Sunday, 30 December 2012

Feather Wings For The Spring

Having been inspired by a couple of books I've read recently I thought I'd tie up some patterns on single hooks. I tied up a few Blue Charms, Akroyd and Logie flies to use on the Dee and Don this coming Spring. I've always wanted to try and catch a Salmon on a traditional pattern tied on a single hook but I've only ever landed a kelt. This March I landed a big kelt on the Don which had taken my Musker's Fancy at the tail of the Manse pool.

I used the dressings for the Akroyd and Blue Charm from the book "A Guide to Salmon Flies" by John Buckland and Arthur Oglesby (1990). The Logie dressing was taken from the book "Salmon Fishing, The Greased Line on Dee, Don and Earn" by Frederick Hill (1948). As some of the materials used in the original patterns are too precious to be wasted by me I have used alternatives in my tying. I have the utmost respect for the tiers of Classic salmon flies as they use so many different materials and take amazing skill to construct. These flies are quite rightly classed as an art form and to tie them in hand without a vice would take unbelievable talent. It took me all my time to tie them in a vice with modern materials! I like to read this cracking website about all types and tying of Classic Salmon Flies. It can be found by clicking on this link.

As this is my last post of 2012 I'd like to wish everyone a Happy New Year and Tight Lines for 2013.

Blue Charm. Made famous by A.H.E Wood on the Cairnton beat of the Dee. This fly accounted for hundreds of salmon during his time there.

Logie. To quote Frederick Hill from his book, "One of our most deadly flies from early April onwards."

Akroyd. A classic Dee pattern which has all the colours we associate with modern Spring flies today. I have tied this with a white wing but it's also tied with a cinnamon turkey wing.

Saturday, 8 December 2012


It's that time of year again when I begin booking all my fishing for next season and I remembered about a wee video I made back in February. I have no idea what I done with the original which I thought was on You Tube but it's nowhere to be seen. I have tinkered with it a bit and this is the remastered version. Not great quality but a good look at this fantastic area of Deeside and my favourite beat. Roll on February 2013.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

River Dee Tributaries

During last week I had been working in several places in the Deeside area. When I'm working up this direction I always make sure I carry my camera in the van because you just never know what you might see whilst out walking on your lunch hour. Also, as it's the month of November, there is always a chance of seeing hen salmon cutting redds or cock fish battling it out for position next to the hens.

On Friday, I was at a quiet little village called Finzean (pronounced "Fing-in"). For anyone who doesn't know, Finzean is situated roughly between Banchory and Aboyne and is a stones throw from the banks of the Dee's biggest tributary, Water of Feugh. So during my lunch hour I took a short drive up to the picturesque Forest of Birse which the water of Feugh flows through. This is a place I spent many weekend's with my family during the summers and it's a place I am really fond of. As it was late November I had possibly missed most of the main spawning activity but I did see some fish, notably a dead cock salmon and a rather lathargic one resting near the bank. With my time limited, I only travelled as far as the old mill but the salmon head much further up this beautiful wee river. I'll leave that for another day. Here are some pictures I took on my walk about.

Water of Feugh near Forest of Birse. With plenty cover and perfect gravel for cutting redds, this makes an ideal place for salmon to spawn and parr to flourish.
A cock fish which might have been about 9lbs or so lying on the bank. It looked as though it was spent and was quite heavily damaged due to fighting it's way up the falls and jostling for position on the redds.

A close up shot of the salmon's head just to show the damage to it's underside. It had marks like this all down it's body and bits of tail and fin were missing. Mostly all male salmon die after spawning so this one has done what nature intended.
Click on the picture for a closer look. This is a cock salmon about a foot from the edge of the river. It too looked like it was spent and is likely to die shortly. This fish had white fungal markings to it's tail area. 

I also stopped in past at Crathes Castle on my run back to take some photographs of the fish pass installed at the dam on the Coy Burn. This fish pass has opened up many miles of new spawning grounds to salmon and sea trout and it was a success almost immediately. Much more information on the Coy Burn can be found by clicking here and if you would like to read about other studies and projects carried out by the excellent biologists and staff working for the River Dee click here. Well worth a read in my opinion and a great way to find out about salmon habitat etc. Below is a picture of the fish pass.
The fish pass installed at the dam on the Coy Burn near Crathes Castle. Plenty salmon have run up this pass to new spawning ground and this will be of huge benefit to the River Dee in future.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Green Highlander Variant

