I was extremely fortunate to be given the opportunity to fish the famous Lower Crathes and West Durris beat on the River Dee last Saturday. Although catches had been slow in recent weeks, I was still excited like a kid at Christmas to be fishing these hallowed waters.
I arrived at the beat to be greeted by underghillie, Jordan Sinclair. He informed me that the water height on the beat was sitting at 2ft and the water temperature was around the 37f mark. I was to fish the lower part of the beat from Crathes bridge down. My set up for the day was my Scott Mackenzie Float/Intermediate Shooting Head with a 6ft 2.6 inch per second tip. My fly of choice was a Monkey tied on an aluminum Yuri Shumakov tube.
As was to fishing the bottom half of the beat which lies below Crathes Bridge, I was to start my day off in the Greenbamks Pool. Jordan pointed out the main areas to concentrate on and went off to get one of the other rods started in the Bulwarks pool. I waded out from the Crathes bank and began to cast as far over to the far bank as I could as that's where the fish were likely to be. About 10 minutes after starting, I had a solid take and lifted into a lively fish. The fish made a few surging runs and showed it's flanks whilst trying to turn on the surface. I walked backward onto the shingle bank and attempted to beach the fish. A few minutes later I managed to get the fish onto the bank. If had lost the fish, I would have be sure it was a Springer as it was full of life and put up a great scrap however, once landed it was clear to see that the fish was a kelt. It was a very well mended kelt and I'm sure it would have no trouble getting back to sea. I fished through the Greenbaks without another offer so Jordan suggested that I go upstream to the next pool.
A few hundred yards upstream is the Kelpie Pool. The Kelpie has lovely glide coming off from the tail of the pool above to create a cracking stream to fish the fly in. The main current is down the Crathes bank but Jordan informed me that fish can be had from mid stream to right in towards the bank. Although the pool looked very "fishy", I didn't see or touch anything so I headed across the river to fish the Bulwarks pool from the Durris bank.
The Bulwarks pool is the bottom pool on the beat and the next pool up from Park which is the beat below. The pool has a nice even flow to it and fishes well from both banks. Jordan was on hand to point out all the hot spots and so I waded out to give it a go. I fished all the way down until I was under the electric cables without seeing or touching a fish but again, it looked so promising.
My next pool to fish was the Lower Bridge Pool so I crossed over the river again and made my way up the track to the top of the pool. I have driven over the Crathes Bridge many times and always look down into the river wishing I could cast a line here so to get the chance today was special. I changed over to a fly created by my friend Charlie called the SS (Sunray Shadow) Assassin just to see if I could provoke a reaction from a fish. Jordan explained that as long a cast as possible was necessary as the fish ran up the Durris bank. I started at the top of the pool just below the bridge and began fishing my way down the pool slowly stripping the sunray across the stream as I went. About halfway down the pool, there was a swirl at the fly but whatever kind of fish it was, it missed it. That turned out to be the only offer I had in the pool.
Head ghillie, Robbie Harper suggested I try above the bridge for a while before dark so I headed off up to fish the Lady's Pool(?). The pool has several jetties which make it easy to cover the water and also to get out just that little it further. Fantastic water to cast a fly on but no fish took any interest in what I was offering them so I headed off downstream.
The next pool I was to fish was the famous Bridge Pool. The biggest fish from the Dee last year was taken out of this pool in April 2013 but it has a reputation for some great catches all season long. It was just about dark when I fished the pool but I made sure I gave it a good going over before leaving. Cracking pool to fish and I was waiting in anticipation of the line going tight on every cast. Sadly not this time but an absolute pleasure to fish.
My first time on Lower Crathes and West Durris was a great experience. Although no springers were landed on the day, it was a dream to fish such a famous stretch of the Dee and I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to do so.
Here are some pictures from my day.
|The main fishing hut on the Crathes bank.|
|A salmon weather vain on the roof of the fishing hut.|
|Fishing the Greenbanks pool from the Crathes bank.|
|Looking upstream from the Greenbanks.|
|Kelpie from the Crathes bank.|
|Looking upstream halfway down the Kelpie.|
|Fishing the Bulwarks pool from the Durris bank.|
|Looking upstream in the Bulwarks.|
|Lower Bridge Pool.|
|Looking upstream from midway down the Lower Bridge Pool.|
|Lady's Pool(?) or Jetties Pool. Cracking pool to fish a fly through.|
|Looking upstream in the Bridge Pool.|
Here are some pictures from my day.