Saturday, 24 December 2016

Merry Christmas!

I would just like to take this oppertunity to wish readers of my Blog a very Merry Christams and best wishes for 2017.

I have a lot of exciting fishing trips lined up for 2017 and I hope you will all continue to join me again next year in my persuit of Atlantic Salmon here in Scotland. Tight lines! Craig

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Tube Flies For Spring

It's that time of year again where many fly tiers like myself are sitting down at the vice and tying their favourite patterns for the new season ahead. I will mostly be using Willie Gunns and Black and Yellows with the occasional Akroyd single if the previous to patters fail. I can't see past these flies for early season and I see little point else using anything else during February or March.

The new season can't come round quick enough and my first outing of the season is booked in for the 21st January on the River Tay at Lower Kinnaird with good pals. It's great to meet up them again after the winter and having a cast in the hope of landing a coveted January salmon is an added bonus.

Tight lines to all for 2017. Hopefully I'll have plenty to write about again this coming season and will look forward to sharing my experieces through out the year.
Gold bodied Willie Gunns and Black & Yellows all tied on plastic tubes with heavy Eumer S cones.
Black & Yellow. A big favourite on the Dee in Spring.
Gold Body Willie Gunn with a red cone.
Gold Body Willie Gunn with a gold cone.
Akroyd tied on a 5/0 single hook. A favourite of mine to use in the early spring months.

Monday, 21 November 2016

First Grue Of Winter

There has been very little in the way of grue (small ice floes) in recent years but today the River Dee had the first grue of winter coming down. The River Dee usually gets grue most winters due to its shallow nature and well oxygenated water, however, grue has been all but absent in the past few years so it's good to see a "normal" winter occurrence for a change. Hopefully this cold water will continue and give the lower beats some much need fishing this spring.
Looking downstream over the River Dee in Aberdeen this morning.
Looking upstream from the same spot.
The last significant hard winter we endured was back in 2010 and it might just be a coincidence, but the fishing that year was the best it has been for a long time.Fingers crossed we get a real cold snap this winter and the fishing is back to something like it was a few years ago.

Looking downstream from the ADAA Bothy.
Looking upstream from the Bothy.
Thick ice along the banks of the river this morning.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Salmon Fishing Highlights 2016

Another salmon fishing season has come and gone this year and although it's been tough at times, it has however, on a personal level been a good one. Despite not fishing as much as I normally do and my local River Don having no water for most of the season, I finished up with 13 salmon landed and a I lost a good few along the way too. I also landed several good sized sea trout during the summer months with the biggest being 3lbs. The weights of salmon caught were 12lb, 15lb, 10lb, 10lb and 14lb which was very pleasing and the grilse sizes were also good with most fish ranging from 3-7lbs in weight.
A fresh run 10lb salmon from the River Spey back in June. One of many particular highlight from my fishing season in 2016. 
I'll happily admit that I am pretty obsessive in my pursuit of Atlantic salmon so every time I venture out onto the river I class that as a highlight but on this Blog post I have tried to single out a number of days which stuck in my mind for one reason or other. I have also included photos of the fish I have been fortunate enough to land this season.
Having lunch with good pals in the Lower Kinnard hut during our first outing of the season on the 16th January.
My season started off way back in January on the River Tay at Lower Kinnaird. The first trip of the season is always one I look forward to as it's spent with good pals I've met through the Salmon Proboards Forum. It was also the first time I had fished the beat and it was great water for fly fishing. The lunch was also memorable as was the numerous drams of home made gins which we all take along to share. Although none of us caught the coveted January springer we all crave, there were a few kelts landed to keep the enthusiasm going. Looking forward to January 2017 when we all start over again. More details and pictures of the day can be found here Lower Kinnaird Blog Post
Dougie Vipond makes the first cast under the stewardship of Waterside and Ferrar ghillie, Craig McDonald.

