Sunday, 22 February 2015

Carlogie - River Dee

I had my annual three day trip to the Carlogie beat on the River Dee this past week. I always enjoy fishing at Carlogie but I never seem to get much luck in terms of river conditions when I arrive there. A spate due to melting snow lifted the river to almost 7ft on Thursday morning. It was carrying with it a lot of debris and sediment which is not ideal conditions for fly fishing but as the day wore on the river dropped quickly. Conditions were almost as good to perfect as you could have asked for the remainder of my trip and hopes were high.

Day 1

The Wednesday before I arrived was very mild for being February with temperatures into double figures for most areas of Aberdeenshire. This caused the snow on the higher ground to melt and it quickly filtered into the river and caused it to rise significantly. When I arrived at the Potarch Bridge on Thursday morning the river had risen to almost 7ft on the gauge and was loaded with trees, logs, rubbish and all sorts of debris. The water was heavily coloured too which turned out to be no use for fishing. 
Looking upstream at the Boat Pool on Thursday with almost 7ft on the gauge.
The morning consisted of a token effort down the Village pool and an extended lunch break. We did however get a cast in the afternoon as the river dropped very quickly and she was soon down to just above 5ft on the gauge. There were still a few branches etc coming down but the river had also cleared enough to fish the Village Pool with some confidence. Big flies and sinking lines were the order of the day and between the three rods there were several kelts landed. Not the springer we were chasing but given the high water, it was good to get a bend in the rod. Friday would hopefully see much better fly fishing conditions.

Ready for action in the Village Pool.
The stick in the picture was where the water mark was first thing in the morning. This photo was taken at 5pm showing a big drop in water levels. The water clarity had also improved a great deal.

Day 2

I arrived at the beat on Friday full of hope as the river had dropped to a very good height aided by a hard, overnight frost. The river was now running at 3ft on the gauge which brought almost all the pools at Carlogie into play. The water temperature had dropped too and any fish moving off the back of the high water might just be slowed up by that. I tackled up with an intermediate shooting head, 7ips tip and a 1.5" Monkey Fly tied on a brass tube. 

Looking upstream at Alan's Pool.
I was allocated to fish the top part of the beat in the morning which consisted of Alan's Pool, Long Haugh, Pitslug and Rossicks.Alan's Pool is the upper most pool on the beat and I made my way up there to start and work my way down stream. I fished Alan's without a touch and it was off to have a try in Long Haugh.

Fishing down through Long Haugh.
A lot of shingle had moved since I was last here back in August and big chunks of shingle have appeared in certain areas of the the pool and disappeared from others. It's still a fantastic bit of water and it's a pool I always enjoy fishing but sadly, I didn't get a touch in here so it was down to Pitslug.
The fishing hut at Pitslug.
Looking downstream from Pitslug. I landed a kelt in here.
Pitslug fishes really well with a bit of water on it and it was a good height for it today. I was half way down the pool when Sean Stanton, the ghillie appeared. No sooner had Sean arrived when I had a take from a fish. The tell tale head shakes signaled instantly that it was a kelt and it was quickly landed, unhooked and released. I fished through the rest of the pool without another offer so I made my way down to give Rossicks a go.

Rossicks. A cracking pool which is ideal for fly fishing.
Rossicks is a classic fly pool with a fast streamy neck with tapers off into a nice evenly paced pool. With the water height as it was, Sean said to start a bit further down the pool today and fish it until I was level with the Dess bridge on the opposite bank. With every cast I was expecting a take but it just didn't come. I had time for a quick run through the tail of the Mill pool before lunch so I set off downstream a bit further.
Looking upstream from the tail of the Mill Pool. Has to be one of my favourite parts of the River Dee here.
The Mill pool has to be one of my favourite pools on the whole of the River Dee. Not just because of the scenery and the secluded feeling you get from the place but also due to the fact it holds fish almost all year round. The neck of the pool was out at this height of water so I had to concentrate my efforts on the tail of the pool this time. It's an easy wade down the Mill pool and I fished it whilst all the time willing the line to tighten. Sadly it didn't happen so I wound in and headed off to the hut for lunch and a seat by the wood burner.

Decision time. Searching through the fly box for something that gives confidence.
The inside of the hut which looks out onto the Calm Pool.
After lunch I was to fish the Boat Pool and the Village Pool. There was a good number of kelts in these pools and it was just a case of casting as far as possible to get into the lies where spring fish sat rather than fishing into the slower parts of the pool where the kelts were holed up. Despite this, by the time I had got to the tail of the pool I had landed 7 kelts. All which took a liking to the Monkey fly and one even took it as I was stripping in the running line to re-cast.

