The 2012 salmon fishing season commenced with the traditional opening ceremony held this year at the Potarch Bridge.
The opening ceremony was very well attended with around 250 people gathered on the river bank to watch TV personality Paul Whitehouse perform the ceremonial cast and entertain the audience with his witty humour.
Mr Whitehouse advised the audience that he is a regular visitor to Deeside and caught his first ever salmon at Commonty and his first ever salmon on the fly at Carlogie.
River Dee Board and Trust chairman Ian Scott announced to the assembled audience that agreement had been received in principle from the Scottish Government for a permanent extension to the fishing season.
This will see the river close for fishing on October 15 for beats downstream from Aboyne Bridge, with beats above Aboyne Bridge closing on September 30 as per the River Dee conservation code 2012.
The first day of the fishing season saw the river at a low level with water temperature around 1 degree Celsius. There were 30 salmon reported on opening day from FishDee beats with catches from Middle Drum to Dinnet.
Invery beat had a red letter day with eight salmon recorded which delighted FishPal’s Iain Wood who had the tenancy for the first days of the season.
Iain Wood, Jock Monteith, Charles Jeffrey with two, all had opening day success, Tina Cummings had her first ever salmon at Invery, and Dave Gordon had a trio of salmon in the afternoon, which rounded off a tremendous days sport for the Invery beat.
The first fish of the season was landed at 9.45 am by delighted angler Graeme Scott with a nice 12lb fish at Commonty.
I presented Graeme with a box of flies kindly donated by Ross Macdonald for the first fish of the season.
Ghillie Ian Fraser has worked hard to get the beat in first class order for opening day and was thrilled to have two fresh salmon landed on opening day.
The heaviest fish on opening day presented me with a little dilemma as there were two fish caught that measured 36 inches and only one prize up for grabs. I was really delighted when Ballogie Estates head Ghillie Sean Stanton donated two lovely boxes of flies to me to make presentations.
River Dee chairman presented visiting angler Charles Jeffrey with his award at the Tor Na Coille hotel.
I presented the other box of flies to Malcolm Thorne. Regular talented River Dee fisherman Jim Reid had asked me to tease Charles Jeffrey on the eve of the season that he wouldn’t catch a fish, he was naturally delighted when Charles duly went out and recorded an opening day double.
There were other successes over the first few days of the season with Greig Thomson fishing at Lower Crathes making up for losing a fish at the net with another fresh fish a little later.
Visiting Murthly Ghillie Tony Black had opening day success at Little Blackhall as did Mark Paterson with a fine 14 lb salmon at Ballogie. Thomas Thore from Sweden had a fish from Altries on Thursday.
Weather conditions deteriorated due to the to the mercury falling significantly overnight to minus 9 degrees on Thursday and by Friday morning the river from top to bottom was full of grue and really unfishable.
This really didn’t help the eager fishermen who had booked fishing who sat patiently waiting to see if conditions would improve to allow some fishing to take place.
I was really pleased to hear this morning that Swedish visiting angler and River Dee Trust supporter Lars Terkildsen had amazingly managed to find a little pocket of water to fish at Kincardine on Saturday and winkled out 2 fresh salmon. He advised that only 1 cast in 10 would allow the fly to fish briefly.
He is to be commended for his patience, guile and determination. So we had two days that were reasonable with 45 salmon reported to me and two days effectively lost.
Top beat was Invery with 10, Park had 7 and Lower Blackhall had 6 fish. There are some reports of very small salmon being landed which Ghillies have commented as being quite unusual.
To finish this week I would advise that Banchory beat Ghillie Walter Raitt was taken to hospital on the eve of the fishing season and all on Deeside will wish him a speedy recovery.
There is a super fundraising auction taking place for the River Dee Trust which hopefully will see much needed funds raised for the River.
Details of the auction can be found at www.riverdee.org so please look in and have a look at the wonderful auction lots up for grabs.
As always please let me know how you get on by dropping me an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with any anecdotes and pictures about your experiences on the river.
For week ending Sunday, February 5:
SALMON & GRILSE: Altries and Lower Drum 1, Ballogie 1, Birse 2, Borrowston 2, Carlogie 1, Commonty 2, Cairnton 3, Dinnet 1, Invery 10, Kincardine 2, Little Blackhall and Inchmarlo 2, Lower Crathes and W Durris 2, Lower Blackhall 6, Middle Blackhall 2, Middle Drum 1, Park 7, Total 45
The first full week of the season will commence on Monday with the river levels running between 6 inches and 1 ft 1 inch.
The water is very cold and anglers will have to be patient and stick at it.
The weather forecast sees air temperature maxima during the coming week around 6 degrees with night time frosts a regular occurrence.
It will not be as cold as the last few days but it will feel cold with wind chill, especially on Wednesday. There will be occasional patchy rain and snow showers during the week. The maritime influence sees tides rising during the week from 3.8 metres to 4.3 metres. As the river is extremely cold I wouldn’t imagine that many new fish will venture forward from the warmer sanctuary of the sea.
The web camera at Potarch Bridge is still showing a little grue coming downstream so there is a chance over the next few days that anglers will encounter a bit of grue first thing.
When the river temperatures rise we shall hopefully see more salmon coming on the take as they are a bit dour unless a fly is presented right in front of them.
Anglers who don’t have the services of a Ghillie to call on should present 1.5 inch tube flies deep and slow, with popular patterns like the Gold Willie Gunn, Park Shrimp, Monkey fly, Eternal Optimist and Ice maiden patterns worth a cast.
There are excellent angling opportunities for anglers looking for some fishing with FishDee beats offering rod lets for as little as £40 per day.
This is very good value for anglers looking for an early season salmon. The River Dee conservation code states all fish must be returned carefully, including kelts.
I noticed sadly some anglers lifting fish out of the water by their tails and suspending them above the water as they tried to extract hooks. This is not the way fish should be handled and the FishDee website explains clearly how to practice catch and release.
I would urge anglers to read these guidance notes and spare fish unnecessary suffering.
As always anglers should discuss tactics with their Ghillies and heed their wise advice.
They really can make the difference to anglers trying for early season success. They have many years experience and are a resource visitors can ill afford to utilize. FishDee would like to welcome new Cairnton Ghillie Brian Brogan to the River Dee.
He has a tough act to follow with renowned Cairnton Ghillie David Cowie retiring at the end of last season. Brian was the recipient of this years Redford Trophy for the largest salmon caught on opening day on the River Tay, so we hope his good fortune continues at Cairnton, and we wish Brian and the proprietors of Cairnton every success for the future.