Although not a fly I've used much, I tied up this Green Highlander variant to try out next season. I tied up a couple very similar last year too if I remember correctly but never used them. Since my fly boxes are re-stocked for Spring already, I'm just tying up a few one offs. I don't really use any flies with green in them but this one looks nice. We shall see what Salmo Salar thinks!
Green Highlander Variant tied on a Yuri Shumakov tube.
A front on view showing the profile of the fly from a different angle.
The dressing is as follows:

Brass Yuri Shumakov Long Range Tube
Rib: Glo Brite Lime Green #12 (wound into grooves on tube)
Underwing: Orange Templedog, Orange Krystal Flash. Yellow Templedog, Yellow Krystal Flash
Wing: Green Arctic Fox
Hackles: Orange Badger Hackle Over Yellow Cock Hackle
Jungle Cock Cheeks
Black Eumer Conehead.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Flies For The Spring

I've been busy at the vice lately and have been tying up all the usual patterns for fishing the Spring on the Dee and Don. Tying flies is a great way to pass time during the dark nights and to restock the fly box for the season ahead. As usual I have tied up plenty, probably more than I'll use, but when fishing deep  early in the season, there is always a chance of snagging up and losing your fly. Here are some flies I've tied. They are tied on a mixture of Copper, Brass and Aluminum tubes, bottle tubes and plastic tubes. Some with cones, some without. Hope you like them.
Dee Monkey. This has been tied on a silver Yuri Shumakov bottle tube and has a black Eumer cone head. The Scandinavians introduced this pattern to Scotland and I'm glad they did! Catches lots of fish and fishes well all season, not just in Spring.
Willie Gunn Snaelda. Tied on a 1/2" Copper tube, it also has a black Eumer cone head for added weight and stability.
Kinermony Killer. I've tied this on a 1 1/4" brass tube. A proven catcher of fish on the River Spey. Not fished these in the Spring but will be giving them a swim this February coming.
Tummel Monkey. Devised by expert angler, Donnie Whiteford to replicate the deadly Orange/Gold Rapala lure. I've tied this on a 1 1/2" copper tube. Ross Macdonald had this as his fly of the month in the Trout & Salmon magazine last month. It would not be in there if it was not a catcher of Salmon.
Gold Bodied Willie Gunn. Probably the most famous fly ever and one that catches scores of Salmon through out the season but it's particularly deadly during the Spring months. A must for any fly box.
Alistair. A fly designed on the Helmsdale river and one that catches plenty fish all over. I know a few good anglers on the Don who use nothing more than this fly during Spring and do very well. I love the simplicity of this fly and one I will be using a fair bit in 2013.
Black And Yellow. Another must have pattern for the Dee in Spring fishing. This fly accounts for numerous fish every year on every river. The old ones still hold their own against the new patterns.
Park Shrimp. Last but certainly not least! This fly has a huge following and was designed by Ross MacDonald. It catches tons of Salmon and is found in nearly every Salmon fisherman's fly boxes. It's a fly I've done well with and I always carry a few where ever I'm fishing.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Royal Deeside Today

I went out for a drive with my son today and we headed over to Royal Deeside. At this time of year you can get some great pictures with all the trees in their Autumn colours and many kinds of wildlife on show. There was a few Salmon showing in some of the pools we passed but, try as I might, I just could not get any decent photos of them jumping. It seemed everywhere I pointed the camera, a fish would show above or below where I was focused! Here are some of my pictures from today.

Several male Pheasants feeding in a field near Aboyne.

A pair of female Pheasants feeding.

The Irrigation pool on the Birse beat of the River Dee. Cracking looking pool. Never fished at Birse but another lovely part of Deeside.

The Lorne pool on the Aboyne Castle beat. This is a great spot to look for Red squirrels in the woods out of shot to the left but I didn't see any today.

Looking upstream from the Sluie beat. The pool below is the Kelpie. I have fished the Sluie beat a few times and I will be again. Nice part of the river near to the Potarch Hotel.

Not a picture from Deeside but a nice view towards the village of Hatton of Fintray. The River Don flows through here and is exceptional for Brown Trout.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Cairn O' Mount Today

I passed over the Cairn O' Mount on my way from Fettercairn where I was working this afternoon. The clear skies made for some breath-taking views toward the sea and I couldn't resist the opportunity to take a few pictures along the way. I stopped a short drive along the road at Glen Dye to take a more pictures of the scenery there too. The Dye is a lovely little river but has a big part to play during spawning time. It's a tributary of the River Feugh, which itself is the biggest tributary of the Rive Dee. Salmon and sea trout run this picturesque river given good high water conditions and many will run the Dye which enters the Feugh at Strachan, just outside Banchory. Here are a few pictures from today.
Looking South East from the lay-by on Cairn O' Mount. Stunning view.
Clachnaben on the right and the River Dye to the left of the picture.
The road bridge spanning the River Dye at Glen Dye. Nice spot to stop for lunch.
The Falls of Feugh near Banchory. I wonder how many times this place has been photographed? Didn't see any Salmon leaping today.

