We had another steady week on the River, with 37 springers landed. There were a couple of highlights this week. That prolific catcher of fish, Ronnie Fraser, hit a hat-trick at Woodend on Saturday. The best of which was a 12lbr. In my book three fly caught February springers in one day is a special achievement.
Lower Crathes and West Durris produced six for their efforts. Highlanders, Andy Sutherland and Ian Cormack shared a special day on Tuesday. They each had a 20lbr. There were rumours strong drink was taken in celebration, but I don't believe it myself.
Crathes Castle usually benefits from high water and so it was with five landed following the rise in levels. Craig Corbett was on the score card again with two. Mr Owens had one the other two came to a Sunray- I don't have the gentleman's name.
Invery & Tilquhillie had a slower week, with Just two fish to report. The first was an 8lbr from the Old Kiln, caught by Iain MacDonald from London. The second was a 5lb fish from Pantoch caught by local angler David McLeod.
Lower Blackhall and Kinneskie also had two. One of these fell to Eddie Allan, who had not wet a line in 18 months following knee surgery. Great to hear he is back in action.
The next beat up, Little Blackhall & Inchmarlo also landed two fish. The second of these fell to Colin Shand, who landed his first springer in the Roe Pot on one of ghillie Martin Robson's beautifully tied flies- this one was a large single. The use of single hooks has a growing fan base on Deeside. I know a number of very good rods who swear by them.
Cairnton & Middle Blackhall continued the trend of two fish. It was great to have Tony Black Tony Black, from Murthly on the Tay back on the Dee. Tony landed his first Cairnton fish in the Old Garden on Tuesday. Regular rod Charles Stuyck landed a good fish from Sandy Bay on Friday.
Commonty has been ticking over nicely, with only a light effort. It is a good high water beat and Suicide is now pleasant to fish, espeically when the water is up. The removal of the croys and, somewhat perversely, Storm Frank, have combined to improve the top part of the beat.
Borrowston, was also lightly fished and the four fresh fish reported represents a fair return on effort. Ballogie produced a couple and Kincardine and Birse had one apiece, again these beats were lightly fished.
During the spring months seals sometimes follow runs of fresh fish into the lower river. This is a common annual occurrence in most rivers throughout Scotland and has been going on for as long as there have been seals and salmon.
For the record, the Dee Board does more than many other rivers to manage around this problem in the absence of a more permanent solution. There are seal scarers embedded in the river at Leggart and staff spend around ninety man hours a week conducting canoe patrols, from Banchory to Aberdeen, with a mobile scarer on board, plus foot patrols. (I am due a stint at this but have managed to evade the draft so far!) There were patrols before the season began and some of the ghillies association members organised their own patrols throughout January. These efforts are not 100% effective and the odd one gets through but if we hear about it, we can generally get them out of the river in an hour or so.
The week has started with milder weather. Air temperatures were as high as 15c in Aboyne on Monday. It will be no surprise that the water temperature has climbed to 7c/45f. The river is rising this afternoon, no doubt cause by snow melt and we should have good water levels for the remainder of the week. Air temperatures will drop towards the end of the week. The wind is strong and gusty today making casting trickier than usual. It looks as though it will swing about all week. Remember to wear a hat and glasses- you never know when the wind will catch the fly.
Floaters and a variety tips and slow sinking or intermediate shooting heads are the main lines in use. As for flies, the old favourites feature prominently. The gold Willie Gunn and Tosh are favourite as is the Dee Monkey. Tie them in a range of sizes and weights.
As ever, listen to your ghillie!
Tight lines. Ross Macdonald
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