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May Fishing on Dee

1798 Views 44 Replies 19 Participants Last post by  Salmojack
I have not long returned from two weeks on Dee fishing Carlogie and Sluie. I've fished Carlogie for 19 years and since Storm Frank numbers of fish running and in the river have declined alarmingly.
A number of years ago the Dee section of this forum was buzzing with reports on spring fishing but now forum activity reflects the catches on the river , be few!
The first week we did see fish regularly in the best lies in the best pools but cold air and water temperatures seemed to make them very reluctant to take. Seeing fish keeps you going and we fished hard and managed to land a few between us.
Week 2 we had heavy rain on Monday morning and after that two rises, the first a small dirty one from the local rain and the second a peaty one from upriver. The fish we had seemed to move upriver and we saw less than a handful of fish for the rest of the week. These rises gave us good river heights,as we had throughout the trip, and with warming water temperatures I thought we might do well but the bare truth is you can't catch what's not there!
Again we did land a few but you didn't really feel you were covering fish,and it was more a matter of fluking an encounter with a runner.
It would appear that salmon runs to nearly all Scottish rivers are very poor this year so far, but I fear the catches on Dee show a river in steeper decline than some.
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Lower Blackhall & Banchory, is a 4 rod beat, 5 year May average of 12 Fish (1 fish every 8-10 rod days) and it costs 拢140 per rod, per day.馃ぃ馃槀馃ぃ馃槀

I鈥檇 like to fish some of the Dee beats; because I鈥檝e been reading about them for 30+ years. But those prices are ridiculous and what they tell me is that these beats are not for me, they鈥檙e for those with either another level of funding and / or dedication.

I hope the Ghillies are allowed to get some local rods out to fish the spare, un-let days.
I have never and will never pay 拢140 for one days salmon fishing , as is the price for lower Blackhall, especially nowadays. But what are other similar priced beats on Tweed, Spey etc catching? I wouldn't mind if there were some beats still very expensive aslongs they were catching loads of fish, but even some of the hallowed ground of some of the top Spey beats are struggling . It really is a sad situation
Thing is there's plenty of predators round the river mouths, so there are fish about, but some beats are getting more sea trout than salmon, which is odd, either the troots are early or are the grilse late?
There are a few grilse about on the North coast although none caught so far (that I know of). I鈥檓 fairly certain I saw the first ones two weeks ago.
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A couple of years ago when I was up there in August, Park was regularly hitting 12-20 fish a day. Something then happened because it really went wrong last year with them lucky to hit that in week. I did wonder if that change prompted Bert to retire when he did.
Something has went drastically wrong with the spring run on the Dee, Park being one of the worst effected. But August?
I've been told that park was actually one of, if not the top beat in Scotland for the amount of fish caught last year. With the majority (nearly 500) caught from July to September. They averaged over 6 fish per day in August and 10 per day in September.
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I think the seals play a part early in season .
They mop up the kelts at Park and LCWD ,traditional early stopping places for springers. Subsequently the early spring fish move through the the middle river possibly aided by warmer water temperatures than experienced years ago in March and April.
Odd fish are then picked off in middle river but as they run on the dilution effect of miles of river and few fish means catches dwindle.
Probably the problem is really lack of fish returning from the sea.
Tuna,seals and dolphins, how many fish do they take along the coast as fish return? The seal colony in the Ythan estuary is now huge and must have an effect on fish returning to Dee, Don and Esks especially in the spring as the seal pups are growing.
I don't know what the solution is , but habitat improvements won't solve predation at sea and in the river mouths.
And while there is an argument that much of the Dee fishing is over priced its very difficult to give up a let that's part of your annual holidays and been enjoyed by your family for years.
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Salmon fishing in general now to catch returns is overpriced on any river.
I personaly don't think the main problem is at sea. With sea trout numbers declining as well, tends to point the problem is not on the high seas. There are plenty reports on many rivers that the juvenile fish are plentiful, and other surveys on a few scottish big rivers have proved that some 70% of smolts don't even reach the sea. So if these reports are to be believed, only 30% is making it out into the open sea to run the gauntlet of every danger they face till they are lucky enough to return. Outwith the river estuary there is absolutely nothing we can do for them.
We could however do better in river. It's great that habitat improvement is taking place , and no doubt will help, but is clearly not enough.
It鈥檚 becoming the case that all mid and lower beats on all rivers are not worth fishing until the back end.
What would you call a mid beat on the Spey? Ashley Cooper considered the middle river from Grantown to Rothes. Wester Elchies is one of the best performing beats this season and Tulchan's four beats catches are reasonable this year, perhaps not as good as last season.
Salmon fishing in general now to catch returns is overpriced on any river.
I personaly don't think the main problem is at sea. With sea trout numbers declining as well, tends to point the problem is not on the high seas. There are plenty reports on many rivers that the juvenile fish are plentiful, and other surveys on a few scottish big rivers have proved that some 70% of smolts don't even reach the sea. So if these reports are to be believed, only 30% is making it out into the open sea to run the gauntlet of every danger they face till they are lucky enough to return. Outwith the river estuary there is absolutely nothing we can do for them.
We could however do better in river. It's great that habitat improvement is taking place , and no doubt will help, but is clearly not enough.
The sea trout numbers are increasing on the south esk every year since the nets were removed Stuart.
Every year I catch more and more sea trout with last year being the best year yet for them. I personally seen huge runs of them going up the southie. Unfortunately it wasn鈥檛 the case for the salmon.
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I personaly don't think the main problem is at sea. With sea trout numbers declining as well, tends to point the problem is not on the high seas. There are plenty reports on many rivers that the juvenile fish are plentiful, and other surveys on a few scottish big rivers have proved that some 70% of smolts don't even reach the sea. So if these reports are to be believed, only 30% is making it out into the open sea to run the gauntlet of every danger they face till they are lucky enough to return. Outwith the river estuary there is absolutely nothing we can do for them.
We could however do better in river. It's great that habitat improvement is taking place , and no doubt will help, but is clearly not enough.
The surveys are part of the problem, slicing open smolts to put a transmitter into the body cavity is not good for the smolt's chances of survival. Peter Gray of the Tyne Hatchery always said if you looked at a smolt the wrong way, it would die.
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I have never and will never pay 拢140 for one days salmon fishing , as is the price for lower Blackhall, especially nowadays. But what are other similar priced beats on Tweed, Spey etc catching? I wouldn't mind if there were some beats still very expensive aslongs they were catching loads of fish, but even some of the hallowed ground of some of the top Spey beats are struggling . It really is a sad situation
I can鈥檛 argue with that Midgydug. Lots of fishing is overpriced in catch terms. Dryburgh Upper on Tweed has a May 5YA of 3.6 fish and it costs between 拢90 and 拢108 per day.