Looking upstream into the Boat Pool.
The Village Pool. There were a good few kelts in here especially in the top part of the pool.
I headed off down river to have a go in Fraser's pool. This time last year I got a nice springer out of Fraser's when the water was around 2ft 11in on the gauge. With the water dropping away slowly most of the morning, the gauge was now reading about 2ft 8in so I knew there was a chance of getting something. There is a good push of water running through Fraser's and even at this height you still have to be very careful with your step otherwise you'd end up down in Ballogie before you knew it! Unfortunately, nothing doing this time down the pool and I made my way back up to the Village pool for one last go before calling it a night. As the temperature dropped this seemed to put the fish down and nobody had a so much as a touch after 4pm.

Fraser's Pool. Sadly, no repeat performance of last year.

Day 3

By my third day on Carlogie the water had dropped to around 2ft on the gauge with another hard frost overnight helping the levels steady a bit. Today there was ice forming at the side of the river so the temperature of the water had dropped again too. My tactics for today were a float/intermediate shooting head, 3.9ips tip and the same Monkey Fly as the day before. 

Looking down the Boat Pool with 2ft on the gauge.
I was to start in the Boat and Village pools taking in Fraser's as well. I started right up in the neck of the Boat where there is some tricky wading over some big slippery rocks. This however, can be rewarding as many of the fish lie in this area as the water drops away and it also fishes very well from the Kincardine bank too. I fished my way down through the Boat without an offer but the water and air temperatures were still hovering around just above freezing so it would probably be later in the morning/afternoon until the fish livened up a bit.

Wading down through the Village pool
Fishing the Village Pool  at this height required a wade out into the middle of the river to cover the lies effectively. By this time, a strong downstream wind developed which made casting difficult at times but I soon got to grips with it. Apart form landing a kelt from under the wires I didn't get anther touch but I was trying to fish the springer lies rather than allowing my fly to coming into the slow kelt areas. With two pairs of socks on, fleece lined trousers and waders my feet and legs were frozen! Once I finished in the Village I went for a walk on the bank just to get the blood pumping again before giving Fraser's a run through. I fished down through Fraser's without an offer so I headed off up to Alan's and have my lunch whilst I was up there.
Alam's pool showing some of the bank erosion caused by high water.
I fished Alan's down without a touch so it was over to the Long Haugh for my last go in there for this trip. As good as it was fishing with 2ft on the gauge I didn't see or touch anything in here either so it was off down to Pitslug.

Looking up Long Haugh from Pitslug around 2pm on Saturday.
A change of fly was on order and something made me take out my classic fly box. On went a size 5/0 white winged Akroyd. This was once a prolific early spring fly on the Dee so I thought if it worked then, it will work now. I had just started fishing down the pool when Sean arrived to see how I was getting on. I got to about half way down the pool and I got a good take from a fish. I lifted into it and began playing the fish. The Akroyd had did the damage but sadly it turned out to be a kelt. It was still exciting to get a fish on the big classic fly and we were both delighted to see it working. This gave me confidence and I kept it on for the rest of the day.

My 5/0 Akroyd tied by myself and which a kelt took a liking to in Pitslug.
Fishing down Pitslug where I got the kelt using the Akroyd. I feel there is still a place for these classic flies in the modern salmon angler's kit.
The strong downstream wind made fishing Rossicks very difficult with my line being blown away as soon as I cast it. I had a quick run down the pool without a touch so I headed off to fish the Calm Pool.
Fishing down through Rossicks.
The Calm Pool lived up to it's name as the pool was sheltered from the wind by the trees which line the banks. A long cast is the order of the day in here to avoid wading too far out which will spook the fish lying in the deeper third of the pool that runs down the Kincardine bank. It was fishing really well and I was just waiting for a take on every cast. Try as I might though, I didn't hook anything in here so I called time on my three days at Carlogie.

Calm Pool in all it's glory.
The tail of the Calm Pool and looking into Lucky Hole and Whin Bush.
I enjoy my three days on Carlogie every year and this time was no different. It was just unfortunate that we pretty much lost the first day due to the snow melt putting the river in spate. I have been coming here for 5 years now and this is the third time that the snow melt has put the river levels shooting up the day before I arrived! Bad luck or what? Still, it's a great place to be and if the water is clear enough, the Village Pool will fish from about 7ft on the gauge which gives us something unlike a majority of Dee beats at that height of water. No springers were landed this year but it wasn't for the want of trying. All three of us gave it a good going over and covered the water well. There is just not much fish about just now and hopefully this isn't another one of these poor seasons that has seen salmon numbers crash all over the Northern Hemisphere recently. Fingers crossed it's not and we anglers will all be looking to see what happens in these next few month.

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