Friday, 11 December 2015

My Season Highlights 2015

Despite the poor returns of salmon on my local rivers, personally my season wasn't too bad considering. In the end I finished with 12 salmon/grilse and a few sea trout which I was fairly pleased about.

Particular highlights were landing my first ever River Tay salmon from the Dunkeld beat on the 4th July and a cracking 15lber from Lower Crathes in September but every salmon I land tends to be a highlight to be honest because that's why we go salmon fishing in the first place, to catch salmon. On the down side, this was the first season in a long time that I hadn't managed to land a springer although I did hook six in total but unfortunately they all came off. Hopefully I can remedy that next season and get a few on the bank.


As my spring salmon count was non existent I thought I'd share a photo of one my pal Charlie landed from the River Don. The Don seems to produce beauties like this most seasons now and if you are in the right place when they pause for a rest then great sport can be had as I managed to lose a fish of similar size on the same day.

A cracking 12lb springer from the River Don at Manar caught by my good pal, Charlie Robertson.

I was fortunate enough to share a boat on the Dunkeld House beat with another pal of mine, Paul Pritchard on  the 4th July and with the Tay having an excellent Spring I was glad to add to that tally with a 10lber from the Mouse Trap. This was my first ever Tay salmon and my first of the 2015 season for me. This fish turned out to be the beats 200th of the season which is good going as it was still just early July. A fish I'll always remember and I am grateful the the ghillie, Jim who played a big part in getting me the fish.

Finally! A 10lb salmon from Dunkeld House. My first fish of the 2015 and my first River Tay salmon.
July/early August sees me fishing with good pal Ade Warburton on the River Dee at Carlogie. I really enjoy fishing this beat and the company adds to that experience greatly. This 2-3lb sea trout was caught with my first cast of a night session and turned out to be the only fish of my trip. Night time fishing for sea trout is very exciting and I hope to do much more of that next year.

A River Dee sea trout taken on a Dark Mackerel from the Mill Pool at Carlogie during the early hours of the morning.

The River Don had been struggling for water for most of the summer and I headed out early one morning to have a cast before taking part in a River Dee casting day at Crathes. I had only been fishing for 10 minutes when I had a thumping take and after taking me into the backing twice I eventually landed this 11lb summer salmon. It was good to get my first Don salmon of the season after a bad run of losing fish.

A fine specimen of a River Don summer salmon caught on a small Cascade at Manar.
My next fish was a lovely sea liced grilse of around 5lbs and again from the River Don. My dad was on hand to land this fish for me at Lower Fintray.

A sea liced grilse from the River Don at Lower Fintray in August.
On the 22nd August I accompanied junior Aberdeen and District Angling Association member, Sean Rennie to a Junior Day at Park on the River Dee. It was a great day for fishing and the river was in good condition and there seemed to be one or two fish about to keep the enthusiasm going. After a bit of tuition from casting instructor, Gary Scott we headed off down to the Durris Stream. As we neared the tail of the pool where the water slowed down I suggested to Sean to start working the fly in various ways to speed it up. He tried this and just as the fly was coming in towards the bank he had a good solid take from a lively fish. This was soon landed expertly by Sean and the smile on his face made the day. As a result of Sean landing this fish I thought I'd nominate him for the Callum Mackenzie Cup which is presented to a young angler for a memorable catch from the River Dee. Sean was selected by the panel as the winner and he will receive his trophy at the River Dee opening ceremony at Potarch in February. Well done Sean!

Sean and his prize winning fish caught from Park during a Junior Day.

September saw me fishing the famous Ballogie beat of the River Dee with my pal Ross MacDonald thanks to an invite from ghillie, Sean Stanton. Just after lunch in a biggish water I was lucky enough to land a wee sea liced grilse from the Top Gannets pool on a Red Francis tube. My first fish from the upper beat at Ballogie.
A very welcome wee grilse caught on a Red Francis at Ballogie in September.
A couple of days after fishing at Ballogie I was invited by Paul Pritchard to fish at Lower Crathes on the River Dee. This was not to be sniffed at and I was in the right place at the right time again to land this big hen fish around the 15-16lb mark out of the Mill Stream.

A beauty from the Dee at Lower Crathes on a pink Franc N Snaelda.

Traditionally, October is normally the most productive month for me in terms of fish caught and this year was no different. At the beginning of the month I was thankful to another pal, Patrick Taylor and his good lady Joanna for inviting me to fish Commonty with them. I was lucky enough to land a 4lb grilse in testing conditions from the Blue Chair pool. The water was very low and there were few resident fish about never mind fresh ones. I had fished the pool with a small #16 red Francis without a touch so I decided to try the same fly but on a 1.5" tube! This did the trick straight away and the fish below was quick landed and released after a spirited fight.

