Friday, 29 March 2013

Good Friday!

I ventured out to fish the River Don today as I had the day off work due to it being Good Friday and the start of the Easter weekend. I headed down to one of my favourite pools on the Aberdeen & District Angling Association water. On arrival at the Manse Pool, I was surprised to see only one other car in the car park but it was snowing heavily right enough and not ideal weather conditions to coax anglers out. I fished down through the pool without seeing or touching anything and decided to head out to Manar to meet up with my friend Charlie.

The Manar gauge was reading 11" which is a prime height for the beat and the water temp was around 37f due to some cold nights and snow. I arrived around lunch time and not long after starting, a rod fishing the opposite bank landed an absolute cracking Springer which measured 33" and was estimated to be a good 15lb. After taking scale samples, the fish was swiftly returned. Always a good sign when you see fresh fish being caught on the beat you are fishing. After a run down through the Horse Shoe and Long Pools, Charlie and I headed to the Sheep pool where the 15lber had been caught earlier on. Charlie went in first and I followed down behind. Neither of us touched anything until Charlie reached the tail of the pool when his 3/4" brass Gold Willie Gunn was grabbed by a fish. I looked up to see Charlie's rod bent and made my way down to assist. Charlie initially thought he had hooked a kelt until we saw the flanks of the fish, This was no kelt! After a dogged scrap with lots of runs and the fish diving deep, I slid the net under a magnificent River Don Springer around the 9lb mark. Again, this was another cracking salmon and was in great condition. As I walked back to my rod, Charlie cast to the same lie and gave out a shout. He had hooked another fish out of the exact same spot! I turned and headed back down river but as I got near, the fish spat the hook. It came along side Charlie and he said it was another clean fish about 7-8lbs. Never good to lose a fish but at least the fish were in the taking mood. As I walked back to my rod, there was a fish showed just down from where my rod lay. I made a cast to where I saw the rise and immediately hooked into a fish. It made a couple of good runs but the fight was easily won and Charlie soon had the net under a very well mended kelt. Not a springer but it could have been disturbed as the Springers swam by it's lie on their way upstream. Good to see kelts in such good condition which gives them a better chance of reaching the sea and returning next year.

We both fished on until 6pm but nothing more was hooked by us, although Fred, one of the Manar regulars landed another well mended kelt from the Sheep pool.We retired to the hut for a much deserved beer before heading off. Just as we were leaving the beat, Duncan, another Manar regular, returned a sea liced fish weighing 9lb. 3 fish landed and 1 lost for a 1.5 mile stretch of the Don is great fishing by any standards. Long may it continue!

Good signs for the River Don to see such quality Springers in the system. If only some of the other beats would publicise catches etc to encourage rods to book fishing on this wonderful, forgotten neighbour of the River Dee.

Here are some pictures from today.

Looking upstream in blizzard conditions on the lower Don at the Manse Pool. Nothing doing here so I headed up to the Manar beat.
Cracking River Don Springer! Charlie and his first fish of the season from the tail of the Sheep Pool at Manar. The fish took a 3/4" brass Gold Bodied Willie Gunn on a floating line and a 10ft fast tip. He lost another from the same lie minutes after returning this fish.
The tail of the Sheep Pool where the springers stop for a brief rest after coming up through the fast water from the Upper Wood Pool below. Used to be a top Spring lie but has not produced in recent years for some reason. Hopefully now, after the big winter spates, the pool has returned to it's former glory. We shall soon find out.

Monday, 25 March 2013

River Tay At Newtyle

I took my first ever trip down to the mighty River Tay on Saturday as part of a group of rods from "The Salmon Fishing Forum". I travelled down with fellow Aberdeen & District Angling Association member and expert fisherman, Bill Cook. We set of around 6am to avoid getting caught up in the drifting snow conditions which the area was hit with for the past 2 days or so.

