Season review for 2010

February

At the beginning of the month Kelts were showing quite frequently in the salmon pools from Monymusk down to the Parkhill waters at Dyce. The angling season got under way on the 11th of the month with some hardy anglers venturing out onto the Don system to wet a line. The first spring salmon was landed before 9am at Inverurie, a nice 6lb fish which was landed by the same angler who got the first fish last year as well. The angler in question has been fishing on the Don for many years and is local to the Inverurie area.

As the opening day moved on there was a report of 1 fish landed at Stoneywood paper mill and two other fish, 1 on the Upper Parkhill stretch and 1 on the Lower Parkhill Beat on the ADAA fishing's. Considering the river conditions it was a good start to the season.

Also on the opening day of the angling salmon season there was a private ceremony held for the late Gillie Mr Robert Demster, who had died suddenly at the end of last year.  Bob was employed by Grandhome estate for the past 20 years as the Estate Gillie.He was a well known figure who will be missed by many, a salmon pool has been renamed in his honour. Demster pool is in the top beat of the Grandhome fishing's on the North bank of the river. It was an excellent turn out for the event with representatives from the Board, many angling friends, family members and close friends. At the riverside a piper played the pipes and Mr David Paton, Laird of the estate said some nice words on how dedicated Mr Dempster had been to his work on the Grandhome beat. Mrs Dempster and Mr Paton then toasted the new pool with some good Malt whisky and the new gillie Mr Paul Hans took the first cast in the newly named pool.

As the month moved on numbers of fresh spring fish caught were slowly coming in off the beats. There have been 12 spring salmon that we are aware of caught so far, and I suspect there will be more once returns are handed in. The beats that have had a catch are as follows, Grandhome fishing's 2, ADAA waters 4, Stoneywood fishing's 2; Kintore Burgh fishing's 1, Inverurie 3. Considering it has been the worst winter since the early 60s the Don is not doing too badly. There have been no rods above Kemnay as yet, so it will be interesting once rods start to fish the middle river. We will find out where the early spring salmon that entered the river in late December and January has been holding up over the winter.

The annual Don March on the first Saturday after the official opening of the salmon season on the 11th of February  once again came round. This event has been happening now for quite some time and is very popular with the local community of Inverurie and surrounding districts. The event is organised by the Inverurie Angling Association. There was a good turn out with members of the Don Board, Don Trust and local anglers from Inverurie and Kintore. The march started at the Kintore arms where a piper led the way to the river, once at the river retired council member Raymond Bisset recited a poem and the Rev Mr Graeme Longmuir toasted the river and ourselves with a small dram of good whisky, and wished all who fish the Don a good season.


March

Due to the fluctuating water levels and large floods angling conditions have not been great due to the winter conditions at the beginning of March, and the increased water levels in the middle of March due to snow melt. However over 40 spring fish were landed mostly on the last 7 days of the month, once the river level had dropped to a more suitable height. 

On the lower Don at Grandhome fishing's approximately 14 fish were landed in the last week of the month, Muggiemoss landed 1, Stoneywood Mill fishing's landed 5, largest fish 24lb, Parkhill 6, Kintore 1, Inverurie 2, Manar 2, Fettennear 1, ADAA Kemnay 6, Ardmurdo 2. 

Whilst speaking to anglers a few of them have said its been the best spring fishing since 1996, some of the fish that have been caught on the Inverurie and Kemnay stretch have been sea liced fresh run fish. This confirms what anglers have reported as seeing on the lower Don on a daily basis, fresh fish heading and tailing at the ends of the pools just running straight through and not being able to stop them. Although there are good numbers of spring fish seen, fishing effort is still below par on a lot of the beats. 

Above Kemnay no rods have ventured out in any number as yet, but Castle Forbes has some parties booked on for April and May. A lot of the kelts have now moved out of the middle reaches and are collecting from Kemnay down to the lower Don, these fish have been in excellent condition and at times some anglers have found it hard to differentiate between a fresh spring fish and a kelt, but as they all have to go back this has not been a problem, just good sport.


April

April has been another excellent month for spring salmon catches up and down the river system.

Most beats have now doubled their catches and more for this time last year, and I think there have been as many fish lost to the net or just grabbing the lure or fly.

I have had a lot of reports from anglers unable to stop fish when they were running hard through the pools earlier in the month, when river levels were high.

The catches I have for the month are approximate numbers as there are still catches coming in for April; Grandhome 19, ADAA 20, Stoneywood mill 5, Balbithan 4, Kintore 3, Inverurie 16, one lucky well known angler had 10 spring fish in two days, 3 one day and 7 the next and all were returned, Manar 10, Fetternear 8, Kemnay ADAA,  2 Salmon , 1 sea trout, Monymusk 5 salmon and Brown trout up to 4 1/2lb, Tilliefoure 13, and Castle Forbes Estate 9.

There are a lot of beats and small syndicate waters in between the beats that I have not mentioned, that have also done well for catches for the month.

Now we are into May anglers will be looking for early summer salmon and of course sea trout which should be slowly entering the river system. Hopefully with a good rise in river levels by the middle of May and if good numbers of fish are on the coast, the fishing could be quite exciting for the coming months.

