River Dee Report week 19 from Ken Reid

River Dee Photo Thomas Thore

Recent Catches
The River Dee saw a lot of anglers fishing the length of the catchment looking for the elusive salmon with catches reported from Park to Crathie. If you were in the right place at the right time there were fish to be caught. The numbers of fish running this river so far do appear to be well down on last year's excellent spring catch with season to date catch of 1286 quite a bit down on the 5 year average spring catch of 2028. That said FishDee beats reported 143 salmon to 21 lbs and 8 sea trout. Carlogie had an excellent total with anglers catching 21 salmon, Aboyne Water and Birse reported 10 apiece with Ballogie and Cairnton just one behind on 9 apiece. Conditions at times have been difficult for anglers and this week was no exception. The weather has been quite cold and the river levels have fluctuated a bit with quite peaty water coming down the valley which really does seem to put fish off the take. Anglers though are a resilient bunch and the people I met on the river last week seemed to be having a very enjoyable time in the valley, enjoying good Scottish hospitality.
Sean Stanton the Ballogie Estates Head Ghillie commented on his blog 'A disappointing end to the week after the river came up on Friday night and lots of peat entered the river and I knew we would struggle, however it was still a great week with Carlogie claiming top spot on the river with 21 salmon, Ballogie finished with 9 and Commonty 6 which compared to last season was half of the catch on the same week last year.' I visited Sean on Saturday afternoon whilst visiting Swedish angler Lars Terkildsen at Commonty and Sean's anglers were frustrated at Ballogie with a good number of salmon hooked and lost; one unfortunate angler lost 5 in a row. Tony Wheeler caught a 19 lb salmon at Carlogie which was his biggest to date. Victor Gubbins dropped me a humorous e-mail with a picture for FishDee advising ' Well known international fisherman Anthony Roberts landed a nice 13 lb Springer from Woodend (last week) assisted by his ghillie Victor Gubbins.' They plan to fish the Woodend beats until they fall of their perches !

I spoke to Jim Cowper at Aboyne Water this morning who advised Bill Currie and party were delighted to land 10 salmon for their week. Many readers will know Bill as a writer of numerous excellent books on fishing. He wrote a super book called 'Days and nights of salmon fishing' with a great chapter about Aboyne Water. Bill doesn't fish much these days but still has an excellent knowledge which he is passing onto his son Mark. Tristan Sillars had 4, Andrew Dennis 4 and Mark Currie had 2 for their week. I had a visit from Arni Baldursson at home on Wednesday evening who was enjoying his Deeside adventures at Birse, where we shared a dram and discussed the sport he had been enjoying. His guests had a marvellous time with Doug Murray; the Birse beat Ghillie, who at 82 years young is still entertaining guests with his stories, jokes and music. Arni sent me an image of the group having a dance outside the fishing hut whilst Doug played tunes on his mouth organ and they looked like they were having a great time. I met Kiddi & Kristinn Gunnarsson at Birse on Saturday who were most enthusiastic about their experiences on Birse and success with salmon.
I spoke to Cairnton Ghillie Brian Brogan who reported that they were unlucky not to get into double figures for the week but pleased nonetheless. It was their best week of the season and was helped in no small way with retired Cairnton Ghillie Davie Cowie landing 2 salmon on Thursday when fishing as a guest; a size 10 Munro Killer did the trick for Davie, who must have been delighted. Most of the Cairnton fish were caught on size 8-10 Cascades and Silver Ally's. I also had a phone call during the week from the Cairnton beat's neighbour Davie Gibbon, Middle Blackhall Ghillie, informing me that visiting Norwegian angler Raymond Haaland had his first ever salmon. The fish weighed approximately 17lbs and was in pristine condition. The Middle Blackhall beat is blessed with having fabulous pools to fish with a great experienced Ghillie in Davie who is extremely knowledgeable, as well as being a qualified casting instructor. The feedback I receive from visitors to the beat is so positive about the enjoyment they get whilst being there, so please try and visit the beat as they do have availability over the next few weeks. 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.

Upper part of Garden Pool

River Dee Photo Thomas Thore

Beat catches reported
SALMON & GRILSE: Park 4, Lower Crathes and W Durris 4, Crathes 3, Invery 1, Lower Blackhall 3, Little Blackhall and Inchmarlo 4, Middle Blackhall 5, Cairnton 9, Woodend 2, Lower Woodend 2, Commonty 6, Ballogie 9, Borrowston 4, Kincardine 5, Carlogie 21, Dess 4, Birse 8, Aboyne Water 10, Aboyne Castle 1, Craigendinnie 4, Dinnet 6, Deecastle 3, Headinch and Cambus O'May 5, Monaltrie and Lower Invercauld 7, Birkhall 4, Abergeldie 3, Balmoral 2, Crathie 6, Total 145
SEA TROUT: Park 1, Little Blackhall and Inchmarlo 1, Middle Blackhall 1, Cairnton 2, Sluie 1, Headinch and Cambus O'May 1, Birkhall 1, Total 8


Macro picture of Vom Hofe Flyreel

Vom Hofe Fly Reel Photo Thomas Thore


The prevailing cool weather conditions look set to continue with the met office suggesting grass frosts at the end of May. They suggest this week will see air temperature maxima peak around 12 degrees Celsius today and get a little cooler during the week. They are not predicting frosts but we could see temperatures drop to 2 degrees Celsius. Winds will be light and variable. There has been a rise in river levels during the night and the Sepa gauges are showing 1ft 4 inches and falling at Mar Lodge, 1 ft 10 inches at Ballater and rising and 1ft 6 inches at Park and steady. Dess Ghillie Eoin Smith advised me that the rise is probably caused by snowmelt as the water is not carrying too much colour. The maritime influence shows tides building through the week from 3.5 metres to 3.9 metres which may bring new fish forward. We may be a bit early for Grilse but we hope that they start to run the river in the next few weeks to augment numbers of salmon in the river.

Anita Cecilie Strindberg choosing flies for tomorrow's fishing

River Dee Photo Thomas Thore

As always please heed the advice of your beat Ghillie who can make suggestions about where to fish on your chosen beat and what flies and tactics to utilise. Time and time again I hear from anglers who let me know how helpful their Ghillie has been in putting them onto taking fish. Their knowledge is second to none and they can at times make a difference in helping you achieve success on their beat. If you don't have the services of a Ghillie to call on then you will probably want to fish with a full floating line or perhaps with a 5 foot sink tip just to take the fly a few inches below the surface. Your fly choice might include a Black or Red Frances, Snaelda, Ally's shrimp, Cascade or Maggie's Shrimp. The Monkey or Sunray can also be used at times to good effect. Perseverance is the key though as you won't catch a fish unless you have a fly in the water.
If you find you have the wrong flies with you for your fishing trip or run out, then pay a visit to some of our super retailers; George Strachan's store in Aboyne have increased their selection of fishing equipment and River Dee flies tied by the Ballogie Estates Head Ghillie Sean Stanton, at very attractive prices too. They now stock a good range of fishing accessories, including waders, fishing rods and reels, fly lines and leader material. They also provide great sandwiches for visiting angler's luncheon, and of course the highly popular Dalmore Dee Dram which raises funds for the River Dee Trust. The Orvis store in Banchory also has a vast selection of flies to choose from and equipment to hire. The Countrywear shop in Ballater is a favourite destination for visiting anglers, where Norman Clements is always delighted to meet visiting anglers. They have a good selection of fishing equipment available and provide good service and value. I would like to add Kincardine O'Neil Post Office supplies nice sandwiches and a great selection of River Dee flies too. Please ensure all 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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