Saturday, 31 March 2012

Pumphouse Pool - River Dee

Had a wonder down to the Pumphouse Pool on the River Dee during my lunch hour yesterday. The water is getting low but still not quite low enough to stop the Springers running over the shingle at the top of the pool. Not far away though. Not sure if the rain forecast next week will lift the river. Shall have to wait and see.

There was a big hatch of flies about 1pm, March Browns I think and the sea trout kelts and finnock were feeding readily on them. You could see them with polaroid glasses on from the viewing platform at the Pumphouse. I managed to get some action on video but you can't quite make out the fish under the surface. Here is the video I put together today of the pool from top to bottom.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Grey Seal On The River Don @ Lower Parkhill

Had a day off work today and thought it would be a good idea to get on my bike and go for a cycle. I headed off from my house and made my way to the Parkhill road bridge crossing the River Don at Dyce. I cycled down to the pool called The Dooker.

I noticed a big wake moving upstream. I first though it was an otter or mink but when it bobbed it's head out of the water it was a Grey Seal. This part of the river must be about 7 miles from the sea and for a seal to get up this far in low water, over some of the big weirs at Cruives and Grandholm etc is good going. There can't be much fish hanging around the mouth since it came this far up-river to find food.

Here is a couple of short clips of the seal making it's way upstream and a picture. Not the best quality as I was sitting on my bike at the time. Hopefully you can make it out as I thought it would be interesting to see.
Not the best picture but you can hopefully see the Grey Seal's head bobbed up in the water.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Salmon Fishing And The "Musker's Fancy."

I stumbled across some extracts from a book in the Carlogie fishing hut this February. The book was called "Salmon Fishing, The Greased Line On Dee, Don And Earn" by Frederick Hill.

The author of the book was a ghillie on the Carlogie beat to Captain Musker in the 1940's. He give detailed descriptions of all the pools at Carlogie and interesting tactics for every condition possible. I purchased a copy of this wonderful wee book a few weeks back. It maybe dates back from the 1940s but some of the author's observations are still used today and it's well worth a read if you can get your hands on a copy.

In his book Frederick Hill says that his favourite fly to fish in low water was a fly called the Musker's Fancy. It was created by Captain Musker and used to great effect on Carlogie during his time as fishing tennant there.

Last week I bought myself some single hooks and decided to try and tie up a couple of these flies because, at the moment the water here is so low anything was worth a cast! I took the dressing for the fly from the book and searched online for a picture of the fly which I found on a cracking website dedicated to traditional Salmon flies. It can be found at

I took my newly tied flies out on the Don this Saturday past for a test run. The Don, like the Dee is almost down to it's bare bones so I was not too confident in hooking anything. I started at the Manse Pool which incidentally Frederick Hill mentions in his book as one of the best holding pools on the whole river Don and it's still true today. I started at the top of the pool and about 5 casts later I hooked a fish! It took off like a steam engine and I thought to myself, "Surely the fly is not this good!". After a few flashes of silver and a big leap I realised it was a large kelt I'd hooked. Still, at least I knew my fly swam and looked ok to the fish. After a spirited fight another angler netted the fish for me. It was sporting a big Black and Gold Rapala wedged in it's jaws! No idea why it would take a fly with that embedded in it's jaw but it did! Maybe it was clever and realised I would remove both the rapala and fly for it. After removing 2 trebles of the rapala and my size 5 Musker's Fancy the fish swam off no problem, probably glad to have a big 13cm rapala removed from it's mouth.

Just goes to show, you should never fish too light in the Spring. More for the safety of releasing kelts quickly. I fished on for a few more hours but didn't touch anything. As the morning fog lifted the sun was bright and warm so not ideal for fishinig low water. I packed up and headed home to tie up some more Musker's Fancies. Here are a few pictures of the fly and the big kelt.
"Salmon Fishing, The Greased Line On Dee, Don And Earn" by Frederick Hill 1948. Cracking wee book and very interesting read. I love reading all these old books and stories from days gone by. The author tells of a pet blackbird he fed which returned to him every March after the winter had passed.
"Musker's Fancy No.2" This is the fly which a big well mended kelt took a liking to.
"Musker's Fancy No.1". I tied these on doubles as I had no Black singles. Looks ok on doubles. Ordered up some black singles for next time!
A group shot of the flies. I will be using a lot more of these during low water in future. Hopefully something fresh will take a fancy to them next time.
The fish which took my fly. It would have been glad to see the big rapala removed from its jaw I bet. Would have been a lovely fish last year and hopefully next year too. Good to see a well mended kelt on it's return journey to sea.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

River Don - Lower Fintray

Had a cast this morning for a couple of hours. The sun was bright and the water was the lowest for this time of year, that I've ever seen it! I headed to the Manse Pool on the Lower Fintray beat of the Don. I fished down the pool without seeing or touching anything.

I noticed that due to the warmish winter the weed on the river bed has not been killed off by the cold water this year. It does not look good for later in the season when the place will be choked. I headed down to the Streams and didn't touch anything there either. I did see a fish show just at the foot of the hill as you come down to the pool on the South bank. The amount of weed in this pool makes it very hard to fish in this low water. Even a fly fished on a full floating line was getting snagged ever cast.

I gave up and headed down to the Cothal Pool. This is probably one of the best high water pools on the whole river. Today though it was down to the bare bones but it was interesting to look into the water with my polaroids on and see the bottom as it's not often you can see that deep. It was worth while as I was looking out for possible lies ie big stones, drop offs etc.

