Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Castle Forbes - River Don

Every year I organise a meet with guys from a Salmon Fishing Forum I am involved with. We quiet often meet up during the fishing season and it's always good to catch up with the lads and have a cast on rivers we otherwise wouldn't fish. We have been coming to the River Don for three years now and apart form last year when we had very low water, we've always had a few fish on the bank for our day.


Group photo. L-R Ralph, Dave, Alan, Mel, Kenny, Bill, Paul and me.
On a run up to the day there was the usual banter and chat on line and as the day drew closer we realised we were going to be lucky with water conditions due to heavy rain earlier in the week. We arrived at the estate office about 8.15am and were greeted with 1ft 2in on the Bridge of Alford gauge which was ideal. The river was carrying a wee tinge of colour but we were confident that fish would still come to a fly in these conditions. We chatted for a while to discuss tactics for the day and draw beats. I tackled up with my 13ft Hardy Uniqua and matched this up with a Rio Scandi shooting head and fast sink tip. My fly of choice initially was a 3/4" Monkey.

Fishing down the Dam Pool with Paul Pritchard.
I was drawn to fish Beat 3 with Paul Pritchard and we were eager to get going. Paul hadn't had much luck fishing the Don in the past so I gave him first run down the Dam Pool. the pool was fishing nicely and as we got near the dam itself, expectation levels increased as i was positive there would be a fish or two present. Sure enough, as Paul neared the tail of the pool just opposite the Dam, he had a thumping take but sadly the fish didn't connect. It was really hard luck as it about pulled the rod out of his hand and how it never hooked itself is a mystery. Still, it was a good sign and I followed him down the rest of the pool but couldn't temp anything.
Fishing down the Craig Pot. 
Next pool up on our beat was the Craig Pot. This used to be one of the best holding pools on the entire river but  a few years ago an Archimedes Screw was installed at the neck of the pool and I just don't think it fishes the same now. This is just my opinion of course but I have spoken with a few Castle Forbes regulars who have the same thoughts as me. Anyway, Paul and I fished down the pool from the right bank but nothing was tempted so we continued our journey downstream to the next pool.
Looking upstream for the top of the Nursery Pool into the Craig Pot and Suspension Bridge
Looking downstream in the Nursery Pool.
Next pool down was the Nursery Pool. This is another lovely pool and another good pool which produces fish through out the year. It really is a lovely cast and is a delight to fish. Paul and I both fished through the pool and were expecting a salmon to grab the fly every cast but it wasn't to be. We just couldn't temp anything but we were both confident that we were covering fish.

Upper Deepstane from the right bank.
Bill's first fish of the day from Upper Deepstane expertly netted and photographed by Kenny Carr.
Upper Deepstane was the next pool on our morning beat and this, yet again is another good opportunity to pick up a fish. On arrival to the pool we received a text from Bill who managed to land a fresh run 8lber from the pool earlier on in the morning. At least we knew there were fish there and confidence is a big part in salmon fishing. Paul allowed me to go first through the pool and he followed me down. By this time I had changed to a Sunray Shadow just to try and provoke a fish into taking but i fished the length of the pool but didn't move anything. Paul, fishing conventionally down behind me had the same result.

Paul fishing down Middle Deepstane.
A lovely cast on Middle Deepstane at this height. 
Castle Forbes Estate kindly allowed us to have lunch in their estate office again this year and we are always very grateful for this. Paul's good lady Loreena provided lunch of homemade soup and sandwiches, cheese scones, rock cakes as well as crisps and beverages. It went down a treat and we were all stuffed after tucking into the spread she laid on. As per usual on any fishing trip, the topic of discussion over lunch always revolves around salmon and this was no different. We all put the salmon fishing world to rights before heading off to our chosen beats for the afternoon session.

Lower Auchreddachie. Another nice cast and a pool with good depth to hold fish.
As the river was sitting at a good height, the whole beat was fishable so Paul and I decided to head up to Beat 4. Lower Auchreddachie is a pool I am very fond of so we opted to have a run through there first before fishing any other part of the beat. There is nice depth to this pool on the far bank and I was fortunate enough to land a nice springer from here a couple of years ago. We both fished through the pool with out an offer but there were a few big brown trout showing as we made our way down. Just a pity I never had the #5 rod with me.
Fishing down the Bridge Pool in the afternoon.
Following Paul down the Bridge Pool.
The Bridge Pool is another good bit of water that would hold fish and we made sure we covered the whole pool from top to bottom. Again, as tempting as it looked we just couldn't get a salmon to take our offerings but a couple of brown trout were greedy enough to take my fly and Paul landed one too.

Bill Cooks' second fish of the day from the Dam pool.
On our way down to the lower part of the beat we came across Bill who was fishing the Dam pool and he informed us that he managed to winkle out another Don springer just minutes before we arrived. This was excellent news and spurred us on for a final push before calling it a day.


Paul keeping a low profile whilst fishing down the Middle Deepstane pool.
After fishing down the Bridge Pool without success Paul and I decide to head back down river to have a go in the Deepstane Pools from the North bank this time. As Mel and Dave were fishing the Upper Deepstane we began in the Middle Deepstane. All three Deepstane pools are classic middle to upper Don pools and are all capable of yielding fish on their day as Bill proved earlier. We were both optimistic that we would be covering fish and we made sure we covered the pool as best we could but like the rest of the day, our efforts went unrewarded.
Bill Cook pondering a fly change. Bill managed to land 2 springers for his day. fantastic fishing on the Don at anytime of the year but extra special during the Spring months.
Upper Deepstane from the left bank in the afternoon.
Time got the better of us after fishing the Upper Deepstane but Mel did see a nice fish head and tail in the pool before we fished it but it was long gone by the time we covered it. There was to be no further action for any of us in the early evening so we called it a day around 7pm and headed back to the cars to pack up.

It was another great Forum meet and all the rods had a good time and i was great to see the River Don giving up her bounty once again during the Spring. Spring fish on the Don are scarce and to get two in a day is good going and Bill was in the right place, at the right times to grass a couple of lovely fish. We will look forward to heading back there again next year and fingers crossed we get conditions like we had for our day this year.

Finally, I would just like to thank Sandra who works in the estate office for all her help in organising the day and to Lord and Lady Forbes for once again, providing us with the office to have our lunch in. It really is appreciated from not only myself, but from all the lads who come along to this day. It makes it all the more enjoyable and we will be back again soon for another crack at the Don springers.

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