Saturday, 31 October 2015

Kildrummy Fishings - A 30 Year Wait Is Finally Over

After a very long wait stretching back the best part of 30 years, Barry Gauld finally landed his first ever salmon last week whilst fishing the Kildrummy beat on the River Don. The fish took a Franc N Snaelda tube. Hopefully it will now be the first of many.
Barry playing his fish at Kildrummy.
30 years of waiting is finally over. Well done that man!
If you fancy a day fishing on this wonderful part of the River Don check out their FishDon page which can be found by following this link Kildrummy Fishings. The food served up by the Kildrummy Inn, who incidentally own the fishing, is fantastic and well worth a visit if you are in the area and I'd highly recommend it based on my own personal experience of dining there.

The Kildrummy Inn

Friday, 23 October 2015

Sea Liced 7lber From The River Don

I landed this beauty around the 7lb mark from the Aberdeen and District Angling Association water on the River Don last week. It took a #9 Kitchen Sink fly and was covered in sea lice. A very welcome fresh fish for this time of year. It was safely returned after a quick photo to continue it's journey up river to spawn, possibly in the next few weeks. I am awiting scale readings from several fish I've caught, including this one and I will post the results when they come in.

Hopefully there are a few more like this fish still to run the river before the season is out. I'll certainly be trying my best to intercept one!

A cracking fish for this time of year. Fresh as paint and covered in sea lice.
One more photo before release.

Ballogie - River Dee

Last Wednesday I was fortunate enough to pick up a spare rod on the Ballogie beat of the River Dee as someone had cancelled at short notice. This was an offer I couldn't refuse and I was grateful to head ghillie, Sean Stanton for asking me. The water was sitting at 1ft 2in on the Potarch Bridge gauge and was just slightly peat stained. As I had been successful the previous day on the River Don using my 13ft Hardy Uniqua, a floating line, slow sink tip and a #9 Kitchen Sink Shrimp I decided to use that combo again.

A nice fresh grilse around the 5lb marks taken on a Junction Snaelda. It always good to get a fresh fish this time of year.

I arrived at the beat around 8.30 and was greeted at the hut by Sean. I was to fish the bottom half of the beat in the morning and fellow rod Peter the top half. Sean suggested just starting at the top and working my way through the pools so that's just what I did. First up was the famous Bridge Pool. It's not a large pool by any means but casting a line in such an iconic place makes it special. I started up under the arch and made a few casts with a short line and let it hang off the rocky shelf. I could only have had a dozen casts when I had a sharp tug on the fly. Unfortunately, it didn't hook up but it was a great confidence booster that my tactics, which had worked so well on the Don was working on the Dee too. As I was roughly half way down the pool a group of around 7 kayaks entered the river just yards below where I was fishing and with a lot of splashing and disturbance to the pool left a bitter taste in my mouth. There was no conversation asking if they could come in below me or an offer to wait until I fished the pool so I was a bit annoyed that having had a good offer that there could have been a fish in there for me. I wound in and headed off downstream. I have nothing against kayaks and canoes using the river but when someone is fishing a pool these people have to show a bit of respect to fishers who are paying a lot of money to fish the water. It doesn't cost anything and it's little wonder there is conflict between river users and fishermen when they behave like they did.
Looking upstream towards Potarch Bridge whilst fishing the Bridge Pool.
The pool below the bridge pool is called Burn of Angels. This is another relatively short pool but it's another lovely cast. On arrival to the pool a small, coloured fish showed just below me and at least I knew my fly would be covering fish. I fished the whole length of the pool without an offer so I headed downstream to try another pool.

Burn of Angles just as the mist was lifting off the water in the morning.
Next up was Upper and Lower Inchbare. Both these pool are nice casts but the latter is seemed to be holding more fish as there were a good few showing whilst I fished through the pool. The fish were playing hard to get in the bright sun and although I managed to winkle out a nice clean fish in similar conditions from Lower Inchbare last September but try as I might, there was to be no repeat this year so it was off down to have a go in Kelpie.

