Friday, 13 October 2017

Last Cast On The River Dee For 2017

I had my last outing on the River Dee for the 2017 yesterday. I was fortunate enough to be on the Ballogie beat and catches had been steady all week leading up to my day. The gauge on the Potarch Bridge was reading 1ft 3in on arrival in the morning so all the pools were in great nick.
A nice fish to start of my last day on the Dee for 2017.
There had been a bit of a frost early morning and the air temperature was still cold so there was no rush to get started. So after a good chat with Sean and Ian Fraser I finally headed off up the hut which over looks the Top Gannet pool to tackle up at around 9.00am.
The Ballogie fishing hut which over looks the Top Gannets pool.
The river was crystal clear so tactics for the day were more akin to spring fishing so I set up my 14ft 9in Guideline rod and teamed this up with a Guideline PT Scandi floating head and 5 inch per second versi leader. My fly of choice to begin with was the trusty Black Snaelda conehead.

Fishing down the upper part of the Top Gannets.
The lower half of the Top Gannets.
I made my way down to the pool and waded out to the starting position just where a large boulder breaks the surface near the neck of the pool on the Ballogie bank. I stripped off enough line to make a short cast before lengthening to my desired casting distance. I couldn't have made no more than 3 or 4 casts when the line went tight and all hell broke loose with a very lively fish. At first I thought it was much larger than it was due to the sheer power and doggedness of it but it soon showed itself and it was only just a coloured grilse. After a short but very spirited fight I manged to beach the fish which might have been around the 6lb mark. A fine way to start proceedings off.
My first fish of the day. A cock fish around the 6lb mark

I quickly released the fish and made my way back out to into the river to start all over again. I stripped off all the line required to cover the pool and made my cast. Once that cast was fished out I made another. This time, as soon as my fly hit the water it was grabbed by fish. This one felt much heavier than the last and it refused to break the surface to reveal itself. It made short runs, long runs, deep runs but it still wasn't for stopping and I just had to hold on tight and hope it stayed on. To my relief, after a few minutes battling myself and the current, the fish gave in and I managed to get the fish on the bank. It was a beast! A very large and deep set cock fish which I estimated to be around the 18lb mark. It was as deep a fish as I've seen for a long time and I could barely get my hand round the wrist of the tail. I quickly removed the hook from it's upper jaw and released the fish back into the river with minimal fuss. It was now only 9.30am and I had two fish banked. What a start to my day! Despite the presence of several fish in the pool I fished it through without another offer so it was down to the next pool which was the Lower Gannets.
My second fish of the day. An absolute beast of a cock fish around the 18lb mark. 

Lower Gannents was looking good and I started at the neck of the pool just below the fast rush which comes down from the Middle Gannet. The fish tend to lie on the far banks so a long line was required in here to cover the likely lies. This pool was surprising quiet fish wise and I fished the whole pool out and only saw about 3 or 4 fish show. Needless to a say, I didn't get an offer in here so I made my way back up to fish the Middle Gannets.
Fishing down Lower Gannets. The sun had disappeared 
The Middle Gannets is a tricky pool to cover effectively as there are several different speeds of current across the top half of the pool which makes it difficult to control the speed in which the fly come round at. It's still a very nice pool to fish and it keeps the mind aware of just how the fly is fishing. I didn't touch anything in here so I made my way back to the hut to re-think my tactics for the afternoon session.
Fishing my way down Middle Gannets.
I met Sean just as I was heading to lunch and was delighted to hear that there had been a total of five fish caught during the morning. This was pleasing to hear and I couldn't wait to get back on the water for another go. I was allocated the Slips and Flats for my afternoon so I made my way down to the water to start off in the Mid Slip.
Looking upstream from the Slips.
Looking downstream from the Slips.
There had been a salmon taken from the Slips in the morning and it was plain to see that there were a few fish splashing about in it. I kept faith in the same tactics which served me well during the morning but by this time the water had dropped an inch or two. This didn't effect my approach any but the fish were not so active as the were earlier on. I fished down the pool without an offer despite seeing a few fish showing in the likely spots. I just couldn't temp them with my offerings so I wound in and headed down to fish the Flats.
Fishing down the top part of the Ballogie Flats. 
The Flats is a cracking pool to fish and I have done well out of here in the past which was good for the confidence. On my immediate arrival to the pool a big, coloured cock fish made himself known in the neck of the pool. As I felt the fish were not so active as earlier in the day I decided to change tactics so I swapped my floating line for a H/I/S1. I kept the same versi tip and fly but just thought fishing it deeper might have been required. I fished the top half of the pool without an offer but it felt the fly was fishing much slower which was ideal for the faster moving Flats pool. I reached the mid way part of the pool and I had a good offer from a fish. Unfortunately, when I lifted into it, the fish let go. At least I knew the change of set up was working. Despite the renewed confidence in my tactic I fished out the remainder of the pool without another offer. It was not about 4.45pm and I decide to call it a day. My last day on the Dee for 2017 was now over but I was pleased to sign off with a couple of fish from one of my favourite beats on the river.
The deadly Black Snaelda which was doing the business.
I've had a good season on the River Dee this year and it really has been pleasing to see so many fish in the pools up and down the whole length of the river from late spring onward. This can only bode well for future stocks and hopefully the offspring of this generation can come back in healthy numbers and help the River Dee get back up to where is should be in terms of it's annual catch. I'll certainly be back next year to do it all again and will look forward to my first outing of 2018 on 1st February. In the meantime, it's the River Don for me now until it finishes on the 31st October so with a bit of luck and water, there might be one or two more fish to report before my season concludes at the end of the month.

I'd just like to end this post by thanking all the ghillies who I've fished with this season, particularly Sean Stanton as without their help and expertise, my days on the river would not have been so enjoyable. I'll look forward to meeting up with them all again next season. 

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