Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Two More Salmon From The Dee This Week

I have been on a bit of a roll recently and have been fortunate enough to land a few salmon for my time spent on the river. I landed a cracking cock salmon yesterday which was roughly around the 12lb mark and today I landed a hen salmon around 15lb. Both fish were in their spawning colours and were safely returned to the river.

A cracking male salmon in his full spawning outfit taken on a Black Snaelda at Ballogie.
A still from GoPro camera of the fish in mid air shortly before landing it.

A video from my GoPro camera which captured the action of playing the fish pictured above.

Although these fish are heavily coloured, you can only catch what takes your fly. If I could choose, I'd certainly take a nice clean sea licer over an old hen fish any day of the week but these fish are as equally important as the fresh run ones and careful handing is paramount to ensure they are returned to the river with minimal fuss.
Underwater release.
Hopefully these fish will make it to the spawning grounds safely in the next few weeks and do what nature intended them to do. The more salmon that make it onto the redds can only be a good thing and this will ensure the river populations maintain a healthy level.

A big, old hen salmon from the River Dee today. Estimated at 15lb. A Red Frances did the trick this time.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

18lb Salmon From The River Dee

I was out on the River Dee for a cast yesterday and was lucky enough to land a cracking hen salmon around the 18lb mark from underneath the wires in the Village Pool at Carlogie. The fish took a Black and Orange Franc N Snaelda fished off a H/I/S1 shooting head and a 4ips versi leader. The river was sitting around the 3ft mark for most of the day and was heavily peat stained.

A quick photo before release back into the river. 
I don't normally take photos of fish lying on the bank but due to the high water and being on my own it was the only place I could safely land the fish. A quick photo whilst removing the fly and it was back into the water as soon as possible with minimal fuss.

Not the best picture but it gives a better idea of its size.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

River Dee Sea Trout

The River Dee is currently enjoying a nice rise in water levels this week and I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time to come into contact with my biggest sea trout from the river. Caught from the famous Lawson Pool on the Tilbouries beat and estimated to be in the region of around 4lb, this beauty put up a helluva scrap and almost had me into the backing at one point. It was swiftly unhooked and returned after a quick photo to continue it's journey.

A fine River Dee sea trout from the Lawson Pool at Tilbouries. 

Sunday, 10 September 2017

One From The River Dee Yesterday

Had a few hours out on the River Dee yesterday following a nice rise in river levels a few days earlier. The water was sitting at 1ft 1in when I arrived and it maintained a steady height for most of the time I was there. The water was carrying a dark peat stain and this seemed to keep the fish down but there were in the mood to take a fly. Due to the heavy peat colour and extra water I opted to fish my 15ft Guideline AWM with a Guideline PT Scandi H/I/S1 shooting head with a 10ft 5ips versi leader on the business end. Fly of choice for most of the day was a copper sunray.

A small River Dee grilse which took a liking to my fly yesterday.
Having had a few hits to my fly during the first part of the morning I finally managed to land a small grilse about 11.30am. The coloured cock fish would have been lucky to make 3lb. It was maybe the smallest fish in the pool but it was very welcome. A fish is a fish after all.

Despite the constant doom and gloom which seems to be surrounding the salmon fishing at the moment, on a personal level I am picking away not too badly at all and with the last 6 or 7 weeks of the season usually being the most productive, I'm hopeful it will be a strong finish for me. If these water levels hang around for a while and get the fish moving then I think there is a good day or two to be had.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Flies For September

One of my favourite flies to use in the final few weeks of the salmon fishing season is the Snaelda. My particular favourite is the Black Snaelda. These are tied on 10mm and 14mm Sean Stanton Signature tubes and are fitted with an Eumer S cone.
The Black Snaelda
Another favourite of mine for this time of year is the Pink Franc N Snaelda. Again, tied on 14mm Sean Stanton Signature tubes. These are deadly and the takes can be ferocious!
Pink Franc N Snaelda
Sean has his own popular website and it's well worth a browse if you are on the look out for some top quality fly tying materials or to buy the flies themselves. Follow the link to his page by clicking here

Red Frances
At this time of year it is hard to see past a Red Frances fly. i have tied these up on size 6 Fulling Mill Magni doubles and these are ideal if the water is on the low side and a bit more finesse is required. 