Fishing down Lower Inchbare.
The Kelpie Pool always holds fish just off the big rock near the top of the pool and it was no different this time. I change fly over to a Junction Snaelda just to get down a bit deeper and to put more action in the fly by rocking it through the pool. The Kelpie fishes nicely from the Ballogie bank as you are casting into the deeper part and swinging the fly into the shallow giving the fish a "take it or leave it" choice to make rather than hanging it in their face. Despite the presence of quite a few fish in the pool I couldn't tempt any so it was down for a cast in Bulwarks before heading back upstream to the Bridge Pool.
Kelpie. A nice cast in a lovely setting.
I just had a quick run through the Bulwarks as it had just been fished by a rod on tne Sluie bank. There was one or two fish showing in the pool but none were tempted by the Junction Snaelda so I made the long walk back up to have a proper run through the bridge pool before lunch.

Fishing the Bulwarks.
I started the Bridge Pool under the arch again and not long after making my first cast there was a nice fish showed mid way down the pool. I fished down the pool rocking the Snaelda back and forth as I went and as I reached the boil mid way down the pool I had a thumping take and I lifted into a lively fish. It was just a small fish and it tried to stay deep but I soon had it under control and I beached the fish on the shingle. It was fresh as paint and would have been around the 5lb mark. After a quick photo I sent it on it's way again so I headed up to the Gannets hut for lunch delighted to have landed a fish. As it transpired it was the 100th fish caught from Ballogie this season. Not a great score as the beat should be catching 3 or 4 times that amount but given the poor salmon runs the North East of Scotland has experienced this year it was a welcome milestone.

A nice fresh grilse from the Bridge Pool. A perfect way to close my 2015 River Dee season.

Top Gannet. Plenty fish splashing about but none willing to take my fly.

After lunch I was to fish the upper part of the beat and first up was another famous pool on the beat, the Top Gannets. I was fortunate enough to catch a lovely wee sea liced fish from the pool back in September and there were plenty showing in the pool this time round. I started up in the neck with a short line and fished down the top half of the pool then head back up to go through the pool again but with a long line as instructed on my previous visit. Neither run down produced any offers so I fished out the rest of the pool and depite several fish splashing about I just couldn't temp any. 
Mid Gannents with a Borrowston hut on the other bank.
After fishing Top Gannets I carried on downstream for a crack at Mid Gannets. I had never fished this pool the last time time I was on the beat so I made a point of giving it the once over. The pool looked fairly deep and with a nice peaty colour to the river I was sure there would be a few lying in it. I swung the Junction Snaelda through the pool but without an offer and there was nothing giving away their locations either so it was back to the car and off downstream to fish the Sands, Slips and Flats.
Fishing down the Sands
On arrival to the Sands it was quite clear that there were plenty fish hanging around in the pool so I started right at the top and worked my way down. Just as I reached a point near the tail of the pool I had a good pull on my fly. I have no idea how it didn't hook itself but I somehow failed to connect with it. It was a small reminder that my tactics were working well though and that gave me confidence in what I was are doing. I fished out the rest of the pool and despite the amount of fish in showing I just couldn't temp another one to take my fly so it was off on down to the Slips.

Looking downstream at the top of Slips.
The Slips was another pool harbouring plenty fish but covering them wasn't easy as the wading is pretty ropey in this pool. Huge boulders followed by big troughs then some more large rocks and so on and so on. As the day was drawing in a sharp breeze had kicked up and it started to make casting a bit more tricky whilst wading deep but I persevered and carried on through the pool but unfortunately no fish showed any interest and as I wanted a run through the Flats before dark it was off to try there.

The Flats. This is a cracking piece of water and Sean's favourite pool on the beat.
The Flats was up next but time was against me and I didn't really do the pool justice as I just had a really quick run through before I had to head home. It was the first pool on the beat today that I didn't actually see a fish in which was strange given how nice a pool it is. The air temperature had dropped sharply which would probably explain why the fish were reluctant but it was good to fish the pool again regardless. I packed up around 6.30pm and headed home quite pleased with how my day had went. Peter, who was also fishing the beat had a coloured fish from the Bridge Pool after lunch and he was delighted.