A small, coloured fish caught in difficult low water conditions on the Dee at Commonty.
My next fish was caught after my work during a spate on the River Don at Lower Fintray and weighed roughly 15lbs. It put up a heck of a scrap in the big water before I managed to land it. One of the perks living so close to the river is having a quick cast before heading home.

My 15lb Don salmon - caught during spate conditions is ready to go back.
I had a taken a week off in mid October and I spent the first half of the week on the river. I did very well for my 4 days fishing and was fortunate enough to get 3 in one session on the back of a wee rise in water with all fish were taken on my Kitchen Sink fly. First up was a small coloured cock fish about 5lb and quickly followed by a hen fish of the same size. About 10 yards further down the pool I landed my third fish which was just over the 2lb mark but reasonably fresh.

My first of three caught in a morning on the River Don. A cock fish around the 5lb mark.
Second fish of the morning. A hen about 5lbs.
Completing the Hat Trick! A small fish about 2-3lbs.
My final fish of the season was caught form the River Dee on the 15th October which is the last day of the River Dee season. It was caught just before lunch and was as fresh as the come. It was carrying sea lice and was caught from the famous Potarch Bridge Pool at Ballogie. This was a great way to sign off my Dee season and as there was still two weeks to fish on the Don I was hopeful of landing a few more.

A lovely fresh fish to end my 2015 River Dee season with.
My final fish of the 2015 season was caught on the River Don at Lower Fintray on the 15th October. It weighed around 7lbs and was covered in sea lice. It was also taken on a Kitchen Sink and my dad did the honours again of netting it for me. A perfect end to the season.

A cracking October salmon from the Don. A great way to end the season.
Thoughts are now turning to next season's Spring fishing and I've already got most of my days renewed for next year. In 2016 I will be fishing on a few beats I haven't fished before on the Tay and Dee so I'll certainly be looking forward to that. Add in a few days on the Spey and I am all sorted. Fingers crossed we get good runs of fish in 2016 and I have plenty to write about on these pages.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Flooding On The River Dee Today

I had a trip up Royal Deeside today to photograph the river in the middle of a very large spate brought on by heavy rain and snow melt. The river peaked at 10ft on the Park gauge and was full of all sorts of debris washed off the banks. Numerous trees had been battered by the gales during the night and many of the fallen limbs ended up floating down the river on their way to Aberdeen.

Hopefully the spate hasn't caused too much damage up and down the valley and none more so than to the recently cut salmon redds. With the spawning season now peaked on most burns the wash out could have a big impact on future runs in 4-5 years time. Fingers crossed the redds will be well covered though and loss is minimal. Time will tell I'm sure.

Aboyne Bridge.
One of the huts overlooking the Lorne Pool at Aboyne Castle with the water at the door step.
Waterside Pool at Waterside and Ferrar.
A submerged hut at the Long Pool on Cambus O May.
The Garden Pool way over the banks at Glen Muick.
The same pool but looking across to the far (not really visable) bank.
A large section of spruce tree coming down river in the torrent.
One of the huts at Invercauld surrounded by water.
The Dee filling the flood plain at Braemar Castle.
The Clunie Water (left) at Braemar spilling onto the road.
The Clunie Water from the bridge in Braemar town centre.
Potarch Bridge later on in the afternoon. There is a gauge on one of the parapets which goes up to 8ft and it's about 2ft underwater!

Friday, 20 November 2015

Flies For The Spring

It's that time of year again when my attention turns to re-stocking the tube fly boxes in preparation for the early spring fishing. I would mostly use tube flies of various sizes and weights depending on conditions but occasionally I'd give an Akroyd tied on a large single hook a swim.

I tend to keep the number of patterns I carry to a minimum just to reduce the temptation to chop and change flies all the time through out the day. Here are a selection of my go to patterns which see most action.
An old Dee favourite - The Akroyd
Gold Willie Gunns and Black & Yellows. You won't go far wrong with these in the Spring months.
Park Shrimp. All the colours associated with spring fishing. Deadly wee fly.
Maggie's Shrimp. Probably my favourite fly to use in the Spring.
Black & Chartreuse and Willie Gunn Franc N Snaeldas.
Drowned Mouse. This is a new addition to my box for next year but by no means a new pattern.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Redd Counting On The River Dee

I spent the day on the Upper Dee yesterday with bailiff Mark Walker on one his redd counts to monitor the spawning activity in the Dee catchment. The river had been quite high at the beginning of the week after some heavy rain and due to the high water a majority of the redds we would encounter would be fresh ones. The river was dropping away for us yesterday though and new redds we came across were pin pointed by Mark using a GPS device. This gives the bailiffs and biologists a better idea of where the spawing occurs and it's a good reference to look back on from previous seasons as to where spawning activity usually takes place.