It's all noted for next time the river is in spate. It's badly needing it! Here are some pictures of the pools.
The Manse Pool. It will hold fish for opening day to closing day. I much prefer it with about 1ft more water on the gauge. Still must be one of the best pools on the River Don.
Looking upstream from the tail of the Manse Pool.
The weed clogging up the weir heading down into the Streams. Not usually this much weed  at this time of year, probably due to the warmish, low water we have had most of the winter.
Looking up river from the Streams. This is another lovely piece of water with a bit more on the gauge.
Looking downstream. About 30 yards above the railings down to the tail of the pool on the South bank is best part. Last back-end it was holding a lot of fish. Most I've ever seen in here. More of the same this year please!
The tail of the Streams and into the Cothal Pool. This is my Dad's favourite pool and spends a lot of hours fishing here though-out the season. The faster water runs into a big deep pool. In the high water this will hold the fish for a while after they have run up the rapids from Fae-Me-Well pool.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Cruives - River Don

I had a few hours to spare on Monday as my car was going into the garage at lunch time. Snuffies and Benzies, two pools on the Cruives beat of the Lower Don were 2 minutes from the garage. I arrived at the pool around 10am and was shocked to see it was empty!!! This is a very busy few hundred yards of river here.

I tackled up and worked my way through the pool with a Sunray Shadow. The wing was about 6" long. Never had a touch. The water was in perfect condition, nice and low to hold the fish back from the big weirs situated at the top of the pool.

 The famous Crombie Mill used to divert the water to power it's machines so it could create it's world famous Crombie Coats during the 1900s. The mill also used to supply the woolen coats for the Russian Army. The mill soon out grew it's location and relocated to London where the Crombie brand is still making woolen clothing. Bit expensive for me though!

I carried on downstream to fish the pool called Benzies. Never had a touch here either. The pools fish best in a low water. If the water is cold that will also act as a temperature barrier for the salmon as you will see from my pictures, but you need to be there to get fish off the tide. I was too early and didn't even see a fin flicker. Lovely fly water but a little too busy to enjoy a days fishing, unless you like waiting in line for a cast. When I left around 12 noon there was about 8 rods sitting on the bench waiting for a cast. Here are some pictures of the pools.
Coming down the hill from the car park. Looking upstream towards one of the weirs that the fish have to get over on their migration upstream. In low, cold water like this, this will hold the fish back long enough to have a chance of catching them. Many will still get through but some will hold up in the pool below.
The fast streamy water flowing into Snuffie's. A cracking wee pool which produces lot of salmon every season given the right water conditions. It is not much cope in high water as the fish bomb straight through.
Another big weir at the tail of Snuffie's Pool.
Looking upstream from the top of the weir pictured above. You can see why this pool will hold a lot of fish when they have to jump the weir and a hundred or so yard round the corner they have an even bigger obstical to contend with! Salmo Salar is a remarkable creature!
Benzies's Pool. This is the pool below the weir. The deeper water runs just off the far bank so I would suspect the fish to be lying in that sort of areas. I don't fish here very often so not sure. Another lovely looking fly pool though.
One of many features scattered along the banks here. This area is steeped in history and is interesting to read about. All the information I got on the Crombie Mill was taken from posters and pictures on the wall of my dentist! My dentist is housed in one of the old stores on the site of the old Mill. My Grandfather, just like many Aberdonians, actually worked in the Mill for 30 years until it was closed down in the 80's.
A kelt. Not the Springer I was after, but it would have been a beauty last year! Out of proportion head, thin as a pencil and gills full of maggots. This was showing all the tell tale signs of a kelt. Hopefully better luck next time out at Middle Drum on the 24th March.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Middle Drum Salmon Fishing Video

I have made up a video of the Middle Drum beat on the River Dee. Hope you like it. Enjoy!

River Dee @ Middle Drum 03/03/2012

My friend Charlie and I had booked a day on Middle Drum back in December and had been looking forward to it since then. It is always a pleasure fishing with Shane Christie the ghillie. He is great company and always up for a laugh and a bit of craic. He also knows his beat inside out, having been there since he left school.
Prior to going Charlie and myself had our pre-trip phone calls as the excitment grew. Discussing tactics, flies and the post fishing pints in the Irvine Arms! A vigilent eye was kept on the FishDee website all week and we were buoyed by the fact Tilbouries opposite had a fish on Thursday.
I picked up Charlie on Saturday morning and was welcomed in as usual and treated to a bacon buttie and a cup of tea. We set off and arrived at the beat about 8.40am and tackled up. We met Shane at his hut along with Jim who we have fished with a few times before. After discussing tactics we were alocated our pools for the morning. I was to fish the Lawson with Jim and Charlie headed up to the Island and Cairnton. There were lots of kelts showing and a few Springers showed too. We both tried as best we could to cast a line into the driving rain and gales, try as we might though, it was not happening. We had to re-cast between gusts and even then it was coming right back at us!
None of us even had a touch for the morning and it was to be the same story in the afternoon. Conditions were much better after lunch and the rain finally stopped too. I fished all the way down from the Island, through Cairnton, Lawson and Kelpie pools without eevn a pull. Charlie was the same. The fish just were not for catching, even the kelts were pre-occupied with something else.
We had a great day out, although none of us hooked anything. It was good to catch up with Shane again as it's a beat I have enjoyed fishing everytime I've been and will do again. Here are some pictures from our day.
Looking upstream from the tail of the massive Lawson Pool. Fishing from the bank all the way down.
Looking upstream from the Kelpie Pool. This is a cracking low water pool and has accounted for a few 30lb plus fish.
The rain has gone and Im fishing down the top pool, the Island Run. Another good wee pool. You fish it by wading the top part and off the bank after the tree mid way down..
Cairnton Pool. Wading is essential here unless water is very high. The Tilbouries hut in the background.
Having the final few casts on the Lawson at dusk.

Ghillie Shane Christie and myself. Good guy and great company.