Friday, 25 August 2017

Small Grilse From The River Dee

I had an hour fishing on the River Dee today and was fortunate enough to land a nice grilse of around the 3lb mark. It took a 2" Sunray Shadow fished off a 10ft fast sink tip. It's always good to land a fish during a short session on the river.

A small but perfectly formed grilse from the River Dee.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Grilse From The River Don

Salmon have been scarce on the River Don these past few seasons and this season isn't faring much better but I was delighted to land a nice fish of around 6lb from the Manar beat this afternoon. My good pal, Charlie Robertson also briefly had hold of salmon but it didn't stick unfortunately.

A nice 6lb grilse from the River Don.
The river was sitting at 4" but it still fished well. It was good to have a Don salmon on the bank again and hopefully there are a few more to come before the season is finished.

Charlie fishing the Chapel Pool at Manar in the sunshine.

Rain stops play! No use having a good wading jacket and leaving it in the car!

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Cairnton - River Dee

Last week I was fishing on the Cairnton beat of the River Dee. I had booked it way back in January and with it being such a famous beat I thought I'd better give it a go. The beat was made famous by Arthur Wood in the early part of the 20th century when he was the fishing tenant on the estate. He was the pioneer of "Greased line fishing" and developed his technique right here on the banks of the River Dee. He was a master angler and during his tenure here he caught in excess of 3000 Atlantic salmon to his own rod. Bearing in mind they only fished until June in those days too. It must have been some place!
Looking upstream from the hut on the top beat which over looks the Upper Ferrochs pool.
They say first impressions last and it was certainly was true for Cairnton as I was immediately struck by the immaculate gardens and paths down to the fishing hut. The banks were also looking very good and I struggled to stay below the 10mph speed limit set by the beat as I eagerly meandered my way along the road to the hut.
Following in the footsteps of A.H.E Wood.
I arrived  the beat around 8.30am and was met by ghillie, Brian Brogan. Brian has a wealth of knowledge and knows his beat inside out. When he said we had a good chance of catching fish today that was all the encouragement I needed. The gauge was reading 5" and was falling away slowly after a lift late on the previous week. Brian suggested that small rods in the 12-13ft foot range would be ideal and floating lines with a short intermediate tip would be ideal. With that in mind I set up my 13ft Hardy Uniqua with a 8/9 Rio Scandi head and a 5ft intermediate tip. My fly, an #13 Executioner, was chosen by Brian so that's what I tied on as I firmly believe in taking as much advice from the ghillies as possible. After all, they are the ones on the river every day and know what works and when. I also set up my 12ft 6in Guideline LPXe and matched this up with an 8/9 Rio AFS and a Rio 1.5ips versi leader. A #11 Cascade was the fly of choice for this set up.

The Grey Mare. A salmon pool which is steeped in history.
I was drawn to fish on the upper beat. This made my first ever cast at Cairnton was to be in the famous Grey Mare pool. Not a bad place to start. Incidentally, Mr Wood kept this pool to himself when he fished here all those years ago and I can see why. Brian pointed out the hot spots and talked me through the wading lines etc before tending to the other guest upstream. I began at the fast water at the neck of the pool and a small grilse made itself known just on the other side of the main current. I covered the lie as best I could but to no avail. On fishing down the pool there were a few older fish showing as I went. Despite having the feeling that a fish would take at every cast, nothing took a fancy to my offerings so Brian showed me down to he next pool.

