Tuesday, 14 August 2018

River Dee Grilse

I was out on the River Dee for a cast last Saturday for a few hours and despite the low water conditions, I was fortunate enough to land a nice fresh grilse around the 5lb mark. The fish hammered the fly just as I was lifting it off the water to recast. It's always good to get a bonus fish when you least expect it! Hopefully the rain forecast for the coming weeks will get the river on the rise again and encourage a few more of these feisty grilse to run.
A cracking River Dee grilse in prime condition.
The same photo as above but turned round.
An underwater photo of the salmon being returned.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

A Trip To Remember! Carlogie - River Dee

I had my annual couple of days fishing on the Carlogie beat of the River Dee at the beginning of last week and what a few days it turned out to be!! Philip and I always take the first few days of the week and in recent years we have been very unlucky with the river conditions. The rain has usually arrived midweek and gave the lads fishing the tail end the best of the sport so you can imagine our delight to see heavy rain over the catchment a few days before our arrival. In fact, it rained right up until Sunday night. This was just what we needed after a prolonged drought.
A nice salmon from the River Dee at Carlogie last week.
I ventured over on Sunday night to meet up with good pals, Philip Black and Ade Warburton at the cottage on Ballogie Estate. It was great to catch up and have a laugh with the lads again but as the river had just had it's first proper rise for months, the drinks, for me anyway, were limited to a handful of beers. Knowing that the Pumphouse Pool down in the tidal reaches was stuffed full of fresh grilse and that Park had had a decent week prior to our arrival, we knew the fish would be on the move so it were off to bed around midnight to get up and at them fresh in the morning.

Philip enjoying a dram on the Sunday evening in the estate cottage.
As we had all tackled up the night before so it was just a case of putting on the waders, so after a coffee and a bacon and egg roll we headed off down to the hut around 8am. On our way to the beat I stopped off to check the gauge on Potarch Bridge and was delighted to see the river sitting around the 1ft mark. This was as near to ideal as we could have hoped for so it was a quicker than usual drive down to the hut at the Calm Pool!
The main hut on the beat at Carlogie.
After the customary dram to toast the river, we made the draw as to what pools we were to fish. I drew the middle part of the beat to begin with and that included the Calm Pool outside the hut. As were were preparing to start, Philip noticed a fish show and encouraged me to go and have a cast at it. I grabbed my 12ft 6in LTS Explosive matched up with a #8/9 Floating shooting head and a 10ft 5.6ips tip. As the river was a bit dirty and carrying a heavy peat stain, I opted to tie on a Sunray Shadow.
My first fish of day 1 - a sea trout around the 2b mark.
I entered the river about 50 yards above where the fish showed an begun fishing my way down the pool. I could have only made about a dozen casts when I had a good thumping hit on my Sunray. A nice sea trout soon made itself known and Philip and Ade were on hand to slip the net under it. It weighed around the 2lb mark and was swiftly returned. A good start to the week!
Success! A nice salmon comes to hand on Monday morning.

A quick photo before returning it.
After returning the sea trout I continued my way down the pool. Just around where Philip had seen the salmon show a earlier, I made a long cast and began slowly stripping in the fly. I pulled in all my running line and was slowly raising the rod to fish out the remainder of the cast when I had a boil at the fly. At that point, the fish grabbed it and took off across the stream! I held on tight to set the hook and the began trying to get some of my running line back on to the reel. Thankfully the fish was fighting hard so it took a lot of the running line with it as it ran down stream. I soon had the fish under control and was enjoying the battle on my 12ft 6in Explosive rod. I was hoping it would stay and as I hadn't landed a fish on the rod yet. Stay on it did and after a good scrap Philip slid the net under a slightly coloured salmon of around the 9lb mark. It was still only 10.20am and I had caught more fish in an hour than I had the 3 years previous years put together!  fished out the remainder of the pull without a touch.

Philip with his first fish of the trip - a nice salmon also around the 8/9lb mark.

