Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Video Of Manar Fishings

This is a short video I have put together of the last day of the salmon fishing season on the River Don at Manar. Still got a lot to learn in terms of editing but reasonably pleased with the outcome of this one despite the limited footage I had to work with. Hope you enjoy watching it. Feel free to let me know what you think by leaving a comment. Cheers

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Morphie - North Esk

My last outing of the 2017 salmon fishing season was on the famous Morphie beat of the North Esk. A bonus day off work due to the rescheduling of a meeting left me with a free to date go fishing. After a quick look around FishPal I stumbled across availability for Morphie. Not many salmon anglers in the UK haven't heard of the Morphie beat. It has been on my bucket list for years and as I had never even fished the Northie before, when the chance arose to take a day on it's hallowed pools, it was far too good an opportunity to miss.

I arrived at the beat and was met by my pal Colin who was going to be fishing with me for the day. The gauge was reading 1ft 2in and was running clear. Colin had some success the previous week at Morphie and he advised that tactics for the day would be to get the flies fishing deep. I opted to fish with my Guideline H/I/S1 shooting head for the morning. My fly of choice was a small black and yellow treble.
Fishing down the pool I think was called Elephant Rock or something along that lines.
A nice finnock (young sea trout) which hammered a #9 Tilbouries Shrimp.
We were drawn to fish the lower half of the beat in he morning from the left bank. Colin took us down to the parking area and rowed us over in the boat. After about a dozen casts with my chosen line I realised it was too heavy for the slower moving pools. Fishing it effectively proved to be challenging to say the least. Regardless of my line trouble, it was great to be able to say that I have fished the beat now and with the presence of plenty fish in the pools, I always felt there was a chance of something taking my fly. I fished down through all my allocated pools with only a small finnock about 1.5lb  to show for my efforts. Colin did however, manage to land a lovely fresh fish around the 5lb mark and he also lost another which was encouraging.
Looking upstream from below the Elephant Rock???
Looking across to the Morphie hut near to where I hooked my fish.
After lunch I decided to change lines and put on a Rio hover shooting head. This was ideal and I immediately felt much happier that it was fishing just as I wanted it to. In fact, it fished perfectly and almost immediately after lunch I had a good pull from a fish just below the dam from the left bank. It didn't stick unfortunately but it was a real boost that the new tactics were working, especially after struggling so badly during the morning session.
Looking upstream toward the breach in Morphie Dyke.
Looking upstream to the part of the pool where I had a good offer just after lunch. Sadly, it didn't stick.
I carried on down the pool with a renewed confidence and when I was just opposite the hut I had a good take from a fish. I firmly lifted into what felt like a decent salmon. I got the fish onto the reel and began to play the fish. Sadly, no sooner had it taken my fly, it threw the hook and was gone. This was a big disappointment but there were plenty more fish about and I had only fished the top 50 yards of the beat.
Looking upstream towards the Dyke from a bit further down the pool.
Looking downstream in the pool where I hooked my fish.
Looking upstream from the Pots toward the Morphie hut.
Unfortunately, this was to be the last chance I would get during my day at Morphie but there were 3 landed for the day, 2 of which were fresh which was a decent result. Just to fish the beat was good enough for me but it would have been nice if my fish stayed on and I could have got my name in the catch book on such a famous beat.
Looking upstream towards the Pots from the pool below.
Looking downstream in the same pool.
Hopefully I'll have another chance to do so in the future but if not, then at least I can say I've fished the beat. One thing is for sure, it certainly won't be my first and last go on the North Esk. What a lovely river it is and the fishing ain't half bad either!

