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Last week

(Last Updated: Thursday 14 October)

Its been a better start to October for many beats as fish get the urge to head upriver. River levels have remained steady due to heavy inland showers and a drop in water temperature has sparked the resident fish back into action. Fish that were holding in the lower reaches have shifted up into the middle river and rods have been picking away with small numbers of fish landed most days, although the majority landed are coloured grilse they are providing sport for action starved anglers with many anglers having their first fish of the season.

I did hear reports of a sea liced fish off the ADAA beats this week and another lost but only a handful of clean fish have been taken so far with no significant signs of an autumn run appearing for yet another season. The upper beats are starting to see a head of fish appear in the pools, all already in full spawning dress. As we enter the final weeks of the season the river is becoming busier as other systems close and many beats are now being fished on a daily basis.

Martin Webster

About

Fishing reports

Season so far

(Last Updated: Thursday 14 October)

2019 Salmon Angling Review

11th February saw the start of the salmon angling season, high river levels confronted anglers for the first week due to snow melt coming off the Lecht. Only kelts were reported caught until the 19th when news came in of the first clean fish of the season weighing 8lbs, landed at Grandhome Estate. Over the next week reports of fresh fish came trickling in every other day and It soon became apparent that there was a few early spring fish already in the system. Anglers fishing on the ADAA, Inverurie and Manar beats reported success, it was a positive start and by the end of the February over a dozen fresh fish had been landed, the furthest up river at Alford AA beat.

A drier start to March saw river levels fall away, catches dropped off as persistent cold and windy weather discouraged angling effort. Sport did pick up later in the month as small runs of fish moved through the lower reaches and another dozen or so were landed. The first week of April saw catches improve with fresh fish regularly landed from various beats throughout the river however the best of the sport was encountered around the middle river. Anglers fishing Fetternear beat had their best April in many years reporting small runs of fish moving through the pools most days and ended with 16 for the month. The average weight of fish landed was also up with a high number weighing from 12 to 15lb. Despite low angling effort throughout the river come the end of the month almost 70 fish to 18lbs had been reported. The first of the years fresh Sea trout also began to appear in catches.

Heavy showers throughout May kept river levels topped up, coupled with rising water temperatures helped push fish quickly up river, Kildrummy and Glenkindie beats on the upper river began to report sport with a few fish still carrying sea lice. Over the coming weeks most beats and anglers enjoyed a spell of activity as fresh running fish moved up through the pools from beat to beat. Catch figures were nearing 200 fish as the spring fishing period finished and for the first time in many years a decent stock of spring fish was evident in the river.

June saw the first of the grilse arrive, these fish scattered up river giving anglers sport on Alford AA and Castle Forbes beats. Sea trout numbers on the other hand were patchy, higher than normal river flows split the fish up and moved them on through the lower beats, as the month went on not many were landed even on the more favored sea trout beats at Upper Parkhill, Kintore and Ardmurdo. July brought a drier spell which suited the lower beats, river levels fell away, and water temperatures rose to 62f. Anglers were reluctant to venture out in such bright hot daytime conditions and many beats remained unfished until late evening. Small runs of salmon, grilse and sea trout were seen coming in off the tides and moving over the weirs on the lower reaches Anglers fishing on the ADAA beats at Parkhill and Lower Fintry picked away reporting salmon to 24lbs.

Heavy rainfall fell over Donside from the 7th August till the 11th this resulted in a welcome 4ft rise in water levels which suited the middle and upper river, a decent amount of fish ran into the river off this rise and landings of salmon and grilse were reported daily from many beats over the coming weeks. It was as good a grilse run witnessed in many a year, a few anglers reported having 3 or 4 fish for their days fishing and losing as many again. One week in August saw over 40 fish landed including several summer salmon weighing over twenty pounds. Compared to last season’s summer drought it was a complete contrast and anglers couldn’t have wished for better river flows.

The high catches of August tailed off as we moved into September, small runs of grilse continued to enter the river but not in the same volume as seen in August. The lower beats at Grandhome and Parkhill reported the best of the sport as new fish settled in the pools with the residents. The middle and upper beats picked away with older fish, but only a few clean fish were reported at Beidleston, Kintore and Kemnay. By the last week of September catches were low throughout the river as fish went stale and off the take, numbers of fresh fish entering the river dwindled.

The final month began as September ended and catches remained low, thankfully another 3ft lift in water on the 18th perked the fish and anglers up, although 95% of the catch landed was coloured fish anglers were more than content after a few poor seasons. Despite this rise still no significant autumn run of fish appeared on the lower river many beats went very quiet as resting fish pushed on up river nearer to the spawning areas. A few upper beats notably Kildrummy, Alford and Castle Forbes fished better and boosted their seasons tally but for many other beats the season fizzled out with a good few anglers already hanging up their rods before the end.

Summary

Having no ghillies on the Don makes it more difficult to forecast the final rod catch but we would envisage a final figure of approximately 800 fish once all beats have declared their catch so an improvement on 2018’s 450. It was encouraging to hear that a few local anglers finished up with over 25 fish each for their season’s efforts well done to those individuals. The spring run observed throughout the months of April and May was the surprising highlight for many anglers, in addition the amount of grilse that appeared during August was a welcome bonus after a few poor seasons. Disappointingly though sea trout catches remained low on many beats throughout June into July although some bigger specimens up to 8lbs were landed. The autumn component of clean fish that ran into the Don during October once again failed to appear with only a few silver fish landed in the last month, this is now the fifth season we have witnessed this occurring.

The 2020 season sees the River Don remains in a Category 3 grading for the third consecutive year.

My thanks to those anglers and fishery proprietors who kindly sent in catch details and photos throughout the season.

Martin Webster

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