Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Stobhall - River Tay

Back in November I booked a day on the Stobhall beat and this including fishing the famous Linn Pool. Conditions on the day were good despite the water a bit on the low side for the Linn Pool to fish well but I couldn't wait to get stuck in. I set up both fly and spinning rods and various tactics and lures were utilised on the day.
The mighty Linn Pool. This was my first glimpse of the beat as I made my way down to the hut. Not bad!
I was to fish the Linn Pool first with Ernie the ghillie and fellow rod Steve. Ernie took us across in the boat to Bellymore which is a man made spit situated pretty much in the middle of the pool. It certainly makes fishing the pool much easier. I started off spinning with a Toby Salmo at the end of the island and worked my way down as Ernie suggested fishing in a clock like fashion. This worked well and it allowed me to fish cover large areas of the pool. There were one or two fish splashing around in the pool and Steve had an offer on a Salmo which didn't stick unfortunately but I didn't get a touch. Ernie suggested giving the Major's Cast a harl so it was back into the boat and off upstream. 

About to get aboard the boat and head across to Bellymore.
Looking towards the Linn Head from the point of Bellymore.
One in a million snap! A nice springer jumps out the water just as I was taking this photo of the pool.
Looking across to Taymount House from Bellymore.
Looking up Bellymore in the Linn Pool. Was a few fish showing here.
I sadly never got any photos of the Major's Cast as I was in the boat but Ernie took me up to the neck of the pool and we harled it down it's length. I changed tactics for this pool and put on a Vision 110 Kinkuro and cast it out the side of the boat. Ernie also had a couple of rods out and the lures were all fishing different depths. Harling is all down to the boatman's skill and ability to get the lures all working at the same time and it is good to watch how it's done. It really is an art and it's a very effective way to cover such a large river like the Tay when fishing from the bank just isn't going to be enough. About half way down the pool and my rod buckled over and I lifted the rod out of the holder ready to set the hook but as I lifted the rod, the fish let go and the opportunity was gone. Still, it was good to know that the lure was fishing as it should be and it instilled a bit of confidence going into the afternoon session after lunch.

A lovely fishing hut over looking the River Tay.
The interior of the well equipped fishing hut.
I spent lunch time talking with Trout and Salmon writer and expert angler, Jim Coates and his pal Iain Wood of Atholl Sporting. It was good to share thoughts and ideas about salmon fishing and it was also good listening to their stories of fishing rivers that I haven't had the pleasure of fishing before. The hour passed in no time so it was back to the fishing and what pools to concentrate on.

Looking upstream in the Finford Stream.
A lovely view looking over the Finford Stream.
First run down the pool with the fly rod and a 1.5" Gold Willie Gunn.
I was to start my afternoon off in the Finford Head and then have a run through Tam's Corner. This was a lovely stretch for fly fishing so I decided to put the spinning rod away for a while and give the pool a good going over with the fly. A Willie Gunn was my choice of fly and I fished on on a F/H/S1 shooting head with a 10ft 4ips tip. My first run down the pool was fruitless but I felt the fly was fishing nice enough to give it another run through before trying the spinning gear again. I changed flies and put on a 1" Monkey and decided to give the fly a bit of extra movement this time by slowly retrieving it as it swung round in the current. Again, this seemed to be fishing well but the fish remained elusive and I fished down the pool twice without seeing a splash.

Looking upstream form Finford Head in Tam's Corner.
Second run down Finford Stream with the spinner this time.
I went back up to the top of Tam's Corner and fished it down through into Finford Stream for the last half hour with a Vision 110 in the hope of covering a fish which didn't fancy taking the fly. I could cover a good bit more water with he spinning gear too but try as I might, the fish just weren't interested in my offerings and I called it a day a 5pm without a touch for the afternoon.

Head ghillie, Bob does a bit of harling with one of the guests.
It was great to fish on one of the best and most famous beats on the River Tay. The Linn Pool is something else and it was quite daunting at first to be honest. It's deep and unpredictable with currents going upsream and down which seems to make the fish stop off in it for that wee while longer giving anglers the chance to land one of them. The Major's Cast was another fine pool and it was good to get some excitement during the morning whilst out haling. The rest of the beat that I saw fished the fly really well and you were just waiting in anticipation for that line to go tight and all hell breaking loose! The ghillies Bob and Ernie were most welcoming and they knew the beat inside out. Their knowledge and skill with the boats is great and they do their utmost to put you onto a fish and  I will look forward to returning again next Spring when hopefully the conditions are a bit more favorable and the fish are in the mood for getting their photograph taken!

Friday, 25 March 2016

Carlogie - River Dee

I was invited to fish the Carlogie beat as a guest of ghillie Sean Stanton along with River Dee staff Ross MacDonald and Mark Walker. The river was sitting at 1ft 10in on the Potarch Bridge gauge and over head conditions were ideal. The water was still on the cold side so tactics of fishing fairly deep were the order of the day so I rigged up my 15ft Vision Catapult with a F/H/S1 line and a 10ft 5.6ips tip. My initial fly of choice was a 3/4" tungsten Monkey tube.

