Monday, 22 December 2014

Merry Christmas And A Happy New Year

I'd just like to wish everyone who takes the time to look in on my Blog a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Hope you all enjoy my blog and I will look forward to keeping it updated next year.

Tight Lines for 2015.

Even Santa Claus can't resist having a cast!
Winter on Royal Deeside.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Please Sign And Help Save Our Atlantic Salmon

Spey ghillie and salmon fishing guide, Ian Gordon has teamed up with the Salmon and Trout Association to petition the Scottish Government to try and get the killing of all Atlantic Salmon by either rod or net stopped before 1st July. This would help enormously to conserve what are already dwindling stocks and allow our native, wild salmon a safe journey back to their rivers and spawning grounds.

This is a very good cause and it would be great if anyone reading this with an interest in not only salmon fishing, but fishing in general would sign the petition. Salmon numbers are dropping sharply at the moment due to numerous factors but the sooner the killing of salmon is curtailed the better it. After all, it's a positive step in the right direction.

Please sign here: Salmon Petition

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The Impacts Of Salmon Farming

Please take the time to watch these videos about the impacts that salmon farming is having on the populations of wild fish in not only British Columbia but where ever they are situated.

These toxic and disease magnets of farmed fish are very dangerous to native wild stocks, not just in British Columbia but closer to home here in Scotland and Ireland too. Lochs and estuaries on the West coast of Scotland are full of these salmon farms and escapes are quite common. Also, the sea lice infestations that occur around these salmon pens are decimating native juvenile fish on their migration back to sea when they get in close proximity to these farms.

It says it all really when the Norwegian Government don't even allow these farms in their own waters yet, Norwegian Salmon companies are setting up in other countries and causing huge amounts of damage to the sea beds and native fish populations.

Watching these films might just open up people's eyes to the fact that these salmon farms are quickly destroying the areas in which they operate. Hopefully they will also make consumers think twice before buying farmed salmon and what impact it has on the areas where they are produced.

Salmon Confidential

Norway, This is how you look in Canada!

 Salmon Lice On Sea Trout And Salmon

There are loads more videos on YouTube on this subject and it has come to a time where we really need to let as much people as possible see just what these farms do.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

2014 Salmon Fishing Highlights

Despite the obvious lack of salmon running many rivers in the Northern Hemisphere this year, my catches have been reasonably good considering. I had a few Spring fish which was very pleasing, not so much luck during the summer months but I finished my season off with a number of fish which I was grateful for. I did however, have to put in the hours for my fish as the blank days by far outnumber the successful ones.

One pleasing aspect about my 2014 season has been catching fish from several beats I had never fished before. These included a cracking Springer of around 8lb from the Castle Forbes beat on the River Don in April. Then I got two fresh, back end fish of 4lbs and 15lbs from the famous Ballogie beat of the River Dee in September and I fortunate enough to land two fish in October weighing 5lbs and 9lbs from the Don on my first ever visit to Semeil Farm.


The Spring for me was very good in terms of fish caught considering the Spring run was well down on previous years. I managed to catch salmon in February, March and April. Not landing a fish in May prevented the full house.

A particular highlight for me was landing my first February Springer from Carlogie on the River Dee. I had lost a good fish not long after starting on the Thursday morning and hardly had a touch, even from a kelt, until 4pm on the Saturday when I landed an 8lber from Fraser's Pool which was the perfect way to end my 3 days there for anther year.

My first February springer from the River Dee at Carlogie.
In March, I was lucky enough to get an invitation to fish the River Dee at Inchmarlo and was delighted to land this sea lice Springer of around 6lb in a very high water.

A nice sea liced springer from Little Blackhall & Inchmarlo in March
Another highlight was hosting a Salmo Proboards Forum Meet on the River Don at Castle Forbes along with my friend Bill Cook. We booked the whole beat for the day and there was 8 of us fishing which included some rods who had never fished the Don before. Despite low water, we landed 3 springers for our day which was a fantastic result. I got 1 and Bill got the other 2. We took a bit of stick as we were local lads and the ones who got the fish but we had a great couple of days. Good company, good craic and good fishing. What more could you want?

A cracking River Don springer from Castle Forbes in April during the Forum Meet.


Summer salmon fishing for me was almost none existent in terms of catches. I spent more time fishing for Brown Trout on the Don than anything else and landed a few good ones along the way. I did however, land a salmon from the River Don at Manar on the 23rd August in a high water. A coloured fish around 7lb came to the net after losing a bigger and cleaner fish just a few minutes earlier.
Summer Salmon from the River Don at Manar.
A sea liced grilse from the Don caught by my pal, Charlie Robertson in August.
A nice sea trout from Headinch and Cambus O May which got a good tune out of my Uncle's old Sharpes Aquarex reel.
A nice sea trout from the Spey taken on a small Monkey tube..

