River Dee Report – April 16th

Recent Catches

It was a difficult week for many anglers, especially in the lower beats as fish were not hanging about in their quest to run upriver. FishDee beats reported 103 salmon and 7 sea trout for the week with Lower Crathes reporting 9, Craigendinnie, Crathes and Monaltrie 8 for the week. There were however a number of big fish encountered last week which saw a 22lb salmon caught on Monday, Tuesday 22lbs, Thursday 25lbs, Friday 20lbs and Saturday 20lbs. Given the recent rise in river levels anglers and Ghillies alike will have expected more fish landed given the angling effort on the river, alas the runs of fish this year appear to be well down on the same period last year which was an excellent spring period. We do have a lot of rainfall forecast for the week and hopefully we will see a decent run of new fish coming into the river.

George Murray at Craigendinnie was happy with the 8 fish landed on his beat which incidentally is a lovely 2 rod beat. Visiting angler Richard Ashby had a good week with 6 to his own rod including a 25lb salmon and a 22lb salmon, all taken on a size 8 cascade. They also had a sea liced 18 lb salmon from Simmons. Euan Reid at Dinnet reported that the Dinnet/Deecastle beats had a dozen for the week with a number of small fish being encountered between 5-8lbs. They started the week brightly with 4 fish on Monday, 2 on Tuesday 2 on Wednesday; however as the river levels dropped catches slowed with 1 on Friday and 3 on Saturday. Gordon Tait picked up some fish on a small Sunray type fly. There were a mixture of fresh bright fish and river fish (ones that have been in for a few weeks). Robert Harper from Lower Crathes reported a tough week for anglers at Lower Crathes. Although they landed 9 salmon, a mixture of fresh and river fish, the anglers really put in the hours to get their rewards, where they bulk of the catch was made towards the end of the week. I spoke with some of the anglers on Saturday night led by party leader Espen Sandstø, who were fishing Lower Crathes, Crathes, Birse, Sluie and Woodend beats during the week, and they were really delighted to catch 10 fish on Saturday. They reported seeing fish running hard just as dusk descended on Deeside.

I met up with visiting angler and well known television angler Paul Young on Monday evening for a chat, who was fishing with a crack team of anglers at Invery led by the talented Jim Fisher. Paul was delighted to catch a fish on Monday morning just after he started fishing however the rods reported that there appeared to be very few fish about. I was delighted to receive an invitation for a day’s fishing by Jeremy Clayton the new Dess beat proprietor. I was really delighted to land a really nice fish from the Mill Poll on Friday morning which was expertly netted by Mrs Jenny Clayton. I would like to thank Mr and Mrs Clayton for their very kind hospitality and really tremendous lunch in the superb upper beat fishing hut. Pontus Gunlycke from Sweden reported a Springer and sea trout from Middle Blackhall, which is a very pretty beat to fish with a hugely experienced Ghillie David Gibbon, and a selection of lovely fly fishing water.

Regular Dee angler Phillip Wood sent me an e-mail commenting ‘Good to catch up with you at the Office last Thursday. No doubt you will have already alluded to the weather conditions experienced on Deeside last week in your report, and certainly Bill Siddall and I had just about everything, other than a heat wave and drought, thrown at us at Aboyne Castle - the crowning glory being the snowfall before breakfast yesterday (Sunday) before our departure South. Certainly my anticipation for a cracking week following the rise in levels and the higher tides from the Easter weekend was brought back down to earth with a bump! After an early pull on Monday morning in Jocky, and then no further contact until losing a fish on Tuesday, again in Jocky, it was becoming increasingly obvious that despite seeing movement in most of the pools it wasn’t going to be that easy. How our fishing companions on Craigendinnie were achieving success whilst we failed is yet another of the salmon fishing mysteries. In spite of the often extremely gusty wind we kept at it and both landed a fish on Thursday in Tanarmouth. On Friday I managed a further landing from Symons, an extremely feisty little hen fish who couldn’t wait to get about her business when released, talk about ’off like a rocket’, even Alec Coutts was amazed at her vigour. Saturday saw me have brief contact with another fish in Plantation, about the time of the Grand National, in yet another snow shower. To cap it all, as I gave it best with the light was fading that evening I found that an air frost had come about - with my line icing up, felt soles on my boots frozen and waders stiffening rapidly as I exited the river! At least we didn’t blank, which it would appear some on the lower river did. It seems that pods of fish were moving up river rapidly making the most of what Alec said were ideal river levels for the Aboyne Castle beat. Yet another week where the upper third of the river, above Aboyne Bridge, produced the best tally. As ever it’s always great to be on Deeside, meeting up with friends, old and new, having sport and the ’craic’! As always please let me know how you get on by dropping me an e-mail to ken@riverdee.org with any anecdotes and pictures about your experiences on the river. Ken Reid © FishDee Ltd.