Lovely Autumnal colours in full bloom. I was looking downstream towards the mouth of the Feugh where it enters the River Dee.

Monday, 29 October 2012

8lb Salmon From The Don

Was out after work for a cast at the Manse Pool on Lower Fintray. With the water high I was not expecting much. Although the water had risen most of the day, it was running fairly clear. I started opposite the hut in the slow water which always holds fish when the water is high. After fishing for 10 minutes or so I connected with a strong, coloured cock fish. It made a few good runs and leapt a couple of times before I managed to land it several minutes later. After a quick picture the fish swam off unharmed.
A bonus fish whilst out in high water for 45 minutes after work.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

The Annual Manar Gathering

I was delighted to be invited to attend the "Manar Gathering" yesterday. This annual meeting of the beat regulars and friends is held on the last Saturday of each season and consists of plenty meat cooked by beat owner Ian and gallons of lager to wash it all down with! Oh, and there is some fishing thrown in too.
Early morning Autumnal colours on the banks of Manar on the River Don.

Charlie and I arrived at the beat about 8.45am and with the snow that fell the night before, our thoughts turned to getting the wood burner fired up sharpish! Charlie had been busy cutting tons of logs for the fire and these would come in handy as the temperature was hardly above freezing. The water was 11" on the gauge and running fairly clear which was a welcomed sight after a night of snow and rain. Soon the fire was burning nicely and two of the day tickets arrived. One of which, Donnie Whiteford, a gamekeeper from the Isle of Lewis Garynahine Estate and Angling Consultant on the BBC Alba television programme "Turus a' Bhradain" introduced themselves. After a short conversation on where to fish, they headed off down to the Upper and Lower Wood pools. Myself and Charlie headed up river to fish the beat from top to bottom before our attentions turned to the refreshments! Apart from the talented Donnie Whiteford getting a strong pull in the Lower Wood, little was seen or touched. With the water temperature dropping down to a cold early Spring like 39f, who could blame the salmon for being a tad lethargic.
The Sheep Pool first thing in the morning. Snow still covering the bank but it was to be gone by afternoon causing a wee rise in water.

Around 11am Stuart and Kevin appeared for the Manar bash. They both fish the beat below at Inverurie and catch a fair amount of Salmon between them each year. Due to the snow melting the water had rose an inch or two but was still running clear. Not long after starting in the Sheep Pool, Stuart was into a fish! A strong fighting coloured cock fish about 7lbs had taken his Black Flying C. After a few minutes, just as the fish was beginning to tire it threw the hook! Still, at least something was in a taking mood. Both anglers fished on but neither had any other offers.
Stuart into a fish in the Sheep pool and Charlie waiting ready with the net. Not long after this photo was taken, the fish threw the hook and was gone! Hard Lines Stuart.
At 2pm beat owner Ian and regular rod Mike arrived. After dropping off their supplies they headed up to the top pool on the beat, the Ree Pot. Mike armed with his trusty wee ruby red Devon Minnow soon landed the first fish of the day. A coloured fish around the 5lb mark. Mike is expert at fishing the minnow and he swears by the ruby red ones. They both fished down to the hut without touching anything else but at least it was something to write in the catch book on the final day. Also on the beat were two Polish holiday makers who had been fishing the Don and Deveron all week. They had been successful earlier on in the week and fished hard. Just as the daylight started to fade, one of the rods landed a coloured fish from the Lower Wood pool. Two fish landed and one lost for the final Saturday in testing conditions was not a bad result afterall. By 4pm everyone was ready for a feed and a few beers. Charlie had made a big pan of stovies and was heating them up slowly just to tease everyone who entered the hut. The food was well cooked by Ian and it all went down very well. The Polish holiday rods even tucked into some Scottish sausages and sampled our own Tennant's Lager! After consuming several sausages, Charlie broke out the stovies. After a nice helping of these I was stacked full! We sat talking over the season and current affairs until 7.30pm. A great way to end the season with a couple of fish, a few sausages, gallons of lager and good craic. The gear for most of us, is packed away now for another year but the beat closes on Wednesday and hopefully a few more can be added to the catch book.
Good bunch of lads! Right to Left : Craig Fleming, Freddy Hay, Ian Anderson, Mike McBain, Stuart Barnetson and Kevin Graham. I hope I got all the surnames correct! Apologies if any are wrong.

A picture taken a few hours (and a few tins!) later. Right to left : Ian, Charlie, Mike and yours truly.