Rossicks. This pool was fishing very well at this height and is a lovely cast. The fly swings round perfectly.
I was allocated the top part of the beat in the morning and Sean suggested that Rossicks would be well worth a good going over so I took his advice and headed off upstream. Sean accompanied me as I began fishing down the pool and he was pointing out good lies and where fish have been seen splashing before which helps enormously. Nothing like fishing over lies where you are confident there might just be a fish resting and this really helps to keep the concentration going. Despite this though, my run down the pool proved to be a fruitless one so it was off to the Mill Pool.

Looking upstream towards the Dees Mill from the Mill Pool. I never tire of that view.
Working my way down the Mill Pool. The three huts on the Dess bank which used to overlook this stunning pool are now gone and the banks have had to be reconstructed after the flooding.
The Mill Pool has to be up there with the most scenic parts of Deeside. This pool is quite close to the main North Deeside road but yet it feels so secluded when you fish it and you rarely hear the traffic, except the odd motor bike tanking past. This is another pool which was hammered by the Storm Frank flooding and the old huts on the Dess bank were sadly washed away along with large chunks of the bank itself. The bank has now been repaired but the hut, for me anyway, always provoked thoughts of past history of the Dee and the people who might have fished here many years ago. As inviting as the pool fished in the conditions I couldn't temp anything and headed off to the hut for some lunch with the other lads.

Fishing down the Calm Pool on a beautiful March day.
Like so many lunch hours up and down the river recently, our lunch time was spent discussing the current state of the fish stocks running the River Dee these past few years. There is currently a smolt tagging process ongoing at the moment where fifty of these juvenile salmon will be fitting with radio tracking devices. Their movement will be tracked down river and hopefully the river staff will get an idea of where a majority of the mortality is taking place whether it's in river or just off the coast. As always with research carried out on the Dee, the results will be published as soon as the all the data has been analysed and processed. I'm sure everyone with an interest in not only the River Dee, but salmon in general will look forward to seeing those results.
A bumpy wade down the top of the Boat Pool.
Fishing down the Boat Pool with Ross MacDonald in at the top of the Village Pool.
The old boat mooring stone with padlock and chain still attached has been uncovered by the flooding last December.
After lunch it was off down to fish the Boat and Village pools. These are both very good pools and hold fish all year round. The top part of the Boat pool can be a tricky wade but at this height it was fine. The water clarity also helped and it was easy to navigate a route through the pool. Once I had completed the Boat pool I carried on into the Village pool. There has been a bit of a change here too and the bank has been scoured clean and new rocks have appeared due to the grass being washed out. One such rock was the old boat mooring which had been uncovered after years of being buried under the banking. The old padlock and chain was still attached and it was certainly nice to see that lying on the bank once again. Like I mentioned about the Mill pool earlier, it makes your imagination drift back to the old days to think of when it was used frequently and by whom it was used by. Well, it does for me anyway! But back to the fishing. This was another part of Carlogie that fished really well at the height we had but I just couldn't find a willing salmon to take my offerings so we decided to head back up river for a look at the massive changes up around Long Haugh and Pitslug then to have a final run through Rossicks before calling it a day.

Looking upstream from Pitslug to the area formerly known as the Long Haugh. Massive amounts of shingle have been shifted by the winter floods here.
Looking downstream in Pitslug where there is now a shingle bar running down the middle of the pool. It didn't stop a Dess rod on the opposite bank landed a fresh run springer of around 17lbs though!
Long Haugh and Pitslug are to of the upper pools at Carlogie and both fish very well at their optimum water levels. Sadly, the Long Haugh is no longer really a pool as such and is now just a fast run coming down from Alan's. The island where you once had to cross a small side stream of the main river to get out and fish from is no longer there and the whole river pretty much now passes through where the island used to be. This has done away with the pool and as a result of the island being washed away the Pitslug pool below now has a shingle bar going right trough the middle of it. The deeper channel which once used to start at the neck of Pitslug is really only now a back water at this height but it could still fish decent enough in a big water possibly. The tail of the pool still looks like it will fish though and that's a bonus. The fish didn't seem to mind the changes to Pitslug though as a rod on the Dess bank landed a spanking fresh 17lber on the day. Only time will tell with that but when I look back at old photos of the beat it's only really then that you realise the colossal amounts of shingle which the river has shifted. It would have taken weeks, if not months to that with diggers and bulldozers.

