Monthly Archives: February 2013

Fishermans £10 – 3 course Dinner , Special Offer at Franco’s of Banchory

Having worked with a number of the service providers in Deeside FishDee are delighted to announce a Fishermans 3 course Dinner offer at the super Franco’s Restaurant in Banchory. This is an offer I am sure will appeal to many anglers after a days fishing on the River Dee. Franco’s provides very comfortable dining and good food made with fresh ingredients and a nice ambience. If you ask Franco nicely he may even sing you a song………Dont miss this offer and get yourself along for a great night out.

Franco’s Restaurant Website.

Franco’s Restaurant-Banchory

Located at the side of the Stag Hotel in the main street

Fisherman’s Menu

Only £10.00 Per Person

Franco

Starters

Zuppa Del Giorno-Chef’s soup of the day

Bruschetta, Choice of:

Garlic toasts topped with chopped tomato, basil, garlic and extra virgin olive oil or,

Garlic toasts topped with sautéed mushrooms in a creamy sauce

Pepata di Cozze-Mussels poached in white wine, garlic, tomato and a touch of chilly

Patè Della Casa-Fresh homemade chicken liver pate served with toasts

Main Courses

Lasagne Al Forno-Franco’s homemade lasagne with a rich Bolognese sauce

Risotto Primavera (V)-Italian style risotto with mixed vegetables in a light tomato sauce

Tagliatelle Boscaiola-Ribbons of egg pasta with Italian fresh sausage and sautee mushrooms cooked in a light white wine and cream sauce

Pollo Diana-Pan-fried chicken breast served with Diana sauce, potatoes & vegetables on side

Pizza-Pizza as you like

Grilled Sirloin Steak-Minute grilled Sirloin steak served with chips and vegetable (6oz)

And Coffee

Francos

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FishDee Survey-Can you take a few minutes to help us ?

As part of our ongoing efforts to provide excellent facilities and services to visiting anglers to Deeside, would you be willing to help us with a short online survey? Your answers are important to us and will all be confidential and used to monitor your current views about this specific topic.
Click here to take survey

Upper Blackhall Beat- A real anglers gem

Nestled amongst the old Scots pine woods in a fabulously secluded section of the Dee Valley lies the sublime Upper Blackhall Beat. The beat offers a variety of fly fishing pools that will ensure anglers visiting the beat find compelling, challenging, rewarding and enigmatic. Famous pools like the Morel Pool and Grey Mare are pools every angler would like to say they have fished because they are steeped in a glorious history when there were seasons of abundance and great catches were made.

The tail of the Morel Pool at Upper Blackhall

The tail of the Morel Pool at Upper Blackhall

Upper Blackhall is 3 miles west of Banchory on the south bank of the Dee.  It is perhaps the most private beat on the river, it is outstandingly beautiful and lovingly looked after. The beat has 15 pools, is over 1.5 miles long offering a selection of fishing whatever the river conditions. It is normally restricted to 3 rods though, in conditions favourable, the ghillie may allow 4 rods to fish.

Looking downstream at Scobboc-A fabulous piece of fly water

Looking downstream at Scobboc-A fabulous piece of fly water

At the top of the beat is the famous Morel pool which holds fish throughout the season and is the only pool that is inaccessible by vehicle. The top hut overlooks the prestigious Scobboc pool that again fishes in all heights of water. The most famous pool is the Ferroch opposite Cairnton and,  with a large hut overlooking it, is a dream to fish besides being very productive  in medium to low water. At the bottom of the beat is the Grey Mare which also fishes in all heights of water and is another substantial holding pool.
The beat is tended by Raymond Sinclair who has been the ghillie for 22 years and is a fountain of knowledge. His advice is ignored only by the foolhardy!

Looking down the Morel Pool

Looking down the Morel Pool

And there is now availability for the first time on the FishDee website – Please dont miss this opportunity to fish this fabulous beat-you will not be disappointed.

