Sunday, 23 February 2014

3 Days On The Dee At Carlogie

I had my usual 3 days at Carlogie this week starting on Thursday. Heavy rain overnight on the Wednesday caused the river to rise rapidly and it peaked about 7ft on the Potarch gauge when I left at 4pm. Not much fishing took place but I did manage a kelt not long after 9am from the Village Pool just before the river shot up. It was 2ft 6in when we arrived.

Friday saw the river drop a couple of feet and it was carrying a nice peaty colour to it. It was only the Village Pool that was fishable but around 10am I hooked a good fish just below the wires crossing the pool. Sean the ghillie was on hand as I played the fish but after 4 or 5 minutes it threw the hook. It was agreed that it was a springer I had lost but at least it was still early and there was plenty time for another one. Well, it was not to be as it turned out to be only offer for the day. There was however, a cracking 18lber caught by Craig MacDonald, who is the seasonal ghillie at Headinch and Cambus O' May. It put up an unbelievable fight and after 20 minutes or so, Sean duly netted the fish for him. Craig's father David lost a good fish at the tail of the Village pool shortly before Craig landed his fish which was a pity. Dusk seemed to turn the fish on and several kelts were also landed just before the light went.

Saturday was a strange day. The Potarch gauge was reading 3ft 3in which made a few more pools fishable for us so we were confident we would get a fish or two. Apart from a very brief flurry of fish showing first thing in the morning, there was very little activity through out the day on any of the pools. I started off in Pitslug and then went on to fish Rossicks. There was a few fish showing in Pitslug near the neck but the wind was howling downstream which made casting rather tricky, especially in Rossicks due to the lack of back cast as trees line banks. I didn't get a touch all morning so I headed off back down to the Boat and Village pools to fish them after a bite to eat. Sean suggested I try fishing higher up in the water as the pools had been fished with sinking lines all morning so I rigged up my Mackenzie Float/Intermediate. I fished down through the Boat and Villages pools without a touch so headed off down to Fraser's Pool. I thought a change of fly might help and I decided to give the Maggie's Shrimp a swim. It is quite a fast bit of water and is not really safe to wade with anymore than 3ft 2in on the gauge but as the water had now dropped to 3ft 1in and it was well worth fishing. I fished the top part of the pool without success but there was a good fish showed just down from where I stood and only a short cast away. I quickly reeled in some line and cast to where the fish showed. Just as my fly swung round the lie, the fish took first time of asking! Anyone who has fished Fraser's pool will know it's not the easiest place to land a fish in high water with the trees and high banks so I called Sean for some help. Meanwhile upstream, Craig had noticed I was into a fish from the Village pool and he arrived, shortly followed by Sean, just in time to net the fish for me. I caught the fish about 3.30pm and decided that would be a good way to end my 3 days at Carlogie.

Here are some pictures from my trip.

The gauge as I left on Thursday at 4pm. Up from 2ft 6in at 9am!
Looking upstream in the Boat Pool on Friday.
Looking downstream into the Village Pool. The lad on the far bank landed a nice 6lber not long after I took this photo.
Craig MacDonald shows off his cracking 18lber caught from the Village Pool on Friday.
Pitslug Pool on Saturday morning. A few fish showed in here first thing.
Looking upstream towards the Long Haugh from Pitslug.
Looking upstream in the Rossicks Pool.
Looking downstream into the Mill Pool.
The old mill at Dess. I have taken quite a few pictures of this building in the past.
Fishing down the Boat Pool on Saturday afternoon.
The stick on the bank was the height of the river on Thursday night. This photo was taken on Saturday afternoon. The water had dropped about 4ft since then.
Fishing down Fraser's Pool where I got my fish.
Perseverance paid off in the end. Well worth waiting for.
Returning my fish back to the Dee. Thanks for the memories.
The Fly: Maggie's Shrimp created by Ross MacDonald and tied by Sean McGarry.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

River Don Opening Day

I took the day off yesterday to fish the opening of the River Don at Kenmay. Conditions were near as perfect as you could ask for a February day and we were sure a fresh fish or two would come off the Don system. The water height was hovering around the 2' mark and running clear which was encouraging given the heavy rain of recent days.

I arrived on the water around 9.30am and tackled up with a Scott Mackenzie intermediate shooting head and a 10ft fast sink tip. Fly of choice was the deadly Franc N Snaelda. Not long after starting the snow started and this was when most of the action occurred. I had 3 kelts in quick succession, one of which was a cock fish and I also landed a rawner (an un-spawned male salmon). I initially thought it was another kelt as he didn't put up much of a fight. Once landed I realised this was due to taking my double hook in both top jaw and kype. It looked just like a back end fish, slightly colured and sporting a big kype but was easily seen it was not a 2014 model. It was soon returned and the snow subsided but the fish seemed to go off the take when the snow stopped, however, I did have a good number of other offers but they were just grabs at the fly most likely coming from kelts. My friend Bill also had several kelts for his day but the fresh fish were playing hard to get.

