Thursday, 18 August 2016

Little Blackhall & Inchmarlo - River Dee

I was grateful to ghillie, Martin Robson for inviting me over to fish on the delightful Little Blackhall and Inchmarlo beat of the River Dee last week. The river was dropping away nicely after a rise the day before and was it carrying a peat stain. The river was sitting at roughly 1ft 4" on the Woodend gauge so tactics for the day were my 14ft Hardy Demon, floating line and a 10ft slow sink tip. My fly of choice to begin with was a #8 Cascade.
A nice touch to the fishing hut. A map of the beat hand drawn by ghillie, Martin Robson.
I arrived at the beat about 8.30am to be greeted by Martin and his springer spaniel, Fly. We discussed the current conditions over a cup of coffee and we planned out our tactics for the day ahead. Martin suggested we start off on the upper part of the beat and fish the Otter Stone down to the Laird's Cast covering all the usual lies as we went along. I started up in the Otter Stone whilst Martin fished the Fawn.

The well equipped hut on the Inchmarlo bank.
Looking downstream from the Otter Stone.
The Otter Stone is a nice bit of water and is often a good bet to pick up a fish or two in such conditions. Martin pointed out all the recent hot spots and where fish had been holding before making his way down river. I started off as I normally do fishing a short line and lengthening it out to a full cast before working my way down the pool. There were a few fish showing further down the pool and every now and again there were splashes upstream. The fished just seemed to be bombing through with the good water and occasionally showing themselves on their way by. It was good to see decent number of fish though and there is always a chance if your fly is in the water as they pass by. Unfortunately, I didn't temp any of them to take my offerings so it was off down to the Fawn.
Looking upstream from the Fawn.
Looking upstream from the tail of Fawn.
The Fawn is a cracking part of the beat and there were decent numbers of fish showing in here as they came through the white water below. I covered the pool as best I could and concentrated on the areas where the fish seemed to be showing the most. Try as I might though, nothing took any interest in my fly but again, it was pleasing to know I was covering fish. I just needed to figure out a way of getting one to take my fly. Easier said than done sometimes though!
Looking downstream into Laird's Cast just before lunch.
As there were a good few fish moving through the beat I decide to go back up and fish down through from the Otter Stone again in the hope I might intercept one of these running fish. All down the length of the pools there were fish showing every now and then but they just weren't interested. I tried heavier flies, small flies, fast sinking tips, full floating line but nothing would slow them down and take my fly. By this time it was nearly lunch so I made my way back to the hut for a bite to eat and to catch up with Martin and find out how he was getting on.
Just about to cross over to the opposite bank in the boat with Martin.
Fishing down the Fawn from the Little Blackhall side in the afternoon.
After lunch Martin thought it would be a good idea to fish from the Little Blackhall bank and cover the areas where the fish were lying in the Otter Stone and Fawn. Just really to give them something else to think about with a fly coming past at a differnet direction and angle. There were still one or two fish splashing about in these pools and we were confident that we were covering fish with every cast. I changed tactics and opted for a Sunray Shadow fished off a 10ft fast sink tip. Despite this confidence and the change of tactics, the results were the same as the morning. The fish seemed to have other ideas and we just couldn't temp any salmon although we each had encounters with greedy brown trout.
Looking down the Roe Pot from the hut on the Inchmarlo bank.
Fishing down the famous Roe Pot from the Inchmarlo bank.
The famous Roe Pot was next up and we crossed back over to fish it from the Inchmarlo bank. The afternoon was wearing on but there were a good few fish splashing about. I thought about changing tactics but decided to stick it out with the Sunray Shadow, purely just to try and induce a take from one of these fish. I cast it out square and stripped it back at various speeds and covered most of the pool in this way. I still couldn't get a fish to take my fly. It was very frustrating but at least I knew I was covering fish as I went through the pool and it was very pleasing to see such decent numbers of fish moving through the Dee again.As was the same the previous week when I was fishing at Carlogie. Time got the better of me and I had to call it a day at 5pm as I had other things to do in the evening. Although, looking at it again now, the evening might just have been the best bet for getting a fish.

The invite from Martin to fish here much appreciated. It was good to be out fishing at Little Blackhall and Inchmarlo again as it's a beat I always enjoy fishing. It was also good to see plenty fish around too. Catching them on the day proved difficult but Martin will do his utmost to put you onto a fish and with scenery and surroundings as nice as anywhere on the Dee, it really is worth having a go here. Current prices are only £45 per day and you certainly can't argue with that for a day's salmon fishing. For detail of the beat follow the link - Little Blackhall And Inchmarlo

Monday, 15 August 2016

River Don Sea Trout

I was out and about on the River Don last week fishing Lower Fintray beat of the Aberdeen and District Angling Association water. There wasn't much in the way of salmon in evidence but I was fortunate enough to encounter this fella. I nice and stocky 3lb sea trout. It's colouring up but it's still a nice fish all the same.
A nice River Don sea trout ready to be released back into the river.

