Whether you're fly-fishing in Devon, hiking the highlands of Scotland or bird-watching on Dartmoor, there's nothing like returning from the British countryside to a welcoming pint and a comfortable hotel at day's end.

Most of Britain's sporting hotels are small family operations, which usually means friendly, personalized service. Most are situated in or near rural areas, so they make good use of the local fish, game and produce.

Most hotels will help arrange fishing permits, tackle and flies -- and all offer useful advice on tactics. Some inns have classes with expert instructors.

All prices include double room with breakfast unless otherwise indicated. Fishing fees and equipment are extra; all fishing, unless otherwise noted, is for nonmigratory brown trout, sea-run brown trout and salmon.

*The Arundell Arms, Lifton, Devon, England. An old coaching inn, now refurbished, with a fascinating history. (A previous owner with a propensity to gamble is said to have lost the hotel after backing the wrong mollusk in a local snail race.) Some 20 miles of private fishing on five rivers; classes available. Rent a car at the Exeter train station and drive west on Rte. A30 to the hotel, about one hour away. Room prices: $55-$70.

*Carnarvon Arms, Dulverton, Somerset, England. Atraditional sporting hotel on the southern edge of Exmoor National Park, a short drive from the Taunton or Exeter train station. More than five miles of private fishing on the rivers Exe, Barle and Haddeo. Classes available. Room prices: $40-$65.

*Fox and Hounds, Eggesford, Devon, England. With seven miles of private fishing on the River Taw and the Little Dart River, this hotel is just off Rte. A377, less than an hour west of Exeter. Room prices: $30-$45.

*Silverfjord Hotel, Kingussie, Inverness-shire, Scotland. A modest little hotel, halfway between Edinburgh and Inverness, within an easy walk of the rail station and town bowling green. A good location for horseback riding or biking around the Spey River Valley. Salmon and trout fishing are available through the local anglers' association, but bring your own equipment. Room prices: $25-$35.

*Skeabost House Hotel, Skeabost Bridge, Isle of Skye, Scotland. Hard to get to, but worth the effort. Take a mainland ferry from the Kyle of Lochalsh or Mallaig and drive to Portree. From Portree, take Rte. A850 northwest, and watch out for the sheep.

Skeabost House is a stone mansion set in the trees where the River Snizort joins Loch Snizort. After a day of golf or horseback riding, you can put on a tie and shoot a round of billiards in the hotel's game room. Exclusive beats are available on the river, a prime salmon stream. Boat fishing can be arranged on Loch Snizort, and on the lovely little hill loch on the island. Room prices: $40-$65.

INFORMATION: The British Tourist Authority, 40 W. 57th St., New York, N.Y. 10019, (212) 581-4700. Ask for the brochures "Fishing '85" and "Salmon and Trout Holidays."

Detailed information on Scotland's fishing is contained in the booklet "Scotland for Fishing," available from the Scottish Tourist Board, 23 Ravelston Terrace, Edinburgh, EH4 3EU, Scotland.