Monday, 29 October 2012

8lb Salmon From The Don

Was out after work for a cast at the Manse Pool on Lower Fintray. With the water high I was not expecting much. Although the water had risen most of the day, it was running fairly clear. I started opposite the hut in the slow water which always holds fish when the water is high. After fishing for 10 minutes or so I connected with a strong, coloured cock fish. It made a few good runs and leapt a couple of times before I managed to land it several minutes later. After a quick picture the fish swam off unharmed.
A bonus fish whilst out in high water for 45 minutes after work.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

The Annual Manar Gathering

I was delighted to be invited to attend the "Manar Gathering" yesterday. This annual meeting of the beat regulars and friends is held on the last Saturday of each season and consists of plenty meat cooked by beat owner Ian and gallons of lager to wash it all down with! Oh, and there is some fishing thrown in too.
Early morning Autumnal colours on the banks of Manar on the River Don.

Charlie and I arrived at the beat about 8.45am and with the snow that fell the night before, our thoughts turned to getting the wood burner fired up sharpish! Charlie had been busy cutting tons of logs for the fire and these would come in handy as the temperature was hardly above freezing. The water was 11" on the gauge and running fairly clear which was a welcomed sight after a night of snow and rain. Soon the fire was burning nicely and two of the day tickets arrived. One of which, Donnie Whiteford, a gamekeeper from the Isle of Lewis Garynahine Estate and Angling Consultant on the BBC Alba television programme "Turus a' Bhradain" introduced themselves. After a short conversation on where to fish, they headed off down to the Upper and Lower Wood pools. Myself and Charlie headed up river to fish the beat from top to bottom before our attentions turned to the refreshments! Apart from the talented Donnie Whiteford getting a strong pull in the Lower Wood, little was seen or touched. With the water temperature dropping down to a cold early Spring like 39f, who could blame the salmon for being a tad lethargic.
The Sheep Pool first thing in the morning. Snow still covering the bank but it was to be gone by afternoon causing a wee rise in water.

Around 11am Stuart and Kevin appeared for the Manar bash. They both fish the beat below at Inverurie and catch a fair amount of Salmon between them each year. Due to the snow melting the water had rose an inch or two but was still running clear. Not long after starting in the Sheep Pool, Stuart was into a fish! A strong fighting coloured cock fish about 7lbs had taken his Black Flying C. After a few minutes, just as the fish was beginning to tire it threw the hook! Still, at least something was in a taking mood. Both anglers fished on but neither had any other offers.
Stuart into a fish in the Sheep pool and Charlie waiting ready with the net. Not long after this photo was taken, the fish threw the hook and was gone! Hard Lines Stuart.
At 2pm beat owner Ian and regular rod Mike arrived. After dropping off their supplies they headed up to the top pool on the beat, the Ree Pot. Mike armed with his trusty wee ruby red Devon Minnow soon landed the first fish of the day. A coloured fish around the 5lb mark. Mike is expert at fishing the minnow and he swears by the ruby red ones. They both fished down to the hut without touching anything else but at least it was something to write in the catch book on the final day. Also on the beat were two Polish holiday makers who had been fishing the Don and Deveron all week. They had been successful earlier on in the week and fished hard. Just as the daylight started to fade, one of the rods landed a coloured fish from the Lower Wood pool. Two fish landed and one lost for the final Saturday in testing conditions was not a bad result afterall. By 4pm everyone was ready for a feed and a few beers. Charlie had made a big pan of stovies and was heating them up slowly just to tease everyone who entered the hut. The food was well cooked by Ian and it all went down very well. The Polish holiday rods even tucked into some Scottish sausages and sampled our own Tennant's Lager! After consuming several sausages, Charlie broke out the stovies. After a nice helping of these I was stacked full! We sat talking over the season and current affairs until 7.30pm. A great way to end the season with a couple of fish, a few sausages, gallons of lager and good craic. The gear for most of us, is packed away now for another year but the beat closes on Wednesday and hopefully a few more can be added to the catch book.
Good bunch of lads! Right to Left : Craig Fleming, Freddy Hay, Ian Anderson, Mike McBain, Stuart Barnetson and Kevin Graham. I hope I got all the surnames correct! Apologies if any are wrong.

A picture taken a few hours (and a few tins!) later. Right to left : Ian, Charlie, Mike and yours truly.

It is always a pleasure to fish the Manar beat of the River Don. I thoroughly enjoy the place and the company of the regular rods, who all make me feel welcome and are always willing to pass on advice about pools etc. Ian, the beat owner is kind enough to give me the opportunity to do so. It is much appreciated and I am grateful for this. At £30 per rod, per day all season, you could not get better value on a middle beat of any river anywhere in Scotland in my opinion. Although at times, this has been a tough season, Manar enjoyed a cracking July and the catches for August were also up there too. Fish can be caught from February onwards and boasts some of the best Spring fishing available to day rods anywhere on the Middle Don. So, while looking for new beats to fish in 2013, why not give the Don a chance and spend a day or two on the fantastic Manar beat.  I know I will be. Can't wait!
A fantastic Springer from the Chapel Pool at Manar. Caught by Charlie Robertson in 2012.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Fresh 14lb Salmon From The Don Today

My Dad was out for a couple of hours this afternoon and timed it to perfection as he landed this beauty of about 14lbs. No sea-lice present but this Hen Salmon could not have been in the river long. He also lost a good fish which he didn't see after playing it for 5 minutes or so he and missed another take too. This was all in the space of 30 minutes so a run must have been moving through the pool. He was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. Not bad for a few hours on the river. Has the Autumn run started to appear? Let's hope so!
A quick photo before being released. A cracking fresh fish from the Lower Don.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Where Is The Back End Run This Season?

