Saturday, 25 January 2014

Images From Royal Deeside Today

I had a few spare hours today so I spent them out and about on Royal Deeside taking photographs of the River Dee around the Potarch area. The river was in excellent shape sitting at around 2 feet on the gauge. It had a lovely colour to it, slightly peaty but clear enough to see the bottom in the shallower runs. Hopefully it will be the same next weekend and we see plenty fish caught on opening day.

I thought I would share a few of the photographs I took today just to whet the appetite of any fisherman sitting at home counting down the days until the start of the Salmon fishing season one week from today. It certainly made me want to get out there and have a cast or two!

The Deeside Way is a path which follows the river along the old Deeside Railway line.

The Potarch Bridge. Built by Contractors William Minto and completed in 1814 at a cost of £4067.

Walking over the historic bridge from the Potarch Hotel.

Looking down stream from the bridge into the famous Bridge Pool. The lower Ballogie fishing hut is to the right of the picture.
Looking upstream from Potarch Bridge.
A few hundred yards upstream of the bridge. Not sure of the pool name. Possibly Slips?

Looking downstream at a pool I think is called Flats.
Upstream a little further now to beautiful looking pool for fly fishing.

Looking downstream from the Borrowstone hut. Another cracking bit of river for the fly. Think this is called Sands?

Looking upstream from the hut. Really "fishy" pool I think is called Bend. I suppose that's why the hut is here. Has to be one of my favourite huts on the river. Full of character and the smell of layer upon layer creosote really adds to it's charm.

The stretch of river upstream of the hut looking towards Kincardine O' Neil. Again, looks a great bit of water at this height and I think this could be called Gannets.

A pheasant struts his stuff in a field adjacent to the Deeside Way.
A photo of the Potarch Hotel taken just before it closed for re-development in late 2013.

Monday, 20 January 2014

High Water On The Dee And Don

Yesterday saw torrential rainfall hit both River Dee and River Don catchment areas. The spate could have been a lot higher it was not for the lack of snow on the hills. If snow melt was added to the already huge volumes of water, the damage could have been a lot worse.

On the River Dee, the spate peaked around 10pm and was reading almost 11ft on the Park gauge! This caused huge amounts of debris to make it's way down river. There were hay bales, trees, logs and countless amounts of rubbish all getting a washed into the river from the banks and undergrowth. The Dee's largest tributary, the Feugh, was roaring down. It peaked around 8pm and was almost 8ft on the Heughhead gauge. Further downstream in Aberdeen, the Aberdeen & District Angling Association Bothy was flooded. With already high water, around 11pm the river quickly rose about 8" in just over 15 minutes. This was enough to make the river burst it's banks and make it's way into the workshop area.

Just over the hill to the North Eastern side of the Cairngorms, the River Don spate peaked around midnight at just over 5ft 6in on the Haughton gauge. The River Don meanders it's way mainly through farmland and this causes it to colour up very quickly. Plenty logs and straw made their way downstream which were washed off from the fields and woodland.

These pictures are of the River Dee taken from Park Bridge and the lower Dee in Aberdeen.

Looking downstream from Park Bridge. Still about 7ft on the gauge this afternoon.
Upstream view from Park Bridge. The water has cut the corner through the trees on the right.

Looking towards the Altries beat. The pool below is Alfred's Pot which is shared with Tilbouries.

Riverside in Aberdeen looking towards the Bridge of Dee. Note the tide mark on the grass where the water had been only a few hour earlier.

A large log lies on the bank covered in straw. Looking downstream towards the King George VI Bridge.

Someone will be missing part of their fence today! Doesn't look that old either.
Still plenty water on the grass where the river burst it's banks.
The A.D.A.A Bothy which was under water last night and part of this morning. Luckily nothing was too damaged.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Scale Sample Results

Through-out last season I took scale samples from several salmon and sea trout caught by myself or others. A majority of the fish were grilse but there was scale taken from a few bigger fish too.

I got some of the results back from scale samples I had taken last season from several fish caught during October. River Don bailiff, Martin Webster emailed me today with so very interesting reading.

The first reading was from scales of a 4lb sea trout caught from the Don 19/10/2013. It was caught by another angler but whilst unhooking it, we noticed it was long and thin with a swollen vent. It looked very much like a kelt so I took some scales. I had been looking forward to seeing the results. This is what Martin observed;

"I had a look at that scales and the Sea Trout caught last Oct 19th could have already spawned as you thought. From the scale reading it had entered the river earlier in the season possibly May as the growth rate had slowed considerably. I could tell though that it had spent 2 years in the river before going to sea and had spent 1 sea winter before returning to freshwater. The spawning mark on the scale only shows up after a while so I couldn't be sure." 

The next fish was a 7lb grilse caught by my dad on the 12th October, also from the River Don. Grilse are pretty much self explanatory when telling it's time at sea etc but this is how the scale read:

"The 7lb female caught 12/10/13 from the Manse was a Grilse and spent 2 years in freshwater before smolting. It then spent 1 sea winter before returning late last season. The scale reads 2.1.1+ "

The scale reading above was taken from the fish pictured.

The final reading I received was from a scale taken from a cracking 17lb Salmon caught by Barry Garden from the River Don also on the 19th October. It was fat as a pig and fairly fresh. I am glad I got scales from this fish as they make for very interesting reading. This is what they read;

"Lastly the 17lb was an interesting fish. It spent 3 years in the river before smolting and then fed at sea for 2 sea winters. The fish had then returned and spawned before making it back down river as a Kelt and got back to the sea. After another winter, the fish returned to freshwater for a second time, something very few manage to do. The scale reads 3.2+SM+"

This 17lb River Don Salmon has clocked up a fair few miles in her life!  

It's really good to find out more about these magnificent creatures and amazing just how much information you can get from a few scales.

Monday, 6 January 2014

The New Season Is Just Around The Corner!

The Salmon Fishing season in Scotland is nearly upon us once again and with the poor showing last year, you would be forgiven if you were having trouble getting excited about the coming 2014 season. Not me though, as like every year, I can't wait to get going again! The fly lines are all cleaned and re-looped, the fly boxes have been re-stocked, the reels have been serviced and a few new items are primed and ready to go. The only thing missing is a river to fish on!

Fly boxes are full again and lines ready for action.

I have to wait until 8th February to get my first crack at catching an elusive spring salmon when I will be taking my annual February day on the famous Park beat of the River Dee. Before then though, several rivers in Scotland will be opening up within the next week or so. The first are several of the Northern rivers such as the Helmsdale and Thurso. Then, on the 15th January, the River Tay welcomes it's first visitors of the new season.

February fishing on the River Dee at Little Blackhall & Inchmarlo.

The rivers I mainly fish don't open until February. The Dee opens first on the 1st and the Don follows on the 11th. The Dee especially is a fantastic early river and spring salmon can be caught through out the system on opening day. The Don can also produce early fish but it only really starts to see fish being caught more towards the end of March. From then on it can be excellent, especially if the last few seasons are anything to go by. In my opinion, there is no better prize than landing a spanking fresh early running salmon. It certainly makes you forget all about the freezing temperatures and ice cold water. I can't wait!

What we are all after! A cracking fresh run Springer from the River Dee on the 19th March 2011.