I'd just like to thank ghillies, Ian and Sean for their help this season. A couple of top lads and it's always a pleasure to fish in their company. Will look forward to meeting up with them again in February when I'm back at Carlogie for another season. Until then, all the best.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

3 Salmon From The River Don Today

I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time today on the River Don as I managed to land 3 grilse and lose another. As well as this, I had a few offers from fish which didn't hook up unfortunately but I can't complain. I didn't see many fish today but they were certainly in the mood to take a fly. All fish were released safely and quickly.
5lb cock grilse taken on a 3/4" Junction Franc N Snaelda with only my 3rd cast of the morning.
5lb hen grilse taken on a #9 Kitchen Sink Flamethrower during the afternoon..
A nice head shot with the fly wedged in the scissors.
Not a great photo but a small 3lb grilse also taken on a #9 Kitchen Sink Flamethrower.
The fish and the fly in the net.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

15lb Salmon From The River Don Today

I ventured out on the River Don today in the pouring rain and was rewarded with this cracker of around 15lb. The water was sitting at 1ft 4in on the Parkhill gauge as of 12.30pm this afternoon and it was carrying a bit of colour but surprisingly not too much considering how much rain has fallen recently. The fish put up a great scrap and used it's size and the heavy water to it's advantage. After a good 10 minutes or so I was able to beech the fish on a reed bed some 40 yards downstream! Not the best photo to gauge it's size with but returning the fish quickly was my main priority.
A very welcome fish given the current conditions but fishing just as the river was beginning to rise again seemed to pay off.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Commonty - River Dee

I was kindly offered the chance of having a cast on the Commonty beat of the River Dee yesterday courtesy of my friend Patrick Taylor and his good lady, Joanna who had taken the week's fishing there. It was good to see them again and have a catch up on the river bank.
A cock fish around the 4lb mark but very welcome in the low water conditions yesterday. It took a large 1 1/2" Red Frances.
Once again, conditions on Deeside more more akin to mid summer rather than Autumn but at least there was some cloud cover which helped. The river was still low but despite this, there were one or two resident fish splashing about to keep the interest going.
Looking across to the fishing hut at Commonty from the Garden Pool.
I arrived at the beat about 9.30am and immediately got the wood burner going in the hut as it was quite cold as there had been an overnight frost. There was finally some cloud cover as well which was more than welcome because we have been experiencing an Indian Summer here in Scotland of late. My tactic for the day were more that of summer fishing than October so I opted for my 13ft hardy Uniqua rod, floating Rio Scandi shooting head and a 6ft 1.5ips. I decided on a long leader and a size 14 Red Frances to begin with and this changed once or twice through out the day.
The Garden Pool at around 10am.
Looking upstream from the Garden Pool.
As the Garden Pool is opposite the hut, I decided to give that a go first of all so I started up in the white water above a well known lie and began to fish my way into it. A couple of resident fish were splashing about in the lie so I covered it and varied my retrieve switching between a slow figure of 8, a long, slow pull and the Scandi style sink and draw tactic. None of these methods produced a reaction so I decided to have a square cast and mend the line down stream. I also pointed the rod downstream too and this made the fly come quickly across the lie but side on to the fish. My first cast  immediately produce a reaction from a cock fish which was probably around the 7lb mark and it lept out of the water after my fly. Unfortunately it didn't connect but it gave me confidence that there was a possibility of tempting these usually, stale and reluctant fish. I covered the lie a few more times without a touch so I fished the pool out but only with the same result.

