We got underway on Wednesday and celebrated the new season at our opening ceremony at Banchory Lodge. A huge thank you to the hotel and Banchory Fishings for their support.
Guest of honour was Alexander Armstrong who, after a light-hearted speech, blessed the river with a dram and made the first cast. He and his party then enjoyed a couple of days fishing at Woodend courtesy of Julian and Miranda McHardy. It was great fun to have them with us and I hope to see them back sometime soon. Alexander's good friend Caspar Bowes landed a 6lbr from the Moral on a big Willie Gunn to cap their visit in fine style.
While everyone chatted, and milled around the marquee, we were each waiting for the first news of a fresh fish. There was gossip about kelts and lost fish. Finally, news came through that Park were first off the mark with a 14lbr from the legendary Cellar Pool. The lucky angler was Daniel Stephen, who celebrated his first visit to the Dee with his first ever salmon. Not a bad way to open his account. Daniel receives a bottle of the Dee Dram, courtesy of the Dee Board for the first fish and a box of Franc N Snaeldas, courtesy of Sean Stanton, for the largest on opening day.
We finished with 19 fly caught fish. I am reasonably pleased, particularly as the river rose inexorably from Wednesday onwards. We still need a full complement of rods out to take full advantage of these early springers. You have to be in it to win it and there are fish to be caught!
I had the privilege of seeing Ian Clark land his opening day fish from the Middle Ferroch at Cairnton. It was one of two on opening day for that famous Dee beat. Alec Lyle got the second, a 7lbr from Sandy Bay. Ian landed another fish, this time a 9lbr from the Grey Mare on Friday. With two fly caught springers in the first couple of days of the season, I am sure we can allow Ian to feel a bit smug.
Kevin Fraser, unsurprisingly, got the season off to start at Commonty with a 9lbr. Upper Blackhall also had an opening day fish. Upstream at Ballogie, Mark Paterson's party also enjoyed opening day success with Stephen Dryden's 9lbr from Floating Bank. Birse also reported a fish, a 12lbr which took John Dosset's fly.
June Marshall, also unsurprisingly, had an opening day fish at Borrowston- it turned up on Thursday's latest catches page, but was an opening day fish for certain.
Lower Crathes missed out on one on opening day, but more than made up for it with an 18lbr on Thursday.
Downstream, Invery and Tilquhilie had a strong party of rods. Charles Jeffrey had a fish as did Willie Wood, followed by another on Saturday.
I was especially pleased to hear my pals Craig Fleming and Sean Mcgarry pick up fish at Park. Sean's fish was a splendid 16lbr.
There was a fish landed at Dess on Friday and a couple more were landed at Carlogie on Saturday to round off a reasonable start to our season. I am out of town on business, so there are one or two gaps in the report I can't fill until Tuesday.
The river is sitting at a good fishing height with the water temprature a balmy 37 degrees F/ 3C. The forecast suggests some rain, but perhaps not enough to affect river levels as much was the case this past week. We will have to wait and see. As for tackle and tactics, slow sinking lines or floaters with long tips will be the main choices on the river this week. As for flies, well its February on the Dee- Black and Yellows and Willie Gunns will dominate fly choice, rivalled perhaps by the Dee Monkey.
As ever, listen to your ghillie!
Tight lines. Ross Macdonald
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