Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Kildrummy - River Don

Thanks to beat owner David Littlewood, I had a day's fishing on the River Don at Kildrummy on Saturday. This cracking 4 rod beat offers 3 miles of double bank and 1 mile of single bank fishing on a very scenic area of Donside. There had been quite a large and dirty spate earlier on in the week with water levels reaching around 8ft on the gauges but Saturday the water had dropped to about 1ft 2in on the Bridge Of Alford gauge and had taken on more of a heavy peat stain rather than a dirty colour. Conditions were as good to perfect as I could have hoped for and I just needed the salmon to play their part.


The upper Don isn't a big river and most of the pools are short but well defined and easily covered with a short rod. My rod of choice was my 11ft 8/9 switch rod and a Guideline Ultra Compact floating shooting head.  Despite the river levels most of the pools are not overly deep so I opted for a 6ft 2.6ips polyleader and a Cascade dressed on a #10 Esmond Drury treble.

The award winning, Kildrummy Inn. Can highly recommend it for a lovely meal or short stay if in the area.
I arrived at the Kildrummy Inn at 8.30am to collect my ticket for fishing and a beat map. The beat map is very easy to follow and all the pools and parking areas are clearly marked. I headed down to the hut which overlooks the Crooked Pot pool to tackle up and plan my day from there. I was to be fishing with two other day rods but with the water a good height, there was more than enough water to keeps us occupied all day.



I decide to give the upper pools on the right bank a cast first so I made my way up to the top of the beat to fish the Burn End pool. At this height of water the pool was looking like a good stopping point for a running salmon with it's fast neck and slower glides towards the tail. I started at the top of the pool as I always do and worked my way down covering all the water. There was a strong upstream wind which made casting a little tricky with the small switch set up but I persevered. I fished down the length of the pool without an offer so it was off down to the next one.



The next pool down was Upper Clochter. This was another good looking pool given the good water height and again you could imagine salmon resting in here after running the faster water below. The fast flowing neck eased off into a deepish run which has slack water on the far side of it. This is where I concentrated my efforts and just about half way down the pool I had a good offer which didn't stick unfortunately. The fish actually came at the fly twice in succession but neither time did it take the hook properly which made me think it was a trout. Whatever it was, it was not for taking again and I fished out the rest of the pool without a touch.


Lower Clochter was next and this was a narrow pool in comparison with it's upper part and I kept myself off the skyline as I approached the water to try not to spook any fish which could have been lying in the pool. With the faster water hugging the far bank it was quite easy to read and I covered the water along the edges of the fast rush, just where you'd expect to pick up fish but if any fish were present, they weren't for taking my offerings.
Looking downstream at the top of the Crooked Pot.
Fishing over the likely lies near the neck of the Crooked Pot.
The next pool down was the pool outside the hut which is named the Crooked Pot. This is a cracking wee pool and huts are not built on bad bits of water. There is a nice wee run which comes off near the neck of the pool and I made sure I covered this part of the pool before it spread out and slowed down a bit around half way down. I was expecting something to be lying in here given it's depth and I covered the pool from bank to bank along it's length. Sadly, and much to my disappointment, I didn't get an offer in this pool but from top to bottom at this height of water, I was sure I was covering fish so I strapped the rods onto my car and headed of upstream to the upper part of the beat.

Looking upstream mid way down Bulwarks.
Looking downstream from the same point.
On my last visit to Kilrummy back in May 2014 I found the Bulwarks pool to be a real gem. It really looks as though would hold fish as it has quite a bit of depth to it. A tell tale give away that this is a nice pool was that the fishings on the opposite side of the river had strimmed the bank. There is a strong rush of water cascades through the centre of the river here and over of steep bedrock and rock ledges before slowing and leveling out further down. The pool requires fishing of a high bank at this height of water and this made it simple to cover using an over head cast. I decided to try something a bit heavier in here and tied on a wee brass Monkey tube. This sank quicker than a small double and allowed me to cut down through the fast water given the fish more chance to see my offerings. Despite the change of tactics I couldn't temp anything so I headed off down stream to fish Joiner's.

Fishing down Joiner's
Joiner's pool is the next pool down below the Bulwarks and was looking good with the current water levels. I started off at the neck of the pool which involved just a wee, short cast and allowed my brass Monkey tube fly to drift through the fast water. The rest of the pool shallowed up the nearer you got to the tail but the deeper run along the far bank looked fishy. I fished the length of the pool with a touch but I am sure I was also covering fish in here as there was a good depth and flow to the pool for the majority of it.By this time it was time for lunch so I headed off back to the hut for a bite to eat.