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Manar - River Don

The last Saturday of the season always signals a good day's fishing at the delightful Manar beat of the River Don followed by the customary BBQ. This year was no different as my good pal, Charlie Robertson and I had one last cast in pursuit of a River Don salmon. It turned out to be a cracking day on the river.
A River Don salmon caught at Manar on Saturday.
An underwater photo of a Kitchen Sink Shrimp in action on the River Don,
We arrived at the beat in the morning around 9.00am and the gauge was reading 5". Not a bad height for the beat at all. The wind was blowing hard though and there were plenty leaves floating down river as a result. My set was a 14ft 9in Guideline AWM matched up with a 10/11 Guideline PT Scandi floating shooting head. Attached to this was a 10ft 3 inch per second Rio versi leader. My initial fly of choice was a #9 Kitchen Sink. A good choice for low light levels and a river full of leaves.
Charlie and I having a break from the wind at the Manar fishing hut,
The Stone Pool.
As I was planning to do a final Blog post of our day I decided to start at the top of the beat and work my way down from there taking photos etc as I went. I didn't actually bother heading all the way up to the Ree Pot, instead I opted to start in the Stone Pool. The Stone Pool is a lovely wee run at the neck followed by a nice, evenly paced middle before dropping down again into the pool below. I started up in the faster water and began to work my way down the pool. As I neared the middle section of the pool I was treated to a nice acrobatic leap from a small coloured grilse just about a rod length from the bank. I shortened my line and tried to cover the fish as best I could but it wasn't for tempting. It was good to see some activity early in the day though. I fished out the remainder of the pool without seeing anything else move so it was off down to the next pool.
Horseshoe Haugh
The next pool down is the Horseshoe Haugh. This is similar in characteristics and size to the Stone Pool and can be equally productive on it's day. The wind wasn't too ferocious at this stage and the pool was easily covered. Again, I started up in the faster water at the neck of the pool and worked my way down covering all the likely lies and holes. Unfortunately, I couldn't temp anything in here either so I left the pool to carry on downstream to fish the Long Pool.
The wee pot in between the Horseshoe Haugh and the Corner Pool.
The Long Pool is one of the larger pools on the beat and can be very good with a bit more water on the gauge. 5 inch was still a good height for the pool and things were immediately looking positive as a nice fish made it's presence known down near the tail. This was quickly followed by another two good fish and I was sure this was a run of salmon moving into the pool. As I fished my way down the pool I heard a splash above me. Itseemed that the fish were in fact running through the pool without stopping. This was unfortunate but it was a good sign as there might be a fish or two stopping for a rest in any of the other pools along the length of the beat. I fished out the pool without an offer and made my way downstream to the Corner Pool.
Looking upstream in the Long Pool.
The Corner Pool is an ideal resting spot for running fish and this is usually a good place to pick one up. The lies are over near the far bank but fish can be caught as they cross the stream to push through the fast water up in the neck of the pool. If there is one there, then generally you get it. It wasn't to be this time though and I fished through the pool with out a touch.
Looking upstream into the Corner Pool.
The neck of the Sheep Pool.
The Corner Pool flows into the Sheep Pool and this is where I was to fish next. The Sheep Pool is probably the most productive pool on the beat and will hold fish up in the neck for a majority of the season. It will also produce fish in all heights of water and is easily covered from the well manicured banks of Manar. Just I began fishing the pool there was good sized fish showed down near the tail. This got my concentration levels up a notch and I really made sure I was fishing the fly as best as I could. I was just about half way down the top part of the pool when I had a pull on the fly. I lifted into a fish and it immediately came to the surface. It showed itself to be a brown trout around the 1.5lb mark. Not what I had in mind, even more so when they are out of season but I quickly got the fish in and removed the hook. The fish swam away strongly to carry on with it's business.
Looking down the length of the Sheep Pool. 