It is always a pleasure to fish the Manar beat of the River Don. I thoroughly enjoy the place and the company of the regular rods, who all make me feel welcome and are always willing to pass on advice about pools etc. Ian, the beat owner is kind enough to give me the opportunity to do so. It is much appreciated and I am grateful for this. At £30 per rod, per day all season, you could not get better value on a middle beat of any river anywhere in Scotland in my opinion. Although at times, this has been a tough season, Manar enjoyed a cracking July and the catches for August were also up there too. Fish can be caught from February onwards and boasts some of the best Spring fishing available to day rods anywhere on the Middle Don. So, while looking for new beats to fish in 2013, why not give the Don a chance and spend a day or two on the fantastic Manar beat.  I know I will be. Can't wait!
A fantastic Springer from the Chapel Pool at Manar. Caught by Charlie Robertson in 2012.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Fresh 14lb Salmon From The Don Today

My Dad was out for a couple of hours this afternoon and timed it to perfection as he landed this beauty of about 14lbs. No sea-lice present but this Hen Salmon could not have been in the river long. He also lost a good fish which he didn't see after playing it for 5 minutes or so he and missed another take too. This was all in the space of 30 minutes so a run must have been moving through the pool. He was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. Not bad for a few hours on the river. Has the Autumn run started to appear? Let's hope so!
A quick photo before being released. A cracking fresh fish from the Lower Don.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Where Is The Back End Run This Season?

I was out and about on the Middle Don at the Aberdeen Angling Association's Kemnay beat and later on down river at Manar. I fished from 11am-3pm at Kemnay and during that time I had heard of 3 coloured salmon landed but all earlier that morning. The water was in near perfect condition and carrying a nice peaty colour. Apart from a pull at my Kinermony Killer in the Upper Chapel and a swirl at my Sunray in the tail of the Dooker, I hardly seen any signs of fish present in the pools. Very unusual given the quality of the water we've had recently.

I received a call from Charlie asking if I fancied having a cast at Manar as there were no day tickets sold. Kemnay was really busy with several anglers in each pool so I strapped the rods on my motor and headed off downstream. We fished the Sheep Pool and Upper Wood Pools before heading down to the productive Chapel Pool. We both fish through it twice without a touch so we headed off back to the hut for a cold beer before fishing down the Sheep again. As we sat at the bench outside the hut, there was a big coloured fish showed half way down the pool. I changed my fly to a Swallow tied on a 25mm  brass bottle tube and made my way down to where the fish showed. I was casting quite square and retrieving the fly at a steady pace just to give the fly some movement as it is quite slow near the tail of the pool. A few cast later just as my fly came round onto the dangle, it was taken by a fish. It thrashed about on the surface before letting my fly go just as quickly as it grabbed it. I didn't see the fish but it was not the big one that showed earlier. Still, a bit of excitement on an otherwise frustrating day on the river.

That was about all the action we had for our afternoon so we packed up and headed home about 6.30pm just as darkness was closing in. We both spoke about the Don on the way home and were in agreement that there is very little sign of a back end run of salmon so far. All fish we've heard getting caught have been coloured. With the water we've had this past fortnight or so, Manar at this time of year at would usually have fresh fish entering the pools almost on a daily basis. Not so this year though. Given the great catches of July and August, could the back end run arrived early or will it arrive when the season has finished? Either way, the lack of fish this Autumn, especially for a back-end river like the Don is poor to say the least. One week of the season left so hopefully some arrive during that time to give anglers some sport to end their season.

Charlie fishing the Sheep Pool on the last day of the season 2011.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Kitchen Sink Shrimp

I have been at the vice tonight in preparation for the falling leaves this Autumn. With the nights closing in, a fly that always seems to do well at this time of year is the Junction Shrimp. Invented by a Boatman on the famous Junction beat of the River Tweed, it fishes well when the light starts to fade and when there are leaves from the trees floating down river. This is a pattern I have came up with which is loosely based on the colour combination of the Junction Shrimp except I have tied it shrimp style and added a black over wing to my tying just to bulk it up a wee bit. I'll try them out over the next few weeks on the River Don and see how they do.
Tied on a size 8 Loop double to get down a bit deeper.
Tied on Loop doubles sizes 6 and 8 along with Silver Salar #7 and #9.
The dressing is as follows:

Thread: Red
Tag: Oval Silver
Tail: Hot Orange Buck Tail With 2 Strands Orange Krystal Flash
Butt: Hot Orange Glo-Brite #6
Body: Black Floss
Rib: Oval Silver
Under Wing: White Arctic Fox
Wing: Black Bear With 2 Strands Silver Krystal Flash
Hackle: White Badger Hackle
Jungle Cock

