Tuesday, 25 November 2014

2014 Salmon Fishing Highlights

Despite the obvious lack of salmon running many rivers in the Northern Hemisphere this year, my catches have been reasonably good considering. I had a few Spring fish which was very pleasing, not so much luck during the summer months but I finished my season off with a number of fish which I was grateful for. I did however, have to put in the hours for my fish as the blank days by far outnumber the successful ones.

One pleasing aspect about my 2014 season has been catching fish from several beats I had never fished before. These included a cracking Springer of around 8lb from the Castle Forbes beat on the River Don in April. Then I got two fresh, back end fish of 4lbs and 15lbs from the famous Ballogie beat of the River Dee in September and I fortunate enough to land two fish in October weighing 5lbs and 9lbs from the Don on my first ever visit to Semeil Farm.


The Spring for me was very good in terms of fish caught considering the Spring run was well down on previous years. I managed to catch salmon in February, March and April. Not landing a fish in May prevented the full house.

A particular highlight for me was landing my first February Springer from Carlogie on the River Dee. I had lost a good fish not long after starting on the Thursday morning and hardly had a touch, even from a kelt, until 4pm on the Saturday when I landed an 8lber from Fraser's Pool which was the perfect way to end my 3 days there for anther year.

My first February springer from the River Dee at Carlogie.
In March, I was lucky enough to get an invitation to fish the River Dee at Inchmarlo and was delighted to land this sea lice Springer of around 6lb in a very high water.

A nice sea liced springer from Little Blackhall & Inchmarlo in March
Another highlight was hosting a Salmo Proboards Forum Meet on the River Don at Castle Forbes along with my friend Bill Cook. We booked the whole beat for the day and there was 8 of us fishing which included some rods who had never fished the Don before. Despite low water, we landed 3 springers for our day which was a fantastic result. I got 1 and Bill got the other 2. We took a bit of stick as we were local lads and the ones who got the fish but we had a great couple of days. Good company, good craic and good fishing. What more could you want?

A cracking River Don springer from Castle Forbes in April during the Forum Meet.


Summer salmon fishing for me was almost none existent in terms of catches. I spent more time fishing for Brown Trout on the Don than anything else and landed a few good ones along the way. I did however, land a salmon from the River Don at Manar on the 23rd August in a high water. A coloured fish around 7lb came to the net after losing a bigger and cleaner fish just a few minutes earlier.
Summer Salmon from the River Don at Manar.
A sea liced grilse from the Don caught by my pal, Charlie Robertson in August.
A nice sea trout from Headinch and Cambus O May which got a good tune out of my Uncle's old Sharpes Aquarex reel.
A nice sea trout from the Spey taken on a small Monkey tube..

Back End

The back end of the season was very kind to me this year and I had a several good days on the river. A small clean Grilse and a cracker of 15lb from the Dee at Ballogie on the 22nd September is a particular highlight. Both taken on small Red Francis double.

A wee grilse from Ballogie in September.
A cracker of around 15lb also from Ballogie.
During October my catches seemed to come in pairs and I landed another two fish on the 11th October, again from the Dee, but this time at Inchmalo. These were both coloured fish which were estimated at 5lb and 14lb. 
A coloured Grilse from Inchmarlo in October.
14lb hen Salmon from Inchmarlo also during October.

A few days later, I was out for an hour or so after work on the 16th and was lucky enough to land a nice, clean fish of around 5lbs from Lower Fintray. My first salmon off the ADAA water this season. Better late than never I suppose.

A bright October Grilse from the Don at Lower Fintray.

Later in the month, I booked a last minute outing on the Upper Don at Semeil Farm and was rewarded with two fish which were roughly 5lb and 9lb respectively. It was my first time on the beat and I really enjoyed it.

A coloured fish about 5lb from Semeil.
My second fish from Semeil. A heavily coloured hen of around 9lb.
My friend, Bill Cook's 13lb Salmon from the Don at Kemnay.
I am just in the process of booking up my fishing for the Spring and I'm really looking forward to it. Hopefully it will be a better year for the Salmon this time round and we see decent runs through-out the season.Whatever happens, I'll be out on the river in the search of Silver!.

Roll on 2015!

