Thursday, 21 May 2015

Manar - River Don

I was back on the lovely Manar beat of the River Don with my good pal Charlie last Saturday. The water was sitting around 4.5" on the beat gauge and crystal clear. My set up for the day was my 13ft Hardy Uniqua, floating AFS Shooting head and a 6ft intermediate tip.

The cracking new hut at Manar on the River Don.
This was my first trip to Manar this season and it was good to be back there again. It has to be one of the best kept beats on the entire river and it would grace any of the famous river is Scotland in terms of upkeep. It was also good to see the new hut as I hadn't been down since October last year when the old hut was accidentally burnt down. Charlie and the Manar regulars have been very busy over the close season and have done a fantastic job with the new hut and area outside.

Fishing down the Chapel pool in the morning.
As Charlie and I were the only rods on the beat, we had the pick of the pools so decided to give the Chapel a go first of all before the sun was on it. We made our way down and fished through the pool but neither of us had a touch so we made our way back up river to have a go in the Sheep pool.

The Corner Pool.
I went round to have a run through the Corner Pool and Charlie followed me down fishing the Sunray Shadow. I had finished the pool and fished through the Sheep Pool too without a touch. There were plenty trout rising so I made my way back to the hut to get my trout rod. I had just arrived at the hut when I heard a shout from Charlie. His rod was bent into a lively fish! I ran up the bank to assist him with the net and after a very hard fought battle I slipped the net under a chrome bright springer of around 12lb.

Charlie fishing the Sheep Pool.
Charlie fighting hard with a fresh run River Don springer.
Safely in the net!
What we are all after. Charlie with his cracking 12lb River Don springer.
Horseshoe Haugh. Nothing doing in here but a nice cast regardless.
We decided to go for lunch after Charlie returned his fish and we sat in the new hut reflecting on whats was a pristine specimen of a Don salmon. It just goes to show, you don't have to spend a fortune fishing expensive beats on the Dee or Spey when you have fish this good right on your doorstep. It is great to see the Don picking up the odd fish in what has been a lean season for most rivers. There is just something special about a River Don springer and you can see why.
After lunch we decided to head upstream to fish the Horseshoe Haugh and then into the Long Pool. Charlie let me have first run through the Horseshoe but it proved fruitless so we made our way down to the Long Pool. The Long Pool is a nice bit of water but we could see nearly every stone in the pool. Despite this, Charlie thought there might just be a fish lying in the channel which runs down the far bank. By this time, I had changed fly and was now fishing the Sunray Shadow and Charlie let me have first run down again. I must have had about a dozen casts when there was an almighty swirl at my fly. A fish had followed it right across the river and hammered it just as I was about to lift my rod to recast. I felt the weight of the fish and lifted into it but no sooner was the fish on, it was off again! It took me completely by surprise and if I had been expecting a take so close to the bank I might have been able to set the hook better. Sadly though, it was another fish lost for me this Spring which brought the tally to 4 having lost fish on my last 3 outings on the Don previous to this one. I was really miffed and I fished the rest of the pool but couldn't temp another fish to have a go.

Yours truly fishing down the Long Pool shortly before losing a good fish further down the pool.
We decided to call it day around 6.30pm but it was great to see the Don producing the good again when very few rods would have been out in such low water conditions. The fish are running hard just now and if you're in the right place at the right time when they stop, there is a good chance of connecting with one. I'll be back at Manar again very soon and I will look forward to it. Hopefully next time there is a springer with my name on it waiting for me in one of the beat's pools.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Invery - River Dee

I was lucky enough to get another day on the fantastic Invery beat of the River Dee last Friday. The water was sitting around 1ft 4in on the beat gauge and with news of a few fish about the day before, I couldn't wait to get going. My set up for the day was my trusty 13ft Hardy Uniqua rod, an AFS floating shooting head and a 6ft intermediate tip.