The Sheep Pool is by far the longest pool on the beat but it can pretty much be split into two parts. The tail of the Sheep pool is another very productive bit of water. Again, it fishes well all season long and is another perfect stopping point for a hard running fish to take a breather. This is what makes it so appealing to both anglers and salmon. I started fishing the pool where the banks have been cut and worked my way down covering the boils and glides in between which are dotted around the pool. Sadly, I didn't have any luck in here so it was off down to my favorite pool on the beat; Upper Wood.
The Upper Wood Pool.
Looking upstream from mid way down the Upper Wood.
The Upper Wood is a cracking bit of water. It is not a big pool by any means but it's well worth the effort. The Don drops down through shallow, fast flowing water from the Sheep Pool above and this can be enough of a barrier to slow running fish up as the make their journey up river. There are a few prominent lies down the length of the pool and they are easy to spot to even novice anglers. It was from one of these lies that a 33lb April springer was caught a few years back. I worked my way through the pool covering all these lies and areas where I have had success before but yet again, the salmon remained elusive. Still, I always feel that I'm in with a shout when I fish this pool and it's never a chore fishing it.
Casting into the teeth of the wind on the Lower Wood pool.
Looking downstream in the Lower Wood.
The Lower Wood is next pool down. It's situated on a bend as the river twists it's way through the Don valley. It is slower moving for the most part compared to the Upper Wood but there are plenty of lies in this pool that will produce fish. I changed flies at this point just to vary things a bit so on went a #9 Red Cascade. The wind was by this time blowing hard and casting was proving to be very difficult. Regardless of the trouble I had getting the line out straight, I persevered and fished my way down the pool. Needless to say, I didn't fool anything into taking my offerings so my last chance saloon was in the famous Chapel Pool.
The Chapel Pool.
The Chapel Pool is probably the most popular pool on the beat. It might have something to do with it being one of the best holding pools on the river. It could even be because John Ashley Cooper mentions it in his book. Whatever, the reason, it's always a good idea to fish it through a couple of times just to make the long walk worth while! True to form, as soon as I set foot in the pool a good fish showed about 15 feet down from where I was standing up in the neck of the pool. It was as bright a fish as I have seen on the Don for a good number of weeks and I made sure I covered it from all angles. It didn't take my fly. The wind swirling down the pool at a great rate of knots didn't help my cause and I really felt like giving up. I'm not normally one for letting the conditions get the better of me so after a quick word with myself I decided to change from the lightweight double hooks and put on something from the opposite end of the scale. My thoughts were that something heavy might just to stop the wind from grabbing hold of the fly on my forward cast. I opened up my tube fly box and chose a nice, big Red Frances which was tied on a 19mm brass tube. Casting the heavier tube cut through the wind pretty well and I worked my way down through the pool again from the top.
A fine specimen of a salmon from the Chapel Pool.
I had fished through the likely spots at the neck of the pool without an offer so I continued down into the slower part of the pool which is sometimes known as the Waterings. I made a long cast at 45 degrees and began working the fly as soon as it hit the water. Just as the big, garish fly was coming away from the far bank, it was hammered by what was obviously a hefty fish. It pulled hard and due to a fault with my Hardy Cascapedia reel, it couldn't take any line off ! I fumbled about with the drag and eventually manged to free it. At this point the fish took off down the pool before sharply turning and running back upstream towards me again. I soon had the fish back onto a short line and after a few minutes of sharp, dogged runs I was able to beach the fish. It was a brute! I quickly unhooked the fish in the water and held it in the current to recover. It soon was ready to go back and with a big kick of it's tail, he was off. I estimated the fish to be in the region of 18-20lb but as I had no way of weighing it, I settled on 18lb. Regardless of size, it was a great way to sign off my 2017 River Don season. After releasing the fish I made my way back to the hut quite content with my day's fishing. It was now rime to enjoy the BBQ and a cold beer.

