River Dee report 18th of April

Recent Catches

An excellent weeks fishing last week according to the feedback from Ghillies and anglers alike with reports of excellent runs of fish moving upstream from the lower beats to the middle and upper beats; not that catching fish was easy. FishDee beats reported 225 salmon and 9 sea trout with Deecastle reporting 18, Carlogie reported 17, Lower Crathes 14 with Park reporting 13. There were reports of many fish hooked and lost, with pools seemingly full of fish one hour then quieter until the next pod of fish came through. There were many talented anglers fishing last week with anglers like Peter Lonsdale who fished Carlogie, landing 14 to his own rod for the week. I was really delighted to meet Alan Lankshear last week, who was presented with a super gift by Malcolm Nicol at Ballogie in recognition of his 50th year fishing the River Dee and his 49th season at Ballogie; he caught a Springer during the week which would have made his trip very special.

Phillip Wood commented ‘Good to see you last Monday. My second week this April, this time on Aboyne Castle with Bill Siddall was exciting to say the least. The river continued to drop and the weather was great - a little too much sun at times and the dratted ’downstream wind’ sometimes creating difficult casting conditions. In your report of last Monday you alluded to running fish, this continued, I believe, with even more fish moving through during the week - tailing off somewhat towards the end of the week, but with some runners still forging upstream on last Saturday evening at around 10 pm. I endeavoured to equal my catch of 4 last year but ended up with 3. Bill however, our elder statesman angler showed us younger ones that we don’t know it by half. In his tenth year of spring fishing the Dee he had his best ever catch. He tried to claim 9 but was held back at 8 after Alec Coutts ruled that a small silver fish of about 6 lb was in fact a much silvered Kelt. Even those with exceedingly wide experience of catching salmon can be fooled by the glitter of silver! We found the fish caught towards the end of the week to be well sea-liced - obviously running hard. A sign of drought to come? The found ’monkey fly’ produced another fish before it passed on, and all my efforts in searching the river and its environs for other lost flies failed to produce any results! Alec was amused each time I caught up a twig or branch saying I was fishing for flies and not fish. He even retrieved the odd trapped branch from the rocks and was disappointed when there was nothing lodged in the wood - saying ’there’s no monkey up this tree’! As usual I would acknowledge the help and encouragement given by the ghillies, they are absolutely great. My grateful thanks to the three ’gentlemen’ ghillies that put up with me and my fishing companions over the last two weeks, we certainly enjoy their company, advice - and the ’craic’, usually with a little liquid refreshment.’

Jerk Sönnichsen, president of the Danish Flyfishers Federation called me this morning and reported his group had 10 salmon and he had 6 to his own rod. He noted Monday’s excellent catch of over 50 salmon and was very excited about travelling over from Denmark on Tuesday. He was swiftly into action with 2 salmon on Tuesday when he arrived. He thinks the Dee Spring salmon are the prettiest fish of all. Famous Norwegian salmon angler Gerhard Schive who was fishing at Lower Dess commented ‘4 nice Springers and 4 lost. Thanks for a great week at a great river and I’m looking forward to next year.’ I am grateful to Dinnet estate Ghillie Euan Reid who provided the following report ‘As you will be aware we had a very good week on Dinnet and Deecastle finishing with 30 fish. Many of the fish caught were in the 8-10lb range and in excellent condition with more than half carrying sea lice. Two anglers during the week caught 4 springers for their day-Mr Tinsley on Monday and Mr Gordon Tait on Friday- which is fantastic fishing for any time of the season let alone mid April! We’ll just have to wait and see what low water and bright sun do to the catches, although it would be tough to follow up a week like the last one even with ideal conditions! I am warned by Colin that it’s not always like this!’ Dr Philip Fairchild, fishing with Alan Morrison had 2 fish during his stay at Cairnton which he thoroughly enjoyed; Alan was a little unlucky having a splash into the Rockheads. Alan did redeem himself at Park on Saturday with a nice salmon and a number of other encounters with fresh salmon, sea trout and a Kelt. He also reported a tremendous run of salmon going through the beat during the morning. Congratulations to all who succeeded in landing fish last week, for those who didn’t succeed they have my sympathies as it can be exasperating at times to see many fish that just will not co-operate and take the fly well. This belies the myth that catching spring salmon is childsplay; it’s simply not the case, making success all the sweeter when an angler lands a fresh run fish.

