FishDee season review – part 2

We entered the summer period for FishDee with hopes that salmon would run the river in bigger numbers than we had during the preceding months of the season; we were not to be disappointed as the runs of salmon improved through the summer months and salmon catches picked up, much to the delight of Ghillies and anglers. It was noted that the Grilse run appeared to come earlier this year and in decent numbers from June into July. It is perhaps fitting that the Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee weekend in June culminated with a spectacular event at Balmoral with the reported capture of a 50 inch long salmon. Mr. Nick James was fishing the pretty 6 mile beat as part of the Woodward Party. Mr. James, an experienced angler, hooked and landed this leviathan after 45 minute struggle and in accordance with the River Dee conservation code returned the fish to the river with the minimum of fuss after measuring the fish at 50 inches from the nose to the point of the tail. This would mean a deduction of a couple of inches would be required at least to enable a rough calculation of the weight of this fish. There were no witnesses to on hand to see the capture of this huge fish however I am in no doubt Mr. James had a real battle landing this great leviathan of a fish following our discussions.

I received correspondence from Edward Humphrey from Dinnet Estate who commented ’Just to report that Charles Hill’s party fished Dinnet and Dee Castle the week before last and had their best catch for 26 years with 31 salmon and 6 sea trout and they even afforded themselves some time off to play golf! There was no lack of effort for the rest of the week but on Saturday evening the party were still two short of the 2010 total. Charles kindly asked me to fish on Saturday night and I caught a small grilse whilst he landed a 10lb fish in Logie but the prize went to Andrew Markland who caught the 27lb cracker in the Glide to round off an excellent week. Sadly no photos are available of the big fish but it rounded off an excellent week for the Hill part with the majority of the fish being shared equally between Charles, Andrew Markland and his brother Robert.’ I spoke with Birse Ghillie Doug Murray this morning to ask about the 30lb salmon reported from his beat on Saturday. Doug commented ’Gordon Smith, a keeper at Seafield Estates from Elgin was the angler who landed the 30lb salmon they reported on Saturday. The fish was caught at the Trees Pool and was measured.’ Birse is a big fish beat’ and I am sure Mr. Smith was delighted with his fine capture. There were regular spates during the month encouraging fish to get on the move and the June catch was well over the 5 year average.

We entered July full of optimism as rod bookings were reasonable and the summer weather was proving to be dull, grey, wet and cool, ideal really for salmon fishermen, but not for sea trout sport. July saw fortunes change dramatically for the better for anglers on Deeside. Jeremy Clayton, the Dess proprietor landed a fine 22 lb salmon and was delighted that his four recent salmon from the beat all exceeded 15lbs. It was heartening to see numbers landed at Park picking up really well as new fish came forward and started to populate the beat in good numbers. I had some correspondence about sport at Park. Philip Black wrote with images advising ’Hi Ken, good to see you yesterday, hope all went well with the filming. I’m just sending a few pictures of fish I caught on Park on Wednesday. I had a great day with Jim Reid and Keith the Ghillie. I ended up getting 6, from 4lb to 13lb, all liced. I’m not back up till end of august. All the best Phil.’ I also had news from the aforementioned Jim Reid, who also had good sport at Park. Jim commented ’Hi Ken, fishing was really good, despite quite high and peaty water. I got three on Monday, two grilse and a 12lber, then two 12lber’s and two 14lber’s on Tuesday. My pal Philip Black got 6 on Tuesday; another two fishers got three each. Most of mine were sea-liced, cracking Dee fish. I was very well looked after by Keith as usual.’ Jim Reid ( a relative of mine) is an excellent angler who is passionate about his sport. As a footnote, I was really delighted to hear that Jim landed a fish estimated to be between 37-42 lbs at Bemersyde on Tweed which was verified and photographed last Wednesday 24th October; the biggest for the beat in 25 years.

The week of the 16th July saw 311 salmon reported with Robert Harper at Lower Crathes advising ’The Fielding party had an excellent week with 25 salmon and grilse to 20lbs. They had an excellent first half of the week with 19 for the first 3 days before the river rose significantly and sport quietened down. Anthea Fielding had an excellent 20lb salmon on Saturday to round of an excellent week.’ Lower Crathes went on to record a total of 90 salmon and grilse in July, their best month of the season. I also chatted with Brian Sim at the lovely Crathes beat who commented ’We had a good week with 23 nice salmon and grilse to 16lbs. Mr. Vincente Gonzalez had a fantastic weeks fishing with 14 fish for the week on small size 14 Cascades fished on a variety of sink tips off a floating line to suit water heights. We have had 3 already this morning which is a super start to the week. ‘Crathes also had their best month of the season in July with 65 salmon and grilse. The following week, Jim Paton at Upper Drum and Lower Durris reported, ‘The beat had 36 salmon and grilse for the week, with some real crackers being landed. Dave Wakefield had a fabulous 24lber and Peter Brown had salmon of 22lbs and 20 lbs. The grilse are in excellent condition this year; nice plump specimens. Results were really first class during the first half of the week with the Lower Durris shrimp fly scoring heavily. The fly was designed by George West and has an olive green coloured hackle and tail with silver body; a really great fly.’ July saw 1156 salmon and grilse reported which was significantly above the 5 year average of 652.