We arrived at the beat hut in good time about 8am and after introductions with fellow rods and ghillie we all sat down to a cup of coffee in the hut to warm up before starting. The water was sitting at 6 inches on the beat gauge. There were 8 of us wrapped up and ready to battle the elemnts but several rods had to cancel due to the atrocious driving/weather conditions around the Dumfries area. The wind was blowing strongly upstream from the East and the driving snow and hail added to the Siberian weather conditions. Not the best for fishing the fly but, we gave it a good go anyway. A low punchy cast was required to get the fly out under the wind and it had to be made between the gusts as it was near impossible to do so otherwise.

I was drawn to fish the top part of the beat in the morning along with Bill and the organiser Kenny. The ghillie Andy took us over to the left bank on the boat and showed us up to our pools for the morning. Bill and Kenny headed to fish St Mary's and Dean's whilst I started off in the Trap. I carried on downstream fishing the Cotter which was a very cold wade to say the least. Apart from Bill briefly connecting with a fish in Dean's the morning proved fruitless for us all and we looked forward to a warming buffet and seat by the fire in the hut at lunch time.

After a fantastic spread  which consisted of hot soup, pies, sausage rolls, chicken drumsticks, cake, fruit, bread and coffee provided by a local hotel, we shared some good craic, reminiscing about fishing stories from days of old and some fairly new ones too. Andy the ghille was keen for us to get going again and we were allocated our pools for the afternoon. Bill and I were to fish the Cotter but from the right bank. This involved fishing from the bank and just a shortish cast which was ideal for the conditions as it felt a lot colder during the afternoon session the the morning one. We both had a blank run down the pool but we did see a fish show about 4pm and Bill covered it several times but it was not in the mood to take his fly. About 5pm Andy assembled all the rods back to the hut from his boat and we sat down to a warming cup of coffee and polished off the remnants of the buffet. Kenny, who did a fantastic job of organising the event had all our names in a hat for a raffle and I was lucky enough to win a £25 voucher. Bill won a bottle of malt whiskey in the raffle too so we both did alright.

As first time fishing the mighty Tay goes, weather wise, it was awful but with good company, a good ghillie and always a chance of connecting with a Tay springer, it was a great day out. One which I will remember. Andy the ghille made me feel very welcome and was keen to see that I enjoyed my first ever experience of the Tay. I will be returning to fish the Tay again later on this year when the weather will hopefully be a bit kinder but never-the-less it was good to see the famous Newtyle beat first hand and it was a pleasure to cast a fly on such a hallowed river.

Here are some pictures from my day on the Tay.

The 8 hardy souls ready to brave the elements. Picture courtesy of Kenny Carr.
Looking over at the colourful Newtyle hut from the Cotter pool.
The Trap. I started my day off in this pool. A cracking pieace of water and easily covered even in a howling gale.
Looking downstream from the Trap.
Cotter Stream. Wading down this pool was very very cold. It took a couple of hours to fish and it was all done whilst wading. My toes were frozen by the end of it!
Looking upstream in the Cotter. i was glad to be out of the water at this point to warm my toes up. I had 3 pairs of thick socks on too!
Inside the Newtyle hut. The remains of the buffet on the table and the rogues gallery on the wall. Some cracking pictures of salmon from last year.
Looking upstream in the Cotter from the right bank after lunch.

Fishing down the Cotter on the right bank. With the wind, it was much easier to cover the water from this bank as only a shortish cast was required.

The Boils. A good spot to pick up a fish but from the opposite bank. The water was too low to fish from this bank.
Looking downstream from the Boils to the Steps pool. These pools have been producing plenty springers so far fro Newtyle this season. Never fished them but they werre well covered by some of the other rods.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Orton - River Spey

Charlie and I were lucky enough to be back on Speyside yesterday, this time fishing the famous Orton beat. We arrived slightly late due to getting lost trying to find the beat but it turned out we were just a few hundreds yards away. A helpful police man and local resident pointed us in the right direction.

After the usual meet and greets, the ghillies Kevin and Andrew showed us to the pools. Andrew took Charlie and I down to start in the Lower Cairnty. It is a big, long pool and holds fish the whole length and in most water heights. The water height was 7" on the gauge and the river temperature was a quite cold 35f. Not long after starting I landed a small kelt and on closer inspection we noticed the underside of the fish was golden, almost like a brown trout. The fish was certainly a salmon kelt but the colouring puzzled both myself and the ghillie. Charlie headed off to fish the Arns and I carried on fishing to the tail of the Cairnty. I lost a kelt and had a couple more pulls but nothing landed, Charlie likewise.