Two freshly cut salmon redds side by side.
Ideal spawning habitiat on a tributary of the Dee near Braemar.
Good spawning in the upper catchment of the Dee
A lovely view of the river and surrounding hills near Balmoral Castle.

A cock fish sitting on a redd awaiting the arrival of another hen fish to do the business with.
A salmon kelt which make easy meals for the Otters.
Another otter kill. Hopefully this fish had done it's job.
An old bridge over a tributary of the upper Dee near Braemar.
Despite the poorest angling season on record on the River Dee the redd counts have been encouraging and we certainly saw decent numbers in various locations yesterday as well as a decent number of fish present. This bodes well and hopefully the next generation of fish make it back to the river in four or five years time.

To find out more info about what happens on the River Dee through out the season follow the link and browse their informative website and publications. The River Dee

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Scale Sample Results

Over the course of the season I have been collecting scales where ever possible from fish I have landed on both the River Dee and Don. I received the reading back today from River Don bailiff, Martin Webster.

The first fish was this 11lb salmon caught on the River Don at Manar on the 1st August. The scale reading came back as follows: 2 sea winter salmon. Smolted after 2 years with good growth rings each year.

The second scale to be read came from another fresh fish caught on the 19th August from the Lower Don at Fintray. The scale read: Grilse. Smotled after 2 years and spent 1 year feeding at sea.

Next up was a 15lb hen salmon caught on the Lower Don at Fintray on 7th October. This fish had been in a week or two but otherwise in very good condition. Her scale read: Salmon. Smolted after 2 years and spent 2 years feeding at sea before returning to the river.

Next up was a fresh run 5lber caught on the River Dee at Ballogie on 14th October from the Bridge Pool. The scale read: Grilse. Smotled after 2 years and spent 1 year feeding at sea.

The 7lb fresh run fish was caught from the River Don at Lower Fintray on the 15th October and was covered in sea lice. The scale from this fish read: Grilse. Smolted after 2 years in river and spent 1 year feeding at sea.

There was also another scale which I submitted for reading. This was a fish I had foul hooked by accident in late August. I fly must have came across it's back as it fish round as there was one solitary scale on the point of my fly when I checked it. I sent the scale off and Martin was undecided on the reading of the scale and has sent it away for further analysis and a second opinion. I'll report the reading back as soon as I get it as the scale was very large and I had the feeling it was quite a big fish! Hopefully that will be the case when the reading comes back and I'll look forward to seeing the result..

Monday, 9 November 2015

River Dee Auction 2015

The River Dee Auction has gone live as of today and there are some fantastic lots up for grape including fishing on some of the prime River Dee beats, salmon flies tied by some top fly tiers (I was delighted to donate a box of 12 of my Kitchen Sink Shrimp) alcoholic beverages, art and much, much more.

Follow the link below to view the catalogue and register to vote if anything takes your fancy. All proceeds go towards the river which is a very good cause if you like salmon fishing or just Royal Deeside in general.

River Dee Auction 2015

To find out more about the River Dee and what happens on the river and catchment follow this link.

The River Dee

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Kildrummy Fishings - A 30 Year Wait Is Finally Over

After a very long wait stretching back the best part of 30 years, Barry Gauld finally landed his first ever salmon last week whilst fishing the Kildrummy beat on the River Don. The fish took a Franc N Snaelda tube. Hopefully it will now be the first of many.
Barry playing his fish at Kildrummy.
30 years of waiting is finally over. Well done that man!
If you fancy a day fishing on this wonderful part of the River Don check out their FishDon page which can be found by following this link Kildrummy Fishings. The food served up by the Kildrummy Inn, who incidentally own the fishing, is fantastic and well worth a visit if you are in the area and I'd highly recommend it based on my own personal experience of dining there.

The Kildrummy Inn

Friday, 23 October 2015

Sea Liced 7lber From The River Don

I landed this beauty around the 7lb mark from the Aberdeen and District Angling Association water on the River Don last week. It took a #9 Kitchen Sink fly and was covered in sea lice. A very welcome fresh fish for this time of year. It was safely returned after a quick photo to continue it's journey up river to spawn, possibly in the next few weeks. I am awiting scale readings from several fish I've caught, including this one and I will post the results when they come in.

Hopefully there are a few more like this fish still to run the river before the season is out. I'll certainly be trying my best to intercept one!

A cracking fish for this time of year. Fresh as paint and covered in sea lice.
One more photo before release.