Philips second fish on quick succession. A wee coloured grilse.
Philip had went to fish his allocated pools and had returned having not touched a fish. Ade soon returned and had landed a salmon from the Mill Pool. I invited Philip to have a cast in the Calm Pool as I had a beer and minutes after starting he was bent into a good fish. Ade and I made our way over and the fish was soon in the net. Another slightly coloured fish around the 8lb mark but a very welcome one! It was quickly returned and Philip carried on down the pool. No sooner had he started fishing again when his rod buckled over and he was into another one. This was a slightly bigger fish and it was soon subdued and in the net. Again, a slightly coloured fish this one being around the 7lb mark. What a morning!! 4 salmon and sea trout and it was just 12 noon! Not wanting to be outdone I headed back out into the Calm Pool for another go and began stripping my Sunray across the pool. I couldn't believe my luck when it was wolfed down by a fresh looking fish. I played the fish hard and had it beat and ready for landing. I attempted to pull it onto the shingle when the hook came out the the fish sped off back into the deeper water! It was right at my feet and I was cursing not landing it. Still, it was hard to be too down beat given the morning we'd had. At this point, lunch was not high on our agenda but we had a quick bite to eat before heading off to fish Alan's Pool at the top of the beat.

Looking down Alan's Pool from the high bank.
Ade with his fish from Alan's Pool.
An underwater photo of the fish ready from release.
Alan's Pool is tricky to fish and even more tricky to land a fish on your own so we all headed up to the pool to assist whoever was fishing it. Ade fished down the pool first and he was half way down when his fly was taken by a good fish. It fought hard in the current and with the high bank behind, playing the fish was proving difficult as is kept coming into the deep water on our side. Thankfully we were there and Philip slid down the bank just in time to net a good fish of around 8lb. Again, it was a coloured but it was a good gauge that the water temperature had dropped and the fresh water coming down the river had turned the older fish on again. Philip and I both took a turn of fishing the pool but neither of us could get anything to stick so we decided to make our way back down to the hut for a drink.

Philip ready with the net as Ade guide the fish within striking distance. 
Another sea trout. This time taken on a 3/4" Pink Frances.
On arrival to the hut, I decided to skip the drink and have a cast with a heavier fly since the pool had been fished several times before. I opted for a 3/4" Pink Frances and worked it down the pool. Not long after starting I had a good take and lifted into a fish. It was another sea trout but good to get another bend in the rod. It was quickly landed and was slightly larger than the other one I caught and we estimated it around the 3lb mark. It was not raining heavily again so I stopped fishing to sit it out in the hut for a while.
Worth getting wet for! My second salmon of the day. This time from the Lucky Hole.
The rain was failing hard and showed no signs of stopping. I thought this might have got a fish or two excited so I put on my jacket and headed back up to the top of the Calm Pool for another go while Ade and Philip took a time out in the hut. I fished out the Calm Pool with moving a fish but as I entered the Lucky Hole I had a cracking hit on the Sunray and I lifted into a good fish. I shouted to Ade and Philip that I was into a fish and the duly appeared to assist me in the pouring rain. I played the fish hard and soon had it near to the bank where Ade was standing with the net. The fish obviously didn't want it's photo taken and headed off back to it's lie at a rate of knots! As it did this, it swan through Ade's legs and this caused much hilarity as he tried to free the line and I held on to the fish. Thankfully the fish didn't come off. It was back under control and I slipped it into the waiting net. Another coloured fish around the 8lb mark was quickly photographed and released. What a day!