River Feugh Grilse

At the beginning of August I had a day fishing on the River Feugh. The Feugh is the largest of the River Dee's tributaries and it joins up with the Dee near Banchory. It is a wild and rugged river and fish have to negotiate it's famous falls to carry on their journey upstream to the spawning ground. It's a classic spate river and I was lucky enough to encounter it in good conditions off the back of a nice lift in water. This small fish gave a good account of itself before I slipped it back into the peat stained water to continue it's epic journey.

A wee 3lb grilse poses for a very quick photo before putting it back into the river.

Carlogie - River Dee

At the beginning of August I had my annual couple of days fishing on the Carlogie beat of the River Dee as part of my good pal Ade Warburton's week. This is a trip I always look forward to and the banter on the run up the the fishing is great. I was fishing the Monday and Tuesday again this year and just as it was last year, the water was very low. I have attached a link to the same trip last year to see the comparison with the pools after Storm Frank had his way with Deeside. Carlogie 2015

Looking across the Calm Pool from the car park outside the hut.
Plenty beer and whisky around during this trip!
I arrived at the Greenlands cottage on the Monday morning around 8am and found the place was still in darkness. The lads were still in their beds from the night before after sinking a few drams so it was just a case of wakening them up as there was fishing to be had! After a cup of coffee (or two) and a breakfast roll in was off down to the Calm Pool hut.
The Carlogie hut which over looks the Calm Pool.
We arrived at the hut to begin our fishing at around 9.30am. We had a dram to toast the fishing in and made a draw for the pool were to be allocated for the morning session. I was drawn to fish the Clay Pot, Willow Bed and Boat pools for my morning so I tackled up with my 14ft Hardy Demon, floating shooting head and 10ft of 12lb maxima. No need for a tip in such low water conditions. My initial fly of choice was a #12 Arndilly Fancy.
Fishing into the Lucky Hole and Whin Bush.
Looking upstream into the Flats from the tail of the Clay Pot. I saw a huge fish jump in here which I estimated it to be around 25lb plus!
The Clay Pot has changed slightly after the Storm Frank floods in December and it has changed for the better in my opinion. The pool has a lovely even flow through it and it seems to look like it will hold fish, especially in low water like we were experiencing for the beginning of our trip. I worked my way through the pool and I immediately had several parr take my fly. Not what you want to catch really but it is pleasing to see such an abundance of juvenile fish present in the river. Other than a few more parr and a greedy trout about the 1lb mark, my run down the pool proved fruitless as far as salmon were concerned so it was off a bit further down stream to the Willow Bed.
Looking down the Willow Bed.
The neck of the Willow Bed.
The Willow Bed, in my opinion is a nice wee stretch of water. I saw a few fish in here despite the low water and this was encouraging. The top of the pool has a bit of depth to it and the white water looked like it might hold a fish in such a height of water. I covered all the obvious lies and runs but nothing too a liking to my offerings so I made my way back to the hut. After a quick drink it was off down river to fish the Boat pool.
Looking upstream from the Boat Pool with the Willow Bed in the distance.
Looking across to the Kincaridine hut from the Boat Pool.
Fishing down the neck of the Boat Pool. A good few fish around in here but proving difficult to tempt.
The Boat Pool is one of the most productive pools on the beat. It has everything you'd want in a salmon pool whether it'd be depth, fast water, glassy lies or good flow for fishing the fly. You name it, the Boat Pool has it. It also holds fish which is always an attraction for any salmon angler. I started off up to the neck of the pool just opposite the Kincardine hut and began to work my way down from there. Fish were splashing everywhere! Fresh fish mostly but with the odd older fish mixed in. I seemed to have stumbled upon a good run of fish moving through the pool. My excitement and concentration levels had risen enormously and I fished my way down the pool expecting the line to go tight on every cast. Unfortunately it didn't happen despite the volume of fish present. They just wouldn't be tempted by anything I threw at them and the run of fish soon passed and the pool went fairly quiet again about 30 minutes later. I couldn't believe they weren't for the catching and I trundled off back to the hut fro lunch ready to ponder my next move over a roll and a beer.
A Roe buck looking to cross the river at the Boat Pool. It saw me and ran away before it could attempt it.
We don't really have a set stopping time for lunch as such but we gathered briefly to discuss the morning's efforts and top up the dram glasses. There had been a fish caught by Ade which was good to hear and also there had been a few which were lost too. Everyone reported the same though, that there were fishing motoring through the beat all morning. The catches on the FishDee pages didn't reflect this but the fish were certainly there in decent numbers.
Looking across Pitslug where there is now a shingle bar running down the centre of the pool. A real shame as it was a nice bit of water.
Looking up the "Long Haugh" which is now just a fast run rather than a pool like it used to be until the flooding.
Having a cast in the Long Haug just on the off chance of encountering a fish.
I was to fish the top pools of the beat in the afternoon session so after a quick bite to eat it was off up to fish Rossicks. In the past, the upper pools consisted of Alan's, Long Haugh and Pitslug but due to Storm Frank these pools are no longer there. Alan's pool is still there but the bank is high above the water and it's not the easiest pool to fish correctly. Fishing Rossicks however, is always a joy and the fly fishes round beautifully. It's another one of those pools where you expect an offer every cast. It wasn't to be for me on this occasion though despite a good few fish present in the upper part of the pool so it was off down to fish the Mill.
