Friday, 11 December 2015

My Season Highlights 2015

Despite the poor returns of salmon on my local rivers, personally my season wasn't too bad considering. In the end I finished with 12 salmon/grilse and a few sea trout which I was fairly pleased about.

Particular highlights were landing my first ever River Tay salmon from the Dunkeld beat on the 4th July and a cracking 15lber from Lower Crathes in September but every salmon I land tends to be a highlight to be honest because that's why we go salmon fishing in the first place, to catch salmon. On the down side, this was the first season in a long time that I hadn't managed to land a springer although I did hook six in total but unfortunately they all came off. Hopefully I can remedy that next season and get a few on the bank.


As my spring salmon count was non existent I thought I'd share a photo of one my pal Charlie landed from the River Don. The Don seems to produce beauties like this most seasons now and if you are in the right place when they pause for a rest then great sport can be had as I managed to lose a fish of similar size on the same day.

A cracking 12lb springer from the River Don at Manar caught by my good pal, Charlie Robertson.

I was fortunate enough to share a boat on the Dunkeld House beat with another pal of mine, Paul Pritchard on  the 4th July and with the Tay having an excellent Spring I was glad to add to that tally with a 10lber from the Mouse Trap. This was my first ever Tay salmon and my first of the 2015 season for me. This fish turned out to be the beats 200th of the season which is good going as it was still just early July. A fish I'll always remember and I am grateful the the ghillie, Jim who played a big part in getting me the fish.

Finally! A 10lb salmon from Dunkeld House. My first fish of the 2015 and my first River Tay salmon.
July/early August sees me fishing with good pal Ade Warburton on the River Dee at Carlogie. I really enjoy fishing this beat and the company adds to that experience greatly. This 2-3lb sea trout was caught with my first cast of a night session and turned out to be the only fish of my trip. Night time fishing for sea trout is very exciting and I hope to do much more of that next year.

A River Dee sea trout taken on a Dark Mackerel from the Mill Pool at Carlogie during the early hours of the morning.

The River Don had been struggling for water for most of the summer and I headed out early one morning to have a cast before taking part in a River Dee casting day at Crathes. I had only been fishing for 10 minutes when I had a thumping take and after taking me into the backing twice I eventually landed this 11lb summer salmon. It was good to get my first Don salmon of the season after a bad run of losing fish.

A fine specimen of a River Don summer salmon caught on a small Cascade at Manar.
My next fish was a lovely sea liced grilse of around 5lbs and again from the River Don. My dad was on hand to land this fish for me at Lower Fintray.

A sea liced grilse from the River Don at Lower Fintray in August.
On the 22nd August I accompanied junior Aberdeen and District Angling Association member, Sean Rennie to a Junior Day at Park on the River Dee. It was a great day for fishing and the river was in good condition and there seemed to be one or two fish about to keep the enthusiasm going. After a bit of tuition from casting instructor, Gary Scott we headed off down to the Durris Stream. As we neared the tail of the pool where the water slowed down I suggested to Sean to start working the fly in various ways to speed it up. He tried this and just as the fly was coming in towards the bank he had a good solid take from a lively fish. This was soon landed expertly by Sean and the smile on his face made the day. As a result of Sean landing this fish I thought I'd nominate him for the Callum Mackenzie Cup which is presented to a young angler for a memorable catch from the River Dee. Sean was selected by the panel as the winner and he will receive his trophy at the River Dee opening ceremony at Potarch in February. Well done Sean!

Sean and his prize winning fish caught from Park during a Junior Day.

September saw me fishing the famous Ballogie beat of the River Dee with my pal Ross MacDonald thanks to an invite from ghillie, Sean Stanton. Just after lunch in a biggish water I was lucky enough to land a wee sea liced grilse from the Top Gannets pool on a Red Francis tube. My first fish from the upper beat at Ballogie.
A very welcome wee grilse caught on a Red Francis at Ballogie in September.
A couple of days after fishing at Ballogie I was invited by Paul Pritchard to fish at Lower Crathes on the River Dee. This was not to be sniffed at and I was in the right place at the right time again to land this big hen fish around the 15-16lb mark out of the Mill Stream.