Overall, it was a fine day for fishing and good to be out on the River Don again. Not heard of any fresh fish caught from the river as yet but it is very early days for the Don.

Here are a few pictures taken yesterday of the Aberdeen & District Angling Association beat at Kemnay.

Fishing down the Dooker in the snow. I got 3 kelts and a rawner in quick succession in here during the blizzard.
Looking upstream mid way down the Dooker Pool.
Bill puts out a good line on the Dooker Pool.
Looking downstream from the top of the Island Pool.
The School Pool. A lovely cast at this height and a good holding pool.
Looking upstream from mid way down the School Pool.
Looking upstream from the tail of the Bridge Pool. I had several offers in this pool but most likely from kelts.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

On The Dee At Park

Today, I had my first outing of the 2014 season on the River Dee at Park. Heavy rain over night caused the river to rise sharply this morning and by lunch time it had risen about 10". When we arrived at the beat, the gauge was reading 46" and by lunch time it had risen to 54". It was also carrying a bit of colour which made it pointless fishing on really although I give it half an hour down in the Durris Stream but more in hope than expectation. All the rods gave up by lunchtime and retired to the hut for a few drams and a chat about all things fishing. Not how I had imagined my first day on the Dee this year to be but given the heavy rainfall which we have been plagued with all winter, I was hardly surprised to be honest.

Fishing aside, it was good to catch up with Keith the ghillie, Ken Reid and the regular rods again. Just a pity the conditions won the day but nothing we could do about that. High water, high winds and no fish sums up the day perfectly!

Here are a few pictures from this morning.

Fishing down the Castleton Pool. Due to the high water there were 2 rods fishing each pool today.

The tail of Castleton Pool looking downstream towards the House Pool.

Park House. Designed by the famous Scottish Architect, Archibald Simpson in the 1820s.

Durris Stream. A quality fly fishing pool but just a wee bit too high today for it to fish well!
A new mark on the Park fishing hut door with the big spate we had 3 weeks ago.
The beat gauge as I left was reading just a tad over 53". A big rise from 46" at 8.30am.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

River Dee Opening Ceremony 2014

On the 1st of February every year the River Dee salmon fishing season begins again after a long winter. The event was held at Potarch again this year and the usual good spread of teas and coffees, along with bacon sandwiches were laid on for all that attended. The river was a good height and was sitting about 3ft on the gauge. It was a nice colour too which was encouraging, especially after the horrendous weather conditions we endured earlier on in the week. The River Dee Opening Ceremony is always a great occasion and it's good to catch up with friends and ghillies who are all eager to get the season underway again.

This year was the 150th Anniversary of the River Dee District Salmon Fishery Board and to commemorate the occasion the Ballater and District Pipe Band marched over the Potarch Bridge playing their newly composed tune called "Silvery Dee". This was the first time they had played the tune to the public and it went down really well. Also going down well were samples of the new "Dee Dram" which will be on sale shortly. I have to say, it is very nice indeed. It was also announced today that Ken Reid has decided to move on and will vacate his position of Fisheries Development Officer. Ken has done wonders for the River Dee in his time and notably helped launch the "Dee Dram" which brought in plenty money for the river not just to the Dee but the Spey, Tay and Tweed as well. His work has also brought lots of anglers to the area who in turn spend vast amounts of money on Royal Deeside. I'd just like to wish Ken all the best for the future. Someone will have big shoes to fill.
The honor of the "First Cast" this year was made by Formula 1 legend Ross Brawn. He has been the mastermind behind many of the World Champions of recent times including Michael Schumachar and Jenson Button. He addressed the 300 strong crowd from the banks of the famous Bridge Pool on the Ballogie beat and informed everyone of his passion for all types of fishing, especially salmon fishing. He then went on to say he has definitely retired from F1. That should give him plenty time to go fishing now.

Not long after the opening cast, news filtered through that the first fish of the season had been landed from the Dess beat just a few miles upstream from the opening ceremony. I shall look forward to checking FishDee later tonight to see what the final tally for the day has been. At the moment it is 9. The biggest being a 10lber from Dess.

After the first cast, there was a presentation by local photographer and writer, Mel Shand who has written a book about the River Dee and it's ghillies. The book includes some cracking photos and stories about the men who work up and down the river. I'll look forward to reading it when it's on sale in late March/early April.

I would just like to take a moment and wish everyone on the Dee this year the best of luck and hopefully it is a bumper season ahead. Tight Lines.

Here are a few pictures and a short video of the day. Click River Dee Opening Ceremony 2014

Potarch Bridge basking in the February sun.

Ample amounts of the new "Dee Dram" to be tried.

Ballogie Estate head ghillie Sean Stanton and River Dee Director Mark Bilsby share a joke.

Formula 1 legend Ross Brawn addresses the crowd before the ceremonial "First Cast".

Ross Brawn toasts the River Dee and the new season with a dram.

The first cast is made and the season has begun.
Ballater and District Pipe Band play their new tune "Silvery Dee".