Once Charlie had fished the Arns he headed off to the Willows and I went into the Arns. Just as I got to the tail of the pool my fly was grabbed by a fish but it took it as I was mending the line and the hook hold was not great. It was off seconds later. I backed up the pool to cover the same lie again as the ghillies told us that it is not really a kelty pool so I was eager to see what took my Monkey as it swung round the lie. Several casts later my fly was taken again from the same lie and after a dogged scrap Andrew arrived just in time to net a big kelt. Probably the same fish that took the fly first time past but who knows?

Andrew suggested to go and try the Willows before lunch and as we were walking up to the pool I received a phone call from Charlie informing me that he had just lost a springer. The fish took one of his deadly SS Assassin sunrays. This fly landed Charlie many fish last year and on it first out this year took another but unfortunately it didn't stick. Never nice to lose a fish especially in the Spring but I'm sure there will be plenty landed soon enough. I fished down the Willows without a touch and we headed back to the hut for lunch at 1pm. 

After lunch, Charlie and I were to fish the Upper Cairnty. I stared right at the top opposite the wee pine tree on the bank and Charlie started just off the single slightly further down. Andrew had informed us that 3 fish were taken here last weekend and it was a good bet to be hold fresh fish. Not long after starting, Charlie landed a big sea-trout kelt which was very well mended. It would have probably been about 6lb fresh which would have been a beauty. The afternoon was slighly colder and the wind picked up which seemed to bring the fish on the take. I landed 6 kelts between the two boats and Charlie landed a kelt from the same part of the pool. We just couldn't temp a springer that might have been resting in amongst, which must have been hundreds of kelts.

The elusive Springer still eludes us but we will keep trying that's for sure. The first springer of the season was landed at Manar on the Don yesterday so they are creeping up the Don which is a good sign.

Here are some pictures from our day on the Spey yesterday.

Lower Cairnty. Looking downstream. Looks slow and featureless but it was fishing the fly quite nicely
Arns. A cracking wee pool were I landed a kelt just at the tail. The ghillie said it was not really a kelt holding pool so it got the blood pumping until I seen the flanks and realised it was another kelt.
Willows. Charlie fishing the tail of the beautiful Willows pool shortly after losing a springer. Cracking piece of fly water.
Cooperee. We din't fish this pool as it is a low water summer pool. Looks like another nice bit of water though.

Upper Cairnty. A good holding pool for Springers but all it produced for Charlie and I was kelts today. Again, another lovely pool to cast a fly on.
Yours truly fishing the Upper Cairnty in the wind and rain after lunch.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

River Spey - Brae Water Beat 5

This weekend saw Charlie and I out on the magnificent River Spey at Gordon Castle. We were fishing the Brae Water beat 5 which is one of the lower beats on the estate. The beat is situated about 5 miles from the sea and can produce fish through-out the season. The beat is ghillied by Blair Banks, who was a World Champion Spey caster in his younger days. Well, I say younger days but he's still only in his early twenties!!!

We met the ghillies at the usual rendezvous at The Gordon Arms Hotel in Fochabers and after a brief chat about catches etc we set off down to the hut to tackle up. As we were the only 2 rods booked on we had Blair's knowledge and expertise all day. He made us feel very welcome and did everything he could to make our day enjoyable. He set up our rods, tied on our flies, carried the rods to the pools and even waded out to make the first cast to ensure we started with a short line in the right spot. Along with all the advice and craic, it made our day thoroughly enjoyable.

