Wednesday, 30 May 2012

River Dee At Lower Blackhall

I was very grateful for the invitation to fish as a guest on the Lower Blackhall beat of the River Dee today. I was fishing with the legendary Dee ghillie and fly tyer Colin Simpson and local Dee stalwart Eddie Allan. I have always wanted to fish here and was delighted to do so today. It always looks so fishy when I pass over the bridge at Banchory and today was no different. The water temperature was 57f and it was running crystal clear. The height was about 1ft 1in.

I met Eddie at the hut at 6.30am. He already had the fire going and the kettle boiled. We had a good chin-wag over a cup of coffee and discussed tactics for the day ahead. As I had never fished the beat before, Eddie was kind enough to show me the pools and said it would fish better with a few more inches on the gauge but he also said there is a good chance at this height too. We walked up the golf course side and Eddie suggested I started in Bohore and fish all the way down to the Bridge Pool. Eddie started up in the Whinney Brae and followed me down river. We both fished down the pools with nothing to show but parr and a few Brown Trout. Although I never had any joy with the salmon, the pools were a joy to cast a line on. Just before lunch Colin though it be a good idea if I fished Brown's Pool from the Blackhall bank. Another lovely pool but again nothing to show but parr and Brownies.

During lunch in the very cosy hut, I was in awe listening to a couple of the River Dee's biggest characters reflecting on the good old days and what could be used to catch fish. What these guys don't know about salmon fishing is not worth knowing. Colin was telling us how an old ghillie once even used an orange peel with a hook through it to catch a salmon! I can't even do it with a bloody fly! He was also telling stories of his fly tying apprenticeship in Brora aged 11, with the world famous fly tyer Megan Boyd . That man has led one fascinating life and I could listen to his stories all day. For a change, it was a shame lunch was over but there was plenty more fishing to be done before home time.

After a 2 hour lunch break I headed back over to the golf course side to fish from the top of the beat back down to the bridge. Eddie started in Parky's and I started in Sheep Dip. My friend Charlie had a cracking 12lb March Springer 2 years ago from this pool. I fished it from top to bottom with only a handful of parr taking an interest in my fly. No matter what size or type of fly, they would hammer it. This pool was also full of golf balls sliced into the river from the course above. I wish I picked them all out as I could have had a good 2 dozen or so! Next pool down was Drakes but again same scenario with the parr. Shame really as it was not doing them any good. Most were lightly hooked  though and came un-done without handling them. I carried on downstream fishing through Whinney Brae, Bohore, Holly Bush, Sandy Haven and the Bridge Pool to no avail. I only seen two salmon all day and the odd sea-trout later on in the evening.

Eddie and I retired to the hut about 6.30pm  to reflect on our days efforts. Nothing stopping in any of the pools and we heard reports of fish caught with long tail sea lice way up river. The fish must be on a mission at the moment. The Upper beats have had a great day today with some beats recording 7s and 8s for their day.

Here are some pictures from my day on a fantastic beat and one I hope to return to again some day. Colin Simpson the ghillie is worth going along for alone.

An upstream look at Lower Blackhall from the Banchory Bridge.
The Fishing Hut with a very warming wood burner.
Bohore Pool from the golf course side. Lovely cast and easy to wade although a long line was essential to cover the lie which were under the far bank.
Holly Bush and Sandy Haven from the Blackhall side. Banchory Bridge in the background.

Sheep Dip. Cracking wee pool. Charlie had a sparkling 12lber here one March. Brown's is the next pool after the jetty. Fished from the other bank though. Big boulders cause nice glassy glides where fish will rest. Good taking spots in the colder water of early Spring.

Fishing through the Bridge Pool. Another delightful pool to fish. Seen a few sea trout in here during the early evening.

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