Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Park Junior Day - River Dee

I attended an event hosted by William Foster of Park Estate and Ross McDonald from the River Dee for Junior anglers of all levels who were invited along to fish on the fabled waters of Park. Gary Scott - an AAPGAI casting instructor was on hand to show the kids how to spey cast and to make sure they knew the dangers of the casts. The day couldn't have went any better and conditions were excellent. The river was sitting at around 18" on the beat gauge and there had been good numbers of fish caught leading up to the day which gave them all an extra insentive.

Gary Scott AAPGAI, William Foster, Keith Cromar. Photo: FishDee
A group photo of the attendees at the Park Junior Day. Photo: Gary Scott
I was helping out Aberdeen and District Angling Association junior Sean Rennie as all juniors had to be accompanied by an adult. Sean is a keen salmon angler and is very talented given the short length of time he has been fishing. Although he has caught a few salmon Sean is still very keen to learn and really takes on board what he is being taught.
Casting Instructor Gary Scott addresses the juniors in attendance before showing them the basics of Spey Casting.
The crowd look on as Gary demonstrates the fundamentals of a Spey cast.
After a casting demo by instructor Gary Scott, four of the juniors, who could cast a salmon fly rod competently were sent on their down to fish the famous Durris Stream by ghillie Keith Cromar. Not long after starting we noticed a good run of fresh grilse moving into the pool and the lads were focused on trying to get in contact with one of them. It didn't take long and after a change of fly to an Ally Shrimp and a few tips on the best way to fish the fly in the slower water, Sean had a good solid take from a fish. He lifted into a strong wee grilse and all the lads rushed down to watch him play his fish. Ross and I stood on giving him some advice on playing the fish but he played it like a pro and I soon tailed a cracking sea liced grilse of around 4lb.

Four of the competent junior fish their way down the famous Durris Stream on Park.

ADAA Junior bent into a lively wee grilse in the Durris Stream.
A delighted Sean Rennie poses for a quick photo before returning his fish. Well done Sean!
Sean returns his fish back into the Dee.
There was nothing else caught by any of the other juniors unfortunately but it was great to see Sean land a fish and I think Keith, Ross and myself were as happy as he was! I really enjoy these junior events and it's great to see good numbers attending. Hopefully these kids are now "hooked" on the sport and we will see them fishing on the river banks in the future.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Headinch And Cambus O' May - River Dee

Thanks to ghillie Craig McDonald I had a day on the scenic Headinch and Cambus O' May beat last Thursday. The water was in good order and had dropped away nicely after a rise earlier in the week. It was sitting around the 9" mark on the beat gauge and had a tinge of peat stain. At this height though every pool was fishable and I was to fish from the South bank as it was more suited to this height of water.

The beat gauge reading 9"
My set up for the day consisted of my 13ft Hardy Uniqua rod, Rio Scandi Floating Shooting Head and a 10ft slow sink tip. Due to the peaty colour of the river Cascades and Black Bear Flamethrower type flies were the choice of the day as the orange and yellow combo shows up well in the darker water.
Fishing down Peter Ogg and into Holly Bush.

Fishing down Holly Bush looking across to the hut on the far bank.
Craig suggested I start my day off in the Holly Bush and then fish down through Peter Ogg after I had done that. neither pool produced any salmon although I did briefly hook a decent sized trout which came to a Sunray Shadow just opposite the gauge but it came off as I wound my line onto my reel. Both pools fished very well though and one or two splashes from salmon kept the concentration levels up.
The hut which looks onto the Tassachd Pool.
Fishing down Tassachd. Was a few fish moving in here but none were tempted by my offerings.
The next pool I was to to try was Tassachd. This is a classic Dee salmon pool and fishes the fly beautifully. There were one or two fish showing in here too but tempting them was a different matter. I fished the pool down with a #9 Cascade first but without success and my second run down the pool was with a Sunray which also proved fruitless. After fishing these pools it was lunch time and a chance to regroup and plan for the afternoon.

