Friday, 11 September 2015

Ballogie - River Dee

I was grateful to Ballogie ghillie, Sean Stanton for the opportunity to fish the Ballogie beat of the  River Dee last week and as I had never fished the beat above Potarch Bridge before, I was really looking forward to it. I was to be sharing the beat with well known fly tier, Ross Macdonald. The water was sitting around 1ft 10in on the gauge and was carrying a peat stain from recent rain high in the catchment. Successful tactics recently involved fishing deep so Sean advised that it would be worth fishing this way to maximise the chances of getting a fish.

A cracking wee sea liced grilse taken on a Red Frances tube.
I decided to rig up two rods for the day to save changing lines so I set up my 15ft Mackenzie Shooting Head rod with a 10/11 Mackenzie Float/Intermediate shooting head, a 10ft 7ips tip and a Junction Shrimp Franc N Snaelda. My second rod was my 14ft 9in Guideline AWM. This was set up with a 10/11 Mackenzie Intermediate shooting head and a 10ft 5.6ips tip. My choice of fly on this set up was a 3/4" Red Frances.

Looking upstream towards Sands from Mid Hole with the Borrowston hut on the other bank.
Fishing down the Slips. The wading in here is treacherous and not for the faint hearted!
Sean took me up and showed me the pools I would be fishing during the morning session. These consisted of the Mid Hole, Slips and Flats. I started at the top end of the bottom beat and worked my way down through Mid Hole and the Slips. Sean had advised that the wading wasn't easy down the Slips and to take my time. He wasn't wrong! The peat stain in the water made things even more difficult as I could hardly see where I was stepping. Boulders the size of cars and plenty of them were not the easiest to navigate but I slowly fished down the pool. I was about half way down the pool when I felt a rumbling under my feet. I thought there had been a tremor or something but after speaking with Sean he informed me that this is where the Slips takes it's name as the rumbling is just the ground moving. There were several fish splashing around in both the pools but I just couldn't temp one so Sean took me downstream to show me the next pool.

Fishing down the Flats.
Looking downstream at the Flats.
The Flats was next on the agenda and Sean told me that this was his favourite pool on the beat. This gave me extra encouragement and I started off near the neck of the pool casting a long line to cover the lies on the far bank. I worked my way down the pool without a touch but with every cast I was just waiting for the line to tighten and a fish to take off back towards Potarch Bridge. I have driven past this pool hundreds of times on my travels up and down Deeside so it was good to finally say that I have fished it, albeit without catching anything. That took me up to lunch time so it was back up river to the hut for some lunch with Ross

The Ballogie hut which overlooks the Top Gannets pool.
Lunch time gave us both welcome respite from the howling gales which were sweeping down the river. It was proving really tough to get the line out properly and to get the fly fishing immediately. We sat and discussed tactic for the afternoon over a cup of coffee and a sandwich before making a few adjustments to our lines etc. I decided to give the intermediate line a swim in the afternoon and fish a Red Frances just that bit deeper. I was to fish the top half of the beat in the afternoon and was looking forward to giving it a go despite the wind.

Top Gannets. A cracking holding pool on the Dee and a very productive one too.
My 4lb sea liced Grilse ready to be returned.
Half way down Top Gannet after I had returned my fish.
Ross explained the best way to fish the Top Gannets just as Sean had told him earlier in the day. I was to start at the very top with a short line and fish down the seam mid river before going back to the top and fishing down with a long line to cover the other side. This is exactly what I did and my run down with the short line proved fruitless but after only 6 or 7 casts with the long line I had a thumping take and I lifted into a lively fish. After a couple of short and acrobatic runs I soon had the fish under control and I slid a lovley fresh grilse into my waiting net. I was delighted and the change of tactics seemed to make the difference. I quickly released the fish and continued down the pool without an offer so I made my to have a cast in the New Pool before I headed to the Sands.

Fishing down the New Pool.
The New Pool was another pool which I had seen for the road plenty times and I made my way into the top of the pool and began to fish it down. The wind was beginning to subside a little bit but was still blowing hard downstream which hampered casting. I fished down the pool without a touch so it was off down to have a go in the Sands.

Sands. Looking downstream with the famous Borrowston Greenbank Pool on the opposite bank. A stunning pool to fish a fly through despite the wind.
Quite a few fish were showing in here but tempting one was proving difficult.
The Sands is another famous pool on the Ballogie beat. It is set in a quiet and secluded part of the river and it hidden away from view of the road. The fish seem to like it here too and there were plenty showing to keep the enthusiasm up. I kept the same tactics as earlier and made my way down the pool expecting the line to tighten with every cast. Sadly it wasn't to be but I gave it a good go. Ross was still fishing the Slips so I headed of down for a chat before making my way back to the Top Gannet for a go before calling it a day.

Admiring the Sands Pool on the Ballogie beat of the River Dee. Its worth admiring many of the other pools on the beat too. Fantastic place to fish for Salmon at anytime of the  year.
I really enjoyed my day on the famous Ballogie beat of the River Dee. It was good to say I have finally fished above the Potarch Bridge and I was delighted to land a sea liced fish from the Top Gannet. I must thank Sean Stanton for giving me the opportunity to fish here. I have a 100% record at Ballogie with 3 fish from 2 visits so I have to be pleased with that! Hopefully it's not the last time I'll fish here but if it is, at least I've had the privilege to have done so.

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