Monday, 29 February 2016

February Springer From The River Don

My good pal Charlie Robertson got his season up and running on Saturday with this cracking springer of around 8lb from the River Don. It was still carrying sea lice and was taken on a Black and Yellow tube fly. The spooky thing is that when I spoke to Charlie earlier that afternoon he said it was very quiet but he was away to have a cast and get himself an 8lb sea licer. When my phone rang not long after and it was Charlie saying that he'd just landed an 8lb sea liced fish, I couldn't believe it!
Charlie's cracking 8lber from the River Don on Saturday.
February springers on the Don are rare creatures and to predict catching one is even more of an achievement! Great to hear of fish coming off the Don though as that's three in the last week or so and all around the 8lb mark and all sea liced. Fingers crossed they keep on coming and that more anglers venture out to try and land one as there aren't many rods putting in the effort at the moment. 

Friday, 26 February 2016

Little Blackhall And Inchmarlo - River Dee

I had a day on the Little Blackhall and Inchmarlo beat of the River Dee last Saturday thanks to the ghillie, Martin Robson. The river was in fine fettle and was sitting at around 1ft 9in on the FishDee gauge. My set up for the day was my 15ft Mackenzie DTX rod, AFS Hover shooting head and a 10ft super fast sink tip. My fly of choice was the good old Willie Gunn.

Fishing down the Otter Stone.
The granite on the far bank has been exposed after the winter floods. I think it looks quite good.
Looking upstream in the Fawn.
Fishing down the Fawn Pool.
Looking upstream in the Fawn.
I fished the top part of the beat in the morning along side Martin and we covered the water pretty well but despite favourable conditions, we just couldn't temp a fish to take our offerings. Every pool was fishing the fly nicely and it was good to be back on the beat again. This was one of the first private beats I ever fished on the Dee and it's always good to come back. The fishing is easy whether it's off the bank or shallow wading, you just know that there is every chance of connecting with a fish given the right conditions.

The fishing hut at Inchmarlo.
Looking down the Roe Pot from the Inchmarlo hut.
Fishing down the Roe Pot. A classic River Dee salmon pool.
One of the Little Blackhall huts over looking the Roe Pot.

The Roe Pot is always a good bet to pick up a fish on the beat and I fished it down willing the line to tighten with every cast. As I neared the tail of the pool just above the timber pier in the picture above I had a good offer but sadly it didn't come to nothing and that was to be it for my day.

Looking downstream across the tail of the Roe Pot.
The Little Blackhall and Inchmarlo beat looks a lot different since my last visit here in 2015. All the croys which were once a feature of the famous Roe Pot have all but gone and large areas of granite banking have been exposed on the Little Blackhall bank on the upper parts of the beat. As well as this, much of the road leading to the upper pools was washed away and repairs are ongoing to get the beat back to full working order.

Little Blackhall and Inchmarlo is a cracking part of the River Dee and you wouldn't know it's just a few hundred meters away from the bustling town of Banchory when you are fishing the pools. It's always a pleasure fishing here and I will look forward to returning again soon hopefully. 

There is still some availability for the beat this year and if you fancy a day then have a look at the Little Blackhall And Inchmarlo on the FishDee wesite by clicking the link. It's great value and well worth a visit.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Tulchan - River Spey