Fishing my way down Rossicks on the Monday morning
Looking over the the mill at Dess where the pool takes it's name from.
On arrival to the Mill pool I noticed there was a Dess rod fishing the neck of the pool so I made my way back up to fish Rossicks again to pass the time while I waited for the Dess rod to fish through. My second run down Rossicks was also fruitless so I carried on downstream into the Mill.
Fishing down the Mill Pool. Sadly the old fishing huts which were situated on the Dess bank are no linger there after the floods.
About half way down the Mill Pool opposite the old Fir tree.
Looking upstream from the tail of the Mill Pool.
The Mill Pool is one of the prettiest pools on the river in my opinion. With the secluded banks sheltered by tall, matures trees and the old Mill over the water at the top of the pool, I can't think of a finer place to cast a fly. From a salmon point of view, the pool ain't half bad either! With the low water conditions there seemed to be a few fish taken resident up in the white water at the neck of the pool. These were easily covered with just a short cast and I covered the lies several times before moving on downstream. The fish were not playing ball but I seemed to have encountered the tail end of the run of fish I saw earlier on in the Boat pool because there was a steady stream of fish moving through for a good 20 minutes or so. I got to about half way down the pool opposite a big Fir tree on the Carlogie bank and I did get a good pull on my fly. For some reason it didn't stick but it was an encouraging sign that my fly was fishing as it should. By the time I had fished out the pool it was close on to 5pm so I made my way back to the hut.
Fishing down Jock Rae. A delightful cast at this height and plenty fish around to keep the concentration going.
After a few beers and a chat about the day's fishing I decided to have a go in Jock Rae and fish my way down through the March and Calm Pool. These pools were all holding fish in the low water but neither of us managed to land any of them during the day. Rory did have hold of four but sadly they all came off. Not ideal and not helped by the fact the opposition rod found this rather amusing.
Looking upstream in Jock Rae towards Coronation and the Mill Pool further upstream.
Jock Rae is a cracking wee pool and due to the change of shingle at the Carlogie side, it's very easily fished. It just requires a very short cast to cover the deeper part of the pool where the fish lie. I crept my way down the pool covering all the likely spots but the only fish to show interest in my fly were parr. If you let the fly swing round far enough they were snapping at the fly every cast just about.
The March Pool looking downstream into the Calm Pool.
Next up was the March Pool. Another short pool and really just a run at the top of the Calm Pool. There were also a few fish holding in the white water here where shallow wading and long casts are the order of the day here as to not spook the fish. I knew I was covering fish but they were still playing hard to get so I carried on down river into the Calm Pool.
Ade fishing down the Calm Pool whilst I enjoy a cold beer by the river.
Musker's Fancy No.2 dressed as per the description in Frederick Hill's book about fishing at Carlogie.
I decided to change flies and opted for a Musker's Fancy tied on a low water size 8 single. the Musker's Fancy was invented but Captain Musker who was the fishing tenant her in the late 30s/early 40s. It was described as the best low water fly bar none in those days so why shouldn't it be today? Anyway, I worked my way down the pool concentrating on the area out from the Carlogie hut where we saw plenty splashing about earlier on in the day. I did get hold of a fish from the pool but it wasn't a salmon, it was a greedy wee trout about 3/4lb but it nailed the Musker's Fancy and this gave me confidence in the fly. The rest of the pool didn't produce any offers and I called it a day about 9pm and retired back to the hut for a well earned beer.
A rainbow over the Carlogie. this was the start of a night of heavy rain which would cause the river to rise. Just a pity it was the evening I was leaving!
Day 2 on the beat was much and such the same. Plenty fish showing albeit not as many as the Monday but they were proving very difficult to tempt. We started very early on Tuesday morning and Ade manged to score with a lovely fresh grilse from Jock Rae at around 4.30am. It just goes to show that the early bird does indeed catch the worm (or fish in this instance!). That was to be it for the day sadly. I couldn't tempt any fish to my own rod although I did have a couple of half hearted takes in Jock Rae and the Calm Pool, most probably from running fish just nipping at the fly as it passed their noses.
Philip Black with a lovely fish from the Mill Pool on Wednesday afternoon after a good lift in water levels during Tuesday night.
It was great to be back at Carlogie especially meeting up with Ade again. It's always a great laugh and the fishing is a bonus. The water went up significantly on the Tuesday night and the remaining guys left fishing the remainder of the week scored well and they finished up with 11 in total which is a good score. Friday proved to be the best day with 6 landed as well as a few sea tout. Just goes to show that a wee bit more water can certainly get the fish excited and happy to hit a fly harder. Hopefully next year I get a bit more luck with the river levels as I always seem to miss out on the water when I visit Carlogie. Conditions are always much better when I've left! I won't manage to break this jinx which seems to follow me around at Carlogie until next Spring but I will be ready to go again when the time comes and with a bit of luck I will hopefully find myself in the right place, at the right time for a change. Tight lines.