An old picture of the hut I took in 2014. The hut today is now green but it gives an idea of what it's like.
Kildrummy is one of a few beats on the Don that can boast having a comfortable fishing hut on it's banks. This is very handy and I met up with fellow rod, Robert there who was fishing the Crooked Pot outside the hut as I arrived. I spoke with him as he fished down the pool stripping a small monkey and about half way down the pool he had a strong pull on his fly but sadly the fish didn't stick and it wasn't interested in coming to the fly a second time. Still, it was encouraging and this spurred us on for the remainder of the day.

Fellow rod, Robert had a brief encounter with a fish in here just before lunch.
After lunch, the sun was beginning to warm up and the cloud cover was disappearing fast so I decided to give the Crooked Pot a quick run through since Robert managed to get a bit of action. I changed back to a smaller fly and opted to try a #10 Ghillie. Despite my best efforts and covering the likely areas, I couldn't temp that fish from earlier or any other fish to take my fly so it was off further down stream to the Willows.
Looking downstreamin Willows.
Fishing down near the tail of Willow's. The next pool down is the Brux Pot which i didn't fish.
The Willows is another good looking pool on Kildrummy and there is plenty depth and flow here to harbour fish. This pool looked as likely as anywhere on the beat to pick up a fish. I started out at the neck of the pool and covered the deeper part of the pool on the opposite bank where the water kind of forms a small back eddy where the bridge crossed the small burn which enters the pool half way down. This is where i expected the fish to be lying and so it was back on with the heavier fly for here. I stripped the small Monkey through the pool and varying the speeds of my retrieve but there were no takers. I did move a very small trout down at the tail but I would have said the length of the fly was about the same as the trout!

Fishing down the Bridge Pool.
The first pool I tried below the bridge was the Bridge pool itself. With the bright sun now beating down on the water it was showing almost every stone under the water despite the peat stain. This wasn't ideal for this pool as there wasn't much depth to it but I gave it a quick run through but alas I couldn't temp any fish to take my offerings.

About to have a run through Dukestone Dykes.
Fishing my way down Dukestone Dykes.
The next pool down was Dukestone Dykes. This looked more promising and there is a lovely flow down the far bank here. This pool fished the fly perfectly at this height and I was just waiting for a pull after every cast down it's entire length but try s I might, there was nothing keen on coming to my fly so it was off down to the next pool.

Fishing the lie under the overhanging trees on the far bank was required in this stretch of water.
The next pool/run wasn't named on the map but it was really just a short glide coming off the far bank which was shaded by the over hanging trees. This looked an ideal spot for a fish to lie given the bright conditions and I carefully covered the water as quietly and as delicately as I could. Again, there was no fish willing to take my fly and I moved on down stream to the next likely looking pool.

The neck of Knowhead Pool. A large pool by upper Don standards.
Mid way down Knowhead where I tormented several trout with a Collie.
The Knowhead pool was next up and this is a large pool for the Upper Don. This pool also has a nice depth to it and a lovely even flow down it's length once you are past the faster water up at the neck. I decide to give a Collie Dog a try in here as it was a much wider pool than most. I varied the speed of my retrieve and I quickly moved several decent sized trout on my first few casts. This spurred me on and my concentration levels were raised a notch or two again. About half way down the pool I managed to gt one of these trout to stick and I soon landed a small but perfectly form brown trout about 9" long. Not a monster but a welcome bend in the rod. I fished on down the remainder of the pool without moving anything else but the presence of an otter didn't help matters but it was great to watch it going about it's business. Hopefully had better luck than I was having!
Looking upstream on the bottom pool of Kildrummy, The Muckle Saugh.
Fishing down Muckle Saugh. A lovely cast at this height.
Despite the fact i didn't land any salmon I really enjoyed my day back on the Kildrummy Water. Given the water conditions I had on the day, I couldn't have asked for better to be honest. It was just unfortunate that the salmon hadn't read my script. Kildrummy is a beat I will fish again and I will look forward to that day. Hopefully I can strike it lucky with similar water levels that I got for my day next time round. David Littlewood has a nice beat on his hands here and it boasts some of the best brown trout fishing on the river. Well worth perusing if that's your chosen quarry. There is plenty good fishing to be had by the 4 rods whether it's salmon or trout you're after and it is very reasonable priced. Day tickets are readily available from the Kildrummy Inn. As well as co owner of the Kildrummy Inn, David is also the head chef and has won several awards for his culinary skills. His business partner, Nigel Hake has also picked up a few awards for his role as Front of House at the Inn and I can highly recommend a meal there if in the area.


It's been a while since I managed to get a salmon on the bank but hopefully there will be plenty to write about in the remaining months of the season. Thanks for reading and Tight Lines!

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