Sheerless. Moved a couple of trout in here on a Sunray Shadow but no salmon.
After lunch Craig suggested giving Sheerless a cast as there had been a few fish showing in the pool earlier in the week. I was eager to fish Sheerless as I had never done so on my previous 3 visits to the beat. I opted to fish the Sunray first and I made my way down the pool varying the speed in which I stripped the fly in. Several different speeds produced the same result with the Sunray and I couldn't tempt any salmon but a greedy trout about 1.5lb took a liking to it and which was safely returned.

I was joined by Paul Pritchard later on in the day and as he had never fished the beat before he was eager to get going. He was to fish Tassachd and I headed up to the upper most pool on the beat which was Kate's.
Looking upstream from Kate at the top end of the beat.
Rockies looking downstream.
Looking downstream into Black Neuk and Bankie.
Kate is another nice piece of water and again, it's ideal for fly fishing. The views are not too shabby either! I fished my way down through the pool and continued on into Rocky without a touch but I did see a few fish showing half way down the pool. Try as I might, they just weren't interested in my fly.

The hut overlooking Glashan.
Fishing down the Glashan Pool. A really nice pool for the fly.
Paul Pritchard fishing the stunning Glashan Pool.
Next up was Glashan. This pool has to one of my favourite pools on the beat. It's a pleasure to fish and every cast you are just waiting for that pull from a salmon. Sadly, neither Paul or myself could get hold of an elusive Dee salmon but we gave it a good try. Paul decided to call it a day after a wee mishap involving his car so I headed off back down stream to give Tassachd another fling before heading home myself. Unfortunately, there was nothing doing down in Tassachd and I headed off home around 7pm with my first ever blank day on a Glen Tanar Salmon beat! :( 

The beat is one well worth visiting though and the amount of water available to just 3 rods is fantastic. Each and every pool is a delight to fish and the scenery is first class as well. The water did rises nearly 2" during the day and the heavy peat stain which darkened the water maybe didn't help my chance any either but despite not catching any salmon, it was a good day regardless. A couple of brown trout to show for my efforts wasn't what I was after but if catching salmon was that easy, would it be as addictive? Perhaps not. 

Friday, 21 August 2015

A Grilse From The River Don

Had a couple of hours on the River Don last night after my work. The river was up due to heavy rain the day before and this left the water carrying a bit of colour. The fish didn't seem to mind though and I was delighted to land this wee cracker around the 5lb mark.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

11lb Salmon From The River Don

I caught this cracking salmon from the River Don on Saturday morning. It took a #9 Cascade and fought like a tiger! It had me into the backing before I finally managed to draw it into the net. It measured 31" long and was estimated at 11lb. It had no sea lice present but it couldn't have been in the river long at all. Hopefully this will be the start of a good run of fish entering the river now. I managed to get some scales that were left in the net from the fish and I have given them to the bailiffs for reading. I will hopefully hear back soon and find out more about this fish.

A quick photo in the net before being returned to the river.

Returned safely to continue it's journey to the spawning grounds.

River Dee - Carlogie

This week saw me back on the Carlogie beat of the River Dee for three days. A lift in water a few days before we arrived was very welcome and it seemed to do the trick as many beats started reporting some good scores. My three days were to be spent in the company of good pals whom I met through the Salmon Fishing Forum. On Monday I was fishing with host for the week, Ade Warburton and on the Tuesday we were joined by Dave MacDonald and Martin Gardiner and Wednesday by Neill Sproull.

