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.

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