The 1st February signals the opening of the River Dee season and I always make a point of going to the Opening Ceremony. This year, the river was opened by Deacon Blue drummer, Dougie Vipond at the fabulous Banchory beat. It was well attended as it usually is and the weather was kind. It's always good to meet up with ghillies and fishing friends again and to look forward to what we all hope is a successful season. More details of the day can be found here River Dee Opening Ceremony
The biggest fish to come off the Dee on Opening Day. Me and my cracking 12lb sea liced fish from the Durris Stream at Park. 
I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to have a cast on opening Day thanks to my pal Philip Black who kindly invited me along to fish at Park. I didn't have to wait long for my first fish of the season when I landed an cracking fresh fish of around 12lb from the famous Durris Stream. The fish took a 2" Willie Gunn tube fished off and Intermediate line around 4.30pm. I was absolutely delighted to see the fish go into the waiting net of ghillie Keith Cromar. We were all buzzing and headed back the hut to celebrate with a dram or two. This fish turned out to be the biggest fish caught on Opening Day and it was also the first fish landed from the Park beat for which I received a bottle of Park Special whisky and a box of flies. Will be back in 2017 to see it there will be a repeat of this year. More detail and photos of can be found here Opening Day Salmon 2016
The amazing fishing "hut" on C beat at Tulchan. I could quite happily live in it!
Another highlight for me in the early season was fishing on the hallowed waters of Tulchan on the River Spey as part of Ian Gordon's group. It was great to fish such a wonderful stretch of river in such good company and it really was such an enjoyable day. I was lucky enough to have a cast on beats B, C and D during my day. More photos and my original Blog post about my day can be found here Tulchan Blog Post
Looking across to the famous Linn Pool on the mighty River Tay. What a place and one I am really looking forward to visiting again next season. 
The next highlight I have was when I went fishing at the Stobhall beat on the River Tay back in late March. I was to fish the famous Linn Pool and it was such a daunting place. The volume of water and the numerous currents which flow through the pool are quite incredible. Although I didn't land a fish for my day it was good to say that I've fished the pool but I did however have a brief encounter with a springer in the Major's Cast later on in the afternoon. I can't wait to return again in March 2017. I have attached a link to view my Blog post from my day Stobhall Blog Post
Charlie's first springer of the Tulchan Meet.

Charlie with his second fish of the day from Tulchan.
Early April saw me back at Tulchan C. I was fishing as part of another meet which was organised through Facebook. It was all guys I already knew from previous meets so it was good to see them all again. Although I didn't have any joy on the day, my good pal Charlie Robertson managed to land 2 cracking springers for his day. Both fish were fresh as paint and we were all delighted for him. Tulchan C Blog

What a great bunch to spend a day's fishing on the River Tay with. Roll on next year!
Although I wasn't having much luck with catching salmon on my trips, I can honestly say that I was really enjoying casting a line on places that were new to me. Another of these was a day on the Tay again but this time at Murthly 2. I was kindly invited down by ghillie Tony Black as part of a group I'm in. It's not often we can all get together with many of us living in all parts of the UK and Ireland so it was great to meet up the guys I spend a lot of time interacting with online. The craic was first class and the fishing was good too. I managed to hook a nice fish under the guidance of Tony's brother, Philip but unfortunately it threw the hook not long after hooking it. I couldn't make the return leg in October but by all accounts, another great time was had by all who attended and I will make sure I am available for any future meets in 2017. Murthly 2 Blog Post
Looking upstream towards the Hydro Dam at Pitlochry. Probably one of the most prolific spring salmon waters owned by an angling club.
At the end of April, I had a day booked on the Pitlochry Angling Club stretch of the River Tummel, which is a tributary of the River Tay. This is usually a prime time to be on this particular beat and I was eagerly looking forward to it on the run up to my day. An early start was required to get to the beat for 7am and I arrived to be greeted by two local rods who were very helpful and willing to share pool info etc. One of the rods did however inform me that the water was the lowest he'd seen it in 37 years of fishing the beat and this wasn't really ideal levels for success. There were a few fish splashing around the pools as expected but sport was thin on the ground and I landed nothing. Again, this was another beat I could scratch off my to do list and I'm glad to say I've fished it. I will also make a point of returning again soon. Have a look at the link for my original Blog post about my day Pitlochry AC Blog Post
All geared up and ready for another day on the River Don at Castle Forbes. 
The end of April also marks another highlight in my angling calendar, the Castle Forbes Proboards meet on my local River Don. Water conditions were as to near ideal as we could have hoped and there were two springer landed by my good friend Bill Cook. Unfortunately, no one else managed to winkle out a fish but it was good to see the Don show us what it can do in the Spring. My pal Paul Pritchard produce a cracking video of our day and it can be view by following the link Castle Forbes Blog Post