Back End

The back end of the season was very kind to me this year and I had a several good days on the river. A small clean Grilse and a cracker of 15lb from the Dee at Ballogie on the 22nd September is a particular highlight. Both taken on small Red Francis double.

A wee grilse from Ballogie in September.
A cracker of around 15lb also from Ballogie.
During October my catches seemed to come in pairs and I landed another two fish on the 11th October, again from the Dee, but this time at Inchmalo. These were both coloured fish which were estimated at 5lb and 14lb. 
A coloured Grilse from Inchmarlo in October.
14lb hen Salmon from Inchmarlo also during October.

A few days later, I was out for an hour or so after work on the 16th and was lucky enough to land a nice, clean fish of around 5lbs from Lower Fintray. My first salmon off the ADAA water this season. Better late than never I suppose.

A bright October Grilse from the Don at Lower Fintray.

Later in the month, I booked a last minute outing on the Upper Don at Semeil Farm and was rewarded with two fish which were roughly 5lb and 9lb respectively. It was my first time on the beat and I really enjoyed it.

A coloured fish about 5lb from Semeil.
My second fish from Semeil. A heavily coloured hen of around 9lb.
My friend, Bill Cook's 13lb Salmon from the Don at Kemnay.
I am just in the process of booking up my fishing for the Spring and I'm really looking forward to it. Hopefully it will be a better year for the Salmon this time round and we see decent runs through-out the season.Whatever happens, I'll be out on the river in the search of Silver!.

Roll on 2015!

Monday, 17 November 2014

Park Shrimp, Calvin's Shrimp and Maggie's Shrimp

I have been busy at the vice this week tying flies in preparation for the new season which starts in January 2015. Last year, I decided to limit the amount of patterns I have in my tube fly boxes to roughly 7 or 8. I have stuck to patterns I have confidence in and ones that have caught me fish before.

After the Franc N Snaelda patterns I posted last week, I've been tying up shrimp patterns this time round and theses 3 patterns are the ones I tend to stick with, not only in the early season, but during the back end too.

All 3 patterns were created by my pal Ross MacDonald and are proven catchers of Salmon. Ross has his own website called MacDonald Salmon Flies where you can purchase his flies. His distinctive style makes his flies stand out from any copies and it's certainly worth having one or two in your box.

L-R. Calvin's Shrimp, Maggie's Shrimp and Park Shrimp.
Park Shrimp. Named after the famous salmon beat on the River Dee here in Scotland. This is probably one of the most successful flies in recent times and there can't be many fly boxes where this pattern doesn't feature.
Calvin's Shrimp. Another cracking pattern and does well all year round but it excels in the later months of the season.
Maggie's Shrimp. My favourite of the three but that will change with which ever one catches me my next fish!

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Manar - River Don

The last Saturday of the salmon fishing season on the River Don at Manar is traditionally seen out with a BBQ at the hut. This year was no different and despite the lack of salmon running the river there was still a good number of us there to give it one last go before hanging up the gear for another year. As well as many of the Manar regulars, friends of mine, Bill Cook and Kenny Carr had taken day tickets to fish the beat. It was both their first time on Manar and they were very impressed with the set up and what the beat had to offer in terms of quality fly fishing.

The river was sitting at around 7" on the beat gauge when Charlie and I arrived just after 8am. The day started off with little wind and the river was flat calm, but just like someone had flicked a switch, the high winds which battered Scotland all week were back and this made casting very difficult at times. Regardless of the conditions, we all gave the beat a good going over before stopping around 3pm to enjoy the vast quantities of meat and alcohol back at the hut. The burgers, chops and sausages were expertly cooked by Fred and Charlie on the beat's BBQ. They went down well whilst sat in the hut enjoying a glass of Fred's delicious Damson Gin and mulling over what has been a dreadful season on, not only the Don, but a majority of rivers in the Northern Hemisphere.

Unfortunately, these are the last pictures you will see of the Manar fishing hut. There was an accidental fire which sadly took hold once we were all gone and burnt the hut to the ground along with many years worth of memories and photos. A lot of hard work went into maintaining the hut year on year and it was a welcome place to enjoy your lunch in front of the fire on a cold spring day or to enjoy a drink after flogging the river.Still, plans are in place for a replacement hut and will look forward to seeing it come Spring time.