A still photo of my fish taken from my GoPro camera. Pity about the water on the lens!
The BBQ is always a highlight in the angling calendar at Manar but this year it there was only a depleted squad assembled to enjoy the cooking of beat owner, Ian Anderson. Charlie and I were joined by fellow Manar regular, Fred Hay and his wife as well as Charlie's wife, Liz. After a shandy and a burger it was time for me to head home. That was it for the 2017 season for us. It certainly wasn't a season many will be sad to see the back of on Donside that's for sure. I can't complain too much as I have been fortunate enough to land a fish or two for my efforts.

I'd just like to end this Blog post by taking a minute to thank Ian for allowing me to fish his beat. It's always appreciated and I'm very grateful for the opportunity to do so. I'll certainly look forward to returning next season. Roll on 2018!

Thursday, 19 October 2017

10lb Salmon From The River Don

I had a day out on the River Don with my dad yesterday and I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time to land a coloured hen fish around the 10lb mark. It took a 10mm Junction Snaelda which I tied up the night before. It was safely returned with minimum fuss to do her business on the spawning grounds in the coming weeks.
Returning my fish back into the River Don.
10mm Junction Franc N Snaelda tubes which seem to do well this time of year.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Last Cast On The River Dee For 2017

I had my last outing on the River Dee for the 2017 yesterday. I was fortunate enough to be on the Ballogie beat and catches had been steady all week leading up to my day. The gauge on the Potarch Bridge was reading 1ft 3in on arrival in the morning so all the pools were in great nick.
A nice fish to start of my last day on the Dee for 2017.
There had been a bit of a frost early morning and the air temperature was still cold so there was no rush to get started. So after a good chat with Sean and Ian Fraser I finally headed off up the hut which over looks the Top Gannet pool to tackle up at around 9.00am.
The Ballogie fishing hut which over looks the Top Gannets pool.
The river was crystal clear so tactics for the day were more akin to spring fishing so I set up my 14ft 9in Guideline rod and teamed this up with a Guideline PT Scandi floating head and 5 inch per second versi leader. My fly of choice to begin with was the trusty Black Snaelda conehead.

Fishing down the upper part of the Top Gannets.
The lower half of the Top Gannets.
I made my way down to the pool and waded out to the starting position just where a large boulder breaks the surface near the neck of the pool on the Ballogie bank. I stripped off enough line to make a short cast before lengthening to my desired casting distance. I couldn't have made no more than 3 or 4 casts when the line went tight and all hell broke loose with a very lively fish. At first I thought it was much larger than it was due to the sheer power and doggedness of it but it soon showed itself and it was only just a coloured grilse. After a short but very spirited fight I manged to beach the fish which might have been around the 6lb mark. A fine way to start proceedings off.
My first fish of the day. A cock fish around the 6lb mark

I quickly released the fish and made my way back out to into the river to start all over again. I stripped off all the line required to cover the pool and made my cast. Once that cast was fished out I made another. This time, as soon as my fly hit the water it was grabbed by fish. This one felt much heavier than the last and it refused to break the surface to reveal itself. It made short runs, long runs, deep runs but it still wasn't for stopping and I just had to hold on tight and hope it stayed on. To my relief, after a few minutes battling myself and the current, the fish gave in and I managed to get the fish on the bank. It was a beast! A very large and deep set cock fish which I estimated to be around the 18lb mark. It was as deep a fish as I've seen for a long time and I could barely get my hand round the wrist of the tail. I quickly removed the hook from it's upper jaw and released the fish back into the river with minimal fuss. It was now only 9.30am and I had two fish banked. What a start to my day! Despite the presence of several fish in the pool I fished it through without another offer so it was down to the next pool which was the Lower Gannets.
My second fish of the day. An absolute beast of a cock fish around the 18lb mark. 

Lower Gannents was looking good and I started at the neck of the pool just below the fast rush which comes down from the Middle Gannet. The fish tend to lie on the far banks so a long line was required in here to cover the likely lies. This pool was surprising quiet fish wise and I fished the whole pool out and only saw about 3 or 4 fish show. Needless to a say, I didn't get an offer in here so I made my way back up to fish the Middle Gannets.
Fishing down Lower Gannets. The sun had disappeared 
The Middle Gannets is a tricky pool to cover effectively as there are several different speeds of current across the top half of the pool which makes it difficult to control the speed in which the fly come round at. It's still a very nice pool to fish and it keeps the mind aware of just how the fly is fishing. I didn't touch anything in here so I made my way back to the hut to re-think my tactics for the afternoon session.
Fishing my way down Middle Gannets.
I met Sean just as I was heading to lunch and was delighted to hear that there had been a total of five fish caught during the morning. This was pleasing to hear and I couldn't wait to get back on the water for another go. I was allocated the Slips and Flats for my afternoon so I made my way down to the water to start off in the Mid Slip.
Looking upstream from the Slips.
Looking downstream from the Slips.
There had been a salmon taken from the Slips in the morning and it was plain to see that there were a few fish splashing about in it. I kept faith in the same tactics which served me well during the morning but by this time the water had dropped an inch or two. This didn't effect my approach any but the fish were not so active as the were earlier on. I fished down the pool without an offer despite seeing a few fish showing in the likely spots. I just couldn't temp them with my offerings so I wound in and headed down to fish the Flats.
Fishing down the top part of the Ballogie Flats. 
The Flats is a cracking pool to fish and I have done well out of here in the past which was good for the confidence. On my immediate arrival to the pool a big, coloured cock fish made himself known in the neck of the pool. As I felt the fish were not so active as earlier in the day I decided to change tactics so I swapped my floating line for a H/I/S1. I kept the same versi tip and fly but just thought fishing it deeper might have been required. I fished the top half of the pool without an offer but it felt the fly was fishing much slower which was ideal for the faster moving Flats pool. I reached the mid way part of the pool and I had a good offer from a fish. Unfortunately, when I lifted into it, the fish let go. At least I knew the change of set up was working. Despite the renewed confidence in my tactic I fished out the remainder of the pool without another offer. It was not about 4.45pm and I decide to call it a day. My last day on the Dee for 2017 was now over but I was pleased to sign off with a couple of fish from one of my favourite beats on the river.
The deadly Black Snaelda which was doing the business.
I've had a good season on the River Dee this year and it really has been pleasing to see so many fish in the pools up and down the whole length of the river from late spring onward. This can only bode well for future stocks and hopefully the offspring of this generation can come back in healthy numbers and help the River Dee get back up to where is should be in terms of it's annual catch. I'll certainly be back next year to do it all again and will look forward to my first outing of 2018 on 1st February. In the meantime, it's the River Don for me now until it finishes on the 31st October so with a bit of luck and water, there might be one or two more fish to report before my season concludes at the end of the month.