I'd just like to thank Sean for inviting us down to fish such a cracking beat. It was a great gesture and was much appreciated by us all. It was also a pleasure to fish with Ross and Mark as it is always good to catch up with them on the river. We couldn't have asked for better conditions but try as we might, we just couldn't get a fish in the book for him. Still, there are far worse places to blank and you tend to blank a lot more often than not so we can't complain really. Will look forward to returning to Carlogie again as part of my pal Ade's week in August so until then I hope the beat see a few fish in the book and that the "new" pools and lies are as steady as there were before the flooding.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Ballogie - River Dee

I spent three days on the River Dee at Ballogie from the 3rd-5th March and this was in place of my usual three days a bit further up stream at Carlogie which I had taken for the previous five years. Ballogie is a beat I've had good success on in the past but I had never fished it in the Spring months and was really looking forward to it.
Looking upstream towards the hut in Upper Gannets.
Top Gannets from the hut.
The water had risen about 1ft a few days before I arrived and hopes were high despite the poor catches leading up to my days. The water height was hovering around the 1ft 5in mark on the Thursday and it remained fairly steady until the Saturday where it rose to 1ft 10in. Pretty much ideal river conditions for this time of year.
Middle Gannets looking good in the spring sunshine.
Looking upstream from the Lower Gannets.
Thursday was my first time on the beat since the flooding caused by Storm Frank at the beginning of the year and I was eager to get a proper look at the place. The damaged caused by the flooding was evident up and down the whole river and Ballogie has fared no different. Some pools have had a good wash out and the banking around the Sands and Slips have taking a bit of a pounding but having said that, below the Potarch Bridge looked to have escaped the worst of the damage and it fished really well during my days there.
Looking downstream from the hut towards Middle Gannets.
I started my trip off on the upper part of the beat first and Ian Fraser, who was standing in for Sean Stanton, suggested I start up in the Top Gannets and work my way down through Middle and Lower Gannets before fishing the Sands before lunch. The Gannets yielded nothing but I did mange to land a small kelt from the Sands which wolfed down a 2" Willie Gunn conehead.
Fishing down the Sands. I got a kelt out of here on the Thursday.
Looking upstream from the Slips.
The Slips. Large amounts of shingle have appeared on the Borrowston bank after the winter floods.
After lunch it was the pools below the bridge I was fishing and I worked my way down through the Bridge Pool, Burn of Angel's, Upper and Lower Inchbare, Kelpie and Bulwarks. I didn't get an offer but I had one more run through the Bridge Pool just before 5pm and I managed to land a well mended kelt just as I was speaking to fellow rods on the beat. It took a 7mm Monkey fly just near the tail of the pool and once it was returned I decided to call it day and headed off home.
The famous Potarch Bridge pool. I had another kelt from here at last knockings on Thursday.
My second day saw me start where I had finished off the night before. I fished through the usual "hotspots" in all the pools and despite the fact we had a good water and over head conditions, I sadly didn't temp anything and my offerings remained untouched for the morning session.
Looking upstream towards the Potarch Bridge.
Burn of Angels.
Upper Inchbare.
The afternoon saw me back up on the upper pools and it was the same old story as the morning. Good looking pools, good water heights but just nothing willing to show an interest in any of my flies. At that time, doubt in my tactics started to creep in and I changed lines and flies numerous times in an attempt to temp even just a kelt but to no avail.
Fishing down the Flats on the Saturday. 
I didn't go home that night and instead, spent the night in Ford Cottage with my pals Ade, Rory, Philip and Paul, who were fishing upstream at Carlogie. Philip managed to land a cracking fish of around 12lb from Commonty so the drams and beer were flowing all evening and the craic was top class. There was tears of laughter at times and we chatted the night away telling stories of fish and fishers of past and present. I woke up in the morning raring to go again and with a fresh approach to the river. Rain over night had risen the river about 6" and we were all looking forward to get going.
Ade, Philip and Rory enjoying the drams in Ford Cottage.
Ade, Patrick and Rory ready for another day on the river at Carlogie.
Ian had offered us a cast down at Commonty so I fished the upper pools on Ballogie in the morning before heading downstream to fish Commonty during lunch time. I did see two fresh looking fish in the Loop at Commonty but try as I might, they weren't interested. It was good to fish Commonty again and seeing a couple of fish kept the enthusiasm going. Philip had never fished Ballogie before so I offered him my rod and I fished the rest of the afternoon on Commonty. Philip manged to land a couple of kelts from the Bulwarks on Ballogie during the afternoon but my day was blank.
Fishing down the Kelpie in a good height of water.
The bottom pool at Ballogie - Bulwarks.
Depsite the lack of fish it was great to fish Ballogie in the Spring and it's something I will look forward to every year from now on. The pools on Ballogie are great for fishing the fly and if Storm Frank hadn't had the river up over it's banks from most of December and January then I am sure there would have been a head of fish occupying the pools. The sediment and debris flowing down the Dee all winter would have not been ideal conditions for salmon to run so we will get a better idea of fish numbers as the season progresses. There might even be some excellent new pools created as a result but only time will tell. Until then, my next trip is on the River Tay at Stobhall later this month and I am hoping conditions are favourable where I will be pitting my wits against the famous Linn Pool. Can't wait!
The top hut at Ballogie which overlooks the Gannets.