Beat catches reported

(week ending 14th April)
SALMON & GRILSE: Tilbouries 1, Upper Drum and Lower Durris 1, Lower Crathes and W Durris 9, Crathes 8, Invery 3, Lower Blackhall 5, Little Blackhall and Inchmarlo 3, Middle Blackhall 1, Cairnton 4, Woodend 1, Commonty 2, Sluie 1, Ballogie 4, Kincardine 3, Carlogie 5, Dess 3, Birse 4, Aboyne Water 3, Aboyne Castle 5, Craigendinnie 6, Waterside and Ferrar 3, Dinnet 6, Deecastle 6, Headinch and Cambus O’May 1, Monaltrie and Lower Invercauld 8, Crathie 7.

Total: 103 Largest: Craigendinnie 25lbs
SEA TROUT: Tilbouries 2, Upper Drum and Lower Durris 1, Lower Crathes and W Durris 2, Invery 1, Middle Blackhall 1.
Total: 7 Largest: Lower Crathes and W Durris 4lbs
TROUT: None reported


With the river currently running at quite a low spring level, with the Sepa gauges reading 5 to 11 inches at their monitoring stations we are really needing a good lift of water. The weather forecasters at the Met Office are suggesting that we shall get a decent amount of rainfall in the catchment this week. There is heavy overnight rain forecast tonight with heavy and persistent rain showers forecast during the middle of the week. The air temperature maxima will be 8 degrees Celsius with overnight lows just above freezing. There will be strong winds at times during the week with the wind direction changing from a westerly direction to a north easterly direction making it feel cold with the wind chill factored in. Fishing will be difficult at times and anglers will have to be very patient and put the hours in to get their rewards. That said a visitor from Norway has just phoned to say he has landed 2 salmon this morning in the upper river. He fished last week on a lower beat with guests and the highlight of his week was a fish on the Monday and seeing his Ghillie now nicknamed Daffy, with a bunch of daffodils for his wife. Now mentioning Daffodils has reminded me that Dee Ghillies in the past used to plant Daffodil bulbs at the side of their pools which would grow adjacent to good taking lies.

Anglers will be well advised to discuss tactics with their Ghillie throughout their stay on the river as conditions could be tricky to predict given the weather forecast. The River Dee can rise very swiftly if we have a good fall of rain in the catchment so anglers need to take care when wading. The Ghillies will advise what tactics to employ when fly fishing the pools so heed their counsel. Water temperatures will only be around 5 degrees Celsius so anglers will need to think about getting their fly down a bit. Eoin Smith, the Dess Ghillie who is hugely experienced mentioned that when the leaf of the birch is the size of a mouse’s ear then you can expect salmon to come up for a fly. I have also heard that when Sandpipers populate the riverside you can fish a smaller fly higher in the water. All fishing lore of course but the Ghillies have their views and they are usually very good sources of advice. If you don’t have a Ghillie to call on then you could fish with fly patterns such as Dee Sheep, Dee Fox, Calvin’s or Park Shrimp, Monkey and perhaps a Sunray fished square if you see a run of fish entering your pool. The best advice though from the Ghillie is that if your fly is not in the water you will not catch a fish.
If you find you have the wrong flies with you for your fishing trip then pay a visit to some of our super retailers; George Strachan’s store in Aboyne or the Kincardine O’Neil Post office have a great selection of Dee flies tied by the enterprising Ballogie estates Ghillie Sean Stanton, at very attractive prices. These venues also provide great sandwiches for visiting angler’s luncheon etc and of course the highly popular Dalmore Dee Dram which helps raise funds for the River Dee Trust. The Orvis store in Banchory also has a great selection of flies to choose from and equipment to hire. Please ensure visiting anglers sign the Gyrodactylus salaris declaration forms. These are vitally important to the river, ensuring all visitors are vigilant in ensuring we take necessary precautions and don’t see this devastating parasite wiping out our stocks of salmon. If you are not offered one to sign then I would urge you to please ask for one to be provided to you prior to commencing fishing. Ken Reid © FishDee Ltd.

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