Bill Cook concentrating hard whilst fishing the Ree Pot.
Bill Cook, Mike McBain and yours truly discussing the fishing over a beer.
A decent turn out for the BBQ which went down a treat as per usual.
Ian and Duncan having a beer round the table.
A quick picture before the light disappeared. L>R Mike, Ian, Duncan, Pam, Charlie and me.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Franc N Snaelda Salmon Flies

I have been busy tying up a few Franc N Snaelda tube flies for next Spring as this pattern turned out to be my most successful fly I used in 2014. It accounted for 5 out of 11 salmon I caught this year and it shall be my "go to" pattern again next year.

The pattern was invented on the banks of the River Dee by Ballogie ghillie, Sean Stanton and it incorporates both Francis and Snaelda characteristics. These types of flies were extremely popular, not only on Deeside, but on all rivers, so Sean decided to marry these two deadly patterns together and so the Franc N Snaelda was born.

Some Franc N Snaelda tubes I've tied up recently.
Some Pink Franc N Snaeldas which did well for me during the back end of the season.
Blank and Yellow Franc N Snaelda. Very popular colour combo for Spring fishing.
Green Highlander Franc N Snaelda. Not a pattern I use much at all but like the look of it tied in this style.
Junction Shrimp Franc N Snaelda. This pattern served me well during October on the River Don.
Munro Killer Franc N Snaelda. I really like this pattern tied in the Snaelda style.
Cascade Franc N Snaelda. Had some success with this pattern back in August.
Willie Gunn Snaelda. A very popular pattern in the Spring months.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Upper River Don

As the water levels have been reasonably high these last few days, I decided to head to the Upper Don for a days fishing near Strathdon. A quick check of the river levels before I left the house indicated than Don was falling after some heavy rain and was sitting around 9" on the Culfork gauge.

I met beat owner John Riley at his house around 8.30am to pay for my fishing and to have a chat about the beat as I'd never fished it before. John and his wife were very welcoming and pointed out the most likely pools on the beat map provided and after a brief chat, I headed off to the river.

I tackled up with my 13ft Hardy Uniqua rod and a Airflo Quick Spey floating line with a 7ft intermediate polyleader attached on the end. I had tied up several Junction Shrimp Franc N Snaeldas earlier on in the week and because the water was heavily peat stained I opted for one of these as it would be ideal for the current river conditions.

I decided to start on the lower half of the beat and began my day in the New pool fishing off the North bank. With the water being the colour of a dark rum I couldn't see the bottom and was unsure if I could wade down the margins or not so I just fished it off the bank. It was not the easiest to fish from the bank but I didn't want to take any chances. Having said that, the pool fished the fly very well and I fished the pool all the way down to the bridge with only a small Brown trout about 1lb for my efforts.

Fishing down through the New Pool towards the bridge over the A944.
After fishing the New pool I drove upstream to fish the Rumblind Pot. This had a very fast run which came in at the neck of the pool but leveled out nicely the further down the pool you went. I fished this pool from the South bank. It was a really nice pool to fish which fished the fly very well at this height. Although I didn't see any sign of fish in here, I'm sure they were there. I just think the heavily peat stained water was maybe keeping them down. With this in mind, I changed my fly to a heavier version of the Junction Shrimp Franc N Snaelda for my run down through the next pool.

Rumblind Pot. Looked a very good pool at this height of water.
Looking upstream in the Rumblind Pot.
The next pool down was the Dr Pool. It had a nice glide which came in from the neck of the pool and flowed all the way down the north bank. Another likely looking pool but I felt it might just need a bit more water in it to fish better. I fished it all the way down regardless but didn't get a touch and it was on to the next pool which was called Deskry.

Looking upstream in the Dr Pool.
The Deskry Pool looked very fishy. The pool starts just above where the Deskry Water enters the Don. I saw a few fish splash in here not long after starting which gave me encouragement. I began right up on the fast water in the neck of the pool and began to fish it down. Not long after starting, I had an offer from a small fish which turned out to be another brown Trout about 1lb. It hammered my fly even with a mouth full of salmon parr. The head of the poor wee fish was sticking out of its mouth along with my fly. I quickly returned the fish and continued down the pool. As I crossed the burn and go nearer the tail there were a couple more fish showing but try as I might, I couldn't temp any of them. The water looked like it was clearing some of the peat stain by now which maybe got one or two fish excitable.