Monday, 1 October 2012

9lb Salmon From The Don Today

I was out on the Don for an hour during my lunch break today and I was lucky enough to land a cracking fish around 9lb from the Parkhill beat. It was one of the hardest fighting fish I have ever caught and it pulled me all over the pool. I had to clamp hard on the reel at one point to stop it taking off under the old railway bridge! I would have most certainly lost it then as there are two arches and it wanted to go under the furthest one from my bank. Several minutes later I eventually managed to hand tail the fish and noticed my #9 Stoats Tail was hooked perfectly in the scissors. The fish was missing the lower part of it's tail but looked like an old wound and it certainly didn't hamper the way the fish fought, that's for sure! It swam off without a problem and will continue it's journey up the Don to spawn this winter. Here a few pictures. Due to the high bank behind me, my pictures are not great but you can clearly see the tail damage to the fish.

A fresh 9lb Salmon from the Parkhill beat on the River Don today.

The tail damage on the fish. The fish seemed none-the-worse for it and swam away fine.
Off to continue it's journey to the spawning grounds.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Final Day Of The Spey Season At Wester Elchies

It was the end of the River Spey fishing season yesterday and along with Charlie and Mike, I was lucky enough to be fishing the beautiful Wester Elchies beat. We arrived at the hut about 8.30am and the gauge was reading 1ft 5in. The water had dropped away a good few inches after the spate on Wednesday and was a nice peat stained colour. After a chat with the ghillie Sam and the two other rods Stuart and Angus we tackled up and headed off to our allocated pools for the morning session. I started in the Little Turn and was to fish right down to the bottom of the Rhynd. Charlie and Mike set off down to the Boat pool.

I was using a Rio AFS Intermediate tip shooting head and a 10ft slow sink tip and on the business end, I tied on a #7 Willie Gunn Flamethrower. I never seen or touched a fish in the Little Turn and headed on down to the Rhynd. There was a few fish showing just out and below the Big Pig stone but I didn't interest any of them but just as I was about finished the pool my fly was hammered by a lively coloured wee sea trout about 1lb. It took my fly as I was stripping in my running line to re-cast! A nice reward after a tricky wade all the way down the pool. I strapped the rod on the wagon and headed off to see Charlie and Mike at the Boat pool. Neither of them touched anything but there was a couple landed on the spinner by Aberlour Angling Association rods. I had a half hour in the Boat pool before lunch and had an offer to my fly but it didn't stick which was a pity as it was a good pull. After that I headed back to the hut for some lunch.

In the lunch hut Stuart informed us that he landed a fish about 9lb from Brock so that was encouraging and Charlie caught a chrome bright sea trout from the Delagyle pool. After lunch Charlie, Mike and Myself headed off to fish the upper part of the beat. Charlie and Mike went up to Brock and I fished Delene and Pol Ma Cree. The latter was full of fish and I must have covered dozens to no avail. After I had fished these pools I headed up to see Charlie and Mike. They had no luck either but Charlie had two offers to his Sunray Shadow but again, they didn't stick.

After we said our fairwells to ghillie Sam and the two other lads, Mike headed off to fish Pol Ma Cree and Charlie and I fished Delagyle. We both opted for the Sunray Shadow and Charlie switched lines to fish a wee bit deeper. Not long after starting Charlie's change of tactics paid dividends and he was into a livley fish which nailed his Sunray. After a few storming runs and a couple of leaps, I slid the net under a couloured fish around the 5lb mark. A fine way to end the day. Nothing was touched by Mike or myself and after a yap in the hut to reflect on a good day, we headed home.

It was a great day out on a fantastic beat and was made even better by the company. The ghillie Sam topped the day with good craic and the man certainly knows his beat inside out. It was a pleasure to fish Wester Elchies and we all agreed, given availability, we would return next year. Here are some pictures from our day yesterday.

Little Turn. I started my day in this pool. Nice bit of water.
Rhynd. I landed a wee coloured sea trout just off of the Little Pig rock. Big Pig rock is the huge stone just out from the bank.
A quick snap of the sea trout before release which hammered my #7 Willie Gunn Flamethrower.
Fishing down the Boat Pool. I had a good thump of my fly at the tail just above the bridge but it didn't connect.
Pol Ma Cree. A cracking pool and had a good amount of fish showing in it but they had went down later on in the day when Mike had a run through it.
Charlie bent into a lively grilse in the Delagyle Pool about 6pm.
A quick picture before Charlie releases fish back into the Spey.
Charlie, Mike, myself and Bracken the dog pose for a photo outside the hut before heading home.