Well it’s Sunday 30th April and I am being picked up by Ian at 11.30 am, he will probably be late, for a drive up to Pitlochry for three days salmon fishing on the River Tummel. We will be staying at the Birchwood Hotel in Pitlochry, along with our other two party members Phil and Geoff for 3 nights bed and breakfast and will travel home on Wednesday evening the 3rd May. We book the beat for a week and the second half of the week, Thur/Sat, will be fished by Dave, John, Jim and his mate, from Crieff, just down the road. We have arranged to meet up at the hotel in time to go into Pitlochry for our annual Indian Curry washed down with a few IPA’s. Breakfast is served from 7.30 am and will give us time to get to the beat in time for a 9.00 am start.
The access to the beat is over an unmanned railway level crossing and this year permission has to be obtained to cross the track. A telephone at the barrier lets you contact the relevant authority who tell you when it is safe to cross. The barrier is self operated and when you have crossed you have to close the barrier and phone to tell the authority that you have crossed safely. Health and Safety !!.
We had three days fishing booked on the River Tay at Kercock from Tuesday 18th April to Thursday the 20th April. Seven rods had been booked of the eight available on the beat and we all drove up on the Monday and met at the A9 Travelodge just outside Perth. A meal had been booked for 7.30 pm at the Glover Arms next door to the Lodge and we met in the bar for a pre-meal drink. The group consisted of friends from around the country who had fished together on many occasions. Geoff who lives down south and had booked the fishing, Dave a Yorkshire man and Chris who had joined our ranks a couple of seasons ago, Phil now residing on the Isle of Skye, Jim from Worsley near Manchester. Ian from Wilmslow and ME from Altrincham had traveled up together in my Land Rover Freelander and made up the seven. Amazing the range of occupations that meet on the river bank and our group are no exception with a retired GP, two retired industrial chemists, two retired quantity surveyors, one ladies hair stylist and a refrigeration engineer.
Tuesday morning we arranged to meet at a cafe off the A9 at Bankfoot on the way to the beat and would be our breakfast stop for the next three days. We arrived at the Kercock beat at around 8.45 am and where met by the two gillies, Garry and Finley, who introduced themselves and made tea and coffee while sorting out the beat rotation. I set up my Guideline LXi 10/11 four piece rod and fitted a Danielsson H5D 9thirteen reel with a Rio AFS floating line with a 3.5ips 10ft sink tip and 10ft of 15.4 lb Seaguar tippet. Over the morning session I tried a selection of flies from Gold Body Willie Gunns to Sunray Shadow’s to small flies like Cascades with no luck and only two fish spotted. We all met back at the hut for lunch and all of us had the same story to tell with no salmon landed or touched. The afternoon was much the same and tried a lighter set up of 14ft Vision GT4 Catapult 9/10 with a Lamson Guru reel fitted with a Rio AFS floating line with a 9ft tapered leader and 13.6 lb Seaguar tippet, again with small flies down to size 16 double. Meeting back at the hotel for dinner it was the same story from everyone with not even a pull from a salmon.
This is where I have to think about what to say about the Wednesday and Thursday sessions with only one take on the Thursdays, for Jim, which lasted all of 10 seconds. The catch for the whole river was not good with 16 on Tuesday, 14 on Wednesday and 14 on Thursday. Ian had purchased a 16 ft Bruce and Walker 9/10 Norway Speycaster for a song and wanted to try it out with various lines and we decided that due to the slow fishing this was as good a time as any. A Carron 65 ft head 10/11 was deemed to suite the rod best as the 9/10 seemed not to load the rod fully but that could be our casting ability. I always seem to do better with a line size up from the recommended. We also had some fun with Ian’s Bruce and Walker 18 ft 10/11 and used a full 75 ft head and lots of running line. I videoed Ian and was able to show him a few pointers as to improving his technique, and mine.
The Thursday afternoon session was coming to a close and most of the guys had decided to travel back that evening. Ian and I stayed that evening and traveled back on the Friday morning, leaving the hotel at 6.30 am and arrived back in time for Ian’s first appointment at 12.00 noon.
Highlights of the trip was watching an Osprey circling and then closing its wings and diving into the river. This was a first for me. The other highlight was watching a display of acrobatics over the river, by a pilot in a bi plane, that lasted for half an hour.
The next trip is to the Tummel for three days, travelling up on Sunday 30th April and fishing Mon/Wed. The fishing is on Lower Tummel, which is a 4 rod beat, and I will be fishing with Phil, Geoff and Ian with Dave, Jim and friend and Chris taking the second half of the week. Lets hope for a better outcome.
This will be the last days fishing for the group and the A Team where to fish the Birse beat.
We all met in the dinning room for breakfast of fruit juice, toast and a main of eggs, bacon, sausage, tomato, mushroom and beans all washed down with strong coffee. After a few discussions on tactics we all changed into waders and boots and headed off for the chosen beat.