The famous Bargie Stone pool on Murthly 1. A pool that will forever be etched in the salmon history books. It is a lovely cast with the fly rod and the anticipation of hooking another monster fish is there at all times!
Next up for me was a day on the Murthly 1 beat on the River Tay. This beat shares it's pools with Glendelvine and this is the beat where Georgina Ballatine landed her record salmon all those years ago. It was a privilege to fish on such fabled pools and I'm glad I can say that I have fished the same water as she did. The day was also spent in great company and we shared many a laugh over a few dram and Donald the ghillie was on great form. No fish landed by myself but there was a nice fish landed by Paul McIntyre from the very pool where Miss Ballatine landed her fish, The Bargie Stone. More photos and a report can be read here Murthly 1 Blog Post
My first River Spey salmon from the Bridge Pool on Tulchan C. Not a bad place to open my account!

My Kitchen Sink shrimp which did the damage. Really was the perfect way to break my River Spey jinx. A cracking 15lb salmon caught on my own fly from Tulchan. Does it get any better than that?

My second fish of the day. A fresh run 10lber from Upper Bog caught just before finishing time.
I finished the spring with just the one fish but it was an opening day fish from the Dee so I was more than happy with that. Near the end of June I received an exciting call from my pal Paul Pritchard who was inviting me to fish with him at Tulchan C. This was an offer I could not refuse and I was more excited than a wee kid at Christmas at the thought of fishing there at a prime time in their season. I was very fortunate to land a cracking 15lb salmon just before 10am which took the pressure off right away! I also managed to land a fresh run 10lber just before 5pm. These incidentally were my first ever fish landed from the Spey and I was very grateful to Paul for his kind invitation. What a place to break my long standing Spey hoodoo and to land my first using my own fly pattern, the Kitchen Sink Shrimp was a perfect way to do it. to do it. Not only that, but to land tow fish for my day was the icing on the cake for me! More pictures and a detailed report can be found here Tulchan C Blog post

A fresh run 10lber for the Ballogie Flats taken on a small Monkey fly.
My next fish wasn't too far away and I was grateful to Sean Stanton, the head ghillie at Ballogie for giving me a day's fishing on his beat on the 5th July. The beat was beginning to pick away nicely and I was delighted to add to that tally by landing a fresh 10lber from the Flats which hammered a 1/2" Monkey tube. Ballogie Blog Post

As you can see the fishing for our trip was slow. The low water really hampered our chances but the drinks were flowing thick and fast!
Early August saw me back on the Dee but this time at Carlogie. I was fishing two days as part of a party hosted by good pal Ade Warburton. There were decent numbers of fish present in most of the pool but due to a prolonged spell of low water they were proving very difficult to temp. We found other ways of enjoying ourselves though and we all had a great time. Really looking forward to next year. Carlogie Blog Post

A small but very welcome grilse taken on the River Feugh in August.
As luck would have it, and just like last year too, the water rose the day after my fishing days were finished at Carlogie. I was off on holiday for the whole week and took advantage of the fact by fishing a day on the River Feugh which is the largest tributary of the River Dee. I soon hooked a fish which unfortunately came off but not long after I was in again and duly landed a small but very welcome grilse. This was also my first ever fish off the Feugh so I was delighted regardless of it's size or condition.

