River Dee Report – February 25th

Recent Catches

Sport for the many experienced salmon anglers who populated the River bank last week was slow and tough going, with very few fish coming forward into the river, perhaps due to very cold river temperatures. FishDee beats have so far reported 28 salmon for the week compared to 65 for the same week last year. Park and Crathes reported 4 apiece; Middle Drum, Lower Crathes and Little Blackhall reported 3 each, with the biggest reported at 18lbs from Middle Drum. Fishing in February is always very unpredictable as salmon will choose to run the river when they choose to and all anglers can do is turn up and hope they run through their beat whilst they are fishing. Looking back to 2010 FishDee beats reported 169 salmon for the month and the season finished with over 9,300, which was the best for over 30 years. So it’s very early in the season and we have to accept nature dictates the levels of sport on the River bank and we have to persevere and enjoy our day out and make the most of it. I’m sure the banter in the huts at lunchtime is as lively as ever as anglers share a dram and the craic with our experienced crack team of Ghillies.

I met a number of anglers during the week and some Ghillies when I endeavoured to try and catch a February Springer to no avail. Keith Webster and Jamie Hammond had a few days at Lower Crathes where they found sport a bit slow. Keith was really pleased to catch a fresh fish of approximately 10 pounds. Alas Jamie didn’t manage on this occasion, but can console himself that during the corresponding week last year he caught a 22lb Springer and a 24 lb Springer; better luck next time Jamie. I was also delighted to receive an e-mail from Geoff Fisher who readers may recall had opening week success at Lower Crathes. Well Geoff did the business again on Saturday and dropped me an email and images of the salmon. Geoff commented’ Good morning. Please find attached a couple of photos of a cock fish taken, and safely returned, from the Mill Pool at Lower Crathes about 3.30 on Saturday afternoon. I’ve included 2 photos as the ‘better’ photo doesn’t show the depth of the fish. If there was ever any doubt as to why we spend hours on end up to our waists in freezing cold water at this time of year - these sorts of fish are the reason - it truly was just 16lb of pure adrenalin busting Springer. The fish, taken on a 1.5" Black & Yellow tube, was a welcome reward after 2 days of hard work in very cold conditions indeed. I don’t think I can recall such a combination of cold water & stubbornly low air temperatures, for such a long time. Either that or its just age setting in! As always I’d like to say a big thank you to Robert Harper, Chas Booth &, on this occasion, Chas’s brother Bob Booth. Bob, who was helping out on Saturday, was on hand to net my fish and assist with the photos.’ The images show a really super fish and well done Geoff for showing that talent and perseverance provides success when opportunity comes along.

I also was pleased to bump into Gavin Ramsay who enjoyed success at Commonty. As always it’s a pleasure catching up with Gavin who caught his fish on a small dressed double! Sean McGarry was also back on a flying visit to Park and managed his 4th of the season from Park; he of course was tremendously pleased with his success. Well done Sean and hopefully you can suggest Lotto numbers for me this week. And talking about Sean’s-the Ballogie Estates head Ghillie Sean Stanton commented on his blog ‘It’s not the best of weeks, with only 3 fish caught on the Ballogie beats, just 1 off each beat! The river temperature is the biggest problem, at only 34 degrees Fahrenheit the fish are not moving up through the river at any speed, and as the water keeps dropping the fish are more likely to stay in the lower beats when they come in from the sea. We need a change in weather to stand a chance of drawing fish out from the sea, looking at the forecast we will see a slight rise in daytime temperatures which could result in some snow melt. With a full moon nearly here we should see some high spring tides and this may bring fresh fish into the river. I hope!’

On Friday the upper beats will be seeing anglers arriving in good numbers to fish and it will be interesting to see what numbers of fish are in the upper beats. Good water levels did bring in a run of winter fish and they may help boost the week’s totals. I would like to make all anglers & Ghillies aware that there is one important change to the River Dee conservation code in 2013, which sees the introduction of tighter Biosecurity protocols which calls on all anglers fishing the river to have their wading boots and landing nets sprayed with a mild disinfectant on arrival at their beat. Disinfection equipment has been supplied to all fishing beats and this process, which was trialled last year on beats, will cause a very minimal disruption to anglers. Angler feedback forms from FishDee include a question asking if disinfection was carried out on the beat. Anglers should be aware the River Dee Trust has launched a spring raffle where tickets are on sale in fishing huts, Orvis in Banchory and the Tor Na Coille Hotel, with very nice prizes to be won. Please write with any news of catches or anecdotes to ken@riverdee.org so I can share this news in the weekly report and FishDee blog. Copyright FishDee


The weather forecast is suggesting high pressure is going to continue to remain established over the country with a continuation of calm and dry conditions. There will be little precipitation of note and the week shall be mostly bright and sunny until towards the weekend when there will be an increase in cloud cover. Air temperature maxima may reach 8 or 9 degrees Celsius on Saturday and there will be overnight frosts. If temperatures do get high enough at altitude there may well be some needed snow melt. The maritime influence sees tides building from 4 metres to 4.4 metres through Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before starting to drop back on Sunday. The Sepa gauges are reading 1ft 1 inch at Woodend and 1 ft 5 inches at Park so river levels are low and the water is cold. Any new fish that come forward will not travel far upriver in such cold water conditions and anglers may get some sport in the lower beats to Banchory.

Having spent a number of days trying in vain to catch a Springer it’s very important to listen to your Ghillies advice. Your beat Ghillie will encourage you to persevere in the likely taking lies given the water height on your beat and they will give good advice on presentation speed, fly choice and what depth to fish the fly. More often than not the Ghillie can make the difference and give you the advice you really need to catch the elusive silver fresh run salmon we all try so hard to catch.

As always there is a great amount of fishing availability on the FishDee website during March. The weather looks ideal for angling this week so if anglers can manage a visit to the river then please do so. A 3 day break at this time of year can yield some rewards with some of the local hotels doing special Fishermans rates for 3 days stays or more. There is good value to be found at the Tor Na Coille Hotel, Banchory Lodge, Raemoir House Hotel, Burnett Arms, British Legion and Douglas Hotel, all located in Banchory, where you will find rates of between £60 to £80 per night for B and B for single occupancy in a double room. Anglers have been commenting really favourably at how well they are being looked after by Ghillies on the river and also the local bars, restaurants and hotels. It is also pleasing to hear how supportive anglers are about the tighter Biosecurity protocols put in place this year. All anglers are being asked to have their waders and any landing nets sprayed with a mild disinfectant prior to commencing fishing. It’s a quick procedure that will help the river and prevent ingress of unwanted pathogens and non native species entering the watercourse. Anglers should be aware the River Dee Trust has launched a spring raffle where tickets are on sale in fishing huts, Orvis in Banchory and the Tor Na Coille Hotel, with very nice prizes to be won. Please write with any news of catches or anecdotes to ken@riverdee.org so I can share this news in the weekly report and FishDee blog. Copyright FishDee

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