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,
After a 6 hour drive from home I arrived at the lodge at Dess at 15.50 pm and met Mattias and Jonas the trip organizers and quickly unloaded my gear and set myself up in my very well appointed bedroom. Dinner was arranged for 21.00 pm so as to allow for the later arrivals. After the meal we all got to know each other over a few drinks and I was able to meet my friends, Anders, Goran and Claes, from our previous trips together. Most retired to bed by 23.30 pm after finding out who was fishing in each team and which beat they where fishing on the Monday morning.
Breakfast was served at 7.30 am and by 8,30 am we where on our way to the beats. The A Team, Me, Anders, Goran and Claes, had been given the Dess beat which we fish Monday and Thursday. The weather was very warm for this time of year but as the day progressed a very strong wind blew up making casting a bit of an ordeal at times. Although the weather was nice the fishing was very uneventful and all I had was two pulls all day. Anders managed one Kelt and that was it for our team and the other two teams fared no better. After a long soak in the bath I went in the dinning room for our first evening meal together and over a couple of glasses of wine discussed the days events.
I drove up to the River Ribble at Mitton on Friday 24th March to meet up with Jim Fearn for my Spey Casting Lesson. The lesson was booked for 2 hours from 11.00 am so I left home in Altrincham at 9.30 am and arrived at the Aspinall Arms on the banks of the River Ribble at 10.40 am. I put on my waders and boots and a lightweight fleece as it was a really nice day and the temperature was around +15c. Jim arrived and I told him that I wanted to use a full size Spey line on my new 14ft 9″ GUIDELINE LXi 10/11# 4 piece double handed salmon rod. We took 4 rods down to the river and Jim’s Vision reel case with a selection of reels and lines. Along with my 14ft 9″ I also took a 13ft 9″ Guideline LXi Tpack 6 piece 9/10# and Jim took the Vision Tool 15ft 10/11# and the new 14ft 9/10# with the cork handle.
We set up both the of 10/11# rods with Rio Intouch Long Head Spey lines so as to make a comparison between the two makes, https://www.rioproducts.com/products/lines/intouch-long-head-spey , the 10/11# is a 70ft head weighing 840 grains. We started the lesson with some warm up casts to shake off the cobwebs of the winter hibernation with Jim giving his usual guidance as to improving my technique. We went through the various sections of the cast to iron out problems that seem to arrive after a season on the rivers and after about half a hour things started to improve and I could work out what was wrong after a poor cast. I then lengthened the amount of running line to the cast to improve the distance and finished the afternoon shooting a line of approx. 120 ft. This was made up of 15 ft of leader, with a piece of sheep’s wool on the end, the 70 ft head and 35 ft of running line.
We alternated between the two rods and both performed very well with little to choose between them other than the retail price. I was pleased as the LXi had been purchased, new, for just less than half price from a raffle winner who only fished for trout. Jim took a few videos on my mobile phone to show me where I was going wrong and then later on the better casts I was achieving.
Thanks to Jim Fearn for a great lesson and I’m now more confident for the coming salmon season. Roll on the 2nd April and my trip to the Aberdeenshire Dee.
I have had a couple of fly tying sessions to stock up on flies I think will be needed on the Dee trip and the trips to the Tay at Kircock later in April and the Tummel the first week of May. The Tay is a new trip for our group and I am looking forward to fishing a new water for me. The Tummel has been a regular trip for a number of years now and the last two years we have had good fishing and last year my best fresh salmon to date, a fish of 17 pound in weight.
As its the first trip of the season I have decided to brush up on my Spey casting with my double handed salmon rods. So I rang my mate Jim Fearn, a renowned casting instructor, and booked a two hour lesson with him on the River Ribble at Mitton on Friday 24th March. I have done this for the last three years and it really makes a difference to my casting and irons out any bad habits that have crept in over the previous season.
Contacted my Swedish friend, Anders, via Whatsapp today and will have a Skype contact with him on Friday or Saturday to finalise plans for our meet up at the Lodge in Deeside in 13 days time.
This is my first salmon fishing trip of the season to fish the river Dee in Aberdeenshire. The trip is becoming a annual event and started in 2014 when I answered a email message sent by Mattias Helde who organizes fishing trips through his company in Sweden. He had two spare places for a week fishing the Dee and had circulated the email to people who had an interest in the Dee. I answered the request and after a few emails the trip was booked. That year we met at Ballogie House, http://www.ballogie-estate.co.uk/stay/ballogie-house on a self catering basis and I met up with 12 Swedish salmon fishermen who all spoke English.I need to mention a few names here of people who have become very good friends and who I have fished with since. First are Mattias and Jonas who organise the trips, Hakan who was my first fishing and cooking partner ( more on the cooking later ), Anders, Goran and Claes who I have become best of friends and others who I still have contact with. The group was split into teams of four anglers and each angler had a partner for the week who, between them, had to cook one evening meal and a breakfast the next morning. The meals range from good to gourmet standard and would not have gone amiss in a high class restaurant. The following year we again stayed at Ballogie House and last year at the, then new, Potarch Lodge at Potarch bridge, http://www.ballogie-estate.co.uk/stay/potarch-lodge and used the same method of fishing and catering.
This trip to the Dee starts on Sunday 2nd April with a drive from Altrincham, Cheshire to a new accommodation venue at Mill of Dess Lodge. http://lowerdessestate.com/mill-of-dess-lodge/ This will be a bit of luxury as the lodge is let on a catered basis and we are served with a cooked breakfast and evening meal each day. We will be fishing two days on each of the three beats we have booked at Birse, Dess and Crathes Castle.