We arrived at Birse and Graham, the gillie, made us a cup of coffee and we decided who was fishing on what part of the beat. Claes and I had the lower halve and I fished three pools before lunch finishing on the Big Jetty. Claes fished Lower Island and Tree’s and like me had no success. The weather was glorious with bright sunshine and a temperature of 21 deg c unfortunately not very conducive with the catching of Salmon.
We retired to the Boat Inn across the river at Aboyne for a lunch of the pubs fare. I managed a Pulled Pork sandwich with chilli sauce, side salad and crisps as I am trying to develop a six pack and lose this one pack.
The afternoon session panned out much like the morning and that elusive Springer had managed to evade me this week. We returned to the Mill of Dess lodge and as the others returned news came that Jean Charles, our Swiss angler had managed a Springer. The salmon was caught on the Dess beat stripping a 5″ Sunray Shadow very fast across the flow of the river. Jean Charles told us that he had lost a fish in the morning stripping the same fly. We celebrated his catch with a wee dram and then went into the dinning room for our last dinner together. Coffee and a few drinks, or was it more, where taken in the lounge and tails where told of the weeks events. Not sure what time we all went to bed.
Breakfast was at 7.30 am and afterwards farewells where said as the guys left for the airport and I looked forward to a 6 hour drive back home to Altrincham. Mattias and Jonas where then driving over to the River Spey for some more salmon fishing. Some people are gluttons for punishment. You can keep up with their adventures and more of this trip by visiting Mattias on his blog at http://fiskebloggen.com/ . When the site comes up press the Blog link at the top of the page and then scroll down till you see the language selector and choose English or Right Click and press Translate. Its a very professional site and well worth a look.
Salmon for the week. Claes 2, Anders 1, Nichlas 1, Robin 1 and Jean Charles 1 = Total 6. I am posting a few more pictures and Mattias has lots more on his site.
Thanks to all the guys for a great trip.
Magnus, Niklas, Stellan, Thrond, Nichlas, Jean-Charles, Anders, Goran, Claes, Mattias, Jonas and Robin, yours truly Alan.
Group photo over dinner.
Drinks and coffee in the lounge after dinner.
The mill on the Dess beat, River Dee.
Claes deadly salmon fly tied on a size 6 single hook that caught two Springer’s. The picture was take by Mattias so he could tie a copy ready for the next day.
Nichlas with a Springer from Jetty on the Birse beat.
Throng’s box of Sunray Shadows given to Mattias.
Well that’s all for this trip and I will hopefully post again on the 17th May at the start of my trip to the River Tay at Kercock with friends from the UK.
The A Team where to fish Crathes Castle today, Friday, and where expecting great things after the previous visit on Tuesday. All the guys had a hearty breakfast and discussed tactics for the day ahead. We had a 20 minute drive to the the beat so left just before 8.30 am and met Brian, the gillie, and took a quick coffee before starting to fish. Anders and Goran fished the top of the beat and Claes and I fished the bottom half. The river level had fallen to just under a foot and was having an effect on the salmon. None of us had any interest from the fish in the morning session and retired to the pub in Banchory for lunch about 13.30. We met up with Mattias who was fishing Park at the invitation of the owner as he had won the Park Trophy for the best recorded salmon of the season, a fish of 23 lb that was caught on our visit to the Dee last year. The salmon was caught at Birse and weighed in at 23 lb. Mattias with Park owner William Foster receiving a nice bottle of Whiskey and the Park Trophy for 2016.
After lunch we returned to Crathes Castle to resume fishing, this afternoon on the upper section of the beat but our luck was not with us and none of us had contact with a fish. We returned to the lodge and I had hot bath to sooth a few aches and pains of a weeks hard fishing. I met Claes in the lounge as he had purchased a bottle of single malt to celebrate his 2 salmon caught earlier in the week. This is a bit of a tradition in salmon fishing circles and as the rest of the guys returned they where offered a shot from the bottle of fine single malt. News came that Nicholas had caught a Springer from the Jetty pool on Birse beat.
Just before lunch we had a visitor, William Peake the gillie on the Aboyne Castle beat. I had met William in person in 2016 in Norway. He and his twin brother Alistair and girlfriend and a friend of theirs , Stewart where fishing the river Laerdal and joined our group for a few days fishing at the end of the trip. Our group consisted of myself, Mattias, Anders, Claes, Fredrik and Stewart. William was telling us all about his latest fishing trip with his brother to Chile which I had kept up with on his Blog. We all moved to the dinning room for Dinner and later a few drinks in the lounge. We all drifted off to bed by 23.15 pm to recharge the batteries for our last day of our Dee trip.
After a hearty breakfast the A Team saddled up and made its way to the Dess beat with Anders and Goran driving to the top of the beat and Claes and I meeting the gillie, Eoin, (Ian) at the Mill. Claes decided to fish the bottom of the beat and I started at the middle hut pool.