A small grilse from Ballogie taken on a Junction Shrimp Snaelda.
My next fish landed was from Ballogie. I had earlier lost a very good sized fish after playing it for several minutes but I was glad to hook another and get it landed. It wasn't a big fish of just around the 4lb mark but I really don't care what size the fish I land are!
My dad fishing the Little Turn. Excellent conditions for fishing but we had no luck on the day unfortunately. 
My Dad had not fished the Spey for nearly 20 years so we thought we'd have a go at the end of the fishing season. The Spey had been doing really well in the summer and I was hopeful my dad would see some sport. The Spey is a difficult river to tempt fish in September apparently and needless to say we didn't land any fish but it was still good to be out on the river with dad and he really enjoyed his day. More details and photos of our day can be viewed by clicking on this link. Wester Elchies Blog Post
My first fish after only 3 casts! A 7lber from the Top Gannets.

My second fish, this time from Middle Gannets. Not bad for just fishing for an hour. it's good to be in the right palce at the right time for a change!
October is always my most productive month of the season and this year was no different. For my week off I managed to do fairly well and landed a few fish. The first one was a lively 7lb hen fish from Ballogie and this was quickly followed by a 6lber. I captured both fish on my GoPro camera and as I was only fishing for an hour, it was very pleased to leave having landed two fish. To view my GoPro clip and to read the report of my day click on this link. Ballogie Blog Post and Go Pro Clips
My first fish of the day ready for release. A hen fish of around 7lb ready to be released.
My second fish of the day from the Ballogie Flats. This hen fish was around the 14lb mark. I captured the fight on my Go Pro camera and the clips can be viewed on my Ballogie Blog post on the link below.

My final fish of the day. A cock fish fish about 3-4lb from the Top Gannets. A nice way to round of my day.
As luck would have it, I was back on Ballogie a few days later and I was fortunate enough to land three fish for my day. The first fish was a coloured hen about 7lb from the Top Gannets. The second fish was a cracker of 14lb from the Ballogie Flats and my final fish of the day was a cock fish between 3-4lb from the Top Gannets. A great way to fish off my 2016 River Dee salmon season. Ballogie Blog Post

Bill's salmon from the Willows Pool at Kildrummy in low water conditions. A nice looking fish for the time of year and water levels.
I had a day on the lovely Kildrummy beat of the River don with my pal Bill Cook. The water was fairly low but there were fish present in the pools and Bill managed to land a nice fish around the 8lb mark. I didn't have any luck and could only lose a nice big fish from the Crooked Pot pool just before leaving for the day. It lead me a merry dance up and down the pool taking yards of line off my reel before finally freeing itself in the shallows opposite me. I didn't see the fish but it felt very heavy and it would have been good to land it just to see what size it was. It wasn't to be though but there is always another day.
My first River Don salmon of the season finally landed two weeks before the end of the season.
My second fish of the day. A 7lb hen taken on a Junction Snaelda.
The River Don was not keen to give up much fish for anglers this season and runs have been pretty poor these past couple of seasons to say the least. Having said that, the anglers who fished most days and put in plenty hours inevitability seemed to do ok but fish were few and far between this back end which is historically the most productive time on the River Don. From a personal point of view, it has never taken me so long to land a Don salmon and I was grateful to finally land not just one, but two for my day on the middle river in mid October. I was very pleased to have ended my season with a couple of Don fish to my name. Hopefully next season will see the beginning of a recovery for the Don as things have been pretty grim these last two seasons. I am always hopeful though and will be out on her banks come 11th February next year trying all over again!  River Don Salmon Blog Post

Well, that's my highlights from my fishing season just past and I hope anyone who took the time to read about them enjoyed it as much as I did reminiscing over the photos. I'm already planning my fishing for 2017 and have some good days booked up again. Hopefully it will be another good season for me again in 2017 and I will look forward to sharing my trips and photos here on my Blog for anyone who is interested in looking in. My attention now turns to tying flies and restocking the boxes in time for the new season ahead. I will do a few blog posts about the fly tying over the course of the winter since there will be no fishing to write about. Keep a look out for them and tight lines!