The Cottage Run. 3 grilse were landed in quick succession by a rod fishing on the Middle Blackhall bank just before I arrived at the pool.
The next pool I was to fish was the Cottage Run. The car park for this pool was directly opposite the famous rod room which was built by Mr Wood when he had the fishing here. Brian asked if I would like to have a look around and I he didn't need to ask me twice! When you enter the room you just cant help but to think back to when Arthur Wood and his guests would have been sitting around the table discussing the fishing or who caught what and where.

A.H.E Wood's famous rod room at Cairnton.
Some of the relics on display in the rod room including boxes of his favourite fly, the Blue Charm.
Mr Wood kept meticulous records of every salmon caught during his time at Cairnton.
The display cases show off some of his prized fishing gear. The Blue Charm fly which was used extensively at Cairnton back then has probably caught more fish than any other fly on this fabled beat. These rightly take pride of place in the cabinet and display on the wall. The old gaffs hanging on the wall must have been well used too as salmon were certainly not in short supply in those days. Large wooden wheels are fixed to the wall and these were used to store and dry off the old silk lines which were commonly used then. They tended to sink when wet and it was greasing these lines to make them float that made Arthur Wood famous. The old catch records lie on the table and even just having a quick flick through you can see just how abundant the salmon were back then. Days of 9 or 10 in February were not uncommon and most seasons (Feb - June) consistently produced hundreds of fish. It would be great to travel back in time and have a day on the river just to exactly what it was like.
A frame containing all sizes of Blue Charms. 
As I arrived at the Cottage Run, the rod on the opposite bank shouted over that he had 3 grilse in the space of an our earlier that morning. All took a small #16 Ally Shrimp. I was hoping that some of his good fortune might transfer across the river and on to me. I fished down the pool eagerly anticipating a salmon having my fly. I fished through all taking lies that Brian had pointed out without a touch but just as I got to the tail of the pool, as fish grabbed my fly. It was a short, but sharp tug on the line but for some reason the fish didn't hook up. Most probably a fish running and my fly got in the way. Unfortunately, the rest of the pool, as well as it was fishing, produced nothing more so it was off upstream again to fish Upper Ferroch before lunch.

Looking downstream from the neck of Upper Ferroch. Not a bad view at all!
The top fishing hut at Cairnton over looks the Upper Ferroch pool and whilst tackling up in the morning there were several fishing showing in it. I waded out into the top of the pool and as soon as my first cast hit the water it was snaffled by a fish. Sadly, it was grabbed by the salmon's cousin - a brown trout but at least it got the heart going for a split second or two. It was swiftly returned unharmed and I carried on down the pool. The rain began as I was adjacent to the and despite the clear presence of numerous fresh looking fish I just couldn't temp any of them. This was as good a time as any to stop for a bite to eat.

The interior of the well equipped hut at Cairnton. A nice big window to watch the river go by too.  
After lunch I was to fish the lower part of the beat. I knew what the pools were like down there having fished some of them from the Middle Blackhall side back in May. The river was low then too so I had a rough idea of what to expect and where the fish might be lying. Brian took me down and showed me onto the water. First up for me was a pool called the Spout.

Fishing down the Spout after lunch.
The Spout is a narrow pool which cuts through the bedrock which forms both banks of the river here. It was just a short cast required to cover the pool effectively. Brian advised changing to a heavier sinking tip in here due to the speed and depth of the water. On went a 4ips versi leader and a #11 Minx Cascade. The pool was fishing very nicely at this height but no fish were fooled by my offerings so it was off downstream to fish Glisters.

Glisters. Another pool flanked by rock and a lovely cast.
Looking upstream in Glisters. 
Glisters is a continuation from the Spout where the river widens and slows into a more evenly paced pool. There was one or two fish showing mid way down the pool and I decided to give a Sunray Shadow a go in an attempt to provoke a take from one of them. I fished the Sunray fast, slow, square, downstream 45 degrees but nothing worked and the fish were undeterred by the wake it created on the surface and it was off down to the Sandy Bay.

