The River

The River Snizort

The River Snizort is the most celebrated spate river on The Isle of Skye. Three Esses Ltd operates the fishing for nearly the entire length of the river - some eight miles. There are twelve beats on the river running to the sea loch estuary from the flats in the hills. Wild Brown Trout abound throughout the river and are always game to attack anything from a 22 hook to a full grown salmon fly. The Sea Trout have a similar attitude and follow the Salmon all the way up the river and even up the seven foot jump at the Falls ( Beat 9). The Salmon are up and down the river all year round but the big runs go from the end of June or the beginning of July depending on the flood tides, to the end of the season ( starts February 11th - ends October 15th ) and they find their way up the ten miles to the feeder loch (Loch Duagrich) at the head of the Snizort. Their journey can often be broken by the receding spate when they hold in the numerous pools along their route.

We offer fly-casting lessons and guides (the word for a fishing guide in Scotland is "Ghillie ") for your trip.

We operate Catch and Return for salmon and sea trout.

We're pleased to announce that we've now signed a lease with the new owners of the Fishing Rights to the river and so it's business as usual.                           


                         SPECIAL OFFER FOR 2017

The Gate House is available for anglers wishing to stay in unabashed comfort not 40 yds from the river at a reduced rate. See the accommodation page.

Summary of 2016

Salmon  101

Sea Trout  34

Brown Trout  Dozens - Largest of the season 2 1/2 lb.

2012 was the driest on Skye in recorded history. 2013 wasn't a record beater but was actually worse because although there were more days of rain the rain levels were low and therefore spates even rarer, and 2014 and 2015 were just as bad.

Although we saw more rain in 2016 than the preceding four seasons we still had some long dry spells when we least needed them and the last three weeks, when the river was popping with fish, were mostly dry. But we shouldn't complain as 101 salmon was a 45% increase on 2015. What happened to our sea trout catch is a bit of a mystery. We don't believe it was poor health as the fish we did book were in very good condition with very little damage evident from sea lice. Also our Skye biologist carried out a netting survey in the loch and caught some really big specimens (up to 3 1/2 lbs) which were of course returned unharmed.

Don't forget that we have lots of brown trout in the river also, particularly at the top of the river. Many of our early season fishermen are only interested in the brownies and last year gave us some great sport. 

The highlights of the season were Dowsett's 22lb fresh run cock salmon ( personal best on the river) and a 20lb fresh cock fish caught by 14 year old Mark MacQueen. It took him an hour to play the fish to the bank by which time he was 100yds downstream from the take point.

Finally, we were out on the upper reaches of the river in October and November to net some of our salmon and strip their eggs and milt (sperm) to put in our incubation tanks at the hatchery. We collected 8,200 eggs which are now well on their way to hatching.







Dowsett Grilse






Diary of 2016

We don't include every day's news but significant days are shown for the season

Opening Day 11th February

Only six rods out in low water however Callum Gillies managed to hook two fish on their way back to sea.

24th March

Early show of sea trout. Dowsett gets two sea trout at 2 lbs and loses a salmon. Couldn't tell whether it was a kelt or an early fish.

26th March

Steve MacLaughlin catches his first ever sea trout 2lbs. Fresh as a daisy.

28th March

Lorna Collins. First time with a fly rod catches a nice 1 1/2 lb sea trout.

21st May

SALMON ARE IN - Then they disappeared over the next few weeks with no spates since April.  

30 th June

3:30 pm on the incoming tide. Good fish showing in the sea loch right up to the sea pool. After no spates since April it's raining and the big tides are coming next week. Looks very promising.

1st July

Salmon are now in the sea pool. It's raining and the river's rising slowly at last.

Louis Ott 2nd July

2nd July

Louis Ott from Maine catches the first salmon of the season. A beautiful silver grilse. It was Louis's first salmon ever - on his third cast. See photo.




Ian Stewart's first of the season

7th July

  Ian Stewart's first of the season -10lb hen followed by another and a sea trout. See photo. Craig Ross gets his first salmon and Jaap Wietje gets a nice 2lb. sea trout. His first fish on a fly. Dowsett gets his first of the season - 6lb grilse straight in. All the fish are silver. Two rods still out.


8th June

Tracy Range from Dallas, Texas banks a 17lb fresh run hen. No photo but witnessed and weighed by the ghillie. Congratulations Ma'am.


Mark's 20lb monster

18th July. Young Mark MacQueen has a heroic one hour battle with this 20lb cock fish. Very many congratulations Mark.


18th July

A good day. Dowsett gets a 22lb cock fish. Jamie MacPherson gets his first salmon and young Mark MacQueen excels himself.


21st July
Sarah Grayson First Day with a Fly Rod

21st July

Mark Staudenmeir gets his first salmon ever and so does Sarah Grayson who's never held a fly rod before today. Guided to her fish by ghillie Garry Shaw. Both fish caught on a Dowsett Dog. Congratulations to you both.




Mark Staudenmeier's First Salmon
Mark Staudenmeir's First Salmon

8th August

John Young starts his season with a brace of silver hen salmon above the falls. A good morning's work.




12th August

Robert MacQueen gets two grilse and a salmon in his evening sortie .... and a lamb which he rescued from an angry river.


13th August A good day on the river

13 fish taken today, only one of which was a sea trout. John Young books three grilse and a salmon in his half day. Very well done John.

31st August

Not a bad day. Five salmon and three sea trout with more rods to report.