Friday, 21 October 2016

KS Shrimps For River Dee Auction

I am delighted to donate a box of flies to the River Dee Trust auction again this year. These 12 flies are tied on silver Fulling Mill hooks of various sizes and will be presented in this Greys fly box. I was thrilled when I was asked last year and it was great to see my flies sell pretty well. It's all for a very good cause and I was a glad to contribute a wee bit to the final total.

I have varied it slightly this year and have tied 6 original Kitchen Sink Shrimps as well as 4 yellow KS Shrimps and 2 red KS Shrimps. Hopefully these will sell equally as well as last year.

Details of the auction can be found by following the link so please register and bid for any of the great items which will be on offer. The auction goes live on 1st November with all proceeds going to fund projects carried out by the River Dee Trust.

River Dee Trust Auction 2016

The Greys fly box with the dozen flies ready for the auction.
The original Kitchen Sink Shrimp.
Yellow KS Shrimp
Red KS Shrimp

Monday, 17 October 2016

River Don Salmon

Finally opened my account on the River Don today and not unlike buses, two came along at once! I normally have a Don fish in my book long before now but with no water for months it was finally good to see the Don with a spate running off and to get out fishing knowing you had a chance of connecting. The water was carrying a heavy peat stain but was otherwise in very good shape.

Both fish were taken on a 14mm Junction Snaelda fished off a floating line a 7 inch per second poly leader and were released quickly. The second fish I caught today made my total for the season pass last year's total so it was very pleasing to see it in the net.

My first fish of the day. A hen fish around the 5lb mark. Junction Snaelda did the trick.
My second fish of the day. Another hen fish but about 7lb. Junction Snaelda did the trick again. This fish made me pass my total of last year.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Ballogie - River Dee

I had a great time on the Ballogie beat of the River Dee this week where I was lucky enough to catch 5 salmon in just over a day's fishing. The water levels have been low recently but with a drop in water and air temperatures the fish seemed to be reacting to this and became much more willing to take the fly.

An underwater still of my salmon being returned on Saturday.
The first of my 5 fish came on Thursday. I was only able to fish for an hour but during that time I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time for a change. The water height was 8" on the Potarch gauge and my set up for the day was my 14ft 9in Guideline AWM rod and a Rio AFS floating shooting head. Attached to this was a 3.9 inch per second (ips) tip. I started in the Top Gannet and on only my 3rd cast of the afternoon I lifted into a nice fish. It was a coloured hen salmon of around 7lb and she was soon landed and sent back on her way after a quick photo. I managed to get the whole experience on my GoPro camera and I have attached the clip below. The fly was a 1/2" Red Frances tube.

My first fish on Thursday on only my 3rd cast! A 7lb hen fish taken on a Red Frances.

After fishing through the rest of the Top Gannets without another offer, I carried on down into the Middle Gannets. About half way down the pool I felt a fish take my fly but it was reluctant to turn with it. It just so happened I had been watching a Mikael Frodin YouTube video the night before on low water tactics. He had the same scenario with a fish in Russia where he let the fish to chew on the fly for several seconds before he felt it turn and take the fly properly. Only then he lifted into it and he duly landed the fish. With this fresh in my mind, I did the same. I let the fish to gently tug on the fly until my line had came out the current and straighten out. The fish reacted to this newly added tension and turned with my fly. I sharply lifted into it and after a spirted fight it was quickly landed and released. I also got this on my GoPro and have posted the clip below.

My second fish from Thursday. A 6lb hen from Middle Gannets. Also on the 1/2" Red Frances tube.

Thanks to another kind invite from Sean, I found myself back at Ballogie again on Saturday. This time I was able to fish the full day and I couldn't wait to get going. The air was cold in the morning and the fish took a while to switch on. I didn't start fishing until about 10am as we waited for the air to warm up.