If you have been fortunate enough to land a prized Springer this week then please send me an image of the fish being returned to the River for the FishDee website. You may also want a memento from your trip to Deeside and toast your success. I can recommend the new Dalmore Dee Dram which is on sale at George Strachan’s shop in Aboyne and a number of the hotels in the valley; it is now available in London at Friarwood Fine Wine, 26 New Kings Road, London, and Tel 020 7736 2628. It can be purchased online at http://www.onlinespirits.co.uk/dalmore-dee-dram A significant contribution from each bottle sold will go to the River Dee Trust to help fund obstacle removal and other important salmon conservation work programmes currently underway. A final plea to anglers to return all spring fish and refrain from using the priest-we need all spring fish to be returned as they are our most fragile stock component. Please write to me, Ken Reid, with any news or reports of success to ken@riverdee.org and tight lines to all. Copyright FishDee Ltd April 2011.


I noticed the swallows have arrived last week, and as a harbinger of summer we have a forecast that looks more like summer than spring, with river levels also more like summer than spring. Warm temperatures with little precipitation have stripped snow of the mountains, which saw river levels drop daily during the past week. The river levels are currently running between 8 inches and one foot on the Sepa measuring station gauges. Water temperatures are often above the magical 50 degrees Fahrenheit mark, which signals the switchover from sunken lines and big flies to floating lines and small lightly dressed flies. The weather forecast is very pleasant for anglers with little wind forecast and mostly light cloud cover. Perhaps on Tuesday there may be occasional rain showers, but nothing of any significance indicated. Air temperatures will be around 16 Degrees Celsius inland, but cooler nearer the coast as coastal haar rolls upstream during afternoons. This quite often stops around Peterculter but can travel as far as Aboyne. The maritime influence shows high tides peaking on Tuesday at 4.6 metres before dropping daily to 3.5 metres allowing fresh fish to come forward.

We are coming into the peak weeks for the spring run migration as fish migrate to the middle and upper beats, with the last of the kelts dropping to the estuary now, more sport is hoped for as salmon numbers have built over recent weeks. Reports indicate there is a good head of fish in the river system and hopefully more will follow if river levels hold up. Low water beats like Carlogie could do well this week. Catching fish will not be easy, and perhaps anglers will try an early morning trip to the river, and fish into the dark if afternoon conditions are too bright. Stealth is required, and lighter lines and longer leaders will be utilised to good effect as river levels drop. Please seek the advice of your beat Ghillie who knows the river intimately and discuss the likely taking spots on his beat. This can often be the key to unlocking the code and having success with taking fish. Our talented team of Ghillies do know best. As the river levels are low and clear ensure your fly is lightly dressed. An angler last week advised me how he caught salmon last week on size 16 trout fly and a 5 weight line. A number of anglers also caught fish on a small hitched tubes and 2cm monkey flies close to the surface. You could try to good effect flies that do well during summer on the Dee, like the Crathie fly, Silver Stoats tail, Arndilly fancy, Black and Red Frances flies and in faster water a silver Ally’s shrimp, Park Shrimp or small sunray. The emphasis is on summer tactics rather than spring tactics now with fly sizes in the range of 8-14’s, often the smaller the better.

I was delighted to hear that Mr Neil Rae, the new owner of the excellent Raemoir House Hotel, which is beside Banchory, have fantastic packages for visiting angers with special rates from £50 per night for bed and breakfast. Anglers looking to secure accommodation should call Mr Rae in the first instance on 01330 824884. There are similar offers from the super Tor Na Coille hotel who can be contacted on 01330 822242. These hotels are offering great value and have really high standards of comfort, cuisine and service.

Beat catches reported
(week ending 16th April)
SALMON & GRILSE: Altries and Lower Drum 2, Middle Drum 2, Upper Drum and Lower Durris 4, Tilbouries 2, Park 13, Lower Crathes and W Durris 14, Knappach 8, Crathes 5, Invery 8, Lower Blackhall 9, Little Blackhall and Inchmarlo 3, Middle Blackhall 2, Cairnton 2, Woodend 3, Commonty 4, Sluie 1, Ballogie 9, Kincardine 7, Carlogie 17, Lower Dess 6, Upper Dess 9, Birse 5, Aboyne Water 10, Aboyne Castle 10, Craigendinnie 5, Waterside and Ferrar 11, Dinnet 12, Deecastle 18, Headinch and Cambus O’May 6, Monaltrie and Lower Invercauld 9, Crathie 9.
Total: 225 Largest: Waterside and Ferrar 22lbs
SEA TROUT: Altries and Lower Drum 4, Park 1, Crathes 1, Invery 2, Ballogie 1.
Total: 9 Largest: Ballogie 4lbs

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