Looking downstream into Deskry.
The Desky Water which the pool takes it's name.
The tail of Deskry.
I carried on downstream to the next pool which was the Long Pool. This looked a lovely bit of water and I was sure there would be a fish or two in here. Again, I started up at the neck and worked my way down. I could have only had about a dozen casts when I had a good offer just as I was hand lining to re-cast. I lifted into a fish but no sooner was it on when it came off again. Still, at least I knew they were there and that there was interest in my fly. I cast again of the same lie a couple of times but couldn't temp the fish again.

Fishing down the Long Pool.
I continued on through the pool fishing the sink and draw style and not long after my first offer, I had a thumping take just as I was coming out of the current which went down the North bank. I lifted into a very dogged and acrobatic fish which stayed deep and over in the fast water. I played the fish hard and I was very pleased to see it safely in the net. I would strongly recommend the use of a net to anyone fishing at this time of year. It's best to keep these coloured fish in the water as much as possible when so near to spawning. Anyway, the hen fish was roughly about 5lb and I removed the hook and sent her on her way.

A hen fish about 5lbs taken in the Long Pool on a Junction Shrimp Franc N Snaelda.
I carried on down the pool using the same fly and fishing it the same way when, just as I approached the tail of the pool, I had another cracking take! This fish was bigger than the one just returned but was very strong and acrobatic, having jumped several times not long after being hooked. I managed to get the fish under some sort of control so I tightened up the drag on my reel just to try and stop any other runs. this seemed to do the trick and a few minutes later I managed to slip the net under a fish about 9lbs. This fish was heavily coloured so I quickly took the hook out and returned it as soon as I could taking this quick picture as she went back. Within the space of 30 minutes, I had had 3 offers and landed 2 fish and all from 1 run down the pool.

Returning my second fish from the Long Pool. A coloured hen about 9lb which also took the Junction Shrimp Franc N Snaelda.
The next pool down was the Corner Pool. Just a short pool but it looked like it might be a resting place for a fish coming up through the faster water below. I had a run through it but without a touch so I decided it was time for lunch.

Fishing the Corner Pool.
After lunch the wind really whipped up and this made casting very difficult at times, especially in the pools where you were fishing off high banks. I did head up to the top part of the beat but just had a look at the water. I decided to give the New Pool another go but as good as the pool was looking, it didn't produce an offer so I headed of back up to fish the Deskry and Long Pools again. Despite my best efforts and with a lot of slice casting just to get the line out, I didn't get another touch for the rest of the day. I headed off up to see John around 4pm to sign the catch return book before I headed home.

It's always good to fish a new bit of water and I really enjoyed my day on the Upper Don. I had only booked it the night before so to get two fish really was a bonus. It's just a pity the weather turned for the worse in the afternoon as the water was dropping nicely and the colour was getting better by the hour. I will certainly look forward to my next visit.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

13lb Salmon From The River Don

I was happy to be on hand to assist my pal, Bill Cook in landing this 13lb cock Salmon on the River Don yesterday. It put up a very dogged fight before coming to hand a good few minutes after it was hooked. Bill also had a coloured hen fish around 8lb. Unfortunately, all I could mange was 7 Brown Trout which seemed to be switched on to pink Franc N Snaeldas.

Bill's 13lber ready to be released. It was taken on one of his small Junction Shrimps.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

5lb Grilse From The River Don Tonight

I was out for a cast after my work tonight on the River Don and I was fortunate enough to land this salmon of around 5lb. It put up a good fight and was very acrobatic but after a few minutes, I manged to beach the fish. I took this quick photo before it was returned safely to the river.

October silver from the River Don.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Little Blackhall & Inchmarlo - River Dee

On Friday, I was delighted to accept a last minute invite from ghillie, Terry Paton to fish the Inchmarlo beat of the River Dee near Banchory on Saturday. With the water a good height and sitting around 2ft 2in on the Woodend gauge, Terry was confident that there was a great chance of getting a fish or two. We discussed tactics for the day over a cup of coffee in the hut and decided that getting down in front of the fish using sinking lines and tubes would be our best bet. I tackled up with my 14' 9" Guideline rod and my intermediate Scott MacKenzie shooting head. I attached a 6ft 5.6ips tip and to that, a Red Francis before changing to a pink Franc N Snaelda not long after starting.
The fishing hut on the Inchmarlo bank.
Terry suggest giving the top part of the beat a quick run through before concentrating on the area opposite the gauge on the Little Blackhall side slightly further downstream which I did without getting an offer so I changed fly over to a pink Franc N Snaelda to fish the next pool.