My 7lber from the Top Gannets on Saturday ready for release.
I started out with the same set up as Thursday but the water had dropped to 6" on the Potarch gauge. I fished through all three of the Gannets pools without and offer so I headed back up to the hut for a re-think of my set up. I changed my tip over from a 3.9 ips to a to a 2.6ips and removed the Red Frances fly and replaced it with an All Black Snaelda but of the same size. I waded out to the next of the Top Gannets and within two or three casts I lifted into a strong fish. It was another hen and was roughly 7lbs again. I played it hard to minimise any unnecessary runs etc and it was soon beached and released back into the Dee again. Just fishing that wee bit higher up in the water made all the difference and my confidence was restored. I landed the fish about 11.50am and decided to have a bite to eat before heading off downstream to fish the lower pools on the beat.

On arrival to the lower part of the beat I met up with Sean and he advised me that there were two fish caught. One being a cracking cock fish of around 16lbs. Both were taken on the Pink Franc N Snaelda but I kept faith in my wee Black Snaelda and headed off upstream to begin in the Slips. About half way down the middle Slip I had a fish grab hold of my fly but it didn't stick unfortunately. That was to be the only action I had despite the presence of numerous fish in the pool so it was off on down to fish the Flats.

The fly that did the damage on Saturday - All Black Snaelda.
The Flats is a cracking pool and is lovely to fish a fly through in all heights of water. I had a fresh 10lber from here back in July and it fought like a demon due to the strong current so playing any fish in here is a challenge. I started out right at the top of the pool in the white water and began to work my way down the pool. Again sticking with the 2.6ips tip and Black Snaelda. I got about 20 yards down the pool when I had an almighty take! The fish thrashed about on the surface but I couldn't really get a glimpse of it. I tightened up on it and the fish began pulling back hard. Much harder than the smaller fish I had landed earlier. This fish wanted to stay deep and I was anxious about loosing it given the amount of submerged boulder in the pool. The fish pulled and ran up and down the pool but it was clever and used the current in it's favour. I tried to do the same and pulled hard against the fish all the while trying to make sure I didn't change the angle too much and pull the hook out. The fight went on for a good 7 or 8 minutes and I eventually had the fish ready for beaching. I reached down and got hold of a nice hen fish around 14lbs. I quickly removed the hook and returned her back into the river to continue her journey. I fished down the rest of the pool without an offer so decided to make my way back to the hut as it was about 4.30pm. I also managed to capture the action on my GoPro and have attached the clip below for anyone interested in viewing it.

A big hen salmon of around 14lbs ready to be released.

I got back to the hut and had a quick run down the neck of the Top Gannets but it didn't provide anymore action. I carried on down for one last go in the tail of the pool when Sean arrived. I was just about finished fishing the pool, or so I thought, when Sean told me to carry on into the lip just before it drops into the Middle Gannets. And would you believe it, just as my fly was swinging round in front of the white water, I had a good solid take. I lifted into the fish and it was on. The way the fish was pulling in the fast water, if I had lost it there and then I would have sworn in was a double figure fish. It was soon subdued though and Sean grabbed hold of a small grilse of no more than 3lbs! Despite it's size, it was very welcome and I was delighted to land my third fish of the day. A fish I would have not landed if Sean hadn't been there as I would have not fished that part of the pool. I will be from now on though, that's for sure! We carried on into the Middle Gannets but nothing was interested and I called it a day around 5.30pm more than happy with my day.
Ballogie ghillie, Sean Stanton about to release my last fish of the day. A cock fish of around 3lb.
Ballogie is a beat that is always good to me as I seem to do pretty well there when ever I fish it. It's a pleasure to fish knowing you are covering fish and this makes a big difference to the confidence. Several of the pool changed after Storm Frank but it's very encouraging to see a good head in all the pools.

The long season is now drawing to a close but it's good to see the beat pass last year's total, as have many of the beats on the river. Lets be honest, it wouldn't have taken much after the disaster on 2015! The totals for the Dee in 2016 up but overall, catches are still a long way off recovering to what they should be. At least it is heading in the right direction though and with one thousand or more fish caught this year than in 2015. Long may that continue and here's to a good run in 2017. Tight lines.