We entered August with hopes that the super runs of salmon in July would continue and we were not to be too disappointed with the final outcome which saw 1042 salmon and grilse reported against a 5 year average of 1132. There were a number of big spates that occurred that will have reduced catches a little but there were thoughts that the big summer/ autumn run was diminishing as went through the month of August into September. Bill Palmer, the beat Ghillie from Borrowston wrote advising ‘Dear Ken, This is the photo of Mr. Chris Coltart. This is the first salmon that he has caught and it weighed 28 lbs. He caught it on an executioner (one of my interpretations) at Mid Hole. He also had another take in the same pool and the fish looked about the same size, unfortunately this one got away.’ River Dee Ghillies were receiving great praise from visiting anglers with Tom Lumley advising ‘Keith Cromar was just fantastic - his enthusiasm and professionalism was just amazing, he is an example to all other Ghillies - he went beyond the call of duty to get me a fish, he noticed I wasn’t enjoying one particular beat, and moved me around to get me a fish, which I did.’ Jonathon Woodcock wrote advising ‘We had a fantastic week guided by the beat Ghillie George Murray who was a real star and between four of us we caught 6 Salmon between 6 and 9 pounds.’

The Feugh tributary was starting to fish well with Alex and Kathleen Brown who manage Heughhead writing to advise ‘Good Morning Ken, just a quick word about a new customer we had fishing on Saturday. Graham Bruce, from Fife, booked through FishPal on Friday afternoon and travelled up on Saturday with his friend John, and after a late start as the river was still quite high after Friday morning’s rain, they managed to catch (and release) a total of 7 salmon between them, ranging from 2 small grilse to a 10lb fish which is the biggest we have had off the beat this season. That took the beat’s total for the week up to 15 salmon and 5 sea trout, obviously helped by large spates on Tuesday and Thursday and that smaller one on Friday/Saturday. This was by far our best week since we started managing the beat.’ The beat was to enjoy some other great sport on the back of falling spates in the following weeks. I received an e-mail from Mr John Walne about a trip to Birse. Mr. Walne commented ‘Thought I would just let you know how very much I enjoyed 3 days on Birse. It`s many years since I last fished the Dee but 25years ago I caught my best ever salmon (25lb Springer) on the Bruach Pool at Dinnet, so for old times’ sake I decided to treat myself to a trip down memory lane. I hadn`t fished Birse before and arrived (12th July) as it was starting to fine off after heavy rain on the 10th. First morning - a very nice 12lb fish from Irrigation Pool; Doug Murray netted it for me, he`s a great character. Second morning a 7lb fish from Trees Pool and third morning a nice sea trout from Red Rock and in the afternoon lost a cracking fish on Belwade Pool. The river was improving steadily and the total bag that week was 26 salmon and about 12 sea trout. Doug Murray was most helpful and friendly, especially on the first day as I was the only rod to score, and he keeps the hut so well stocked and immaculate. By coincidence I booked B&B at Dinnet House so there was much reminiscing about times past - Marcus and Sabrina Humphrey rooted out their old 1987 record book to confirm the date of my prize catch and Marcus even took me down and invited me to wet a line on Bruach Pool - what wonderful hospitality. Having reconnected with your lovely river I hope to return next season - trouble is I`m getting a bit long in the tooth and at 77, three full days solid fishing is becoming more of a challenge so must find someone to share a rod. I`m only a lad compared to Doug at 83!

Keith Cromar reported from Park. ‘There was a good 42 inch long salmon, estimated at 28lbs landed on Park South by Mr. John Kane from Ayrshire. This fish was hooked in Bulwarks and landed down beside the Sheeoch burn some 40 minutes later. Mr. Kane had 10 fish during his 3 day visit from a 2lb Grilse to this cracking 28lb cock salmon. All the fish were taken on a size 13 orange Flamethrower pattern; this popular design was created by Duncan Egan and is a highly successful fly.’ Mads Pedersen provided a report from Culter where there were 23 fresh salmon reported. He advised that Stephen Farquhar enjoyed a red letter day on Friday with 6 salmon landed and 3 lost to his own rod. They only had 2 rods fishing each day that week so the catch of 23 was a good return for the amount of rod effort. Fiona Martin wrote from Glen Tanar advising ’Georg Reutter whose fishing party have been on the beat for the week commented. ’We were staying at Birkelunn this week for some walked up grouse shooting, stalking and of course fishing the lovely Headinch and Cambus O’May beat. With a good amount of rain at the beginning of the week, the river was fishing well for most of the week. We had several first time fishermen and women in our group and it was great that two of them (William Shirley from Norfolk and Benedikt Traun from Austria) were able to land their first ever salmon. By Friday we had caught 4 fish in total with the biggest coming in at 13lb.We caught all our fish on the Ally’s shrimp fly which proved to be very effective for both the larger resident salmon we caught but also a couple of clean grilse that had made the long run up to the upper Dee in quick time. With the week not over yet we are optimistic that we might yet have some good fishing today and Saturday.’

Alec Coutts dropped me a note about sport at Aboyne Castle advising ’Kenneth Carruthers party had a good week on Aboyne Castle with 16 salmon and grilse plus a sea trout. Kenneth caught 6 and the sea trout. Guest Alex Robertson caught his first salmon and finished with 3 for his day on Monday. Also a first fish for Colin Shand with grilse of 3 and 5 lbs, a converted trout fisherman! David Robinson had 3 and John Grandison one. Cascades, Park Shrimps and Sunray Shadows were doing the business for the party. We had our 100th fish for the season on Friday.’ Lower Crathes Head Ghillie Robert Harper advised ’We had a really good last week for the 3 rods fishing with 22 salmon and grilse landed by anglers. Lewis Gray had 10 to his own rod with brother Jim having a couple, James Watt had 3 of 10, 7 and 22lbs. River Dee Board Chairman Ian Scott a fish and visitor Jim Reid had 2 fish.’

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