Around 12.45 am I went back to the Mill to pick up Claes and on arriving I could see him way down at the bottom of the beat and made out that something was going on. Claes started to make his way back and on meeting he informed me, with a huge smile on his face, that he had landed his second Springer of the trip. He showed me the photograph and told me the length of the fish was 35 inches long and when compared to the Dee length to weight chart was a very nice 17 lb in weight. We drove to the Boat Inn at Aboyne for lunch and met Anders, Goran and one of the other groups who where fishing at Birse. After congratulations from the other anglers Mattias informed us that Robin, Jonas’s son, had landed a Springer from the Crathes Castle beat.
A nice 17 lb Springer from Dess.
We returned to the beat but although the weather conditions had improved and the wind had become more tolerable the fishing became a bit of a slog and no more Springer’s where reported from the other teams. A large Kelt was caught on Crathes Castle measuring 105 cm. but this does not could in the quest for the illusive Springer.
Robins Springer caught on Crathes Castle beat.
We all met up back at the Lodge and after a celebratory whiskey for Claes and Robin we went to the dinning room for a meal of Cod with a pesto sauce and a risotto with Prawns and vegetables and washed down with a nice wine. We retired to the lounge for coffee and this was fortified with a nice single malt whiskey. Time for bed I think and just enough time to finish the blog.
The A Team will be fishing Crathes Castle tomorrow and I anticipate a late finish.
After the highs of the two Springer’s caught on day two the group left the lodge after breakfast with renewed excitement.
As most salmon anglers know the fish we seek has a mind, how can I put it, a bit different to ours.
The A team where on the Birse beat and arrived at 9.00 am to be met by the gillie, Graham, who had taken over the beat after the floods of a year ago. He was learning all about the river from scratch as the Dee has changed dramatically since the massive floods of the winter of over a year ago.
The weather was pleasant but wind was still very strong and would be a problem all day. Claes and I fished the top half of the beat and I began a Lummels pool and mid way through the morning had another kelt of about 4 lb and that was all for the morning.
We met up at the Boat Inn in Aboyne and had a nice lunch and I had a pint of bitter to wash it down. The group fishing at Dess had also came to the pub for lunch and we exchanged news about the fishing and no one had made contact with a Springer. News came through that Mattias had made contact with a fish at Crathes Castle but it had not stayed on the hook. It looked like it was to be one of those days.
We returned to Birse for the afternoon session and I fished through the bottom section of the beat and made contact with a fish on the lower Island pool which stayed on for about 6 seconds. That was it for the day and I met up with Claes who said that Anders and Goran had decided to return to the lodge as well. As the rest of the group returned no one had report of a Springer. The whole of the river had reported only three Springer’s so we where not alone in our frustration.
We all retired to bed early to recharge the batteries for the next day, Thursday, when we would all return to our starting day beat. The A Team would be back at Dess.
The weather report was for a fine day with blustery winds ( Gale Force ) and the A Team had been allotted the Crathes Castle beat and on arrival we where met by Brian the beat gillie. After the storms of last year a lot of damaged had been done up and down the river and Crathes had not been spared and a new lodge had been built after the previous one had been damaged beyond repair. A new concrete foundation had been put down and a very nice lodge had been bolted down on top in the hope that it would survive any further floods. Fingers crossed. After a coffee and catch up with Brian we decided Claes and I would fish the top of the beat and Anders and Goran the lower halve.
I had set up my Vision Catapult 14ft 9/10# with an AFS line and a intermediate 10ft tip. I started at the very top of the beat, where I had caught a Springer two years ago, with a sense of high expectation of catching another fresh salmon. The morning seemed to fly by and after battling a very strong wind I was ready for lunch. We met back at the cabin and decided to drive into Banchory to a local hostelry for a pint and some food. Goran had managed to catch a large kelt and Anders had managed two smaller ones but no Springer’s to report. We had all seen fresh fish in the pools so the afternoon session should prove more successful ( Salmon anglers always live in hope of the elusive fresh Spring fish).
The afternoon was much like the morning with very strong winds and this had decided me to rig my Guideline LXi 15ft 10/11 rod to give a bit more power to combat the wind. I fitted my Danielsson H5D 11fourteen reel with a Triple D F/I/S2 Scandi line and used a tapered leader to connect with a variety of flies. I was fishing the very bottom beat and mid afternoon connected with a fish which turned out to be a kelt of about 8lb . As the day wore on the chance of catching a Springer was becoming more remote. We had met up back at the fishing lodge and Claes decided to try the pool above the lodge and the rest of us where chatting with Brian the gillie. About 18.45 pm Anders noticed a bend in Claes rod so we hot footed it, with Brian carrying a landing net, to be of assistance. After a strong battle Brian scooped his net under the first Springer to be caught by the whole group. After measuring the fish Claes returned the fish and it swan away after a short recover period. The fish turned out to be 14 lb and I managed to get a few snap shots of the fish and the bend in Claes rod.
After a lot of hand shaking back at the lodge and a dram each from Brian, Claes and I returned to the accommodation leaving Anders and Goran to fish on. On their return at about 20.30 Anders informed us that he had also taken a Springer of about 6 lb from within a few yards of the first.
It turned out that only 3 fish had been caught on the whole river and we had had two. A few drinks where had with the evening meal and boosted our resolve for the next days fishing,