Last Saturday I fished on the famous Tulchan Estate stretches of the River Spey as part of Ian Gordon's group and there were about 14 of us spread out over all four beats. The river was sitting at a nice height around the 9" mark and several kelts had been landed over the previous two days.
Ian instructed us to meet at the hut on C beat in the morning and what a hut it is! It has everything you could need, toilet, dining area, sofas, big wood burning stove, fully equipped kitchen and a fantastic view looking down the river.
The fishing hut on B beat.
After a meet and greet with the fellow rods and a cup of coffee I was allocated to fish B beat with Matthew Will. We were shown to the beat by Tom Brown and the beat ghillie, Roddy took us up to the upper pools which consisted of George's, Ghillie's and Stones.  My set up for the morning was my 15ft Mackenzie DTX shooting head rod, 44g float/intermediate shooting head and a 10ft 3.9ips tip. My fly of choice was a 5/0 Akroyd. On first glimpse of the water it looked stunning. Every pool had a lovely flow going though it and the water looked very "fishy".
Fishing down George's. My first cast at Tulchan. Not a bad place to start.
Ghillie's. Another lovely pool which fishes the fly superbly.
Fishing down the Stones pool on B beat.
I started in George's and was to follow Matthew down through Ghillie's and Stones. Despite the quality of the pools we were fishing neither Matthew nor I had a touch and we decided to try and fish a bit deeper and get down in front of any fish which might be there so I changed over to my 42g Hover shooting head and a 10ft super fast sink tip for the afternoon so it was back to the hut on C beat for lunch with the rest of the rods.
The fishing hut on C beat. Not bad!
As I said before, the hut on C beat is very homely and you could quite easily live in the place. The dining table was all set and lunch was cooked up by Dufftown butcher, Jock. His stovies, accompanied with oatcakes and beetroot went down a treat. The craic at the table over lunch was top notch with numerous stories and jokes told over a wee dram but it was time to get back to the river.
Ian and Tom have a chat over a dram in the hut at lunchtime.
After lunch, Ian suggested I went down to fish D beat with young ghillie, Philip. This was another fantastic looking stretch and the Cragganmore pool outside the hut, looked superb. I was to fish the Wood pool first of all and then down to the March pool.
One of the signs for D beat.
The fishing hut on D beat.
Cragganmore pool opposite the hut on D beat.
The Wood pool was another nice bit of water and was very easy to fish. Lovely pools and Tuclahn estate seem to go hand in hand. Philip accompanied me down the pool and pointed out likely lies etc and even this early in the season you just felt like the line could go tight at any time. I fished down the pool right to the end and unfortunately I didn't get an offer so we headed off to the March pool for a go before close of play.
Fishing down the Wood Pool on D beat.
Looking upstream in the Wood Pool.
The tail of the Wood Pool.
The March pool really was a cracking bit of water. I would love to see the place in May/June time when the ghille said the place comes alive with fish! Maybe one day if my lottery numbers come in then I'll give it a go. Philip suggested I changed fly to a size 6 double as he felt I was fishing a fly just on the big side for the pool so I picked out a Cascade and went up to the top of the pool and worked my way down. We tried all the likely lies but sadly I couldn't connect with anything but just the thrill of fishing these pools was enough.
Looking downstream in the March Pool on D beat.
I hope to return to Tulchan again some day and would love see the place during the peak of the salmon runs in May/June time. It must just be awesome to fish a wee size 8 or 10 through the pools and know that you are covering plenty fish and there is a good chance that one will grab your fly. Until that time comes when I win the lottery, I'll just have to look in from the outside and dream but knowing at least I'll have the satisfaction of now being able to say that "I've fished Tulchan" and for that I'm grateful to Ian Gordon and Tom Brown for giving me the opportunity to do so.

River Don Opening Day 2016

The 11th of February saw the River Don opening it's doors to salmon anglers again after the winter and I ventured out on the Aberdeen Angling Association Kemnay beat with Bill Cook and Andy MacLennan. The water was in good shape and sitting around 1ft 5in but all that was landed were a few kelts and brown trout.

Mike Dutch, Bill Cook and Andy MacLennan fishing down the Dooker Pool on Opening Day at Kemnay.
We did hear of a fresh fish coming off the Kemnay Angling Club water which was encouraging and hopefully there is a good run of spring salmon this season after the poor runs in 2015.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Park - River Dee

I take a day on the River Dee at Park during opening week every year but due to a drop in prices for Spring fishing this year I decided take an extra day and fished the Friday and Saturday instead of just my normal Saturday. I had fished Park on opening day earlier in the week and was delighted to land a sea liced 12lber from the Durris Stream and hopes were high for my other days. Snow melt and heavy rain kept the water levels yo-yoing for most of the time but it was a good water to encourage fish to run the river from the sea.

My Opening Day springer from the Durris Stream on Monday last week. Still smiling!
Fishing down the Park Inn.
Looking upstream towards Silver Spoon from Park Inn.
The Park Estate has taken a battering from the flooding caused by Storm Frank and many of the tracks and pools have suffered as a result, no more so than Cooper's and Bulwarks. The river had breached the flood banks and powered it's way through the fields and woodland until it rejoined the main flow at the Castleton pool where it had swept away the fishing hut on the South bank. Tonnes and tonnes of earth and shingle have been washed out of the fields and the damage caused will run into hundreds of thousands of pounds. It's going to take a monumental effort to get, not just Park, but the entire catchment of the Dee back to something like it was before but at least the fishing is still there and anglers can enjoy what the river has to offer despite of what has happened to the surroundings.

Damage to the banks of Bulwarks caused by the New Year flooding.
Massive breach of the bank at Cooper's and the water tearing through here has left a trail of destruction through Park Estate.
Huge amounts of earth and shingle have been shifted here a this is going to take some amount of work to repair.
Another photo of the damage caused by Storm Frank.
Looking upstream where the road ends at the Long Pool. The road used to follow the curve of the river and go right up to the Park Inn.
The fishing on my two days was hampered by strong and gusty winds which made casting accurately very difficult at times. The river was also up and down almost on an hourly basis with snow melt the main cause of this. Despite the conditions we kept trying. Numerous different tactics were deployed as we searched the pools for that fresh run springer we all were craving but sadly it wasn't to be with just a few kelts to show for our efforts. We saw running fish in the latter parts of both days and when a few more decide to run the river then I wouldn't bet against Park picking up a few more before the end of the month.

