Rainfall was not in short supply last week and salmon sport was better than I expected given the wildly fluctuating river levels during the week that saw the gauge at Park peak at over 6 ft on Saturday morning.
FishDee beats have reported 259 salmon and 12 sea trout for the week with perhaps some late additions to follow. A notable feature last week apart from big water levels were big fish captures with every day seeing the largest salmon of the day over 20 lbs. Crathie reported a super 41 salmon and grilse for the week, Park 38, Aboyne Castle 17 with both Monaltrie and Lower Invercauld and Tilbouries reporting 15 salmon and grilse. There are still sea liced silver salmon entering the river as evidenced by the nice picture Keith Cromar, head Ghillie at Park sent me of TV celebrity Paul Whitehouse with a fine 18lb cock fish.
Bjorn Riise from Norway provided some comments about his party’s fishing week: “Just back from the annual Dee autumn trip. This time we fished Waterside and Ferrar and Deecastle, Dinnet. We managed to beach two good sized salmon from Waterside pool. The biggest one estimated to be 17-18 lbs. On Thursday I managed a fat hen around 7 lbs from Red Brae and one of the other rods landed a nice fish from Upper Kirks. On the first part of the Friday the weather was grey, and the river continued to drop. This brought the fish on the take, but they were ‘coming short’ as you Scotsmen say. So in addition to landing two fish (Pol Slachd and Cobbles I believe), we lost 7 (I lost four myself). It rained hard Friday night, and our hopes were very low when we barely could see the gauge below Dinnet Bridge on Saturday morning. But the brilliant new ghillie on Dinnet (Euan Reid) said that we still had some fishable pools, so Sandy Bay, Boat Pool, Pol Ba and Waterside Pool were fished – with great success. We had 1 fish out of Pol Ba, 1 out of Sandy Bay and no less than 8 fish out of the Boat pool on Dinnet. 1 brown trout, two sea trout, 1 skinny little grilse and the rest were fish in the 6- 11 lbs range. And thanks to excellent guiding from the Ghillie, both our 2 new rods, Christoffer Ostvik and Rune Haglund, landed their first sea trout and their first salmon while fly-fishing that afternoon. Sverre Einersen also had a successful visit. In fact all rods caught fish on the Saturday.”
Ghillie Euan Reid also advised that Matthew Brown fishing with Dad Sandy Brown had a 6lbs fish.
Crathie Ghillie Archie Hay supplied some notes about the fantastic sport that was enjoyed at Crathie where they had their best week’s fishing of the season. “We had a fantastic week catching a total of 41 salmon and grilse plus 1 sea trout of 4lbs, largest fish of the week was caught by Dr John Lewis, a fine 26lber on the Wednesday. Top rod of the week went to Mr George Renwick fishing only four days who caught 16 salmon, largest 14lbs using a fast sink tip and an Admiral Nelson 1” tube. Miss Charlotte Stone accounted for 5, her biggest a 24lber fishing a fast sink tip and size 8 Ally’s Shrimp, which also brought up the 300th of the season, Mr Kenny Scott had 5, biggest 19lbs plus the sea trout. Mr Ian Hill caught 4 on Friday, and on Saturday Mr Simon Sharp caught his first salmon of 5lbs. I accounted for 4, largest 19lbs, with other successful rods being Mr Mike Lane 14lb and Mr Alan Lankshear 12lbs.”
Crathie are having a very productive season where they have so far landed 324 salmon which compares very favourably with their 5 year average of 218 salmon.
Keith Cromar, as mentioned earlier advised that the Paul Whitehouse party had 26 salmon and grilse and 4 sea trout for their week. The party led by Paul’s father Harry Whitehouse, are annual visitors to Park, and the group are talented anglers who always do well during their visit to Deeside.
Prospects: This could be a good week’s fishing for anglers on Deeside with weather forecasters suggesting less rain than last week’s rainfall amounts. That said the winds could be challenging for anglers with some days seeing perhaps fresh to strong winds which will make the air feel cool. Air temperature maxima will be around 17 degrees and dropping a bit as the week progresses. The maritime influence sees high tides falling back from 3.7 metres to 3.4 metres on Wednesday and rising to 4.3 metres on Sunday. River levels are on the high side with the Sepa gauges sitting at 1ft 5 inches at Mar Lodge and 3ft 6 inches at Park. The river is full of fish from top to bottom with good catches being made in top, middle and lower beats last week. New fish are still coming forward off the tide in reasonable numbers. As river temperatures are falling more fish will come on the take.
I would strongly advise visiting anglers to heed the wise advice of beat Ghillies who will do their best to put anglers onto taking fish. Ghillies will advise anglers about what lines to use and flies to fish with as well as what parts of their pools fish may take a well presented fly.
If you don’t have the services of a Ghillie to call on for advice then perhaps you will fish with a sink tip line or intermediate line and get the fly down a bit from the surface. As there are big fish being caught daily do not fish with a light leader, a shortish leader of around 4-5 feet 15lbs breaking strain or more would be advisable. Fly choice may include the red or orange Ally’s shrimp, Park Shrimp, Red Frances tube fly with a sunken sunray shadow or monkey fly an option to try. Perseverance is required as salmon may be seen in good numbers but may appear to be reluctant at times to take the fly, a comment I have heard so many times this season.
I would like to remind anglers that the Park Trophy is awarded annually for the largest rod caught salmon that is verified from the River Dee. It was won last year by Jesper Holm Nielsen with a salmon of over 30lbs from Dess. This year the largest verified salmon has been reported by Borrowston Ghillie Bill Palmer for a fish of 36lbs landed by Mr Judson, netted and photographed by Bill Palmer. There have been quite a number of good sized salmon reported most weeks and it may still be possible for a salmon of that size or bigger to be caught before the season finishes so good luck to all anglers.