Ade and Philip drying out in front of the fire in the hut. 
We sat in the hut toasting the incredible day we'd been having but we felt there was still a fish to be had before the day was out. As we had all fished Alan's Pool and seen a few fish showing, Philip was keen for another go so we headed off upstream to have one final run down the pool before dark. I was content with my day so decided to ghillie for the other lads. Ade entered the top of the pool whilst Philip started half way down. Just as Philip neared the hot spot in the middle of the pool his line went tight and he lifted into a strong fish. The fish fought hard but Philip soon had in in the net. It was another slightly coloured fish around the 7-8lb mark but we weren't caring what colour they were, we were all just delighted to see the Dee on top form whilst we were there.
Philip into a fish in Alan's Pool on Day 1. He landed a nice fish around the 7/8lb mark not long after this photo was taken.
To finish Day 1 with 7 salmon and 2 sea trout was a fantastic tally for three rods. We couldn't have wished for better conditions after a prolonged drought and it was great to see the fish were on the move and willing to take a fly. We headed home for some celebratory drinks and to reminisce about the day we just had. The FishDee beats finished up with 42 for the day with Carlogie sitting top of the table. We were certainly looking forward to the next day!
Looking upstream in the Boat Pool.
Our second day started the same way as our first - with a cup of coffee and a bacon roll. This set us up for what we hoped was to be another good day on the river. The river had dropped slightly and was sitting at around 8" on the bridge gauge. The colour had also came out of it although, it was still a nice peaty colour. Just how I like it on the Dee. We arrived at the beat around 8.30am and got our gear on. We toasted the river with another dram and headed off to our allocated pools. I was to fish the Boat and Village Pools down the bottom of the beat.
Looking downstream from the Boat Pool and into the Village Pool.
After only a few casts in the Boat Pool on Day 2 I landed this grilse around the 5lb mark.
The Boat Pool is a nice bit of water with a fast flowing neck which cascades over bedrock and large boulders before slowing down and leveling off in the Village Pool. I started off up at the big stone on the bank which is named - Elephant Rock. I tore off a few yards of running line and cast out my Sunray Shadow across the stream. I got as much line out as I needed a few casts later and as soon as my Sunray came out the faster water, it was hit hard by a lively fish. The fish used the current to it's advantage and bore into the bed rock in an attempt to free the hook. It's not the easiest place to land a fish on your own but I managed to subdue it enough to beach a nice wee grilse around the 5lb mark between a couple of rocks. Just like yesterday, it was a good start to my day. I fished out the remainder of the pool without a touch so I headed off back to the hut.

Looking upstream in Alan's Pool just as the sun was going down.
On arrival to the hut I was met by Philip who was on his way up to fish Alan's. I jumped in his motor to join him. I ghillied for Philip as he waded down the edge of the pool but unlike yesterday, the fish didn't seem to be showing the same and the journey up proved to be a fruitless one. We made our way back to the hut and were greeted by Ade who had a big grin on his face. He had just landed a couple of fresh fish fro Jock Rae! Three salmon before lunch was another great start to our day.
Walking down to the Mill Pool. I never tire of this sight and always take a photo of the old mill.
An old sea trout around the 3lb mark from the Mill Pool.
Fishing down the Mill Pool.
After lunch, I headed upstream to fish the Mill Pool. I took two rods with me and I opted to fish the pool down first with my trusty Sunray shadow. I waded out a bit at the neck of the pool and cast the fly over into the slack water at the other side of the run. I began to strip the fly back and it was immediately snaffled by a fish! It was splashing about a bit and it was soon apparent that I was into a nice sea trout. After a brief tussle, I beached the sea trout which would have tipped the scales at around the 3lb mark. It was quickly returned and I went back into the pool where I came out. I had another dozen casts or so and my fly was hammered again! I lifted into, what felt like a good fish but no sooner had it took my fly, it spat it out again. I carried on down the pool but didn't connect with anything else so I headed off back to the hut to see if I could meet up with the the other lads.
Philip with his fish of around 10lb from the Mill Pool.
I met up with Ade at the hut and we had a drive about to see if we could find Philip. He was nowhere to be seen so we ended up back at the hut. No sooner had we arrived at the hut when Philip phoned. he was into a fish up in the Mill Pool so we jumped back in the motor and made our way up. We arrived just in time to get the net under a nice fish of around 10lb. That took our tally to four for the day. This time, we did end up back at the hut where we enjoyed a sandwich and a drink before deciding what to do next.
Philip launching a Snake Roll cast in Pitslug.
I had to leave the river around 6pm to head home so I offered my rod to Bill Cook to fish as he was over to stay the night in the cottage anyway and just enjoy the craic. He duly accepted and it wasn't long before he had his name in the book with a nice clean fish from Jock Rae. As it happened, that turned out to be the last action of the day. We finished up with 5 salmon and a sea trout. Another good day!

I think this video sums up our couple of days very nicely!

Despite the decent river conditions, the rest of the week wasn't as productive as the first half. The cloudless skies and bright conditions had returned but I believe there were 11 fish hooked on the Wednesday with only 1 landed by David Macdonald. Some you win, some you lose but at least the fish were still running it seemed. The water temperature was creeping up again as well which didn't help either.The final tally for the week was 16 salmon/grilse and 4 sea trout which is pretty good going for a 3 rod beat. I was just lucky to have been there when the water came and the fish got excited. It hasn't happened for us these past few years so it was good to be there at the right time for a change. Here's hoping we get more of the same next year!