Fishing down the Long Pool in a biggish water.
Making my way down Lower Kirks in a howling gale.
Castleton. Note the Park South hut is now gone. Another victim of the ferocity shown by Mother Nature at New year.
The Durris Stream seemed to be a good bet for a fish in the rising water and around 3pm on Friday afternoon, the rod on the South bank was into a fish near the tail of the pool. After a short battle the net was slid under a fresh run 10lber. The first fish of the season off the South bank. Not a bad start for Park with two in the book for opening week considering the poor early spring catches of recent seasons. The two fish caught will hopefully bode well for the rest of the spring and I would love to see Park get the good catches we all know it's capable of producing.
Durris Stream. A cracking pool and where I was lucky enough to land my fish on opening day earlier on in the week.
An angler on the South bank getting ready to land a nice, fresh springer around the 10lb mark from the tail of the Durris Stream.
Cellar. Another lovely pool on the Park beat.
There was to be no repeat of Monday's fish for me during my two days fishing but it is always a pleasure to fish at Park and the pools are a joy to cast a fly on. There is just something special about the place whether it being the history of the beat or just the surroundings, I can't quite put my finger on it but it's a beat I will always take the time to have a cast on as there is a great chance your fly will be taken by that coveted prize of an early running fish.
The Park North hut and the newly repaired parking area.
Paul Pritchard and ghillie, Keith Cromar discuss plans for the day ahead.
There is some good availability on both Park and Park South at the moment. With prices slashed by half for the early part of the season it's worth the money taking a day or two as all the fish running the Dee at this time of year will likely have to pass through the pools of Park Estate. For details of the fishing available at Park check out their page on FishDee or visit their own website at

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Opening Day Success On The Dee At Park

I was delighted to accept an invitation from Philip Black to fish Park on the opening day of the salmon fishing season 2016. I had attended the ceremony earlier on that day (Monday) and made my way down to the beat around 11.45am. The water levels were sitting around the 31" mark but were beginning to rise due to snow melt. The gale force wind made things that bit more tricky as well but if your fly is in the water then there is always a chance.
A fresh run opening day springer from the River Dee at Park. 12lb and covered in sea lice.
Park Estate head ghillie, Keith Cromar unhooks my fish from the Durris Stream.
At around 4pm I had an offer in the Durris Stream and a strong fish took off down river like a steam train. It's first initial run had the backing tearing off my reel and I actually thought I'd foul hooked a kelt. I followed the fish down just to get the fly line back onto my reel. Philip called Keith the ghillie and he arrived with the much needed net. After a dogged tussle lasting ten to fifteen minutes I managed to get the fish up and I drew it into the waiting net. The relief and delight at seeing a fresh run opening day fish was fantastic. It was a cracker around 12lb and covered in sea lice. the fish took a 2" Willie Gunn tied on an aluminum tube with a black tungsten cone. A big fly for the big water.

Everyone was over the moon. Park has had a lean time of it during the Spring months these past two or three years and ghillies were just as pleased as I was to see the fish in the net. Hopefully it signals a return to form for the beat and an upturn in fortunes for the river as a whole.
Just another photo of me posing with my fish.
And one more before slipping it back.
 I'm back at Park again Friday and Saturday and I can't wait! Hopefully there are a few more sea liced springers about. Looking forward to it.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

River Dee Opening Ceremony 2016

I attended the Opening Ceremony of the 2016 salmon fishing season on the River Dee yesterday at Banchory Lodge Hotel. The event is always well attended and this time was no different. This year the venue had to be changed last minute due to the bridges at Aboyne and Potarch being shut for repairs as a result of the flooding caused Storm Frank.
Banchory Lodge Hotel on the banks of the River Dee.
Marquee tent where drinks and bacon rolls were on offer to all that attended. A great time to reacquaint with friends, ghillies and anglers after the winter months.
Young Aberdeen and District Angling Association member Sean Rennie was presented with the Callum Mackenzie Cup for the best fish caught by a junior angler. Sean landed a sea liced grilse of around 4lb at a Junior Day held at park last August. It was a good day for the Aberdeen and District Angling Association as fellow member, John Fyfe received the Park Trophy for the largest fish of the season which was a 26lb salmon from the Crathie beat. Well done gents.
Sean Rennie receiving the Callum Mackenzie Cup for his fish last year at the Park Junior Day.
John Fyfe receiving the Park Trophy for his 26lber from Crathie.
Deacon Blue drummer and TV presenter, Dougie Vipond had the honour of the first cast this year and he made a great job of it considering the howling gales. He is a passionate countryman and his enthusiasm and love of the countryside came through as he addressed the 200 strong crowd. He blessed the river with the customary quaich of whiskey and made a few casts in the Hotel Pool. It was good to have the river open for business again after the torrid winter of flooding and rain. Fingers crossed it's a good season to keep spirits high on the angling front up and down Deeside.
Dougie Vipond addresses the crowd with ghillie, Craig McDonald to his right and River Dee Director Mark Bilsby to his left.
Dougie made a passionate speech about Scottish countryside which was received very well by the audience.
Dougie takes a quick sip of the whisky before blessing the river to signal the official start of the 2016 salmon fishing season on the River Dee.
The whisky going into the river.
The ceremonial first cast with Glen Tanar estate ghillie, Craig McDonald.