number of salmon in the river. “They’re hiding in the holes of the estuary,” Mr McCarthy said. “They are there – just waiting to come up once the river rises again.”

Mr Kevill agreed with this, saying: “We are hoping for some rain and when it does arrive we are confident that normal summer fishing business will resume.”

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