Last Tuesday I found myself fishing on the Ballogie beat of the River Dee courtesy of ghillie, Sean Stanton. The river was sitting around the 11" mark on the Potarch Bridge gauge and overhead conditions were pretty good given the time of year. There had been a few fish caught from the area in the days leading up to my arrival and I was hopeful there might be a few about. My set up for the day was my 14ft Hardy Demon, 9/10 floating shooting head and a 10ft intermediate tip. Fly of choice to begin with was a small Dee Monkey.
After speaking with Sean via text the night before I was to start off in the Top Gannets. On arrival to the beat around 8am a splash from a fresh looking fish immediately caught my eye and raised confidence levels from the off. I tackled up and made my way to the neck of the pool. This pool has undergone a few changes after the flooding caused by Storm Frank back in December but it was still a nice looking pool and the lies are fairly obvious given the new shingle which has found it's way into the pool. I started off with a short line and covered the likely areas whilst lengthening all the time. I worked my way down the pool without an offer but I knew I was covering fish from the off as a good run made themselves known as the entered the pool. Sadly they weren't for taking my fly so it was off down to fish Middle Gannets.
Middle Gannets is a lovely looking pool and there is a nice deep run down the Ballogie bank up near the neck of the pool which is easily covered with a very short cast. I made sure I kept a low profile as I was fishing so close to the main flow but the pool widens the further down you go and such stealth isn't really required but it would do you no harm to fish it carefully. Unfortunately, I didn't get an offer in here so it was off downstream to fish the Lower Gannets.
The Lower Gannets is a cracking pool with very easy wading which adds to the pleasure of fishing it. With a nice flat, shingle bottom you can see why a fish might stop in here for a rest before tackling the fast water of the pools above. The main flow, for the large part of the pool, travels along the Borrowston side, which is the beat on the opposite bank but it is easily covered with a medium sized cast. I did see the odd fish in here but try as I might. they weren't for catching and I fished out the pool without getting an offer. I carried on fishing my way downstream and next up was the New Pool.
The New Pool is a pool which has always intrigued me. Probably due to the fact you can see whilst driving along the North Deeside Road past Portach. As a result, I've always thought it looked fishy. Having said that, there isn't many stretches of water that I pass anywhere which I don't imagine myself fishing at some point! I started up at the neck where there are a set of steps which lead you down to the water. The wading is quite easy in here too and it is not difficult to see where the fish might be lying either. I fished my way down the pool but sadly, without seeing or touching anything. The pool fished really nicely at this height of water though and I was just waiting for the line to tighten with every cast.
After fishing the New Pool I had a quick run down through the Sands before lunch. There were a few fish present further down the pool but I didn't see anything up in the Sands itself. The pool has changed a lot since the floods back in December and the top end of the pool is much shallower than it used to be. It's still a nice cast though and is still producing fish for visiting anglers. It will be interesting to see if it all changes again if we get another big spate this winter too.
After lunch I was to fish the lower part of the beat which consisted of Mid Hole, Slips, and Flats. I thought I'd start up at the top and work my way down so I headed upstream from the Potarch Hotel car park and walked up to fish Mid Hole. On my way upstream the heavens opened and the rain began to pour. It was lashing it down and as luck would have it, I'd left my jacket in my car as it was such a nice day when I set off! As I was already soaked I thought there was no point in getting my jacket so I carried on regardless and began fishing down through Mid Hole. There were several fish showing on arrival to the pool and my concentration levels were raised a notch. I kept the same set up which had worked well the previous day and fished it down with a small Dee Monkey tied on a 1/2" tungsten tube. I fished out the pool without a touch but the rain was still really heavy and I was hoping this might get a fish or two excited as I made my down to fish the Slips.
The Slips is another pool which has changed since Storm Frank got his claws into Deeside last year but it was still holding quite a few fish. The bank has been damaged as a result and because of the areas SSSI status repairs have had to be put off until the necessary permissions were granted. These permissions have been granted as far as I'm aware and the banks will be repaired in due course. Anyway, back to the fishing. I once again kept the same set up as I felt confident that it would be fishing the right depth that I required it to and I fished on down the pool expecting the line to tighten after every cast. Unfortunately, it didn't happen but I saw plenty fresh looking fish to keep me occupied and the relentless rainfall kept on coming. I thought it was only going to be a matter of time before the river started to rise.
The next pool down was the Flats. This is ghille, Sean Stanton's favourite pool and you can understand why when you are standing on the bank. The pool is quite fast in nature but has numerous slower pots along it's length which hold fish all year round. I waded out at the neck of the pool and covered as much of the river as I could a the fish tend to sit close to the opposite bank. I was absolutely soaked to the skin with the rain by this time and my clothes were drenched. Fishing was becoming a chore and my concentration levels had dipped as I just wanted to get home and dried off. However, there was still plenty fishing to be done and I stuck it out. I'm glad I did because about half way down the pool, just where Sean pointed out a good lie, I cast out and almost as soon as my Dee Monkey hit the water it was hammered by a good, strong fish. The fish thrashed about on the surface but I gave it some slack line and this seemed to calm it down a bit and the fish started behaving a bit more. It made some really strong runs and with the fast water, it was just a case of playing the fish and the river. For anyone who has fished the Flats at Ballogie before, it's not the easiest place to try and back out of the pool with a strong fish attached. I carefully made my way back to the bank so I could try and gain more control over the fish and this seemed to do the trick. By this time , the fish began to tire and I soon manged to beach a cracking fresh fish of around 10lb.
After a quick photo the fish was released unharmed and it thought this was a good way to end my day. I doffed my cap to the fish as it swam off strongly and I cut my fly off my leader and packed up for the day. I couldn't wait to get in the car and home for a hot bath! Was it worth getting soaked for? You bet it was!
|A fresh run 10lb salmon from Ballogie which fell to a 1/4" tungsten Dee Monkey.|
|Looking downstream towards the tail of Top Gannets.|
|Looking upstream from the tail of the Top Gannets.|
|Looking downstream at the neck of Middle Gannets.|
|Looking across the shingle to Middle Gannets.|
|Looking over the Lower Gannets.|
|Looking upstream from near the tail of the Lower Gannets.|
|Looking onto the New Pool from the high bank.|
|Fishing down the Sands pool.|
|Looking upstream from the Sands. There has been a fair bit of shingled movement in here which was more visible this time of year than it was when I fished here in March.|
|The Dee Monkey|
|Looking upstream from Mid Hole and into Sands.|
|Looking upstream into Mid Hole from the Slips.|
|Looking down towards the Slips.|
|Fishing down the Flats shortly before landing a hard fighting 10lb salmon.|
|Back he goes. Releasing my fish back into the Flats just before 5pm.|
|A 1/2" tungsten Dee Monkey which did the damage.|