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(Last updated: Wednesday 3rd May)
Update 3rd May
The early weeks of April saw low river levels continue to prevail which kept many salmon anglers away from the river. The river has been lacking snow melt this spring and has been on the drop for weeks now, although this suited the many trout anglers who have been out most days. The odd clean salmon was landed from the ADAA beats at Parkhill and Kemnay and a handful were reported from the Aberdeenshire Council stretches but overall catches remained poor for another month with only a dozen or so reported for what is normally a productive month. Fish are now appearing up on the upper river with catches appearing up as far as Ardhuncart. Trout anglers have been hooking into a few salmon whilst fishing nymphs and wet flies.
Thankfully the weather broke on the 27th/28th and a 2ft rise was welcomed by all salmon anglers. The lower river ran heavily coloured the following day but the middle beats cleared quickly and a few beats started to produce sealiced fish up to 15lbs. Levels have fell away over the past few days but the Don is running a lovely colour at present. Seatrout should be appearing on the lower beats anytime now. A few anglers have been out but the incoming haar off the coast has put paid to any evening sport.
The brown trout fishing continues to be up there with the best on offer. Feedback from local and visiting anglers has been of top class sport throughout the catchment. The quality of trout landed has been in excellent condition with 2-3lb fish the norm now on many beats. There have been larger fish landed by the more experienced anglers, a few going over 5lbs which have been providing a great scrap on the right balanced tackle. Nymphs fished deep have been working well until the trout switch on to the surface. Rises have been occurring mainly between 11 and 4pm but a chilly east wind has put them down on many days. I think a prolonged spell of warmer weather is needed before late evening sport kicks off.
The smolt run is well underway after last week's rise this is also apparent by the procession of herons positioned on the lower weirs. Some anglers targeting trout at Parkhill had to eventually move on as every cast with their small flies was grabbed by descending smolts. This is great news to hear and shows that good numbers are heading out to sea.
Seasons Fishing Review 2016
It was a slightly better spring salmon fishing period with over 60 fish reported caught by the end of May as opposed to the 50 or so from the same period 2015. February saw the usual handful caught but it was late March before numbers began to build steadily. By mid April the lower beats reported seeing small runs pushing upstream as the water temperature rose. Fresh fish were reported seen and landed on the upper Don come mid – May. The heaviest fish landed in the spring period was at 20lbs.
When conditions suited Brown Trout anglers enjoyed good sport through April, May and into June with trout up to a fantastic 7.5lbs being landed. Catch and release of these bigger fish is regarded as the norm now on the river with many specimen trout being seen landed again later in the year. Dry fly enthusiasts were reporting decent hatches of Large Dark Olives, these appeared for long spells of the day enticing the trout onto the surface. Plenty of Trout were being landed in the 8-10inch range. The low water conditions later on in the season benefited trout anglers and again some decent catches were had.
The first of the seasons Sea Trout appeared on the lower beats in the last week of May. Catches were not that great for June and July as water levels remained too high for late evening sport but some beats did alright as levels dropped. Fish spread out quickly throughout the system and beats up at Alford saw clean fish landed averaging between 1.5-2.5lbs. Numbers reported were on a par with the previous year. The largest caught seatrout weighed 9lbs but many others were caught between 5-7lbs this season which is unusual for the Don.
Grilse catches were again low for the months of July and August although those landed were in good condition from 4-6lbs. River levels dropped away and remained low through September but the lower beats which should have scored still reported poor returns. Summer fish made up the limited sport available to anglers but quickly went off the take due to the low warm water. Angling pressure was low throughout the catchment and catches were down on all beats. Throughout the summer month's large amounts of finnock were appearing on every high tide at the Don Estuary. Come late September they had increased in size averaging 1lb, hopefully they run as adults next season.
Autumn fish failed to run in large numbers throughout September and most of October. Low water prevailed and anglers had to be content with landing stale coloured fish. When fresh water eventually arrived in October an improvement was seen for a week or so as some new sea liced fish ran in from the sea but unfortunately for the lower river beats these fish pushed quickly upstream evident as silver fish were caught on the middle river along with others which had moved upstream in readiness for spawning. The heaviest landed for the last month was at 25lbs from the upper river.
Catch figures for salmon will be low for another season with certain beats struggling to get into double figures the total reported catch is not in yet but from feedback received will more than likely be below 500 fish landed. Brown trout catches have been much better with quality fishing being found throughout the catchment at an affordable price. The number of trout anglers are increasing on the Don and it is once again attracting anglers from all over the country and abroad to its banks.
Sea Trout and Brown Trout were busy making redds in the burns from the last week of October with salmon redds beginning to be seen in better numbers a week or so later. Late running fish were seen late November and Salmon have been cutting redds into December on the middle and lower river. Redd counts have been average on the middle lower sections but the upper reaches and tributaries have been down on past years.
Best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.