Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Castle Forbes - River Don

Last year I organised a day on the Castle Forbes beat of the River Don. Despite the low water we managed to catch 3 fish for our day so I decided to book the same day for this year. There were some coincidental similarities from our day this year compared to last year. For example, the river was around the 4" mark, we got rain the night before, and we had 8 rods fishing. I'm not superstitious but I had a good feeling about the day because of this.

The River Don at Castle Forbes.
L to R. Charlie, Bill, Nicky, Andy, Kenny, Philip and Paul.

We arrived at the Castle Forbes about 8.15am and I introduced any unacquainted rods with each other. As we are all, what could be only be described as obsessive fishermen, it wasn't long before we all got chatting about the state of salmon stocks and tales from seasons past and present. Some rods had driven several hours to be there but these meets are always worth the travelling even if nothing is caught. As the river was very low and running crystal clear it was a case of using light rods and floating lines. I was using my 13ft rid and a floating AFS shooting head with a 5ft intermediate tip. Fly of choice was a #9 Kinermony Killer. Incidentally, the same set up and fly that did the business for me here last year.

Lower Bankhead on Beat 4.
An Osprey hovering over the Fir Tree Pool on Beat 4.
Looking upstream from the tail of Lower Auchreddachie. A cracking wee pool.
The Castle Forbes beat is roughly 4.5 miles double bank with a Keig Bridge crossing the Don about half way. We split ourselves into two groups with three rods above the bridge and five below for the morning session. Philip, Charlie and I were allocated the upper pools and as neither Philip or Charlie had fished the beat before it was down to me to point them in the right direction. Charlie opted for the  upper most pools of the beat and Philip and I started in the Upper Auchreddachie and Lower Auchreddachie respectively. The sun was high in the sky but a strong breeze had kicked up and this made casting difficult at times. Despite our best efforts and fishing the deeper and more likely spots, we couldn't temp a salmon but Philip did have a brief encounter with a good trout.

Fishing my way into the Broom pool.
Looking down Philips pool. A bit on the low side for in here but a few trout were rising.
Philip Black fishing the Sawmill Pool.
Looking upstream from Keig Bridge into the Bridge Pool.
Lord and Lady Forbes were kind enough to give us a room in the Estate office to have lunch in which was appreciated by all anglers. It was good to sit down together and chat, especially the guys who hadn't met before. I'm sure there have been some new friends made from this which is the whole point of these meets. Sadly, there were no fish caught up to lunch time by any of the rods unlike last year when we had two on the bank by this time. Nobody had seen any sign of a salmon either but this was understandable given the low water conditions. It's just the way it goes sometimes when booking fishing so far in advance.

The Hydro Scheme on the Craig Pot. Not sure it is doing the pool any good to be honest with the extra flow it creates.
Looking downstream from the Craig Pot with the old "shankin' brig" over the pool.
Charlie fishing down Lower Deepstane.
Looking upstream from the Lower Deepstane pool.
The angry goose which took offense at my fly line and chewed through it!
A few of the rods decided to call it a day after lunch but myself, Charlie, Philip and Bill stuck it out. We all opted to fish the lower part of the beat with our efforts concentrating on the Craig Pot, the three Deepstane pools and Phemie. Charlie and I fished the right bank whilst Philip and Bill fished opposite. We covered plenty water with several different approaches but we couldn't temp any salmon. I did nowhere have an encounter with an angry goose! I was fishing down the Nursery Pool when a goose came swimming upstream and took a dislike to my fly line. It grabbed the line in its beak and began to shake its head. I quickly pulled the line away but on closer inspection afterwards, the goose had chewed my line and almost cut it in two! I had only used it about four times and it was now in need of a serious repair. We made our way back to the car park at the Craig Pot for a chat before heading home. We left the beat about 5.30pm with the Sun still slitting the sky.

Donside's most famous landmark; Bennachie
It was great to meet everyone again on the Don. Just a pity the weather and fishing gods were against us this time but we all gave it a good go regardless and covered all the likely areas and pools. There was just a lack of water to encourage any fish to run up river as I firmly believe we would have caught salmon if the water was up a few more inches. Still, it was good to see the beat again and I will look forward to my next trip here and I will also look forward to meeting up the the lads again on another meet somewhere in the near future.

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