The Aberdeenshire River Dee opened for business again on the 1st February and I was fortunate enough to be out fishing on the Park North beat for the opening three days of the season with some good friends. The river had seen plenty days of grue throughout the winter months and as the water temperatures were just hovering above freezing, we were hopeful that a few fish would be present in the pools as they slowly crept their way up river from the North Sea.
The night before Opening Day was a long one. My tackle bag was sorted and ready to go about two weeks before hand as were my fishing rods. My shirt and tie were ironed and my waders and boots were packed. All I had to do was get some sleep. Easier said than done with the prospects of fishing one of the Dee's most productive beats on Opening Day again. I did however, manage to sleep and I was up and raring to go when I woke in the morning. The long wait to fish the Dee again was over!
Upon arrival to the beat on Thursday morning we were greeted by Keith Cromar, the Park Estate Head Ghillie. He informed us over a coffee that the water level was sitting at 1ft 6in with a water temperature of 36f. The conditions weren't bad at all and we were all raring to get going. I set up two rods. One was rigged up with a H/I/S1 and a 4 inch per second versi leader and a 1 1/4" Dee Monkey. My second set up was a I/S1/S2 and a 5.6 ips versi leader. I tied on a 2" Black and Yellow weighted tube. These set ups cover most eventualities and are ones I have confidence in.
I was paired up with my good pal, Charlie Robertson and we were drawn to fish the upper half of the beat first of all with Sean and Joe fishing the lower half. I chose to start my day off in the Long Pool and taking in the Upper and Lower Kirks as I went along. Charlie started in Greenbanks and then Park Inn.
Not long after starting in the Long pull I had my first offer of the season from a fish where I swiftly landed a small kelt which was returned without leaving the water. This was to be it for me during the morning session but news soon spread of a nice springer that was landed from the South Bank in the Bulwarks. At least we knew there were fish around and this kept the confidence high although with it being opening day, confidence wasn't an issue and we were just glad to be out on the Dee again.
Lunch time on day one was spent eating a 3 course meal prepared by Sean and I. Sean had made delicious lentil soup and chocolate orange cheese cakes and I made a big pot of Stovies which is a traditional Scottish dish of potatoes, onions, sausages and gravy. The lunch went down a treat and we soon eager to get get going again.
The afternoon only produced a couple of kelts for Charlie and I but one of the other rods fishing the North bank with us landed a fresh fish of around 7lb from Redwell. Two opening day fish and numerous kelts was a positive start for Park and it was good to see it was holding a few springers too.
Day 2 began with heavy rain and the river soon began to rise. It had risen to 20" on the gauge overnight and had taken on a bit of colour probably due to road run off. The rise in water didn't seem to have much effect on the fish as the kelts were taking readily. I had five in quick succession from the Lower Kirks but a fresh fish was remaining elusive. The heavier sinking set up seemed to be doing the trick with the kelts as I had five in quick succession from the Lower Kirks. An early season springer was still remaining elusive but there was still plenty time for me to get one.
Keith had a phone call from Joe just as he was returning one of my kelts so he quickly made his was down the track to help him out. Just as well he did because Joe managed to land an absolute belter of a fish from the Durris Stream. Keith weighed it in the net and it tipped the scales at hefty 19lb! What a way to opening his account for the season. Early spring fish don't get much better than that and he was understandably delighted. The rest of us had to make do with landed kelts but it was great to see Park producing another early fish. It was off back to the hut to celebrate with a dram or two!
Day 3 was a cold one in comparison the previous couple of days. It was -2C when I arrived in the morning and this cold snap had drawn river levels back in as the gauge was reading 14" first thing. The water temperature had also dropped and was hovering around 34f. This was cold and I opted to keep faith with the heavier set up despite the low water.
I was to fish the lower pools in the morning with Sean and Joe. I started off in the Durris Stream where Joe had got his fish yesterday. The kelts seemed to be playing hard to get for me and although I had several offers, nothing stuck. Same story in Bakebare and the Celler. The other rods didn't have the same problem though as there were numerous kelts landed from both banks throughout the day.
After lunch I decide to ditch the heavier set up and revert back to the H/I/S1 line. I went with a Gold Willie Gunn this time though. I reached the tail of the Bulwarks pool where I had a good solid draw of the line. I lifted into it but there was nothing there. I covered the same lie for a few more minutes but it didn't come again. Was that a springer? We'll never know but whatever it was, it wasn't for staying hooked.
I finished my three day trip off in the Greenbanks pool where I was joined by Keith. We had a good chat as I fished through the pool. I didn't land anything but I had a kelt on and off briefly and also had several other half hearted takes. That was it for me for the day and as the sun faded I decided to call it a day and wound in.It was back to the hut for a cup of coffee to warm up and to have a final bit of craic with he lads before we all went our separate ways again.
Another opening week on the Dee has came and gone and the final tally of 20 springers for the three days is pretty decent compared to recent years. Long may this continue and here's hoping the Dee returns to where it should be in terms regaining it's reputation as Scotland's premier spring salmon river.
For anyone interested in fishing on the famous pools of the Park beats details can be found on either the FishDee website or by visiting Park's own web pages. Follow the links listed below and see what's available. It's well worth the money at this time of year as you just never know when a run of fish will appear in the pools fresh out the North Sea. Tight lines!
Park Fishing - River Dee
|A 19lb Opening Week springer caught by Joe Sinclair at Park. What a fish!|
|Bag packed and ready to go!|
|The well equipped fishing hut at Park North.|
|Opening Day squad ready to go.|
|First cast of 2018 on the River Dee in the Long Pool at Park.|
|Looking upstream from the Upper Kirks into Long Pool.|
|Fishing down the Park Inn.|
|Looking upstream in Lower Kirks.|
|Pouring a dram during lunch on Opening Day.|
|Looking downstream from the tail of the Durris Stream into Redwell.|
|Fishing the Celler in the pouring rain on Opening Day.|
|Lower Kirks looking downstream.|
|Fishing down the Lower Kirks.|
|Joe with his prized 19lb February springer from Park.Absolute cracker!|
|Looking upstream in the famous Durris Stream.|
|Fishing down the Bakebare Pool.|
|Looking upstream from mid way down Bakebare.|
|Fishing down the Bulwarks Pool. I had a good offer just at the tail of the pool which didn't stick.|
|Fishing down the Greenbank Pool on Day 3.|
|Looking upstream from mid way down Greenbanks.|
|Fishing down the Bridge Pool.|
|Charlie puts out a nice, long line in the Bridge Pool.|
Park Fishing - River Dee