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When to fish


As a keen river fly fisher you will have no difficulty in starting on the very first day and the best quality fishing could be said to extend from the beginning of the season through to the end of June when there can often be a rather dramatic falling away of activity. In the first two months you should expect to catch the very best of Don trout, fish around 2-2.5lbs in excellent condition, gleaming silver in the early sunshine.

A good day could produce a mixed bag of fish, not uncommon at this time of year. Starting at 10am, fish downstream in a cold westerly and by midday, when the temperature has risen a degree or so, keep an eye out for the occasional rise. This is your chance to fish dry upstream or wet flies up and across, increasing your chances of success. These are the moments all anglers cherish. Casting to a steadily feeding brown trout brings out the hunter in us all. Early in the season any rise often stops about 4pm with most activity between noon and 3pm. Large hatches of March brown and dark olives are not so frequent as they may have been in former years, nevertheless there are still reasonable hatches on the right day.

Summer hatch on the river.


As the season progresses, fishing time can extend from 9am until 6pm and into the evening from June onwards. The upper reaches of the Don, over the top four or five miles around Corgaff also come into their own. These upper areas are devoid of fish until late May when occasional warmer spate water brings the better fish upstream.

The upper reaches have a character more reminiscent of a good Highland burn with plenty of small fish but don't be surprised to come across the occasional 1.5lb trout. This is primarily dry fly country because the fish are more easily spooked.

Late June to August can be rather dour on the majority of the river, although keen anglers can try their luck in the evening. September and October can see a revival of activity spurred on by more frequent spates and ,migrating trout fattening up before the close season. Try daddy longlegs dry or similar imitations to attract the bigger fish.

Many fish are in spawning condition by the end of the season and most fish are best returned. The Don supports a healthy population of fish since the feeding is good and mostly sub-surface. However, the ecology is finely balanced and although the river can sustain an increase in angling activity at this time (2006), it cannot maintain heavy fishing like more open waters. Some stocking does take place most years but in general this is to maintain, rather than increase stocks.

The lower sections of the river nearer to Aberdeen do stock periodically to balance the fishing pressure. An inspired guess would be that an additional 300 rod days could easily be accommodated throughout the length of the river at this time. In general all stock is indigenous and the hatchery at Newe, under the control of the Don District Salmon Board with support from the River Don Improvement Association release fingerlings near to the areas where large trout have been netted and stripped.

Evening fishing on the river.


Where to fish

Bottom river

From Parkhill Road Bridge downstream to the estuary waters at Aberdeen.

This stretch of river can be good for spring salmon, grilse and sea trout. The Parkhill stretch holds good stocks of brown trout.

Lower middle river

From Inverurie downstream to Parkhill.

Spring salmon, grilse, sea trout and brown trout can be caught throughout the season.

Middle Don.

Middle river

From the Bridge of Alford downstream to Inverurie.

Spring salmon can be caught from March. In the months of May and June the first grilse can be landed, when brown trout angling can also be at its best.

Upper Don at Cottonstown.

Upper river

From Strathdon downstream to the Bridge of Alford.

In the middle of May the first of the salmon arrive at Strathdon. The Semeil and Candacraig stretches of river fish well giving good sport to brown trout fishermen. From late August into September, heavy runs of salmon and grilse move up to Strathdon although mainly coloured fish, heading for the spawning beds.


The most popular tributary to fish, is the Urie at Inverurie. Salmon, grilse, sea trout and also brown trout have been grassed from this tributary.