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Availability

Date of listing: Tue, 26 Feb 2013 05:52:59 GMT

To book fishings, click the bold ‘Week of’ link at the start of the relevant line

  • Click on the Species link for an explanation of the species abbreviations
  • Click on the Notes links (where applicable) for an explanation of the abbreviated notes
                                Week of                                 Species                                 Rent/Day                                 Mon                                 Tue                                 Wed                                 Thu                                 Fri                                 Sat                                 Sun                                 Notes
15 Apr 13 as st £110     3     3     3     3     3     3     – Min 3d1r LE
27 May 13 as st £110     3     3     3     3     3     3     – Min 3d3r LE
24 Jun 13 as st £100     3     3     3     3     3     3     – Min 3d3r LE
8 Jul 13 as st £100     3     3     3     3     3     3     – Min 3d3r LE
19 Aug 13 as st £85     3     3     3     3     3     3     – Min 3d3r LE

FishDee Beats Weekly Fishing Report 25th February 2013

Recent Catches
Sport for the many experienced salmon anglers who populated the River bank last week was slow and tough going, with very few fish coming forward into the river, perhaps due to very cold river temperatures. FishDee beats have so far reported 28 salmon for the week compared to 65 for the same week last year. Park and Crathes reported 4 apiece; Middle Drum, Lower Crathes and Little Blackhall reported 3 each, with the biggest reported at 18lbs from Middle Drum. Fishing in February is always very unpredictable as salmon will choose to run the river when they choose to and all anglers can do is turn up and hope they run through their beat whilst they are fishing. Looking back to 2010 FishDee beats reported 169 salmon for the month and the season finished with over 9,300, which was the best for over 30 years. So it’s very early in the season and we have to accept nature dictates the levels of sport on the River bank and we have to persevere and enjoy our day out and make the most of it. I’m sure the banter in the huts at lunchtime is as lively as ever as anglers share a dram and the craic with our experienced crack team of Ghillies.

Success at Ballogie
I met a number of anglers during the week and some Ghillies when I endeavoured to try and catch a February Springer to no avail. Keith Webster and Jamie Hammond had a few days at Lower Crathes where they found sport a bit slow. Keith was really pleased to catch a fresh fish of approximately 10 pounds. Alas Jamie didn’t manage on this occasion, but can console himself that during the corresponding week last year he caught a 22lb Springer and a 24 lb Springer; better luck next time Jamie. I was also delighted to receive an e-mail from Geoff Fisher who readers may recall had opening week success at Lower Crathes. Well Geoff did the business again on Saturday and dropped me an email and images of the salmon. Geoff commented’ Good morning. Please find attached a couple of photos of a cock fish taken, and safely returned, from the Mill Pool at Lower Crathes about 3.30 on Saturday afternoon. I’ve included 2 photos as the ‘better’ photo doesn’t show the depth of the fish. If there was ever any doubt as to why we spend hours on end up to our waists in freezing cold water at this time of year – these sorts of fish are the reason – it truly was just 16lb of pure adrenalin busting Springer. The fish, taken on a 1.5″ Black & Yellow tube, was a welcome reward after 2 days of hard work in very cold conditions indeed. I don’t think I can recall such a combination of cold water & stubbornly low air temperatures, for such a long time. Either that or its just age setting in! As always I’d like to say a big thank you to Robert Harper, Chas Booth &, on this occasion, Chas’s brother Bob Booth. Bob, who was helping out on Saturday, was on hand to net my fish and assist with the photos.’ The images show a really super fish and well done Geoff for showing that talent and perseverance provides success when opportunity comes along.

Geoff Fisher with a 16lb salmon at Lower Crathes
I also was pleased to bump into Gavin Ramsay who enjoyed success at Commonty. As always it’s a pleasure catching up with Gavin who caught his fish on a small dressed double! Sean McGarry was also back on a flying visit to Park and managed his 4th of the season from Park; he of course was tremendously pleased with his success. Well done Sean and hopefully you can suggest Lotto numbers for me this week. And talking about Sean’s-the Ballogie Estates head Ghillie Sean Stanton commented on his blog ‘It’s not the best of weeks, with only 3 fish caught on the Ballogie beats, just 1 off each beat! The river temperature is the biggest problem, at only 34 degrees Fahrenheit the fish are not moving up through the river at any speed, and as the water keeps dropping the fish are more likely to stay in the lower beats when they come in from the sea. We need a change in weather to stand a chance of drawing fish out from the sea, looking at the forecast we will see a slight rise in daytime temperatures which could result in some snow melt. With a full moon nearly here we should see some high spring tides and this may bring fresh fish into the river. I hope!’