I鈥檇 like to fish it, looks great, but bang on a B&B , Fuel etc and it鈥檚 an outlay 拢200-250 for a day of marginal fishing. In general the Tay seems better value than the Dee. The Spey is also more expensive, (and usually needs a party of rods to take a weekly let), but I think catches have been a bit better over the last few years.

I think what makes the Dee only slightly different is that the Spring fishing has been pretty poor for nearly 10 years and yet the proposition & the prices are largely the same, except in a very few places.
The Dee does get the pelters and most of the time it is justified. A beat that I have fished for nearly 30 years, and know people that fished it longer, in my mind is " not in the real world" anymore.
Only 12 years ago they were averaging 200 + fish per season. Price 拢40-50 per day. I understand prices go up, but last year that beat landed 27 for their season and was 拢90 a day.
What merits the price ? Service of a ghillie whose pay I don't suppose has changed much. In fact the ghillie looks after both sides now so the two estates pay half each of the ghillies expence. Theyll not be paying the same revinue as the catch numbers are less.
But they are not alone on their valuation of their asset. If its just greed, well they get what they deserve by people voting with their feet. I would rather it was 拢200 a day and getting 400 fish per season, ie. At least you would know the river was healthy.
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Salmon fishing in general now to catch returns is overpriced on any river.
I personaly don't think the main problem is at sea. With sea trout numbers declining as well, tends to point the problem is not on the high seas. There are plenty reports on many rivers that the juvenile fish are plentiful, and other surveys on a few scottish big rivers have proved that some 70% of smolts don't even reach the sea. So if these reports are to be believed, only 30% is making it out into the open sea to run the gauntlet of every danger they face till they are lucky enough to return. Outwith the river estuary there is absolutely nothing we can do for them.
We could however do better in river. It's great that habitat improvement is taking place , and no doubt will help, but is clearly not enough.
If that's true about smolt survival in river then Semi Natural Rearing of smolts might help as you can hold them in the ponds and release them on a rise of water to flush them to sea. The smolt runs are definitely poor now. I can remember seeing the whole width of the river flashing silver for hundred of yards as the smolts ran through.
The sea trout numbers are increasing on the south esk every year since the nets were removed Stuart.
Every year I catch more and more sea trout with last year being the best year yet for them. I personally seen huge runs of them going up the southie. Unfortunately it wasn鈥檛 the case for the salmon.
interesting that you say that about the Sea Trout runs, i was going to post this on Rennie鈥檚 鈥榚nd of the line鈥 thread but here is as a good a place as any, but here on the Isle the beach fishing for Sea Trout and bass this year has been very good, with sizes and numbers far exceeding post lockdown of the ports, and has been better each year since that hiatus.