Woodend House which over looks the Blue Chair. Not a bad place to live!
The big stone shaped like a chair hence the name of the pool Blue Chair.
By the time I had fished the pool out, Patrick and Joanna had arrived at the beat and after a good chat it was back down to the business of catching a salmon. Patrick fancied a go in the Garden Pool and he suggested I give the Blue Chair a go as there was also a few resident fish holed up in there so I made my down and as soon as I arrived at the pool I was greeted by a coloured fish which was lying in the faster water mid stream. As I had rose a fish with the size 14 Red Frances I kept it on and worked my way through the pool. Despite seeing a good few fish I didn't get a sniff so I decided to try an different approach. I had tied up several large Red Frances tubes the night before and one stood out. It was tied on an 1 1/2" aluminium tube and looked more like a small carrot than a fly! I made my first cast with the fly and began rocking it back and forth through the pool. As it straightened out about mid river, it was grabbed by a fish and I lifted into it. It was just a small grilse around the 4lb mark but it was certainly more than welcome. It was quickly played out and after a photo it was safely returned without ever leaving the water. I fished out the rest of the pool with out an offer so I made my way back to the hut shortly after 12 noon. Not a bad start to the morning.
A prize worth pursuing even in these challenging low water conditions.
After telling Patrick and ghillie, Ian the news about my fish over a beer back at the hut, our attention soon turned to where to fish next. We decided to head downstream to have a go in the Loop and Bend pools. The Loop and Bend are in a real secluded part of the beat and Patrick fished through the pool first and I was to follow him down. We both worked our way through the pool without success so it we headed off for a bite to eat before having one last crack at the Blue Chair and Garden Pools.
Decisions, Decisions. Patrick and I contemplating our next move in the Loop.
Patrick fishing the secluded Loop Pool at Commonty.
My turn for a go in the Loop. Nice photo Joanna!
After a quick sandwich it was back to the river with Partick and down to have a go in Blue Chair as there seemed to be a few fish willing to give away their positions in the pool. We both fished through the pool with managing to annoy one of the resident fish enough into taking our flies so we headed back up for one last go in the Garden Pool before close of play.
Patrick trying his luck in Blue Chair.
Sitting in the stone which the pool takes it's name.
Patrick decide to give the Garden Pool the once over with a big Sunray and not long after starting he rose a fish but it wasn't really interested in taking the fly, we thought it was more trying to drown it than anything else. We both worked our way down the pool without any other action so I decided to call time on my day and packed up around 5pm.
Fishing the tail of the Garden Pool before packing up for the day.
Below are a couple of photos of how the Suicide Pool looks at Commonty now that the croys have been removed from the pool. Sluie on the opposite bank also had their croys removed as part of the Pearls in Peril (PIP) which is aimed at restoring the river habitat to be more Pearl Mussel friendly. The mussels share the same habitat as salmon so the improvements will hopefully benefit the salmon in future too and we see an increase in numbers of both species as a result.
Before. Suicide with the croys.
After. Suicide without the croys.
It was great to be back on Commonty with Patrick and Joanna and it was nice to get a fish too. It's set in a really quiet part of Deeside and has some nice pools, even in low water. Patrick and Joanna made me feel as welcome as ever and getting the opportunity of a cast was much appreciated and thank you for the photos too. Much better than the ones I'd taken! Will look forward to catching up again in the Spring. Tight Lines

Little Blackhall And Inchmarlo - River Dee

I had a day's salmon fishing on the Little Blackhall and Inchmarlo beat of the River Dee last Friday thanks to ghillie Martin Robson which was gratefully appreciated. Conditions were against us with low water and a blazing hot sun high in a cloudless sky and we stuck at it all but needless to say, the going was tough and I caught nothing for my efforts. Still, it was good to be out on the beat again and it's a beat I really enjoy fishing, especially the fabulous Roe Pot which is a joy to cast a fly on even in low water conditions.

I would usually write a report on my day's fishing but as there is nothing really to report on I won't bother on this occasion. Instead I'll just share a few pictures of the beat basking in the Autumn sun.

Fishing down the Otter Stone.
Another view looking downstream in the Otter Stone.
Looking upstream from the Fawn.
Fishing the top of the Roe Pot. A lovely cast.

Looking toward the Inchmarlo Fishing Hut.
Looking downstream in the Roe Pot from the Inchmarlo fhishing hut. A stunning view looking right down the river.
Fishing the House Pool.
Looking downstream in Floating Bank.
The sun finally sets behind the trees whilst fishing the Fawn.