A jewel of a week on the Dee!

Andrew Williamson with a lovely fish at Carlogie-image courtesy of Sean Stanton.
Andrew Williamson with a lovely fish at Carlogie-image courtesy of Sean Stanton.

With the whole country enjoying the Queens Diamond Jubilee celebrations even the salmon on the Dee seemed to rise to the occasion.

The River Dee fished tremendously well with the beats around Ballater reporting excellent catches and ensured anglers had much joy and cause to celebrate.

To provide a context here, the best week of the season had seen 150 salmon reported and Jubilee week has seen FishDee beats report 290 salmon and 66 sea trout.

Ian Murray’s beats at Ballater had a splendid catch of 66 salmon and 6 sea trout which will have delighted all the anglers fishing there. I met Ian on Saturday morning prior to fishing one of his beats and was delighted to hear of all the success anglers were enjoying.

The Dinnet/Deecastle beats reported 31 salmon, Headinch and Cambus O’May reported 22 salmon and 9 sea trout, Crathie reported 21 with Carlogie and Park also producing 15 salmon. There was a good run of new fish last week which moved quickly through the catchment.

There were some really big fish reported with Deecastle reporting a 27 lb salmon and Borrowstone a 24lb salmon.

I phoned around a number of the ghillies and received a lot of good news.

Archie Hay at Crathie advised: “It was the best week of the seasonn with a lot of big fish being caught. One day saw salmon of 20lbs, 18lbs, 17lbs and 13lbs being landed with a good amount being bars of silver, indicating the freshness of the fish. Mr Bramley had six for his week and his son had four for their visit. The Crathie fly really does well in the clear waters of the beat and sizes 12 and 14 were favoured by the salmon. There was a frost over the weekend which has seen the water temperature drop to 8 degrees Celsius and we could do with a bit more water which hopefully will come this week with rainfall forecast. I’m really delighted with the weeks sport.”

Fergus Cummings from Headinch & Cambus O’May commented: “The Mark Beattie party who are long-standing tenants, had their best week since 1989. We were catching well above what we were seeing in the pools. Small flies, sizes 10 and 12 were doing well with a Dee Sheep type fly scoring well as did the Munro Killer and Stoats Tail. Floating lines and sink tip combinations were both doing well.”

Alex Brown dropped me an e-mail about fish being caught on the pretty Heughhead beat on the Feugh, the Dee’s biggest tributary which enters the river at Banchory.

“One of our regular customers, John Windsor, from Hayes in Middlesex, became our first successful angler of the season with a 2lb Sea Trout on Tuesday and a 4.25lb Grilse, quite appropriate for Jubilee weekend don’t you think! Both fish were landed at ‘Rothwell’s Run ‘ a pool named after one of our volunteers, Ken Rothwell, who was fishing convenor for Shell - the previous beat owners - and took a size twelve teal blue and silver double.”

There are reports of grilse now arriving and sea trout numbers are building so hopefully anglers will pay a visit to the Heughhead beat to try their luck. The Feugh is a small spate river in comparison to the Dee but can be very productive at times, with night time fly-fishing popular I’m told. Fishing can be obtained on the Heughhead beat for £30 plus vat per rod day-excellent value.

Sean Stanton, the Ballogie Beats Head Ghillie reported: “We had a mixture of sea liced fish and the odd river fish. The McGowan party at Carlogie had their best trip to the beat with 15 salmon. Andy Williamson had 6 salmon and four sea trout including a lovely 3.5 lb sea trout, his personal best. The trick was finding the right depth to fish the fly and we did well with small stoats tail micro tubes, using a combination of floating lines and sink tips to find the right depth. With the spring run behind us we are now looking forward to the start of the summer fishing, so now it’s full floating lines, long leaders and small doubles. But if you fish with me you’ll need heavy sinkers as well! Because I believe if they won’t come up for the fly, you have to go down to the fish; so what if you lose a few flies, it’s worth it!”

Beat catches reported SALMON & GRILSE: Culter 1, Tilbouries 1, Park 15, Lower Crathes and W Durris 10, Crathes 3, Invery 1, Lower Blackhall 2, Little Blackhall and Inchmarlo 5, Middle Blackhall 3, Cairnton 6, Woodend 2, Lower Woodend 1, Commonty 2, Sluie 1, Ballogie 11, Borrowston 9, Kincardine 9, Carlogie 15, Dess 12, Birse 12, Aboyne Water 14, Aboyne Castle 6, Craigendinnie 14, Waterside and Ferrar 9, Dinnet 13, Deecastle 18, Headinch and Cambus O’May 22, Monaltrie and Lower Invercauld 36, Birkhall 3, Abergeldie 7, Balmoral 5, Crathie 21, Heughhead 1. Total: 290 Largest: Deecastle 27lbs SEA TROUT: Middle Drum 1, Tilbouries 1, Crathes 1, Invery 1, Little Blackhall and Inchmarlo 2, Middle Blackhall 1, Woodend 1, Sluie 2, Ballogie 4, Kincardine 6, Carlogie 4, Dess 1, Birse 2, Aboyne Water 3, Aboyne Castle 1, Craigendinnie 4, Waterside and Ferrar 4, Dinnet 1, Deecastle 5, Headinch and Cambus O’May 9, Monaltrie and Lower Invercauld 6, Abergeldie 2, Balmoral 1, Crathie 2, Heughhead 1. Total: 66 Largest: Kincardine 4lbs

Prospects

The Met Office forecast for Aboyne this week advises ‘Cool with bright or sunny intervals and scattered showers’ The air temperature maxima will perhaps reach 14 degrees Celsius and it will feel warm in the sun but cold when you’re out of the sun ! It may be increasingly windy later in the week; suggested rainfall will perhaps get heavier as the week progresses. Hopefully there will be enough precipitation to keep river levels topped up nicely. There have been recent night time frosts in the upper valley. This suggests to me that most angling effort will be employed during the hours of daylight. As daylight hours are really stretching now as we approach midsummer anglers have the opportunity to fish mornings, afternoons, and evenings. The maritime influence indicates current high tides this week of 4.4 metres will drop back from Friday. There will hopefully be a continuation of good runs of salmon with grilse now arriving with increasing numbers of sea trout.

It is important to seek the wise counsel from your beat ghillie as to when the best sport may be expected. Your Ghillie can advise on where the fish are located on the beat you are fishing and advise on the tactics you should employ when fishing your beat. Your ghillie can make recommendations about what flies to use and please show them your fly box and discuss the best ones to try. If you don’t have a Ghillie to call on for advice then perhaps you will fish with a full floating line or sink tip and a size 10-12 fly on a long leader. The patterns to try may include silver stoats tail, Cascade, Crathie fly and black Frances. You may find fish located in the faster streams now where fish like to lie in the well oxygenated flows. At nightfall fish can be on the move and pool tails can fish well as running fish come into a pool.