We started at the top of the beat. Charlie fished the Intake pool and I fished the Grilse pool. Both these pools were lovely fly water and we expected a take every cast. As I was nearing the tail of the Grilse pool, there was several fish showed as they came up through the fast water from the run below. They all looked like good, fresh spring fish which got my adrenalin going on what was a cold, blustery day on Speyside. Just as I got to the spot where the fish showed, my 3/4inch Monkey conehead suddenly took off across the stream! I signaled to Blair who was up with Charlie and he arrived just as the fish took another storming run almost clearing out all my running line. My rod tip was bouncing all over the place. Surely this was a spring fish? After a rugged scrap for several minutes I finally got a bit of control over fish. Blair was positioned, ready with the net and as the fish showed itself for the first time, we realised it was a well mended kelt! Not one of the springers I saw coming up through the rapids. As I was drawing the fish into the waiting net, and just like last week on the Dee at Middle Drum, the hook pulled from the fishes mouth and my fly ended up over our heads and high into the trees behind! Whilst playing the fish and with some of the runs it made, I really thought this was the one we were after but not to be. Never-the-less, a fantastic battle but from one of last years models and the hunt for a springer goes on.

After lunch, Blair took us down to the Lower part of the beat. Charlie fished Lower Dipple and I fished the Bulwarks pool. The Bulwarks pool is about 850 yards long and apart from a wee bit in the middle of the pool, the whole lot fished very well. The lower part of the pool just above Fochabers Bridge, where the water channels into a lovely "V" shape midstream just screams fish. There was a springer lost there last week and I can see why a fish would stop and rest in this area. We both fished down the pool without a touch and we retired back to the hut just at the sun disappeared to reflect on another day "chasing silver".

Here are some pictures a a short video Charlie took of me playing and losing what turned out to be a very lively kelt. We're back on the Spey next weekend again so hopefully we will get some silver on the blog. Early days yet.

Grilse Pool. Looking upstream midway down the pool. A cracking pool that fishes the fly very well.
Looking downstream to the tail of the Grilse Pool where I hooked the kelt. It took just above the fast water at the side of a nice ripple caused by a stone below the surface. Blair informed us that the pool wouldn't even have been worth a cast in previous seasons as it was so shallow. Due to the nature of the area, gravel shifts are common and some of the pools change every spate.
Intake. Looking upstream at the tail of the pool.
Bulwarks. Looking downstream towards the bridge that crosses the Spey at Fochabers.

The tails of the Bulwarks Pool as it flows under the bridge.
Charlie (left) Blair the ghillie (right) and their dogs. Poppy, Brae and Bracken.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Middle Drum

My friend Charlie and I had a day on the Middle Drum beat of the River Dee yesterday. We always make a point of fishing here every year mainly due to fishing the famous Lawson Pool and because we have some good craic with the ghillie, Shane.

We arrived at the beat to find the water gauge sitting at 1ft 10in and the water temperature hovering around the 35f mark. The water is still quite cold but we were hopeful that fish would arrive in the pools and give us a chance to connect with what is so far this season, an elusive Dee Springer.

Charlie and I drew the top half of the beat in the morning and this consisted of the Island Run and the Cairnton Pool. I started in the Island Run and Charlie, who was to fish the Cairnton, was confident that a fish would be lying in his allotted pool and eagerly set off in anticipation. The morning for us however, proved to be fruitless but around 10.30am there was a good run of fish came into the pools and Andrew, one of the rods fishing the Lawson, landed a nice sea liced fish around the 6lb mark.

After an early lunch, we were to fish the Lawson Pool. This is a massive long pool but holds fish all year round. A good bet to land a nice springer. I started at the top and Charlie went in half way down. Not long after starting I connected with a kelt which hammered my 3/4inch Monkey fly. Just as Charlie went to slip the net under the fish, the fly came out but at least it saved us from having to unhook it ourselves. We both fished down to the tail of the Lawson without another offer but another rod Trevor landed a kelt just before dark. Not really much doing but at least we saw fresh fish going through the beat and hopefully plenty more will follow suit in the next few weeks. Middle Drum is a beat we always enjoy returning to and hopefully next time we can get a fish or two in the book.

Here are some pictures from our day on Middle Drum yesterday.

Island Run. A nice cast and a good pool later on in the year.

Lawson. Looking downstream from the top of the pool. Minutes after I took this picture a kelt grabbed fly just about mid-stream.
Lawson. Looking upstream from the top of the Lawson pool towards the Cairnton pool.
Having a cast in the Lawson pool. A nice picture taken by Charlie.
A rainbow over the Lawson but no "Pot of Gold" for us this time.