31st August / 1st September

Two good days. Three salmon and two sea trout for John Marchington, two salmon for Garry Shaw and three salmon for Donjie Ross.




9th September

Vincent MacFarlane visits Scotland from Boston Mass. hoping to hook a Scottish wild salmon. His trip to the Spey produces no results sadly so he comes to Skye for another try and lands three silver grilse on his first day on the river. Photos later. Congratulations to you.




7th October

That's 100 salmon in the book. The 100th being caught by a very tenacious William Ramsay. Thank you very much William.

Diary for 2017

17th June

After 8 weeks without a spate the rain's started and the salmon are coming in. None brought to the bank yet. We've been catching a good few brown trout and sea trout though. More rain forecast and big tides later this week. Geronimo.


24th June First Salmon to the bank
1st salmon of 2017

Robert MacQueen banks this fresh-in 8lb hen and loses a bigger one in his lunch break. Well done Robert.

A Good Morning for Ian stewart
One of Ian's 5 in a morning

28th July

A personal lifetime best for Ian. One morning brought him five salmon and 9 sea trout to the bank. Congratulations Ian.

Slawomir Kowal's First Ever Salmon
24th August Slawomir's First Ever Salmon

A Good Day for Firsts

24th August

Tony Biddell 14 years old takes his first Snizort salmon at 11 lb followed by another at 6lb. Very well done young man. Polish visitor Slawomir Kowal and friends drive all the way from Poland for their first ever salmon but draw a blank after three days on the river Dee, then come to the Snizort and, ghillied by DD, Slawomir puts his first ever salmon in the book. Congratulations.

25th August

Slawomir's fishing buddy banks his first ever salmon. Congratulations Cezary Poniatowski. Come again.



Another First for Cezary Poniatowski

This is another first salmon ever. The smallest in the book. Small is beautiful.

And another first

7th September

Joe Heine spent two weeks on the big four rivers last year after his first Scottish salmon but sadly didn't get one, so this year he thought he'd try the Highlands. The Snizort delivers a cock fish on the third cast. Photo later.

And another - 29th September

Adam Rainston banks his first salmon ever and will be back again.


30 September - a good day

A good day for the ghillie and the dentist. Dowsett banks four salmon and and Dave Brampton 3 in half a day.

Three Esses Ltd

Three Esses Ltd is owned by Derek Dowsett who cast his first fly into the River Spey at the age of 10. The love of Scotland's salmon rivers and fly-fishing started at that moment.
At the beginning of 2005 the company became the owners of the salmon hatchery on the banks of the River Snizort and took a lease on 8 precious miles of the river. Having been silent for four years the hatchery was  brought back to life that winter, when the Salmon re-stocking programme began. With the assistance of some of the Salmon supporters on the island the resident fish are stripped and released. The eggs are hatched and the fry liberated in carefully chosen nurseries along the river.  More Snizort fry ( up to 10,000 a year ) have been released into the river every year since then and so it will continue until our stocks are back to the levels of the early 1990's.

We have caught very respectable numbers from 2005. Record low rainfall in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and 2014  seriously reduced our days on the river and dropped our catch numbers proportionately, but there is little doubt that anglers are witnessing the return of The Isle of Skye spate river as a challenging alternative to mainland rivers.

The catch record for 2005 was nearly four times greater than 2004, making our final numbers 116 Salmon and 88 Sea Trout.

The 2006 season suffered from lack of Skye's usual generous rainfall but still made totals well over the 2004 season.

2007 gave us 193 salmon, and despite poor rainfall in 2008 we still booked 155.

2009 gave us an even drier summer kept the salmon down to just 6 less than 2008 but the sea trout numbers were up by 20 %.

2010 was unseasonably dry but nevertheless we booked another record for Three Esses time on the river - 204 salmon and 89 sea trout.

2011 was the driest since we started here but we still booked 157 salmon.

2012 No - 2012 was even drier but we still booked 108 salmon and 71 sea trout.

2013 No- 2013 and 2014 were drier still but we're still hovering in the high 80's for salmon and high 50's for sea trout.
The Snizort has not made better figures since 1992.
The company mission is to "Save Wild Salmon ". As far as Three Esses is concerned we have engaged in a labour of love - for the fish and the sport and all that goes with it, and we need the support of you anglers who share our belief and true love of the sport.
Come prepared with a single handed 11ft. rod and a two handed 13 footer. The spates on The Snizort are so radical that you need to be ready for anything.
If you're an uninitiated Salmon angler you can hire your rods and equipment from The Ghillie's Office and book casting lessons and a ghillie at the same time. The rates are shown on the "permit prices " page, and are dependent on the time of year you intend to visit.

The Ghillie's Office
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Here's the ghillie's office where many a dram and a fishy tale have passed the lips of Snizort anglers.

Derek Dowsett with a Fine Hen
Derek Dowsett with a Fine Hen

The proud father. At the end of the season we'll be taking eggs from fine specimens such as this to incubate and return until we're happy we have a sustainable stock of wild native salmon.

The Ghillies Office and Hatchery
Image 1






In the foreground of the shot are the two incubating tanks capable of holding up to 60,000 eggs each.

Stripping a Salmon hen
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Each winter we make our treck to the spawning grounds along the Snizort where we net the fish and gently remove their eggs and milt. The eggs are then placed in incubation tanks where they are kept in dark and quiet condition until they begin to hatch the following Spring.

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