Sean McGarry has his 4th Springer of the year from Park
On Friday the upper beats will be seeing anglers arriving in good numbers to fish and it will be interesting to see what numbers of fish are in the upper beats. Good water levels did bring in a run of winter fish and they may help boost the week’s totals. I would like to make all anglers & Ghillies aware that there is one important change to the River Dee conservation code in 2013, which sees the introduction of tighter Biosecurity protocols which calls on all anglers fishing the river to have their wading boots and landing nets sprayed with a mild disinfectant on arrival at their beat. Disinfection equipment has been supplied to all fishing beats and this process, which was trialled last year on beats, will cause a very minimal disruption to anglers. Angler feedback forms from FishDee include a question asking if disinfection was carried out on the beat. Anglers should be aware the River Dee Trust has launched a spring raffle where tickets are on sale in fishing huts, Orvis in Banchory and the Tor Na Coille Hotel, with very nice prizes to be won. Please write with any news of catches or anecdotes to ken@riverdee.org so I can share this news in the weekly report and FishDee blog. Copyright FishDee
SALMON & GRILSE: Middle Drum 3, Upper Drum and Lower Durris 2, Park 4, Lower Crathes and W Durris 3, Knappach 1, Crathes 4, Little Blackhall and Inchmarlo 3, Middle Blackhall 2, Woodend 1, Commonty 1, Sluie 1, Ballogie 1, Borrowston 1, Carlogie 1, Aboyne Water 1, Total 29 SEA TROUT: Kincardine 1, Total 1 TROUT: none reported
Prospects
The weather forecast is suggesting high pressure is going to continue to remain established over the country with a continuation of calm and dry conditions. There will be little precipitation of note and the week shall be mostly bright and sunny until towards the weekend when there will be an increase in cloud cover. Air temperature maxima may reach 8 or 9 degrees Celsius on Saturday and there will be overnight frosts. If temperatures do get high enough at altitude there may well be some needed snow melt. The maritime influence sees tides building from 4 metres to 4.4 metres through Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before starting to drop back on Sunday. The Sepa gauges are reading 1ft 1 inch at Woodend and 1 ft 5 inches at Park so river levels are low and the water is cold. Any new fish that come forward will not travel far upriver in such cold water conditions and anglers may get some sport in the lower beats to Banchory.

Keith Webster with his first Springer of the year at Lower Crathes
Having spent a number of days trying in vain to catch a Springer it’s very important to listen to your Ghillies advice. Your beat Ghillie will encourage you to persevere in the likely taking lies given the water height on your beat and they will give good advice on presentation speed, fly choice and what depth to fish the fly. More often than not the Ghillie can make the difference and give you the advice you really need to catch the elusive silver fresh run salmon we all try so hard to catch.
As always there is a great amount of fishing availability on the FishDee website during March. The weather looks ideal for angling this week so if anglers can manage a visit to the river then please do so. A 3 day break at this time of year can yield some rewards with some of the local hotels doing special Fishermans rates for 3 days stays or more. There is good value to be found at the Tor Na Coille Hotel, Banchory Lodge, Raemoir House Hotel, Burnett Arms, British Legion and Douglas Hotel, all located in Banchory, where you will find rates of between £60 to £80 per night for B and B for single occupancy in a double room. Anglers have been commenting really favourably at how well they are being looked after by Ghillies on the river and also the local bars, restaurants and hotels. It is also pleasing to hear how supportive anglers are about the tighter Biosecurity protocols put in place this year. All anglers are being asked to have their waders and any landing nets sprayed with a mild disinfectant prior to commencing fishing. It’s a quick procedure that will help the river and prevent ingress of unwanted pathogens and non native species entering the watercourse. Anglers should be aware the River Dee Trust has launched a spring raffle where tickets are on sale in fishing huts, Orvis in Banchory and the Tor Na Coille Hotel, with very nice prizes to be won. Please write with any news of catches or anecdotes to ken@riverdee.org so I can share this news in the weekly report and FishDee blog. Copyright FishDee

Flood Relief for Stonehaven

Readers of the blog may wish to know about an important fundraising event for the Stonehaven Community who endured terrible flooding recently;

Ken

We have a fundraising dinner a week on Saturday at Drumtochty Castle.
3 great chefs & amazing wines…

Roy Brett owns Ondine in Edinburgh, who is a seafood genius/guru who taught Rick Stein all he knows.
Nick Nairn needs no intro…
Calum Richardson owns the Bay – the UK’s #1 fish & chip shop.

Tickets are £100 per person and this includes all your food & drink needs for the evening.
Smart Dress please, starting at 7PM.

I have sourced all the wines and they are some of the best we sell.

We will be launching a beer on the evening brewed specially for the occasion and a version of it will be a key driver to raise further funds (it will differ in presentation from that specifically for guests at the dinner)

Everyone is working for free, products and services have been donated and all profit will directly help those who suffered from the recent flooding.