A beauty from the Dee at Lower Crathes on a pink Franc N Snaelda.

Traditionally, October is normally the most productive month for me in terms of fish caught and this year was no different. At the beginning of the month I was thankful to another pal, Patrick Taylor and his good lady Joanna for inviting me to fish Commonty with them. I was lucky enough to land a 4lb grilse in testing conditions from the Blue Chair pool. The water was very low and there were few resident fish about never mind fresh ones. I had fished the pool with a small #16 red Francis without a touch so I decided to try the same fly but on a 1.5" tube! This did the trick straight away and the fish below was quick landed and released after a spirited fight.

A small, coloured fish caught in difficult low water conditions on the Dee at Commonty.
My next fish was caught after my work during a spate on the River Don at Lower Fintray and weighed roughly 15lbs. It put up a heck of a scrap in the big water before I managed to land it. One of the perks living so close to the river is having a quick cast before heading home.

My 15lb Don salmon - caught during spate conditions is ready to go back.
I had a taken a week off in mid October and I spent the first half of the week on the river. I did very well for my 4 days fishing and was fortunate enough to get 3 in one session on the back of a wee rise in water with all fish were taken on my Kitchen Sink fly. First up was a small coloured cock fish about 5lb and quickly followed by a hen fish of the same size. About 10 yards further down the pool I landed my third fish which was just over the 2lb mark but reasonably fresh.

My first of three caught in a morning on the River Don. A cock fish around the 5lb mark.
Second fish of the morning. A hen about 5lbs.
Completing the Hat Trick! A small fish about 2-3lbs.
My final fish of the season was caught form the River Dee on the 15th October which is the last day of the River Dee season. It was caught just before lunch and was as fresh as the come. It was carrying sea lice and was caught from the famous Potarch Bridge Pool at Ballogie. This was a great way to sign off my Dee season and as there was still two weeks to fish on the Don I was hopeful of landing a few more.

A lovely fresh fish to end my 2015 River Dee season with.
My final fish of the 2015 season was caught on the River Don at Lower Fintray on the 15th October. It weighed around 7lbs and was covered in sea lice. It was also taken on a Kitchen Sink and my dad did the honours again of netting it for me. A perfect end to the season.

A cracking October salmon from the Don. A great way to end the season.
Thoughts are now turning to next season's Spring fishing and I've already got most of my days renewed for next year. In 2016 I will be fishing on a few beats I haven't fished before on the Tay and Dee so I'll certainly be looking forward to that. Add in a few days on the Spey and I am all sorted. Fingers crossed we get good runs of fish in 2016 and I have plenty to write about on these pages.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Flooding On The River Dee Today

I had a trip up Royal Deeside today to photograph the river in the middle of a very large spate brought on by heavy rain and snow melt. The river peaked at 10ft on the Park gauge and was full of all sorts of debris washed off the banks. Numerous trees had been battered by the gales during the night and many of the fallen limbs ended up floating down the river on their way to Aberdeen.

Hopefully the spate hasn't caused too much damage up and down the valley and none more so than to the recently cut salmon redds. With the spawning season now peaked on most burns the wash out could have a big impact on future runs in 4-5 years time. Fingers crossed the redds will be well covered though and loss is minimal. Time will tell I'm sure.

Aboyne Bridge.
One of the huts overlooking the Lorne Pool at Aboyne Castle with the water at the door step.
Waterside Pool at Waterside and Ferrar.
A submerged hut at the Long Pool on Cambus O May.
The Garden Pool way over the banks at Glen Muick.
The same pool but looking across to the far (not really visable) bank.
A large section of spruce tree coming down river in the torrent.
One of the huts at Invercauld surrounded by water.
The Dee filling the flood plain at Braemar Castle.
The Clunie Water (left) at Braemar spilling onto the road.
The Clunie Water from the bridge in Braemar town centre.
Potarch Bridge later on in the afternoon. There is a gauge on one of the parapets which goes up to 8ft and it's about 2ft underwater!