Ade fishing down the Calm Pool.
I set off early on Monday morning and met up with Ade at the hut overlooking the Calm Pool around 7am. I last fished with Ade back in February at Commonty and it was good to see him again. As we stood outside the hut catching up over a dram, there were several fish starting to show near the tail of the pool. These were all clean looking grilse in the 3-5lb range. This was very encouraging so we drank up and headed off to have a cast. Ade decided to fish the Rossicks and Mill pools first so I went up to the March Pool to fish there and carry on right into the Calm Pool, Lucky Hole and Whin Bush.
Looking downstream from the March Pool looking into the Calm Pool.
As I fished down through the pools, the run of fish continued for most of the morning. It looked as though the had their heads down and were not for stopping because try as I might, I couldn't temp one to grab my fly although I did move two fish with a Sunray Shadow down in the Lucky Hole. Ade returned to the hut at lunch time I was pleased to hear he managed to land a clean grilse around the 4lb mark from the Mill Pool. He hadn't seen any showing but he managed to winkle one out.
Alan's Pool looking downstream. A very deep pool which will hold a fish or two.
Fishing from the island at Long Haugh.
Looking up into Long Haugh from the neck of Pitslug.
After lunch, I was to fish the Mill Pool after I had a run through Long Haugh and Alan's. I was hoping to try and intercept these fish as they motored on through the pools. I headed off up to Alan's Pool for a quick throw but with a high and undercut bank it's not the easiest place to fish. I gave it a once over without a touch so it was off down stream to fish Long Haugh. I really enjoy fishing Long Haugh but due to a huge shift of gravel caused by large spates, it's a bit tricky to fish now due to an area of slack water which causes a bit of a back eddie. It's still a lovely cast though and the presence of one or two fish showing at the neck of Pitslug kept the concentration levels high. Sadly, I left the pool without an offer so I made my way down to have a go in Pitslug.
The hut overlooking Pitslug on the Dess bank.
Fishing down the Pitslug Pool. There were a few showing in here before the made their way up the faster water above.
Pitslug is another nice bit of water on the Carlogie beat. It does need a bit of water to fish better but we had 1ft 6in on the gauge and it seemed to fish reasonably well. The higher the water the closer the fish are I'd imagine but they were still within a good casting distance. I fished the pool all the way to the tail without an offer so it was back to the jeep and off down to the Mill.

Looking upstream in the Mill Pool. A stunning pool to fish set in a beautiful part of Deeside.
The Mill Pool is right up there with my favourite pools to fish on the entire river. The setting is stunning even though the main road to Aboyne is only up behind the trees on the far bank. With the Old Mill at the top of the pool and the old Dess fishing huts along it's banks, the place oozes character. Just like Ade, I fished down the pool with seeing a splash but unlike Ade, I didn't manage to temp a fish so it was off back to the hut.

On return to the hut, I was delighted to hear that Ade had landed another fresh grilse of around 5lbs from the Calm Pool. Two fish for his first day back at Carlogie was promising and we were keen to come back after tea for another go. We headed off back to the cottage for some supper and to plan our approach for the evening.

The interior of the hut at Carlogie as we waited for the bats to appear before targeting the sea trout.
We decide to go out a bit later in the evening and have a go for the sea trout as we had seen a few in the Calm Pool as we fished it during the afternoon. We headed off down to the hut around 9,30pm and sat and had a few drams as we waited for darkness to fall. The river was still rising slowly and was now a heavily peat stained colour. We we undeterred and I tied on one of my pal Bill Cook's trust Dark Mackerals and Ade opted for an Editor. We were to both fish the Calm Pool so Ade headed upstream and I went straight out from the hut. I pulled several yards of line off my reel and made my first cast. As soon as the fly hit the water it was hammered by a good sized sea trout! I couldn't believe it so I called on Ade who hadn't even got into the water and he he came down to do the honours of tailing the fish. It was a cracking sea trout of around 3lb and after a quick photo, it was released back into the Dee. Not a bad start at all! Ade got back in the water and followed me down the pool. Not long after re-starting his reel screamed and a lively sea trout lept into the air above me. I turned round to see a very large sea trout around the 5lb mark cartwheeling down the middle of the pool. Sadly though, the sea trout won that battle and departed with Ade's fly as it snapped his leader. We carried on down the pool and apart from a couple of half hearted pulls, neither of us could temp another sea trout so we called it a day around 1am.

Ade about to return my sea trout from the Calm Pool caught with my very first cast of the night!
The next morning we were greeted by Dave MacDonald and his pal Martin who were joing us for a couple of days. Dave, like myself is very keen on the River Dee and it was good to catch up with him again. After a strong coffee it was back to the hut to gear up for the day ahead.