Ghillie, Karl Revel and Paul Pritchard outside the hut.
I arrived at the beat around 8.15am and was greeted by the ghillie, Karl who introduced me to the other rods who were over from Norway and Sweden. Karl informed me that I would be fishing over on the opposite bank and pointed out the most likely spots to concentrate my efforts on. As I had never fished the water from that side of the beat before I decided to start at the top and fish my way down through the pools.

Signal Pool looking into the Station Stream.
The first pool I was to fish was the Signal Pool. This is the upper most pool on the beat and no sooner had I started a few fish showed just opposite where I was standing. I covered them several times but I couldn't temp one to take my fly. I did however, hook a small trout which took a liking to my #10 Kitchen Sink fly. Apart from a few parr I didn't touch anything else so it was on to the next pool.

A stunning view looking upstream from the path which runs along the banks of the Dee.
The next pool down is the Station Stream. Like a majority of the pools on the beat, this fishes the fly very well and is a pleasure to fish from either bank. As temping as it looked though, I didn't see nor touch a fish as I fished the pool. I'm sure there would have been fish in the pool but the bright sun and a cloudless sky wasn't helping and this maybe put them down.

Looking upstream from the Station Stream.
Karl suggested giving the Kirk Pot a go since I was passing so that's just what I did. The Kirk Pot is a short but deep pool which looked like it could harbour a fish or two. On this occasion it wasn't giving up it's bounty so it was on to the next pool.

Looking upstream into the Kirk Pot.
I made my way down to the Holly Bush and Karl had told me to really give this pool a good go as there were fish hooked in here the day before. Unfortunately, they weren't landed but it was a good sign and I was eager to get in there. I waded out up at the neck of the pool to the broken water that Karl had pointed out and fished my way down the pool. As inviting as it looked though, the fish had other ideas and I fished through the pool without a touch.

Wading down the Holly Bush.

The S Pool. I didn't fish this pool but I just went down to take a photo.
Fishing down most of the likely spots in the morning proved to be fruitless apart from a small brown trout and several salmon parr. It was good to see plenty parr about down the margins which will hopefully bode well for the future. Given the current crash to fish stocks in the river, a healthy juvenile population is always a welcome sight. The lack of fish returning to the Dee is very worrying though. Juvenile fish are leaving the river in good numbers but once they are out into the North Sea who knows what's happening to them. The ever growing population of dolphins and seals ambushing the returning fish is, in my opinion a major factor in the decline of fish returning to the Dee. The narrow harbour entrance is perfect for these creatures to get their fill of salmon without much effort at all. Anyway, it was back over the river for some lunch down in the floating bank hut.

The Hut at Invery.
After a very entertaining lunch with Karl and the fellow rods, it was back to business so Paul and I made our way up to fish the top beat but from the opposite bank this time. I was to follow Paul down so we started at the top and fished our way down through all the pools just like I did in the morning. First up was the Signal Pool but, by this time the wind had really whipped up and it was raining quite heavily. In between showers, the good old Scottish midge was out in force and I think I spent more time fending these little buggers off than concentrating on the fishing! As a result, I fished down through the pool without an offer.

Looking upstream in the Killing Hatch with some welcome cloud cover.
Paul and I fished our way down through all the pools without so much as a pull but we were encouraged to see a few fish showing. Especially in the Greenbank where a good run of sea trout appeared to be moving through the beat. Try as we might though it just wasn't our day. Paul decided to call it a day but I went downstream to give Floating Bank a going over.

The Floating Bank. A lovely cast and there were a few fish showing in here too.
I always really enjoy fishing the Floating Bank whether it's from the Crathes bank or from the Tilquillie side. It's just a cracking pool to fish and there were a few fishing showing up near the rocks at the neck of the pool. I covered them several times but to no avail. I called it a day around 6.30pm and headed home to treat my midge bites!

Monday, 18 May 2015

South Esk Springer

My good pal Bill Cook landed this cracking sea liced springer from the South Esk on Saturday. It weight in at 16lbs and was safely returned.

Well done Bill.

A beauty from the South Esk at Cortachy Castle caught by Bill Cook.