Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Lower Crathes & West Durris - River Dee

On Saturday, I was fortunate enough to be invited to fish on the Lower Crathes/West Durris beat on the River Dee by my pal Paul Pritchard. I didn't need to be asked twice and I jumped at the chance to have a cast here again. This beat is the pinnacle of the fishing on the Dee and boasts some of the finest salmon pools on the entire river. The catches also speak for themselves too.

The beat hut at Lower Crathes/West Durris
I arrived at the beat shortly after 8.30am and met with Paul and ghillies Robert and Jordan. The water height was hovering around the 2ft mark but was on a slow rise with the water temperature sitting at just above 40f. After a cup of coffee and a dram with the fellow rods, Paul and I were allocated the top half of the beat during the morning session. This consisted of pools such as the Bridge, Riddell's, Mill and Balbridie. Paul started in the Mill and I started off in the Bridge Pool.

The famous Bridge Pool at Lower Crathes. plenty kelts and the odd springer showing in here.
The old hut on the Durris bank of the Bridge Pool.
Not long after starting in the Bridge Pool I noticed that there seemed to be a liarge number of kelts in the pool. The made themselves know up and down the length of the pool. There was the odd fresh fish showing in amongst them too but despite my best efforts I fished the pool without getting a touch. Paul and I were to swap pools and I was pleased to hear that Paul had some action in the Mill Pool using a Collie Dog. he landed a kelt and rose another.

Riddell's. A nice cast at this height.
Jordan was on hand to show me the water and suggested I have a quick run through Riddell's before trying the Mill. Riddell's is a short pool but can hold fish and it has already produce several this season. Unfortunately, I couldn't add to that tally and it was onward to the Mill Pool.

The Mill Pool. Cracking piece of water.
Lower down the Mill Poll at the Jetties.
The Mill Pool is another famous pool on the beat. It is a consistent performer and produces good numbers of fish all season long. There were, what seemed to be, a good number of kelts in here too. There were also two fresh fish caught in this pool the evening before by local rod Geoff Fisher who was fishing along side us on the day too. Despite covering all the likely spots I didn't get an offer so it was back to the hut for a spot of lunch before having a go on the lower beat in the afternoon.

Greenbank. There were a lot of kelts showing in here too as well as a few springers.
After some good craic in the hut over lunch it was back down to business and I was allocated the Greenbank first of all in the afternoon. The Greenbank in a lovely long pool and it was stuffed full of kelts on this occasion. I started up opposite the hut where Jordan suggested and began working my way down the pool. At this time, Paul was up in the Kelpie and he soon appeared with the news that he had lost a springer whcih had snagged up around a rock. Despite Robert and Jordan's best efforts, the couldn't free the line and the fish was gone along with Paul's fly. It's never nice losing a fish in this way and I know only too well the disappointment of this happening.The same happened to me at Kincardine a few seasons back when I lost a cracking fish in the Whin Bush pool on my first day. It would be my only touch until the Saturday so I had a long time to dwell on my loss. Anyway, I fished all the way down the Greenbank without a touch so I made my way up to have a cast in the Kelpie whilst Paul headed downstream to the Bulwarks.

Fishing down the Kelpie Pool where Paul sadly was broken by a good fish earlier.
Looking upstream in the Kelpie.
Kelpie is another nice pool and this was also holding a few kelts. Paul had hooked a springer earlier from here so I was confident that I would be covering fish. I changed over to an intermediate line just to get down a bit deeper as the water was rising. It was fishing very nicely but I worked my way down the pool without a touch so I headed back down to Greenbank for another go before 5pm. My second run down Greenbank produce only two very subtle knocks which I'm positive were from trout as there were good numbers feeding on a large hatch of March Browns. I made my way back to the hut to say good bye to the ghillies and thank them for the day.

Looking upstream from mid way down the Greenbank.
Whilst back at the hut there was some good news from Geoff as he had landed a nice fish from the Bridge Pool during the afternoon session. I was sure there were fresh fish in the pool earlier and he proved that by landing an 8lber. This was his 4th fish of the week which is a very impressive return considering the lack of fish about at the moment. Paul also had some good news as he managed a cracking seas trout of around 3lb from the Bulwarks pool. It was a good way to finish the day so I decided to stay on for a couple of hours to see if I could get myself a fish. I headed off to give the Greenbank another going over but sadly it proved fruitless and I left the beat around 7pm.

Despite not having much luck on the day, it was great to fish such a fantastic beat again. Head Ghillie Robert Harper and his underghille Jordan Sinclair make you feel very welcome and they know their beat intimately. They do their level best to advise and help you when they can and are a credit to their profession. I would love to say I will be back there again but the price for a day is way out of my league. Maybe one day I'll have another crack at catching a salmon from these wonderful pools on the River Dee. A big thank you to the ghillies and to Paul for allowing me to fish. It was much appreciated.

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