It’d be great to have you along too.
If this isn’t possible maybe you can spread the word..?

Tickets available from Sandy at Deeside Drinks Emporium, Banchory and Drumtochty Wines, Stonehaven or write to Sandy-e-mail deesidedrinks@live.co.uk

Thanks,
Sandy.

River Dee Trust Raffle 2013

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The River Dee Trust have launched a Spring Raffle to help raise some funds for important work programmes this year. Full details can be found at the link below.

The Raffle has a range of attractive prizes available :

1st prize: 2 days fishing for 1 rod, Balmoral Estate, 2014;

2nd: Hilltrek bespoke wading jacket;

3rd: £250 FishPal voucher;

4th: Rehoboam bottle of Grouse;

5th: 2 night’s B&B, Banchory Lodge;

6th: Dinner for 4, Raemoir House Hotel;

7th: Ross MacDonald salmon flies;

8th: Fishing sunglasses

River Dee Trust 2013 Raffle

Raffle tickets can be obtained from River Dee Fishing Beats, Tor Na Coille Hotel, Orvis in Banchory and they can be obtained by post.

Tickets are only £5.00 each and can be obtained by post by forwarding a remittance to The River Dee Trust, River Office, Mill of Dinnet, Dinnet, Aboyne, Aberdeenshire, AB34 5LA Or by using PayPal link .

Catch & Release Impacts on the River Dee

The report below was compiled by the River Dee Trust’s fishery biologist Dr Lorraine Hawkins and was submitted as part of an Aquaculture & Fisheries Bill Consultation.

Survival after catch and release

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The (Aberdeenshire) River Dee has a voluntary total catch and release policy for salmon and sea trout. As part of a three-year study to investigate the released salmon’s ability to survive and migrate to spawning grounds as a result of extending the angling season by two weeks into October, 140 salmon were radio tagged by the River Dee Trust between 2008 and 2010. All 140 salmon were caught by paying anglers who were fishing in the autumn period (mid Sep – mid Oct), i.e. they were the regular clientele of the river. This was a necessity of the study as we needed to mimic the ‘normal’ fishery to assess potential effects of angling on the fish. Once caught, the fish were put into keep nets and held in the river until staff arrived to tag the fish. The fish that were tagged were not selected for and so represented the typical rod catch on the river, with the exceptions that: (1) fish showing signs of significant damage were excluded and (2) fish under 55 cm length were excluded. The latter was to avoid any harm to the fish when inserting the radio tag (the tag length was 5 cm and was pushed into the fish’s stomach).

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118 (84%) of the fish were tracked through their spawning period (late Nov – Jan), which contributed to the study’s conclusion that catching and releasing salmon in October made no difference to the fish’s ability to survive to spawn compared to catching and releasing fish in September (full reports can be viewed at River Dee Trust & Dee District Salmon Fishery Board: Home: Welcome). Of the 22 fish that it was not possible to track through their full spawning migrations, 16 of these fish were tracked moving upstream (minimum of 1 km, average 12 km) and were all tracked for a minimum of 22 days (average 46 d). This confirms that these fish survived being caught and released. A further six fish were tracked for a period of 27 – 75 days after they were captured and released but during that time only migrated downstream. This downstream migration behaviour was considered ‘normal’ because over the three years an additional 15 fish showed only downstream migration but remained in the river throughout the spawning period, suggesting that some fish originally migrate above their intended spawning grounds. It was concluded that these six fish also survived capture, tagging and release.
All of the remaining 22 (16%) salmon were therefore accounted for after they were released and so it was concluded that survival release post-release was 100%. In addition though, there were a total of eight fish (5.7%) which although they were tracked throughout the study, showed no movement. It is thought that in all of these cases the tag was regurgitated and remained on the river bed through the tracking period. This is surmised because no carcasses were found or reported and if a fish had died then the carcass would eventually be washed downstream and tracking would have detected this movement. In addition, a study by Environment Agency (Gowans 2004) found a regurgitation rate of 9% in 302 salmon that were radio tagged, which is in line with our estimate of 5.7%.