Looking downstream from the bank of Sandy Bay.
Looking across to the Middle Blackhall hut from the Cairnton bank.
As I arrived at the pool the rod on the opposite bank was just finishing up. He had managed to land a nice, fresh grilse from the pool just after lunch. This was the same rod who had three fish in an hour during the morning session. Four fish for his day was great going! I changed back to the intermediate tip here as the pool was much shallower than the two above. I also put back on the #13 Executioner. The pool fished the fly very well and I fished it all the way down until I was opposite the lower hut. As well as it fished, the salmon were still avoiding me and by the time I finished the pool it was near 5pm.
Rock Heads. A really nice cast at this height. 
Brian was cutting the banks around the hut I made my way over to say goodbye. I was to fish on for a while after hours so we had a chat about where to fish next. Brian suggested giving Rock Heads and Salt Vat a go as it hadn't been fished all afternoon. He pointed out and explained the good taking lies so I made my way over the rocks to have a cast. The pool itself is a cracking one. A really nice holding pool which fishes well through out the season and in various heights of water. Although I was well briefed on where the fish were likely to be, none were keen enough to take my fly so it was off further down river a bit to finish off my day in the Salt Vat.

Salt Vat. Another one of Cairnton's many classic fly fishing pools.
Salt Vat is a nice pool in the middle of some turbulent streams above and below. It seems the ideal place a salmon would stop for a rest and sure enough one small grilse made itself know just where Brian said they would be. Brian had suggested trying a larger fly in here due to the speed and depth so on went a #9 Ally Shrimp. The Ally does very well this time of year but on this occasion it remained unharmed. I fished out the pool and decided to call it a day around 7pm.

Looking upstream in the evening light from below the bottom hut.
Although the closest I came to landing a fish was just a brief encounter in the Cottage Run during the morning session, I can honestly say I had a great day. Brian went out his way to make sure I was giving myself the best chance of catching a salmon. He pointed out every lie in detail and kept my confidence high throughout with his infectious enthusiasm. This was my first visit to Cairnton but it certainly will not be my last. I will make a point of fishing it again very soon and hopefully the salmon gods will be looking down on me when I do.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

A 15lb Salmon From The River Dee

My good pal Charlie Robertson landed this cracking salmon from the River Dee at Carlogie last week. The fish took a size 10 Editor fly in the stunning Jock Rae pool. Here's hoping there are a few more like this one about when I'm fishing there next week.

No shortage of feeding where this salmon came from!

Looking down from Alan's Pool into Pitslug,

Friday, 7 July 2017

12lb Salmon From The River Dee

I had an hours fishing on the River Dee yesterday and was rewarded with a cracking fish around the 12lb mark. It was taken on a full floating line and a 3/4" hitch tube. This was my first success using the hitch fly having lost a grilse the previous week. What a buzz it is seeing the fish take the fly off the surface and then all hell breaking loose! I'll definitely be using this method again.

A quick photo before releasing the fish back into the River Dee. 

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

A Good Day At Commonty On The River Dee

I had a free Saturday last weekend and decided to venture out fishing at the last minute with my pal, Philip Black. It was a good decision in the end as between us we landed 3 salmon for our day.
A 9lber from the Bend taken on a small Cascade.
The water was sitting at 1ft 6in on the Potarch Bridge gauge and was carrying a heavy peat stain. Overhead conditions were good for the most part too. I set up two rods on the day. Both with floating lines but with different rated sinking polyleaders. One was rigged up with a 10ft slow sink and the other with a 10ft fast sink. My initial fly of choice was a Dee monkey but I chopped and changed numerous time over the course of the day.
Philip Black with a cracker from the Bulwarks at Ballogie.
Philip was first off the mark with a fresh fish around the 6lb from the Bulwarks at Ballogie just after 9am. The hard fighting fish put up a good scrap before finally being landed and carefully released after a quick photo.

