River Dee Report week 18 from Ken Reid

Photo John Eric Thore

A really challenging week for salmon anglers fishing the River Dee with river levels at such a low level for this time of year.

One Ghillie quoted it as the lowest level he could recall in many a long year for the time of year. Historically good levels of snow in the mountains and corries would melt slowly providing a sufficiency of water to keep the river level toped up through May.

We have had the warmest April for many a long year and this has depleted the snow reservoir significantly.

That said I don't want to sound pessimistic as anglers still produced a very creditable 144 salmon and 15 sea trout for the week.

Low water and bright skies make angling a real challenge and most anglers prefer to fish early mornings and late into the evenings. This is when the 9-5 office hours fishing routine changes to out of office hour's routine.

There appear to be very good numbers of salmon spread throughout then catchment as this following snapshot of catch returns indicates.

Park 18 salmon, Carlogie 12, Cambus O'May 11 as did Monaltrie and Lower Invercauld with beats like Dess, Birse and Aboyne Castle picking away. Sea trout numbers picked up a little as you would expect with 15 reported.

Lower Invercauld reported a 7lb sea tout in their return and if I recall correctly an angler last year around this time of year produced a very good sea trout. It's unusual to hear of big sea trout on the River Dee as compared to other east coast rivers like the River Tweed that can produce sea trout in excess of 10lbs regularly.

Now onto correspondence; many thanks to all the anglers for getting in touch, and providing their anecdotes and feedback.

Both myself, and the readers of the weekly River Dee news are always interested in reading about visiting anglers experiences.

Firstly Ross Macdonald, who is a very talented and innovative fly tier and creator of the Park Shrimp, has tied a new pattern he is calling the Lochy Shrimp. He was able to get up to Waterside as a guest of a gentleman from Edinburgh who couldn't manage, and give this pattern its first freshwater trials and it did the trick in very low water on a bright sunny day. He advised 'Hi Ken, I had a day on Waterside and Ferrar on Thursday.

As ever, I had a wonderful day out in the beautiful surroundings of upper Deeside. Despite the bright conditions, ghillie Dave Goodfellow's optimism kept me focused on the job in hand and I was lucky to catch a fresh run salmon of 9lb, on a Lochy Shrimp in the Kirks Pool.

I had the pleasure of fishing with Ray Cuthcee of Kent, who landed a similar fish from the same lie on a Silver Stoat. I attach a couple of pics of Ray in action. Tight lines and lets pray for rain.' I also received an e-mail from Jesper Holm Neilsen who was presented with the Park Trophy last week for the biggest salmon in 2010 from the River Dee.

Jesper commented 'Hi Ken, Home again after a tough week – who said that fishing for Salmon is easy? I managed to get one more at Lower Blackhall, lost a couple of "good ones" and had some violent takes. All of these on skating fly ("Titanic"). When I left, the river was steadily rising, and I now see from the river levels, that you got plenty of water. Let's hope this will inspire a lot more Salmons to rise. '

I received an e-mail from Simon Brown this morning who commented 'Morning Ken, I have attached a photo of Toby Owen who was top rod on Carlogie last week catching 8 fish which was quite a challenge in the very low conditions. A 10 foot rod and 7 weight line accounted for most of his success.

There were a lot of fish in the beat but many were coloured and showing some signs of disease due to the conditions. No doubt this spate will improve things. We were also delighted to have the evergreen Alan Lankshear in our party still putting in a full shift and catching fish at80.Regards Simon Brown.' Mark Linley-Adams also wrote to me last week and he advised 'Ken, Dr Brian Richardson and Dr Mark Linley-Adams had the pleasure of fishing Waterside and Ferrar 25-29/4 April. Brian, on his 50th birthday (28/4) was broken by a 20lb+ fish (dropper) after it towed him to the bottom of the pool and back for a good five minutes. Biggest salmon he'd ever hooked, he is sure. He recovered by getting an 8lb fish later in the morning.

There were fish seen in Waterside, a large number holding there, and some monsters- no fish at all moving elsewhere hardly at all – I had 15lb Waterside,14lb Upper Kirk – fish muscled like a Tuna,12lb Waterside completed a trio in a week that looked pretty depressing at Monday lunchtime. Brian had 2 x 8lbers. Waterside, itself a banker in such conditions. All caught tiny black doubles-S Stoat, Green Highlander etc, often on a dropper.' Thanks to Mark and Simon for writing with their news.

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 this link 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. 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 May 2011.

Photo John Eric Thore

Anglers should bring tackle to cope with a variety of conditions; the river may be high at the beginning of the week and low by the end of the week.

Listen closely and follow the guidance of your beat Ghillie. Our Ghillies will know the best tactics to adopt and where to fish on your chosen beat to give you the best opportunity for success. Our Ghillies will know the best lies to cover and how to present your fly effectively so please heed their advice. If you don't have the services of a ghillie to call on you may find it useful to fish with a floating line, with or without a short intermediate sink tip. Small flies or micro tubes with cone heads should give you opportunities, but perseverance is the key to success as fish will be running from pool to pool.

Patterns to choose could be the Park Shrimp, Allys Shrimp, Posh Tosh, Crathie fly, Silver Stoats tail, Calvin's Shrimp, Bertie Dastard and the Icelandic Frances flies. There will also be scope to use Sunray shadow flies and monkey flies, but not too long winged. There may be some big fish caught this week so please ensure you have a camera with you and a tape measure too.

Anglers are requested to report any suspicious activity on the river bank to the River Office hotline on 013398 80411 where there is 24 hour cover from our Bailiff patrols. I was delighted to hear that Mr Neil Rae, the new owner of the excellent Raemoir House Hotel, Scottish Country house Hotel of the year award winner 2011, which is beside Banchory, have fantastic packages for visiting angers with special rates from £50 per night for bed and breakfast for groups of 3 or more staying for 3 nights or more. 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. The Loch Kinord Hotel at Dinnet also has angler's special packages and proprietor Andrew Cox advised 'We do have special nightly offers for fishermen, and 7 night stays from £250pp B&B. Also self catering lodges behind the hotel with a lodge sleeping 4 from £75pp for 7 nights! (£300pw) with the benefit of the hotel bar & restaurant on your doorstep serving excellent meals.' These hotels are offering great value and have really high standards of comfort, cuisine and service. Copyright FishDee Ltd May 2011.

Beat catches reported

(week ending 7th May)

SALMON & GRILSE: Upper Drum and Lower Durris 1, Tilbouries 1, Park 18, Lower Crathes and W Durris 4, Knappach 1, Invery 4, Lower Blackhall 2, Little Blackhall and Inchmarlo 2, Middle Blackhall 2, Cairnton 2, Woodend 3, Lower Woodend 1, Commonty 1, Ballogie 2, Borrowston 2, Kincardine 8, Carlogie 12, Lower Dess 5, Upper Dess 7, Birse 8, Aboyne Water 1, Aboyne Castle 6, Craigendinnie 7, Waterside and Ferrar 7, Dinnet 6, Deecastle 4, Headinch and Cambus O'May 11, Monaltrie and Lower Invercauld 11, Abergeldie 2, Crathie 3.
Total: 144 Largest: Park & Kincardine 18lbs

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