Sunday, 20 May 2012

The First Springer Of The Season!

On Wednesday I had arranged to buy a day ticket on the Manar beat of the River Don with my friend Charlie Robertson. Charlie is a regular rod on this beat and fishes there almost every week. Manar is one of, if not THE premier Spring beats on the middle Don.

Every year, for minimal angling effort, it produces more than it's fair share of these wonderful early running River Don salmon. It's only occasionally fished by day rods but there are a very dedicated group of anglers who spend many hours of their own time maintaining the banks and paths etc. Numerous benches and rod rests have been dotted along the banks to help make fishing Manar a pleasant experience. The cosy fishing hut, with it's stove is ideal for the cold early spring but if the weather is fair, the picnic bench and BBQ come in very handy.

On Friday the river rose about 8 inches due to heavy rain in the catchment. After a quick check of FishDon and the River Don Webcam we were happy to see the river running quite clear and dropping.We arrived at the beat about 8.30am and the Manar gauge read 1ft 9in. The water clarity was good so we tackled up with floating lines and sink tips. I opted for a Rio Unispey with a 10ft fast tip and a #7 Willie Gunn Flamethrower. Charlie went for a Mackenzie DTX G2 with a 10ft fast tip but with a 3/4" Silver Ally Shrimp tied on a copper tube.

We headed up to the Sheep pool to begin our days fishing. We fished all the way down past the hut to the tail which used to produce a good few fish without a touch. Charlie suggested we headed down to the Chapel pool. This is a delightful wee pool and holds fish before they decide to tackle the fast streamy water. Since we were passing I decided to have a cast in the Lower Wood on my way down and Charlie headed to the Chapel. After 15 minutes or so I heard Charlie shouting. He was into a fish! I wound in and took off on a 400m dash down river to see Charlie's rod bent into a strong fish. I got the net ready and after a very nervous 5/10 minutes, a pristine fish around 12lbs was netted. It was Charlie's first of the season and a very welcome one at that. This was one of his latest ever seasons to get off the mark. The fish just have not been there this year for some reason or other. Once the photographs were taken and scales samples done the fish was returned and swam off like it had never been caught!

Charlie kindly let me have a cast in the Chapel and we noticed a fish showing down in the tail of the pool. A few minutes later a fish showed opposite me so I quickly tied on a Sunray Shadow and cast square over where the fish showed. Nothing on my first few casts but I slowed down my retrieve and as the fly was coming onto the dangle there was a big splash. A fish went for my fly. I kept on stripping in the Sunray and the same fish went to grab my fly again! Both times it missed and it seemed to really want it but it didn't connect. I covered the lie several times more but not a flicker! The excitement was over.

We were encouraged by the opposite bank landing a couple of fish not long after Charlie landed his, so there must have been a good run of fish came through the pools. We headed up to the top part of the beat and fished the Stone Pool and the Long Pool. The Long Pool was fishing great in this height of water and Charlie had a brief encounter with a fish about half way down the pool as his Ally Shrimp came onto the dangle. No luck but at least the fish have finally arrived on Donside and not before time!

The rest of our day proved to be fruitless and about 7pm we packed up and headed home to see the Champions League final. At least Charlie got his season off and running but I'm still trying in vain to land a springer this year. Next weekend will be my last chance so heres hoping! Some pictures from Manar and Charlie's long awaited springer.

Lower Wood pool looking downstream. Lovely looking pool and there is a couple of good lies down near the tail which can hold fish all season long.
Fish On! Charlie bent into a strong River Don springer in the Chapel Pool.

First of the season safely in the net.

Worth the wait! A 12lb bar of silver poses for a picture before heading on it's journey again.
Fishing a Sunray in the Chapel. Shortly after a fish rose to my fly twice in quick succession. Both times it missed.

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