May

It has been another great month for salmon and trout fishing on the river. The ADAA fishing's up until the end of May were touching 100 salmon caught and released and the Grandhome fishing's, the Muggiemoss mills fishing's and Stoneywood mill fishing's all on the lower end of the system, did exceptionally well over the spring time with catches well above previous years.

Most beats up and down the system have had a good spring with catches well up on previous years; while other parts of the system that have had less fishing effort due to lower number of guests have still landed decent numbers of spring salmon.

Anglers fishing for early Sea trout have not been disappointed with good sized trout, not in great numbers as yet but I think June could be the month when larger numbers will start to move into the river system.

On the brown trout front, May has also has been a good month for trout anglers with some cracking brown trout caught from ADAA waters up to the Alford stretches, I expect that once the water temperature increases from Alford upstream and the last of the snow disappears of the Grampian Mountains, catches will increase especially on the Kildrummy and Towie stretches of river. But overall it has been an excellent season to date.

I think that all anglers and proprietors who have adhered to catch and release should give themselves a pat on the back as it's all good for future stocks and the more young ones that the river can produce the better.

I know that as this is relatively new for the river and it's hard to put your first spring fish back, but its well worth it in the end.

Fishing on the River Don

4lbs+ 'steelhead' caught in tidal waters by member of ADAA.



Fishing on the River Don

A 10lb hen fish caught and released by Alister McIntyre.



June

The first two weeks of the month saw steady numbers of salmon being caught over the entire river system. A lot of anglers have been turning their attention to the sea trout, which has been excellent throughout the entire month, especially for the ADAA waters that have had the most fishing effort, which in turn has paid dividends on their catch figures, which are well up on the previous year.

On the Grandhome estate the catches for the month has also been exceptionally good for salmon and sea trout. The catch returns from proprietors will now be filtering into the board over the coming weeks and it will be interesting to see what the final tally is for the spring months.

Hopefully anglers will have given their returns to the proprietors.

Most beats are still doing well for the brown trout, but the largest trout I have heard caught for the month was on the Kildrummy fishing on the top reaches of the river system. A fish of 8lb was caught by a visiting angler from France, he had the fish on for 20 minutes got it into the side many times before it kept running again, then eventually it broke free and won the day. I think the next time he fishes the Don he won't use a 4lb nylon line, he will be using one that's a little bit stronger.

A lot of beats all over the system now return their trout to the river in the hope that at the next visit they will be a bit larger.



July

The fishing on Donside has continued to be excellent last month, for all species, The Don really is an excellent mixed fishery.

It has been a superb season to date, with the best spring run in many years, and now in late July we still have the best of the Dons salmon fishing still to come, hopefully we will have a strong grilse and autumn run to look forward to.

The sea trout run has been exceptional, best in many years. These lively summer fish are back in abundance on Donside, with fish getting caught throughout the system. The ADAA waters on the lower system and council fishing's in the middle have performed particularly well, with the ADAA waters landing over 150 sea trout for the month!. Not only are they back in excellent numbers, but also the size and quality of the fish has been exceptional.

I have heard of a number of 6lb fish taken, and the average would appear to be around 3-4lbs. Kenny Riddle had a cracker of 6lb from Upper Fintray early in the month whilst fishing one of the ADAA regular competitions, I understand that it did not count towards the competition as it was a Sunday brown trout competition. This must be the only times someone is disappointed to catch a 6lb brown trout.

The brown trout fishing has also been very good this season. Though we are entering a slower period for trout fishing on Donside, we have seen some excellent trout caught. Fish of over 6lbs have been taken, with fish of 3 and 4lbs being almost regular this season. Ronnie Watt had a 6lb trout whilst fishing the Houghton beat, taken on a small stoat tail. Surprisingly the fish was taken in only a couple of inches of water, barely enough to cover its back.

A few rainbows have also been taken in the last month, both in the lower rivers ADAA waters. This  is a bit of a worry as we do not know where they have come from, and these fish are large and aggressive predators. One was caught at Parkhill and another one in the tidal waters at Netherdon, this one was witnessed by Martin Webster, the rivers deputy superintendant. Healthy debate has taken place as to whether this is a rainbow, a blue or even a steelhead, as it was taken in tidal waters. No scales were taken so we may never know but certainly the rivers board and trust are watching the rainbow situation with interest.

Jim Kerr, river superintendant tells me that Grilse are now entering the system in numbers, though some larger fish are still being taken and I hear of salmon to 20lbs being taken. Mr Sandison had a fine though coloured 16lb summer fish at Lower Parkhill, taken on a small spinner the fish was returned to continue its journey. Ian McPherson had an excellent day late in the month, with 4 fish from Parkhill. Given water the grilse and autumn run should start continue and build in numbers from now, and hopefully the under fished Don waters will see some angling effort from now, and catches will raise considerably.

Though we enjoyed the best spring fishing in many years the Don remains an autumn river. The Don really is a day ticket river and availability is excellent, as usual the river is being lightly fished. As we move into August these fisheries will all be entering the best fishing of the season, as the salmon numbers build up daily. The wild brown trout are also expected to be caught in increased numbers as the season comes to an end. It is often as the season closes that we see some of the very large brown trout being caught, and I hope we again see a double-figure wild brownie taken this season.