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.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Park South - River Dee

Last Saturday, I fished the afternoon on the Park South beat of the River Dee thanks to a friend of mine, Paul Pritchard, who had to leave early. The water had risen earlier in the week which was a bonus but overnight rain on the Friday saw the river rising again and carrying quiet a bit of debris. When I arrived at lunch the water had risen several inches since morning and was sitting around 24" on the gauge. Despite this, Paul managed to land a fish in the morning on a Monkey and there was another caught about 4pm. A very good result given the conditions.

I didn't managed to add to the tally but really enjoyed fishing the beat as I have only ever fished these pools from the opposite bank and I was grateful to ghillie, Bert Webster took the time to show me the areas where I was most likely to encounter a fish.

Here are some pictures of the pools I fished at Park South.

The well equipped main hut on Park South.
I started my day off in the Long Pool. There were a good number of fish showing in here despite the coloured water.
Looking upstream in to the Upper Kirks from the neck of Lower Kirks.
Looking downstream from the Kirks hut.
An inscription inside the hut.
A brief period of sunshine whilst fishing down the Lower Kirks.
A rainbow over the tail of the Lower Kirks.
An upstream view of Long pool and Upper Kirks at dusk.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Commonty - River Dee

Last Friday, I was kindly invited to fish the Commonty beat on the River Dee by Patrick Taylor who had the fishing there last week. The river was sitting at around 4" on the gauge and was on the low side for the beat but there were fish showing in most of the likely pools but tempting them proved difficult. The water temp was sill relatively high around the 10c mark so finding the correct tactics was just a case of ringing the changes until something worked. I tackled up with my 13ft Hardy Uniqua, Floating AFS Shooting Head and a 6ft 1.5ips tip. My fly of choice was a 1/4" Red Francis tube.
The well equipped hut on the Commonty beat.
The wood burner came in handy on what was a chilly day.
I met Patrick, his fiance Joanne and ghillie, Ian Fraser at the hut around 8.30am where we discussed tactics for the day ahead whilst enjoying a dram. Due to the water conditions, fishing hard and ringing the changes seemed to be the general consensus for the day. Ian informed us that Red Francis flies were doing well on Ballogie and Carlogie so that's what I used to begin with. Ian suggested I start off in Suicide and work my way down to fish Benson's and the Garden pool whilst Patrick and Joanne fished the lower pools on the beat.

Suicide is a productive pool but as the name suggests, can be tricky to fish, especially in a bigger water. The wading was hard enough with just 4" on the gauge but with a few fish showing in the stream, it was worth the effort. Unfortunately, I couldn't interest any of them with my offerings so I headed off down river to the next pool.

I started my day off in Suicide which is named due to the treacherous wading. Quite a few fish were showing in the streamy water.
Fishing down Suicide with the Sluie hut opposite.
Looking upstream towards Suicide from the Otter Trap.
The next pool Ian suggested I fish was Benson's. This required a wade across the stream at the top of the Island pool but as the water was fairly shallow, it was easily negotiated. Benson's was a lovely cast but didn't produce any offers nor did I see any fish showing. Another pool that was well worth a go at this height though.
Benson's Pool. A nice little pool on the other side of the island.
Just a wee pot at the tail of Benson's. Patrick got his fish from here in the afternoon. The fallen tree creates a lovely run which would hold a running fish in low water.
As I fished down through Benson's, I stumbled a likely looking pot which, due to a fallen tree had a nice run coming off it at the neck. I was encouraged to see a small but coloured grilse show in here and covered it's lie. Trying to land the fly under the trees was tricky but I managed to cover the fish effectively but sadly couldn't temp it. Patrick did however land a grilse about 5lb from here about 4pm on a wee Red Francis cone head. Possibly the same fish I saw in the pool.

Island Pool. Ian pointed out a good lie beside the Fir tree on the bank.
After I had finished fishing Benson's, I headed back up stream to get off the island and to fish the Island Pool. Ian had shown me the water in the morning and suggested giving it a go as under the tree is on the far bank can be a good lie. Unfortunately, my run through the pool provided no offers so I made my way downstream to fish the Garden Pool which I had seen several fish in first thing that morning.

A nice bit of white water just above the Garden pool. Was a couple of fish showing in here during the morning.

Fishing down the Garden Pool. Was plenty fish showing here, especially up in the neck of the pool.
The Garden pool was holding several resident fish in it and they readily splashing around up near the neck of the pool. Catching one of them was a different matter altogether. I think they had probably seen quite a number of flies these past few weeks but it didn't hurt to put my offerings past them too. Two runs through the pool proved fruitless as I couldn't tempt any fish with my small, Red Francis nor large Franc N Snaelda.

Blue Chair. Never seen a splash in here but a nice pool which looked like it might have a fish or two holding up in the faster water.
Looking over to Woodend House which is part of the Woodend Estate.

The next pool I fished was the Blue Chair. I never asked Ian, but I'm guessing the pool is named after the big rock (pictured above) which the river has eroded to what looks like a chair. The neck of the pool has a nice fast run which looked like a probable lie at these levels but I didn't see any fish show in here whilst fishing it down.
The Bend. Also plenty fish showing in here but difficult to fish the fly due to the low water and several different flows in the current. The lower part of the pool fished very well though.
I carried on down river and came to the Bend. This pool had a nice deep channel running down the far bank under the big rocks and there were a good number of fish sitting in here. They were showing all the way down but fishing the pool was difficult due to the shallow water mid way across which made the fly line stick. Even lifting the rod and mending the line only slightly helped matters. The further down the pool you went, the easier it was to fish but I didn't get an offers. I fished it through 3 times with the same result.
Fishing down through the Bend and into Loop. Was a few fish in here too down near the big boulders at the tail of the pool.
A few years ago I fished this beat in September and although the gauge was sitting about 4ft then, the Loop pool was stuffed with fish. This time and probably due to the low water levels there were only a few fish showing in here. The first part of the pool fished well enough but as I went on, the water got really slow and didn't carry the fly too well. As like some of the other pools at this height, it was still worth a go even in really low water.
Looking downstream from Points. Saw a couple of fish show in here just out from the rocks.
Looking downstream to the bottom pool on the beat (The Wires) from Points.
The bottom couple of pools on there beat were the Points and Wires. I didn't fish these pools due to the low water but did go down to take a few photos. I didn't see any fish showing whilst I was down but given a couple more feet on the gauge, these pools looked like they would fish really well.

Although I didn't get so much as a pull for my day at Commonty, it was still a pleasure to fish and I am very grateful to Patrick for inviting me over. It's always enjoy fishing with Ian Fraser, the ghillie as he is good craic and knows his beat inside out. He took time to show me all the pools and likely spots in low water conditions and we had a good chat about the pools on his beat and their best heights etc. That info is all noted for future reference! In a way though, it was nice to see the beat on it's bones just to see where the fish would be when there was more water in the river because the two previous visits I've had here, the water has been 3ft plus on the gauge and the beat is totally different. I will certainly look forward to my next visit to Commonty.