Rossicks Pool. Another fine pool on the Carlogie beat.
As we arrived at the hut, we noticed the water had continued to rise over night and was now sitting around the 1ft 10in mark on the Potarch Bridge gauge. This wasn't a problem and the fish didn't seem to mind either and there were still plenty showing as the entered the pools. On Martin's first cast in Rossicks, he managed to land a nice sea trout about 3lb on a Cascade. Ade also managed to land his third grilse of the trip from Fraser's Pool. Dave was also in on the act with anothe r fine sea trout around 3lbs from Whin Bush. I didn't have much luck apart from Brown Trout which seemed to take a liking to my Sunray Shadow in Rossicks during the afternoon. We were again to try for the sea trout but the weather was against us as the temperature dropped away as night fell so we sat in the hut with the fire on having the odd drink or two!

A fine selection of (empty) bottles of Single Malt. Not bad going for only 2 days on the river!
I was designated driver and we headed off back to the cottage around 1.30am. I had a bit of catching up to do as we all sat around the kitchen table until the wee small hours putting salmon fishing to rights. I really enjoy these kinds of fishing trips. Spending time with like minded guys who all have a passion for not just salmon fishing, but fishing in general and who have all met through a Salmon Fishing Forum online. Despite only meeting up a few time per year, everyone is good pals and we get on very well. The craic is great and we even had a rendition of the Scots song "Haughs of Cromdale" by Dave which we all enjoyed.

Jock Rae. A cracking pool ideal for fly fishing.
My third and final day didn't start until 11am due to copious amounts of beer and whiskey the night before. Ade and I were feeling a little sorry for ourselves as Dave and Martin were up bright and early to chase silver again. One of Kincardine Post Office's famous sandwiches did the business and it was up and at them after that. I decided to have a go in Jock Rae and then fish Fraser's after that and Ade decided the couch in the hut was too tempting not to lie on! I fished on down through Jock Rae without an offer or seeing a fish but with a good water which was now dropping slowly, the fish were still splashing about, just not as frequently.
Wading down the Village Pool. Usually there are numerous fish in here which have taken up residence but sadly not this year. Never seen a splash in here all week.
Fraser's Pool where I lost a grlise on the Wednesday.
Fraser's Pool will always one I'll remember as I caught my first February Springer in there last year. There is a good flow pushes through Fraser's and when you see the rough water the fish have to negotiate coming up from Ballogie, you can see why they would stop briefly in this pool. I made my way down the steps and into the pool. There are a few big boulders in here but at this height, the wading is fairly easy. I worked my down the pool with a #10 Black Bear Flamethrower covering all the ripples and boils as I went. I had almost fished most of the pool without seeing or touching anything when I cast my fly out towards an series of boils near the tail of the pool. As my fly swung round past the first rock it was aggressively grabbed by a fish. I firmly lifted into it and the fish was on! It immediately came up to the surface and thrashed about on top of the water whilst still taking line off my reel. As it did this, it managed to throw the hook and the fish was lost! I couldn't it. Fish number six lost for the season so far!!! I composed myself and had another cast or two around the lie but the fish wasn't for taking again. I went back to the top of the pool and fished it all again but my second run down didn't produce anything so I headed off up Pitslug for one last cast before my three day trip came to an end.

Fishing down Pitslug on Wednesday afternoon.
Sadly, there were no willing takers in Pitslug despite seeing one or two fish. I called it a day around 6.30pm and headed of back to the hut for a chat with the guys before heading home. Nobody had had a touch all day but we were all encouraged by the amount of fish we had seen running for the three days. Considering many have written the Dee off this year, it was good to see the grilse arriving in good numbers even if they did have their after burners on!

All in all, it was a great trip on the Dee again and as I said before, it is always good to meet up with friends who met through the Forum. We are all good pals now and keep in touch via various forms of social media these days until next time we meet which will be back on the Dee in February, which I shall look forward to.