The Bend. Was fishing really well at this height of water.
Philip's second fish of the day from the Bend at Commonty.
We headed down to Commonty at lunch time and not long after starting, Philip was into his 2nd fish of the day. Again, the fish fought very hard but it was soon landed and a cracking fresh fish around the 8lb mark posed for a photo before heading on it's way.

Another photo of me with my fish.
We didn't see many fish through out the day but we put it down to the water heavy peat stain in the water. The fish were certainly present in the pools though and they seemed to be in a cooperative mood. I had several good pulls on a Monkey fly but the fish just seemed to be nipping at it as it swung round through the current. It wasn't until I changed over to fishing smaller flies that it produced results when an older fish of around 9lb hammered my fly in the Bend. Being hooked at 4.30pm, it was certainly a welcome sight to see it on the bank. A small Cascade double doing the business.

Looking upstream towards Suicide Pool.
The Garden Pool.
With a bit of water coming down the Dee, Commonty can be very productive. There are few high water beats on the river that are as productive as Commonty. It also fishes well in low water too as it boasts several good holding pools which will fish at all heights. It really is a cracking place to fish and well worth a visit for anyone planning to head over to Royal Deeside for a fishing trip.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

The One That Got Away!

I had an evening's fishing on the River Dee last week where I managed to hook a couple of salmon. Unfortunately, they both came off during the fight but I did get some footage of the first salmon I hooked.

It felt like a really good fish and I could do nothing to stop its's powerful runs, It eventually broke my leader round a submerged rock after a few minutes. The fish just kept boring deep and it never showed itself once through out. Who knows what size it was but it certainly knew what it was doing. Probably a good thing that I didn't see it as I'd still be having sleepless nights a week later!

Excuse my bad language at the end of the clip!

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Commonty - River Dee

I found myself on the River Dee again last Monday but this time I was fishing the Commonty beat. Commonty is let as part of the Ballogie Estate and boasts some of the most secluded fishing to be had anywhere on the middle river. The beat is 1.5 miles long and has 13 named pools with each capable of producing fish on any given day. The water was sitting at 6" on the Portach gauge when I arrived at 8.15am but had dropped back 4 or 5 inches after the heavy rain over the weekend.

Looking upstream towards the Suicide Pool.
I met the ghillie, Ian Fraser at the hut in the morning along with the other rod who was fishing the beat. Tactics were discussed and I opted to fish a full floating line off my 12ft 6in Guideline LPXe and a 12ft tapered leader and 6ft of 10lb nylon. My fly of choice to begin with was a #11 Editor.

Fishing down through Suicide. Plenty fresh fish running through the pool as I started. 
I was drawn to fish the top part of the beat in the morning and Ian suggested I started in the Suicide Pool. Suicide is aptly named due to the terrible wading but with the water being so low this made things much easier. It was actually an easy wade at this height and I fished down the pool without going for an unexpected swim. When I first started there were a good few fresh fish making themselves known in the pool. These were all good sized salmon in the 10-15lb range but there were a couple which dwarfed these ones. Especially one fish which lept out the water right in front of me. This brute of a cock fish was well into the high 20s of pounds and will make a Dee angler very happy somewhere if he decides to take their fly. Despite the fact there were numerous fish moving through the pool, they just weren't for stopping and within half an hour the activity settled down and it was just one or two resident fish which were splashing about. I didn't connect with anything except a few smolts so I made my way down to fish the Island Run.

Island Run. 
Looking upstream from the bottom of the Island Run.
The Island Run is a low water pool which runs out of the tail of the Otter Trap/Boat Pool. It's a well oxygenated stretch of water and a fine resting spot for any salmon running up through the white water between here and the Garden Pool below. I fished down the length of the pool with only a brown trout and several smolts to show for my efforts but it was fishing very well and had produced a fine fish of 12lb the week before.

