Tuesday, 17 December 2013

My Salmon Fishing Highlights 2013

As the end of 2013 is fast approaching, I thought I would share some of the highlights from my fishing season. As well as my usual days on the Dee and Spey, one particular highlight for me was my first cast on the mighty River Tay. It was on the Newtyle beat near Dunkeld and apart from the Baltic conditions, I really enjoyed it. Below are my most memorable salmon fishing moments of 2013.

It took a while to get going for me this year but eventually on the 14th May, I landed my first fish from Horseshoe Haugh on the Manar beat of the River Don. It weighed 13lbs. My friend Charlie also had a cracking 13lber not long before me taken from the Sheep Pool. Both our fish took Charlie's deadly SS Assassin fly.

My 13lber from the Horseshoe Haugh at Manar.
Charlie with a cracking River Don Springer from the Sheep Pool.
My next fish was taken the following week when I took a trip to fish the South Esk on the Downie Park and Cortachy Castle beat. I had never fished the river before but really enjoyed myself and to get a spanking fresh 10lber was the icing on the cake. I am definitely heading back there in 2014 and looking forward to it already. The fish took a Dee Sheep tube and it also christened my new 13ft Hardy Uniqua rod.
10lb South Esk Springer. Beautiful river in beautiful surroundings.

As the dry summer wore on, the fish were only running in dribs and drabs but if you were in the right place at the right time, you would catch them. This happened to me one August morning whilst fishing the Don. I was not expecting much but was delighted to landed a sea liced grilse about 5lbs. Nothing special about a grilse you may ask, but to me it was very significant. It was the first fish I landed using a fly pattern designed by myself. My Dad named it the Kitchen Sink (KS) Shrimp because I had thrown everything else at the fish in the weeks before I landed this one! It's a name I like to be honest and two days later it claimed it's second fish. This time a slightly coloured hen about 10lbs from the same pool. (not pictured) See Blog post from August for picture.

A sea liced grilse from the Don. My first fish taken on a fly pattern I designed myself. The KS Shrimp was off the mark.
Another memorable moment was watching my Dad land a fish from exactly were I told him he would get one! Luck? Possibly, but you have to have an idea where the fish lie. He was actually on his way to fish one of his "Hot Spots" when I told him he couldn't walk by this lie without having a cast or two. Guess what happened? First cast and BANG! Straight into a fish. It turned out to be a beauty of about 7lb. Not long after my Dad returned his fish, I decided to have a go in the same spot and after only two or three casts I was also into a fish. My fish was slightly smaller but straight out the wrapper and weighed about 6lbs..

My Dad and his first fish of the season. It pays to listen to the Ghillie!

A fresh grilse from the same lie as my Dad's fish above.

September proved to be a difficult month on both the Dee and Don due to the continual low water. This should have been prime time on the Don but the runs just never came. I did however manage a few fish from the Dee. I finally broke my duck at Tilbouries with a coloured grilse about 3-4lbs from Alfred's Pot and I also got 2 grilse one morning from the lower Dee at Banchory Devenick. October however, would prove to be a good month for me. On the afternoon of the 2nd, I decide to fish the lower Dee during my lunch hour whilst at work. This turned out to be a good decision because during that time, I landed 3 grilse! All of which were take on a #11 KS Shrimp. The first was a slighly coloured fish about 3-4lb, the second was a freshish cock fish about 5lb but the pic of the bunch was a cracker straight from the sea about 6lb. It was dripping in long tail sea lice and has to be one of my best looking salmon that I've caught to date.

1st fish of my lunch break. A wee fish about 3-4lbs
Number 2. Slightly coloured cock fish about 5lb.
Pick of the bunch. A cracking sea liced River Dee October salmon.
The final fishing day of my season saw me back on the Manar beat of the River Don for their annual "Manar Shindig" which traditionally happens on the last Saturday of the season. The "Manar Shindig" basically consists of a BBQ, copious amount of alcohol and some salmon fishing thrown in for good measure! This season will certainly not go down in the history books as a good one by any means but for me, it was pretty successful considering the low water conditions which plagued most rivers throughout Scotland. Almost as I last resort I had a cast in the Ree Pot. I'm glad I did because after a good battle, I landed a beast of a cock fish. It was taken on another fly which I designed myself called the "Red Marauder Shrimp". I designed this fly for the Salmon Fishing Forum Tie of the Month competition but thought I would give it a swim. I'm glad I did because the fish hammered the wee #11 double as soon as it passed over it's lie. It measured 35 1/2" long and we estimated it 18lbs. The fish had a huge girth but unfortunately I didn't get that measurement so we will never know what it could have been. Either way it was a great fish to sign off my season with.

18lb cock fish taken on a small Red Marauder Shrimp.
Back he goes to continue his journey.
Well, that's my season highlights from this year. Hopefully next year will have many more and I will look forward to sharing my outings and catches.

Thank you to everyone who visits my blog and hopefully you all check in again in 2014.

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Tight Lines
Craig Fleming

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