I'd just like to end this post by thanking all the ghillies who I've fished with this season, particularly Sean Stanton as without their help and expertise, my days on the river would not have been so enjoyable. I'll look forward to meeting up with them all again next season. 

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

River Don Grilse

I had a cast out on the River Don yesterday after work and was fortunate enough to bump into this nice, wee grilse. Not the biggest fish by any means but I was delighted to get another Don fish under my belt for this season. The river was sitting at 1ft 5in on the Haughton gauge and was carrying a peat stain which was decent fishing conditions for the beat.
A River Don salmon poses for a quick photo before being safely released to continue her journey.
The salmon fishing on the River Don has been pretty slow in recent seasons but the river is maintaining good river levels at the moment with rain coming almost daily so hopefully this will bring in some fish and get the older ones moving. I'll certainly look forward to seeing what the remaining few weeks of the season bring for the river.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Two More Salmon From The Dee This Week

I have been on a bit of a roll recently and have been fortunate enough to land a few salmon for my time spent on the river. I landed a cracking cock salmon yesterday which was roughly around the 12lb mark and today I landed a hen salmon around 15lb. Both fish were in their spawning colours and were safely returned to the river.

A cracking male salmon in his full spawning outfit taken on a Black Snaelda at Ballogie.
A still from GoPro camera of the fish in mid air shortly before landing it.

A video from my GoPro camera which captured the action of playing the fish pictured above.

Although these fish are heavily coloured, you can only catch what takes your fly. If I could choose, I'd certainly take a nice clean sea licer over an old hen fish any day of the week but these fish are as equally important as the fresh run ones and careful handing is paramount to ensure they are returned to the river with minimal fuss.
Underwater release.
Hopefully these fish will make it to the spawning grounds safely in the next few weeks and do what nature intended them to do. The more salmon that make it onto the redds can only be a good thing and this will ensure the river populations maintain a healthy level.

A big, old hen salmon from the River Dee today. Estimated at 15lb. A Red Frances did the trick this time.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

18lb Salmon From The River Dee

I was out on the River Dee for a cast yesterday and was lucky enough to land a cracking hen salmon around the 18lb mark from underneath the wires in the Village Pool at Carlogie. The fish took a Black and Orange Franc N Snaelda fished off a H/I/S1 shooting head and a 4ips versi leader. The river was sitting around the 3ft mark for most of the day and was heavily peat stained.

A quick photo before release back into the river. 
I don't normally take photos of fish lying on the bank but due to the high water and being on my own it was the only place I could safely land the fish. A quick photo whilst removing the fly and it was back into the water as soon as possible with minimal fuss.

Not the best picture but it gives a better idea of its size.