Thursday, 26 February 2015

Commonty - River Dee

I had my final February day on the River Dee yesterday with good pals Dr Ade Warburton and Dr Patrick Taylor. It's always great to catch up with these lads and we have a good laugh along the way. The water was sitting around the 1ft mark on the Woodend gauge and was still very cold. There were some icy parts of the river banks down in the slow, deeper pools. My set up for the day was my 15ft Mackenzie rod, float/intermediate shooting head and a 2.6ips tip. Fly of choice was a Monkey conehead tied  on a silver Shumakov tube.

The Garden Pool first thing in the morning.
It was very cold in the morning with the air temperature sitting at -2C so the morning consisted of a few drams in the hut and a long chat with Ian Fraser the ghillie and fellow rod Dean Armstrong. We put the world to rights before finally deciding to go and have a cast around 10.30am as the sun was now higher in the sky and the temperature was lifting. Patrick headed off to the top of the beat whilst Ade and I went downstream to fish the Loop, Bend and Points.

Yours truly casting in the Bend. Photo courtesy of Dean Armstrong.
Fishing down the Bend. Cracking pool.
Picture of concentration as I make my way down the pool. Photo courtesy of Dean Armstrong,
The Bend is a cracking pool and has a nice streamy flow which runs down the far bank before it evens out. This is also a decent holding pool and fish can be caught from the neck all the way down. I fished through the pool without an offer on this occasion so I carried on down into the Loop.

Looking up to the Bend from the Loop.
The Loop is another good bit of water and it requires wading to able yourself to fish the likely lies effectively. Ade fished this pool first and I followed him down but neither of us had any luck in here. I did see a small fish splash in the pool but it was either a sea trout kelt or a brown trout as it was not a very big fish.

Looking upstream from the Points into the Loop.
Ade fishing down through the Loop. Photo courtesy of Dean Armstrong.
We carried on fishing downstream and Ade and I both had a run through the Points. Despite having two pairs of thick woolen socks on, the cold water was starting to take it's toll so we headed off back to the hut to thaw out with a dram beside the fire. Patrick return to the hut shortly after to say he had landed a very large kelt in the Otter pool. At least is was a bit of action as we saw no salmon move down on the lower part of the beat.

The Chair looking across to Woodend House.
After an extended lunch I was to fish the upper pools of the beat. Ian explained the best parts of the pool to concentrate on so I made my way up to give them a go. I didn't bother with the aptly named Suicide Pool so I started my afternoon off in the Otter Trap. The wading in the Otter trap is not for the faint hearted as there are plenty large and slippery stones which will see you swimming with one wrong move. I waded out opposite the shelter and began casting into the streamy water running down the far third of the pool. Not long after starting I had an positive take on my Monkey fly as it swung out of the current. I lifted into a small but lively fish. After a minute or two I soon beached an un-spawned hen salmon of around 4lb. Not what I was after but at least I knew I was doing something right.

Looking up towards Suicide from the bank of Otter Trap. These croys will soon be removed as part of the Pearls in Peril Project which is set up to improve the habitat of the freshwater pearl mussel.
An action shot from playing the fish.
I don't normally take pictures of un-clean fish but I thought I'd share this one as some anglers often mistake these for spring fish at this time of year. The colour is more that of an autumn fish and the vent is protruding which are the tell tale signs of a late running hen fish (baggot). The male equivalent is a rawner. She probably won't spawn now and will reabsorb her eggs.

I made my way back into the pool and continued fishing it down and into the Boat Pool. This pool required quite a long cast at this height to cover the two lies which were a good way out into the river. Despite some strong gusty wind at times I was covering the water pretty well. Just as I reached the lies which Ian had pointed out, I had a good solid take from a fish. There was no head shaking this time and the fish made a couple of good runs. I was in two minds whether to make the tricky wade back to the bank as I hadn't seen the fish yet. It stayed deep and was reluctant to show itself and at this point, I thought it best to play the fish from the bank. I slowly made my way in and I played the fish for several minutes before I even got a glimpse of it. I still didn't know if it was a kelt or a springer but it was a big fish whatever it was. After a couple more decent runs and several more minutes later, I managed to get the fish ready for beaching and that's when I realised it was a very large kelt! I got it into the shallows and managed to tail the fish. I quickly removed the hook and sent it on it's way. If fresh, this fish would have been a good 20lb plus. I just wish it was fresh as it would have been the fish of a lifetime. Hopefully it's journey is a successful one and it makes it back to the Dee to spawn again in the future.

Looking down the Boat pool where I landed a huge kelt.
No springers were caught yesterday but despite this, it was a good day and it was great to catch up with Patrick and Ade. Ian the ghillie is always good craic too and we enjoyed swapping stories for most of the afternoon in the hut. Commonty is a lovely beat in a very secluded part of the Dee where peace and tranquility are almost guaranteed. I will very much look forward to returning again soon. Two springers were caught from the beat today, one by Ade and the other by Ian. The overnight lift in water levels must have done the trick. Well done gents! Thank you to Dean Armstrong for kindly sending me some cracking photos of which I've used on my Blog. Much appreciated.


  1. Great Report - really enjoy the Blog !


  2. Thanks Eamonn, much appreciated.

  3. No problem Craig -fishing invery/tilquihillie start of April hopefully a few about by then !

  4. Fingers crossed Eamonn. Tight Lines