I was out and about on the Middle Don at the Aberdeen Angling Association's Kemnay beat and later on down river at Manar. I fished from 11am-3pm at Kemnay and during that time I had heard of 3 coloured salmon landed but all earlier that morning. The water was in near perfect condition and carrying a nice peaty colour. Apart from a pull at my Kinermony Killer in the Upper Chapel and a swirl at my Sunray in the tail of the Dooker, I hardly seen any signs of fish present in the pools. Very unusual given the quality of the water we've had recently.

I received a call from Charlie asking if I fancied having a cast at Manar as there were no day tickets sold. Kemnay was really busy with several anglers in each pool so I strapped the rods on my motor and headed off downstream. We fished the Sheep Pool and Upper Wood Pools before heading down to the productive Chapel Pool. We both fish through it twice without a touch so we headed off back to the hut for a cold beer before fishing down the Sheep again. As we sat at the bench outside the hut, there was a big coloured fish showed half way down the pool. I changed my fly to a Swallow tied on a 25mm  brass bottle tube and made my way down to where the fish showed. I was casting quite square and retrieving the fly at a steady pace just to give the fly some movement as it is quite slow near the tail of the pool. A few cast later just as my fly came round onto the dangle, it was taken by a fish. It thrashed about on the surface before letting my fly go just as quickly as it grabbed it. I didn't see the fish but it was not the big one that showed earlier. Still, a bit of excitement on an otherwise frustrating day on the river.

That was about all the action we had for our afternoon so we packed up and headed home about 6.30pm just as darkness was closing in. We both spoke about the Don on the way home and were in agreement that there is very little sign of a back end run of salmon so far. All fish we've heard getting caught have been coloured. With the water we've had this past fortnight or so, Manar at this time of year at would usually have fresh fish entering the pools almost on a daily basis. Not so this year though. Given the great catches of July and August, could the back end run arrived early or will it arrive when the season has finished? Either way, the lack of fish this Autumn, especially for a back-end river like the Don is poor to say the least. One week of the season left so hopefully some arrive during that time to give anglers some sport to end their season.

Charlie fishing the Sheep Pool on the last day of the season 2011.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Kitchen Sink Shrimp

I have been at the vice tonight in preparation for the falling leaves this Autumn. With the nights closing in, a fly that always seems to do well at this time of year is the Junction Shrimp. Invented by a Boatman on the famous Junction beat of the River Tweed, it fishes well when the light starts to fade and when there are leaves from the trees floating down river. This is a pattern I have came up with which is loosely based on the colour combination of the Junction Shrimp except I have tied it shrimp style and added a black over wing to my tying just to bulk it up a wee bit. I'll try them out over the next few weeks on the River Don and see how they do.
Tied on a size 8 Loop double to get down a bit deeper.
Tied on Loop doubles sizes 6 and 8 along with Silver Salar #7 and #9.
The dressing is as follows:

Thread: Red
Tag: Oval Silver
Tail: Hot Orange Buck Tail With 2 Strands Orange Krystal Flash
Butt: Hot Orange Glo-Brite #6
Body: Black Floss
Rib: Oval Silver
Under Wing: White Arctic Fox
Wing: Black Bear With 2 Strands Silver Krystal Flash
Hackle: White Badger Hackle
Jungle Cock

Monday, 1 October 2012

9lb Salmon From The Don Today

I was out on the Don for an hour during my lunch break today and I was lucky enough to land a cracking fish around 9lb from the Parkhill beat. It was one of the hardest fighting fish I have ever caught and it pulled me all over the pool. I had to clamp hard on the reel at one point to stop it taking off under the old railway bridge! I would have most certainly lost it then as there are two arches and it wanted to go under the furthest one from my bank. Several minutes later I eventually managed to hand tail the fish and noticed my #9 Stoats Tail was hooked perfectly in the scissors. The fish was missing the lower part of it's tail but looked like an old wound and it certainly didn't hamper the way the fish fought, that's for sure! It swam off without a problem and will continue it's journey up the Don to spawn this winter. Here a few pictures. Due to the high bank behind me, my pictures are not great but you can clearly see the tail damage to the fish.

A fresh 9lb Salmon from the Parkhill beat on the River Don today.

The tail damage on the fish. The fish seemed none-the-worse for it and swam away fine.
Off to continue it's journey to the spawning grounds.