Caledonia Fly Co

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(Last updated: Friday 17th November)

2017 Seasons review added.

Martin Webster

Season review

2017 River Don Angling Season
The salmon angling season opened on the 11th February, decent weather conditions and river levels during the early weeks enticed a few rods out onto the river and 3 spring salmon landed. The first fresh fish of the season was landed at Kildrummy beat on the upper river this was followed a few days later by one each off Kemnay and Parkhill beats. A distinct lack of salmon kelts was apparent during the opening weeks, much lower than in past years.
It was into March before catches improved, spring salmon were landed at Parkhill and around the Inverurie and Kemnay areas. As the month wore on fresh fish were landed up in the Alford area. A good few of those caught were in the 15lb range well above the average sized Don spring fish. Figures were on a par for the same period as 2016 with catches nearing 20 fresh fish.
The months of April and May failed to produce what should be prime Salmon time on Donside. Spring salmon were few and far between, as river levels dropped away local anglers were reluctant to venture out. With no snow left on the upper hills a much-needed rise in water didn't occur until the end of April. This produced a flurry of sport as a run of new fish appeared, however only around a dozen fish up to 15lbs were landed over the two months. The middle and upper river beats began to hold fish these were being hooked by trout anglers using heavy nymphs in the faster runs. The third week of April saw decent numbers of salmon smolts heading downstream over the lower river weirs. Trout anglers commented on hooking plenty smolts during May on the lower river.
April saw Trout anglers doing well throughout the system, the low river and suitable overhead conditions for the month benefitted and news of some fantastic catches were being reported with regular fish in the2-3lb being landed on many beats. Monymusk and Castle Forbes beats landed trout up to 7lbs on the dry fly and one or two even larger were spotted. Wild Brown Trout angling has become very popular again over the past few years and many new visitors from as far afield as America were seen on Donside experiencing the trout fishing on offer. April and May being the prime time to get hold of a specimen trout.
Seatrout began to be seen on the lower beats by late May with catches of these improving as we moved into June. A few beats reported some pools with large numbers evident but they were quickly on the move a day or two later and eventually spread out. The best of the fishing was had from the Fintry area upstream to Inverurie where anglers fishing early morning and late into the evening getting the best results. Around 100 seatrout were landed over the period from June to the end of July, the majority around 2.5lbs with the heaviest at 6.5lbs. June saw more Salmon appear, but these moved quickly through the lower beats giving sport to anglers up at Alford and beats above.
The summer months of, July and August failed to see large numbers of grilse arrive on the coast, by now many local anglers had given up and it was disheartening to see many beats left unfished day after day. Low river conditions prevailed but the lower beats would have reaped the rewards had the fish appeared, unfortunately only limited runs of fish were witnessed moving up over the lower weirs as darkness fell. Trout angling was difficult and most success was had by anglers prepared to fish well into the darkness.
The months of September and October saw a series of rises which benefited the river system and moved the older fish upriver nearer their spawning grounds. Pools from Alford upstream were holding fish but the vast - majority were coloured and proved hard to temp on many days at least until the first frost appeared. Kildrummy beat picked away and a few hefty fish were landed. For the lack of fish around the size being landed was above average. The only highlight of the last month was a 30lb coloured fish caught and returned from a middle river beat. By mid-October the back-end run of fresh fish had still not appeared and many beats from Inverurie downstream were subsequently underfished. The lower river suffered and only a few fresh grilse from 2-5lbs were landed by a handful of lucky anglers fishing at Grandhome, Kintore and Kemnay but for the most it was coloured fish making up the very limited catch elsewhere on the river. Late running fresh Seatrout were reported by ADAA anglers fishing down at Lower Grandhome.
Despite very few frosty nights Salmon were seen cutting redds during the last week of October and it looks like an early spawning has taken place throughout the system with many sections of the upper spawning sites already cut and finished by mid November.
We still await the final salmon rod caught figure but from feedback already received the total could be as low as 300. Subsequently the Scottish Government has dropped the River Don down to a Category 3 conservation status for the 2018 season.

To read the reports from March through to July, click here.