Monday, 17 November 2014

Park Shrimp, Calvin's Shrimp and Maggie's Shrimp

I have been busy at the vice this week tying flies in preparation for the new season which starts in January 2015. Last year, I decided to limit the amount of patterns I have in my tube fly boxes to roughly 7 or 8. I have stuck to patterns I have confidence in and ones that have caught me fish before.

After the Franc N Snaelda patterns I posted last week, I've been tying up shrimp patterns this time round and theses 3 patterns are the ones I tend to stick with, not only in the early season, but during the back end too.

All 3 patterns were created by my pal Ross MacDonald and are proven catchers of Salmon. Ross has his own website called MacDonald Salmon Flies where you can purchase his flies. His distinctive style makes his flies stand out from any copies and it's certainly worth having one or two in your box.

L-R. Calvin's Shrimp, Maggie's Shrimp and Park Shrimp.
Park Shrimp. Named after the famous salmon beat on the River Dee here in Scotland. This is probably one of the most successful flies in recent times and there can't be many fly boxes where this pattern doesn't feature.
Calvin's Shrimp. Another cracking pattern and does well all year round but it excels in the later months of the season.
Maggie's Shrimp. My favourite of the three but that will change with which ever one catches me my next fish!

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Manar - River Don

The last Saturday of the salmon fishing season on the River Don at Manar is traditionally seen out with a BBQ at the hut. This year was no different and despite the lack of salmon running the river there was still a good number of us there to give it one last go before hanging up the gear for another year. As well as many of the Manar regulars, friends of mine, Bill Cook and Kenny Carr had taken day tickets to fish the beat. It was both their first time on Manar and they were very impressed with the set up and what the beat had to offer in terms of quality fly fishing.

The river was sitting at around 7" on the beat gauge when Charlie and I arrived just after 8am. The day started off with little wind and the river was flat calm, but just like someone had flicked a switch, the high winds which battered Scotland all week were back and this made casting very difficult at times. Regardless of the conditions, we all gave the beat a good going over before stopping around 3pm to enjoy the vast quantities of meat and alcohol back at the hut. The burgers, chops and sausages were expertly cooked by Fred and Charlie on the beat's BBQ. They went down well whilst sat in the hut enjoying a glass of Fred's delicious Damson Gin and mulling over what has been a dreadful season on, not only the Don, but a majority of rivers in the Northern Hemisphere.

Unfortunately, these are the last pictures you will see of the Manar fishing hut. There was an accidental fire which sadly took hold once we were all gone and burnt the hut to the ground along with many years worth of memories and photos. A lot of hard work went into maintaining the hut year on year and it was a welcome place to enjoy your lunch in front of the fire on a cold spring day or to enjoy a drink after flogging the river.Still, plans are in place for a replacement hut and will look forward to seeing it come Spring time.

Bill Cook concentrating hard whilst fishing the Ree Pot.
Bill Cook, Mike McBain and yours truly discussing the fishing over a beer.
A decent turn out for the BBQ which went down a treat as per usual.
Ian and Duncan having a beer round the table.
A quick picture before the light disappeared. L>R Mike, Ian, Duncan, Pam, Charlie and me.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Franc N Snaelda Salmon Flies

I have been busy tying up a few Franc N Snaelda tube flies for next Spring as this pattern turned out to be my most successful fly I used in 2014. It accounted for 5 out of 11 salmon I caught this year and it shall be my "go to" pattern again next year.

The pattern was invented on the banks of the River Dee by Ballogie ghillie, Sean Stanton and it incorporates both Francis and Snaelda characteristics. These types of flies were extremely popular, not only on Deeside, but on all rivers, so Sean decided to marry these two deadly patterns together and so the Franc N Snaelda was born.

Some Franc N Snaelda tubes I've tied up recently.
Some Pink Franc N Snaeldas which did well for me during the back end of the season.
Blank and Yellow Franc N Snaelda. Very popular colour combo for Spring fishing.
Green Highlander Franc N Snaelda. Not a pattern I use much at all but like the look of it tied in this style.
Junction Shrimp Franc N Snaelda. This pattern served me well during October on the River Don.
Munro Killer Franc N Snaelda. I really like this pattern tied in the Snaelda style.
Cascade Franc N Snaelda. Had some success with this pattern back in August.
Willie Gunn Snaelda. A very popular pattern in the Spring months.