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.

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