Fishing down the Otter Trap.
After fishing the Island Run I made my way back upstream to fish the Otter Trap. The Otter Trap is another faster flowing run which peters out towards the tail of the pool. There had been a few resident fish in here prior to the water going up but they were keeping themselves down. I fished through the pool covering all the likely lies without a touch so I made my way to the bank and upstream to have another run through Suicide before lunch.

Looking down the Otter Trap from the bank at the Suicide.
I waded out to start fishing down Suicide again and immediately there was a hefty, older looking fish which jumped just down from where I was standing. This would have been another good fish in the 20lb+ bracket. I covered its lie numerous times with a small Red Frances but it wasn't for taking. The small red fly must have been stirring it up as the fish showed about four times as I passed over the top of it with my fly. I fished down the rest of the pool without an offer but pleased to see numerous fish. This kept the enthusiasm and concentration levels high as I made my way back to the hut for lunch.

The Commonty fishing hut. This is a new hut after the last one was swept away in the floods last year.
A victim of the Saprolegnia fungus. A fairly fresh looking fish around the 9/10lb mark. Note the damage on the tail wrist and under the belly of the fish. Quite possibly this infection has taken hold due to scale damage caused by tightly gripping the fish for a photo? 
There has been a new hut built on the Commonty beat recently and this is now over looking the Otter Trap pool rather than the Garden Pool where the old hut was located. I sat outside on the porch to eat my sandwich with my eyes fixed on the pool out in front of me. There were a few fish moving through the pool as we sat eating our lunch and we were eager to get cracking again.

Fishing down the Loop. Quite a few fish were showing in this pool as I fished it. Nothing took my offerings though.
The Bend. A lovely cast at all heights of water. 
After lunch I was to fish the lower half of the beat starting in the Loop and the Bend. These are two of my favourite pools on the beat and they always have a fish or two showing in them. Today was no different and as I made way out to the pool, a fish showed right in front of me and was quickly followed by another some twenty yards below me. I changed my fly to a #14 Editor and covered the pool as best I could. I tried a fast retrieve, a slow retrieve, a figure of eight retrieve and even stripping the fly. Nothing worked and the fish remained unfazed by my tactics so I headed off upstream to fish the Blue Chair.

Looking across to Woodend House from the bank at Blue Chair.

Looking upstream from the tail of the Blue Chair.
The Blue Chair is a cracking wee pool with a nice streamy run right through the middle of it. This looked the ideal place for a fish to lie in the low water conditions we are currently on Deeside. I carefully worked my way down the pool covering all the areas Ian suggested but again, the fish were not for tempting so it was off to the next pool.

Chestnut. A small run between the Garden Pool and Blue Chair.
Ian had mentioned a wee pool called Chestnut. This was a small run above Blue Chair and was only about a dozen casts or so but it produced a good few fish several years ago in similar conditions. Unfortunately for me, it wasn't giving up its bounty easily this time so I headed off up to the Garden Pool.

The Garden Pool. A cracking cast at all height and holds fish through out the season. 
The Garden Pool is one of the most productive pools on the beat. It has a nice, deep glide at the neck which holds fish through out the season and the tail can also be productive when there is a bit more water pushing through it. I waded out at the neck of the pool just above the lies and quietly worked my way over them trying hard not to spook any fish which might be present. My stealthy efforts were in vain as I fished out the pool without an offer. By the time I had finished the pool it was almost 5pm and I reluctantly decided to call it a day. I just didn't have the time to hang around until dusk which would have probably been the best time to fish with the low water conditions and bright sun above.

Looking upstream from the neck of the Island Run into the Boat and Otter Trap. 
Commonty is a beat I really enjoy fishing. It has something for everyone and it's location is ideal for escaping the noise of the busy North Deeside road. The pools are all easily covered and if the water is big, fishing is mainly off the bank. Ian Fraser, the ghillie knows his beat inside out and does his utmost to put you onto a fish. For more info on fishing the beat follow the links below.

FishDee - Commonty

Ballogie Estate