Ice House. The upper most pool on the Inchmarlo beat.
I moved on down to the next pools which were Holly Bush and Sandy Bay. These were where Terry had suggested I concentrate my efforts as they were at a good height and would give a good chance of getting a fish. I fished the first 20 yards or so without an offer but there was a few fish showing about mid stream just off a likely looking lie. Terry advised to cast as long a line as possible just to allow the fly to get down deeper as it came into the lie, which I did. As my fly swung round I began to fish it sink and draw and just as it past the lie, I had a thumping take. I lifted into, what was, a very strong and lively fish. After a few minutes and some acrobatics, I managed to beach a small cock fish which weighed roughly 5lbs. After a quick photo it was released to carry on his journey to the spawning grounds. I checked my fly and recast over the same lie as where I picked up the grilse minutes earlier. I must have only had 2 or 3 casts when I had another solid take. I lifted into a much strong fish this time and it felt a good bit heavier than the last one. It made several cracking runs off the reel and just when I thought I had it under control, it threw the hook. It felt like a good fish and I was disappointed to lose it, especially after keeping in good contact with it whilst it motored up and down the pool. Still, at least I knew my set up was doing the trick, so I dusted myself down and carried on through the pool but apart from a small brown trout, I didn't get another offer.

Holly Bush. Just expecting a pull on every cast at this height.
Sandy Bay. I got the fish (pictured below) in here and lost another. Excellent bit of water.
A cock fish around 5lbs taken on a pink Franc N Snaelda fished deep.

The next pool down was the Floating Bank. Terry also thought this would give a good chance of a fish but i fished through the pool without a touch and headed off back to the hut for some lunch.

Floating bank. Another lovely pool at this height of water.
After an extended lunch, I headed down to fish the famous Roe Pot pool and Terry went to fish the upper part. Terry said to start 50 yards or so above the wall as the top part of the pool was a bit heavy at this height. We'd seen a few fish show in here throughout the day so we knew they were there and confidence was high after a decent morning in the upper part of the beat.

The Roe Pot. I started in here after lunch. A good few fish about in here during the day.
A small Sea Trout which took a liking to the pink Franc N Snaelda too.
About 10 minutes after starting, as I was just below the wall, I had a very subtle take just off a boil about 20 yards or so out. I lifted into, what was a small fish which turned out to be a sea trout about 1lb. I quickly released it and cast over the same lie again. My fly was swinging round nicely when I had a cracking take. I lifted into a hefty fish which took off downstream like a steam train. It made some long, powerful runs and thrashed about on the surface a few times before it calmed down. I thought I had it beat and began to draw it into a gap in the bank but she had other ideas and was off on another long run down river. I followed her down this time and after a few more minutes, I manged to get in the water and tail the fish about 100 yards below where I hook it! I  removed the hook and quickly took a photo of the fish which I to be around the 14lb mark before slipping it back into the Dee. She swam off strongly and off to do the business on the redds in these next few weeks. The pink Franc N Snaelda was certainly doing the trick today.

The Roe Pot just above the wall which you can see on the left of the picture.

A hen fish about 14lb which also took the pink Franc N Snaelda.

Looking upstream in the Roe Pot. Very enjoyable pool to fish.
I fished on down through the rest of the Roe Pot without an offer but I did see a few fishing showing. It was around 4.30 by this time so I headed off back upstream to see how Terry had got on. Whilst standing chatting, head had a swirl at his Monkey fly as he pulled it across the pool which was encouraging so I went off up to the Holly Bush to give it another run through along with Sandy Bay. I had been fishing for 20 minutes or so when I saw Terry was into fish down in the Floating Bank. I wound in and grabbed my net out my car and headed off to help him out. After a few minutes I slid the net under a lively fish around 7lb which took a big, heavy Red Francis conehead. It was swiftly photographed and returned so I headed off back up to fish again.
Terry with his first fish which was around 7lb. Taken on a Red Francis tube.
I was not long back up to Sandy Bay when I noticed Terry was bent into another fish. I reeled in again and went down to assist. A short while later I netted his second fish in quick succession. This time a cleaner looking hen fish about 5lbs.
Terry's second fish of the afternoon. Also taken on the Red Francis.
That was to be the last action of the day but what a day! 4 Salmon, 2 sea trout and a lost fish with a few other offers and pulls in between. It's not often I am in the right place at the right time so I was very grateful to Terry for the last minute invite over to fish. A memorable final day on the Dee for 2014 which has been a season many won't be sorry to see the back of. I can't complain as I've done pretty well considering but roll on 2015. Fingers crossed it's a better one.