Monday, 22 September 2014

Ballogie - River Dee

Back in March I was fortunate enough to get a rod on the famous Ballogie beat on the River Dee. I was to fish the lower part of the beat which is from Potarch Bridge down stream to the march with Commonty. As I have never fished Ballogie before, I was very excited by the prospect.

I arrived at the hut around 8.30am and was met by ghillies Sean and Ian. The water was still a bit on the low side and was reading about 7" on the bridge gauge but hearing that there was plenty fish in the pools was all the encouragement I needed. After a discussion on tactics and flies, I tackled up with my 13fy Hardy Uniqua, AFS floating shooting head with a 6ft 1.5ips tip attached. Sean advised that nearly all the fish last week were taken on a Red Francis so that was the fly I opted for too.

The beat gauge on Potarch Bridge reading about 7".
The hut on the lower Ballogie beat which overlooks the Bridge Pool.
Ian took me down to the bottom half of the beat and showed the the likely spots and where to concentrate my efforts. I decided to start my day off in the Lower Inchbare pool which Ian had suggested would be a good bet to pick up a fish. I made my into the river and worked my way down the pool. I had fished down about 20 yards or so and I got a subtle take on my fly. I initially thought it to be a trout and tried to get it in as quickly as I could but as the fish got nearer, I noticed it was a small grilse. It took off downstream as I attempted to land it but I soon had it back under control and drew it into my waiting net. I couldn't have asked for a better start. Sean's size 10 Red Francis did the trick and his flies can be bought from his website francnsnaelda.com. They come highly recommended if you didn't know about them already. I didn't get another touch through the rest of the pool but there were several fish showing.

Lower Inchbare. Still a bit misty when I started this morning but it soon burnt off.
Looking upstream from the hut at Lower Inchbare.
A fresh grilse taken on a size 10 Red Francis from Lower Inchbare not long after starting.
The next pool down was Priest's Hole. Sean had said this pool used to produce fish many years ago but it's mostly overlooked these days. Since I might never be back again, I thought I'd might as well give it a go. This pool has some obvious lies where you might pick up a fish or two but sadly, not for me today. I fished the rest pool without a touch and carried on downstream to fish the Corner Pool.

Priest's Hole. Tricky wading but more due to slippery rocks than anything. A few fish were showing in here but I couldn't tempt any.
 Carrying on downstream the next pool is the Corner Pool. I started just above the trees on the bank and gradually lengthened line  every cast until I was covering a couple of good looking lies. I could have only had about 7 or 8 cast when the line went tight and I lifted into a lively fish. This fish had a good bit of weight to it and made several cracking runs off the reel. After several minutes, I got the net off my back and attempted to land the fish. As the wading was tricky, I decided to try to land the fish where I was standing. The fish made it's way upstream and I managed to get it's head up and draw it towards the net. Trying to pull the fish into the net was the easy part. Lifting the net was proving to be a lot more difficult. With the net soaking wet and the current sweeping it downstream, I couldn't lift the net to get the fish landed and when the fish got out, it darted off into the main flow of the river again. This happened 3 times and I was extremely lucky to land the fish but managed to get my net positioned below the fish and scoop it out that way. I made my over to the bank to remove the hook but it had came out in the net! I got it just in time. I estimated the fish to be around the 15lb mark and it also took the size 10 Red Francis. I fished down the remainder of the pool without a touch and head off to fish the Kelpie.

Corner Pool. Never seen a splash in here but landed a fish.
Safely in the net at the 4th attempt. As you can see if you click on the photo, the fly has came out in the net! Probably been in about 2 weeks.
A quick photo before release. Went back no problem.
After landed my second fish, I made my way down to fish Kelpie. There were plenty fish splashing about in the run at the top of the pool and I had decent pull about 30 yards down from the big rock but it didn't hook up. I fished on through the rest of the pool and all the way down into the Jetties but didn't get another offer so I headed off back to the hut for some lunch.

Kelpie. Plenty fish showing in here and I had an offer not long after starting which didn't stick.
Looking upstream in Kelpie. I had the offer about 10 yards down from the big rock.
Jetties. One or two fish showing in here but couldn't tempt any.

After a good chat over lunch to fellow rod Peter and his wife, I headed down to fish the Burn of Angels and Upper Inchbare pools. Apart from the odd splash in Upper Inchbare. I didn't see or connect with anything else. Both these pools fished very well and you were expecting that pull every cast but not this time.

Burn of Angels. A lovely cast but nothing showing in here today.
Looking upstream toward Potarch Bridge.
Upper Inchbare. A few fish showed just at the tail but none took any interest in my offerings.
I headed up to fish the famous Bridge pool about 4pm and started on the big rocks above the bridge. I worked my way through the pool with the Red Francis without any interest so I changes over to a heavy Monkey tied on a tungsten tube and started again. A fresh fish showed just off the boil about half way down which was encouraging but apart from a follow as I strip my fly in, I had no joy in this pool. Still, it was a pleasure to fish it and at least I can say I have fished it now.


Bridge Pool. Cracking pool in the Spring months. Often produces a fish on Opening Day.
Looking upstream in the Bridge Pool at Potarch Bridge.
Fishing down the Bridge Pool. A very iconic location of Royal Deeside.
I left the beat around 6pm after having another run through Lower Inchbare and Kelpie. I didn't get an offer but was more than happy with how my day went. It was great to finally get to fish on Ballogie. It's been a long wait since I booked it back in March and to get 2 fish was the icing on the cake.

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