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


  1. Great report as ever Craig. You will have been fishing with my buddy Ken on the Monday - shame neither of you could winkle one out...

  2. Hi Charles. Yes, I was, a very nice chap he was too. Hope he enjoyed his first trip to Deeside? There was plenty fish about to keep us occupied but they were not for taking. Hopefully next time the water levels won't be so low. Tight lines

  3. Good stuff Craig - always good to see Commonty. They havenn't half hacked all the trees down below the bend loop - looks barren! Some lucky bugger got a 201b fish out of Sluie - wonder if it was one of the big ones you saw in Suicide or whether it was round the corner at the Bulwharks. Tight lines and keep posting the blogs. All the best, Patrick

  4. Hi Patrick. I see by reading the FishDee report this morning that it sounds like the 20lber caught at Sluie was the resident fish that was continually splashing about in Suicide the other week. Hopefully some water is coming this week and get a few more fishing moving about the river. It has been dead low these past few weeks. All the best, Craig.