Sunday, 9 October 2016

Ballogie - River Dee

I had a great time on the Ballogie beat of the River Dee this week where I was lucky enough to catch 5 salmon in just over a day's fishing. The water levels have been low recently but with a drop in water and air temperatures the fish seemed to be reacting to this and became much more willing to take the fly.

An underwater still of my salmon being returned on Saturday.
The first of my 5 fish came on Thursday. I was only able to fish for an hour but during that time I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time for a change. The water height was 8" on the Potarch gauge and my set up for the day was my 14ft 9in Guideline AWM rod and a Rio AFS floating shooting head. Attached to this was a 3.9 inch per second (ips) tip. I started in the Top Gannet and on only my 3rd cast of the afternoon I lifted into a nice fish. It was a coloured hen salmon of around 7lb and she was soon landed and sent back on her way after a quick photo. I managed to get the whole experience on my GoPro camera and I have attached the clip below. The fly was a 1/2" Red Frances tube.

My first fish on Thursday on only my 3rd cast! A 7lb hen fish taken on a Red Frances.

After fishing through the rest of the Top Gannets without another offer, I carried on down into the Middle Gannets. About half way down the pool I felt a fish take my fly but it was reluctant to turn with it. It just so happened I had been watching a Mikael Frodin YouTube video the night before on low water tactics. He had the same scenario with a fish in Russia where he let the fish to chew on the fly for several seconds before he felt it turn and take the fly properly. Only then he lifted into it and he duly landed the fish. With this fresh in my mind, I did the same. I let the fish to gently tug on the fly until my line had came out the current and straighten out. The fish reacted to this newly added tension and turned with my fly. I sharply lifted into it and after a spirted fight it was quickly landed and released. I also got this on my GoPro and have posted the clip below.

My second fish from Thursday. A 6lb hen from Middle Gannets. Also on the 1/2" Red Frances tube.

Thanks to another kind invite from Sean, I found myself back at Ballogie again on Saturday. This time I was able to fish the full day and I couldn't wait to get going. The air was cold in the morning and the fish took a while to switch on. I didn't start fishing until about 10am as we waited for the air to warm up.

My 7lber from the Top Gannets on Saturday ready for release.
I started out with the same set up as Thursday but the water had dropped to 6" on the Potarch gauge. I fished through all three of the Gannets pools without and offer so I headed back up to the hut for a re-think of my set up. I changed my tip over from a 3.9 ips to a to a 2.6ips and removed the Red Frances fly and replaced it with an All Black Snaelda but of the same size. I waded out to the next of the Top Gannets and within two or three casts I lifted into a strong fish. It was another hen and was roughly 7lbs again. I played it hard to minimise any unnecessary runs etc and it was soon beached and released back into the Dee again. Just fishing that wee bit higher up in the water made all the difference and my confidence was restored. I landed the fish about 11.50am and decided to have a bite to eat before heading off downstream to fish the lower pools on the beat.

On arrival to the lower part of the beat I met up with Sean and he advised me that there were two fish caught. One being a cracking cock fish of around 16lbs. Both were taken on the Pink Franc N Snaelda but I kept faith in my wee Black Snaelda and headed off upstream to begin in the Slips. About half way down the middle Slip I had a fish grab hold of my fly but it didn't stick unfortunately. That was to be the only action I had despite the presence of numerous fish in the pool so it was off on down to fish the Flats.

The fly that did the damage on Saturday - All Black Snaelda.
The Flats is a cracking pool and is lovely to fish a fly through in all heights of water. I had a fresh 10lber from here back in July and it fought like a demon due to the strong current so playing any fish in here is a challenge. I started out right at the top of the pool in the white water and began to work my way down the pool. Again sticking with the 2.6ips tip and Black Snaelda. I got about 20 yards down the pool when I had an almighty take! The fish thrashed about on the surface but I couldn't really get a glimpse of it. I tightened up on it and the fish began pulling back hard. Much harder than the smaller fish I had landed earlier. This fish wanted to stay deep and I was anxious about loosing it given the amount of submerged boulder in the pool. The fish pulled and ran up and down the pool but it was clever and used the current in it's favour. I tried to do the same and pulled hard against the fish all the while trying to make sure I didn't change the angle too much and pull the hook out. The fight went on for a good 7 or 8 minutes and I eventually had the fish ready for beaching. I reached down and got hold of a nice hen fish around 14lbs. I quickly removed the hook and returned her back into the river to continue her journey. I fished down the rest of the pool without an offer so decided to make my way back to the hut as it was about 4.30pm. I also managed to capture the action on my GoPro and have attached the clip below for anyone interested in viewing it.

A big hen salmon of around 14lbs ready to be released.

I got back to the hut and had a quick run down the neck of the Top Gannets but it didn't provide anymore action. I carried on down for one last go in the tail of the pool when Sean arrived. I was just about finished fishing the pool, or so I thought, when Sean told me to carry on into the lip just before it drops into the Middle Gannets. And would you believe it, just as my fly was swinging round in front of the white water, I had a good solid take. I lifted into the fish and it was on. The way the fish was pulling in the fast water, if I had lost it there and then I would have sworn in was a double figure fish. It was soon subdued though and Sean grabbed hold of a small grilse of no more than 3lbs! Despite it's size, it was very welcome and I was delighted to land my third fish of the day. A fish I would have not landed if Sean hadn't been there as I would have not fished that part of the pool. I will be from now on though, that's for sure! We carried on into the Middle Gannets but nothing was interested and I called it a day around 5.30pm more than happy with my day.
Ballogie ghillie, Sean Stanton about to release my last fish of the day. A cock fish of around 3lb.
Ballogie is a beat that is always good to me as I seem to do pretty well there when ever I fish it. It's a pleasure to fish knowing you are covering fish and this makes a big difference to the confidence. Several of the pool changed after Storm Frank but it's very encouraging to see a good head in all the pools.

The long season is now drawing to a close but it's good to see the beat pass last year's total, as have many of the beats on the river. Lets be honest, it wouldn't have taken much after the disaster on 2015! The totals for the Dee in 2016 up but overall, catches are still a long way off recovering to what they should be. At least it is heading in the right direction though and with one thousand or more fish caught this year than in 2015. Long may that continue and here's to a good run in 2017. Tight lines.


  1. Great read Craig - just booked 3 days on Balogie next March - nice to see the water in your videos !

  2. Cheers Eamonn. Ballogie is a cracking beat and I'm sure you'll love it. I'll be back for my usual dates at the beginning of March. Roll on the Spring!