Either inshore there is more forage around and or that spring closure three years ago greatly bumped up year class recruitment. My suspicion is that reduced bycatch accounts for both.

i am hoping that we will see a bump up in salmon numbers now the sandeel fishery is closed in UK waters, but what we really need is an at sea moratorium on cod,salmon, whitefish and pelagic for 12 months. Pay the commercials off for a year and reset the fishery and see what happens next.
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The Dee does get the pelters and most of the time it is justified. A beat that I have fished for nearly 30 years, and know people that fished it longer, in my mind is " not in the real world" anymore.
Only 12 years ago they were averaging 200 + fish per season. Price 拢40-50 per day. I understand prices go up, but last year that beat landed 27 for their season and was 拢90 a day.
What merits the price ? Service of a ghillie whose pay I don't suppose has changed much. In fact the ghillie looks after both sides now so the two estates pay half each of the ghillies expence. Theyll not be paying the same revinue as the catch numbers are less.
But they are not alone on their valuation of their asset. If its just greed, well they get what they deserve by people voting with their feet. I would rather it was 拢200 a day and getting 400 fish per season, ie. At least you would know the river was healthy.
I do enjoy having a Dee Ghillie on hand as much for the banter as help landing fish and most work hard for you. It does mean that other rivers are much cheaper though. I do fear that the ghillie could be a dying breed though if Factors have to cut costs as it could be easy for them to switch to recommending guides and have occasional landscapers in to trim banks.
I agree , and unfortunately see the writing on the wall for many ghillies, and the end of another way of life. When you've fished for many years, sometimes the same beat at same time of year, you probably don't need a ghillie, but it was always good to catch up with a familier face , which over years had become friends.
The estates can get contracters in to cut grass etc but they'll not care for a beat like a ghillie does. They are the eyes and ears on a river, police it, and will know more about their stretch of river than their bosses do.
Like many local shoots that have stopped, and keepers made redundant, the ghillies will sadly be next.
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You can鈥檛 blame the beat owners for the high prices. The fishery board assessment is so high they have to try and pay for it somehow.
Well this is it and why should they be any different in the inflation driven market
interesting that you say that about the Sea Trout runs, i was going to post this on Rennie鈥檚 鈥榚nd of the line鈥 thread but here is as a good a place as any, but here on the Isle the beach fishing for Sea Trout and bass this year has been very good, with sizes and numbers far exceeding post lockdown of the ports, and has been better each year since that hiatus.

Either inshore there is more forage around and or that spring closure three years ago greatly bumped up year class recruitment. My suspicion is that reduced bycatch accounts for both.

i am hoping that we will see a bump up in salmon numbers now the sandeel fishery is closed in UK waters, but what we really need is an at sea moratorium on cod,salmon, whitefish and pelagic for 12 months. Pay the commercials off for a year and reset the fishery and see what happens next.
I have been away for a lot of this year and must have missed this. When did it happen?
I must be losing my marbles but I鈥檝e also just parted with silly money to fish Crathie this coming week.I鈥檝e not fished the Dee before but I鈥檓 looking forward to it despite the recent catch returns. The lack of fish is indeed alarming. If any of you can offer any tips or tactics, ( apart from save your fuel and accommodation money and don鈥檛 go), I would appreciate it. The rod buddy I鈥檓 fishing with has had some success with a pair of small flies, (Toucans) fished late in the evening.
The Dee will be clear and low, currently. Very small flee's and sparsely dressed too. Shaving brushes will see you with a blank week. 12's, 14's and 16's, very wee tubes, clear nylons/cast material, as light a weight of fly line as you can effectively fish, 6's, 7's and 8's if you have them. Tapered leaders, long as your casting will allow you to use. Presentation will be to the fore!.
Flee's?, Crathie, TBS,Silver Stoats Tail, Stats Tail, Editor, Executioner etc etc. Trout and switch rods will further increase chances, forget 15fters and 10/11 lines.
If the weather stays like this forget office hours very 1st thing of a morning-need a good alarm clock!- last knockings and right into dark. Maybe a full night shift too!.
Fish the devil out of the pool by the hut!
Best of luck, Pedro.
The Dee will be clear and low, currently. Very small flee's and sparsely dressed too. Shaving brushes will see you with a blank week. 12's, 14's and 16's, very wee tubes, clear nylons/cast material, as light a weight of fly line as you can effectively fish, 6's, 7's and 8's if you have them. Tapered leaders, long as your casting will allow you to use. Presentation will be to the fore!.
Flee's?, Crathie, TBS,Silver Stoats Tail, Stats Tail, Editor, Executioner etc etc. Trout and switch rods will further increase chances, forget 15fters and 10/11 lines.
If the weather stays like this forget office hours very 1st thing of a morning-need a good alarm clock!- last knockings and right into dark. Maybe a full night shift too!.
Fish the devil out of the pool by the hut!
Best of luck, Pedro.
Crathie is a lovely beat and as you鈥檇 expect, Pedro has given great advice. The only thing I would add is also to try pulling a wee sunray through the pool day or night鈥nd I mean wee. Just a half inch of yellow inner tube and no more than two inches of sparse black hair with a little uv flash or couple of strands of micro crystal flash.

Swinging wee sea trout sized #10 or #12 singles like stoats, Peter Ross and Invicta鈥檚 on a single hander can be as successful for the salmon as it is for sea trout and so don鈥檛 ignore that option.

Best of luck.
I have been away for a lot of this year and must have missed this. When did it happen?
i was wrong, not closed yet - govt is in consultation phase for all UK waters.


Sorry to mislead. I think its a given though as the RSPB are for it, and the SNP:


North Sea fishery was closed to UK boats in 2022.


i think that is what i was thinking of鈥
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