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Gowans (2004) estimated that 2.4% of salmon (five out of 208 tagged fish) caught by anglers died immediately from the effect of capture trauma and a further 2.4% died soon after being tagged and released. In the last four years, 98% of salmon caught on the Dee have been released for the whole angling season. The retained 2% is mostly explained by mortality during capture/handling of the fish, which is in line with the estimate of Gowans (2004). For the Dee, a mortality of 2% of the total rod catch in the last four years equates to an average of 160 salmon per year. In 2004 it was estimated that angling tourism brings in £11.5 million each year to the Deeside economy (Radford et al 2004).
The River Dee was one of the first rivers in the UK to introduce catch and release (in 1994) and in 1996 the survival of these released fish was assessed by Webb (1998). In this study, 25 salmon that were caught by anglers between March and June 1996 were radio tagged. Of these 25 fish, 21 were successfully tracked until spawning at the end of the year. A further two fish were lost from the study, after being tracked for 83 and 90 d and showing upstream migration of 7 – 37 km. One fish was recaptured 69 d later and killed by the angler. The remaining one fish died 31 d after release with evidence of disease. As it cannot be ruled out that angling contributed to this disease, the study shows a maximum mortality relating to angling of 4%.

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References
Gowans A (2004). Radio-tracking of Atlantic salmon on the River Eden, Cumbria: spawning distribution and survival to spawning. Environment Agency.
Radford A, Riddington G, Anderson J & Gibson H (2004). The Economic Impact of Game and Coarse Angling in Scotland. Report prepared for Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department. Scottish Executive, Edinburgh.
Webb JH (1998). Catch and release: the survival and behaviour of Atlantic salmon angled and returned to the Aberdeenshire Dee, in spring and early summer. Scottish Fisheries Research Report 62. 16 pp

For further information about the report please contact Lorraine@riverdee.org

Weekly Audio Report Uploaded

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Please click on icon above to download River Dee Weekly Audio Fishing Report prepared 25 th February 2013.

River Dee Weekly Fishing Report 18th Feb

Recent Catches

The second full weeks fishing on the River Dee saw anglers fishing hard for little reward from fresh run salmon. FishDee beats have reported 32 salmon to 18lbs last week with the same week last year seeing 92 salmon reported. The water levels were reasonable all week with a bit of a rise in river levels on Friday, Saturday and Sunday due to snow melt as air temperatures rose. Catches reported for the week were as follows: Park 2, Crathes 2, Invery 3, Tilquhillie 2, Lower Blackhall and Kinneskie 3, Little Blackhall and Inchmarlo 2, Upper Blackhall 4, Cairnton 2, Woodend 1, Ballogie 3, Borrowston 4, Kincardine 3, Carlogie 1.

Jenny Cooper with a fine 17lb salmon at Park

I have received some angler feedback and am grateful to those who have taken the time to write to me in order that I can share information with readers of this column. Graeme Arthur commented ‘Dear Ken, It was good to catch up and have a chat about old times over a meal and decent bottle of wine in the Tor-na-Coille last week.  As you know we had 6 fish for our week. I really got off to flier with the 2 nine pounders, in the last hour of day light in that high water on the boat pool-Crathes. This really set the trend for the week, the mind set was very positive and I think this attitude worked well for us with over 40 kelts and six nice Springer’s. We managed to get a small video, playing and landing of the first salmon, selection of photos above are my third and fifth fish, Richard playing his and Emma into a kelt out in the boat.’ Graeme has been a regular tenant at Crathes for a number of years and is a very experienced and talented angler. Regular Dee fishers Jenny Cooper and Steve Wellard enjoyed good sport last week with Jenny writing to advise, ‘Hi Ken, Steve and I thought you may like to see the pictures of the beautiful sea liced Spring fish that I caught on Friday 15th Feb in the House Pool at Park North. It was caught on a yellow and black tube fly and weighed by Keith at 17lbs with sea lice.  Was a wonderful end to a busy weeks fishing and my first Springer on the Dee. Regards, Jenny Cooper and Stephen Wellard.’ The images sent are really excellent and will be posted in the media and website.

Graeme Arthur with one of 5 taken for his week at Crathes

I was pleased to speak to Tam Wallace who was fishing at Lower Blackhall and Kinneskie when I popped in for a visit. Tam has very kindly written to me with images advising ‘Hi Ken, here’s a pic of the 18lb Springer I caught at lower Blackhall on 12th February. I caught her on a 1 and a half inch black and yellow Mylar tube. I fished for 3 days and had 2 fish for myself 8lb-18lb, 1 fish for Garry Cunningham, 7lb. I enjoyed the blether in the hut with you; I’m back up March and April and might catch up with you. Regards, Tam Wallace.’ I was also pleased to receive correspondence with images from Ian Shaw who commented ‘Along with 5 other mad keen salmon anglers, I fished the River Dee (Park South Beat) from 6th to 8th February expertly guided by Jim Fearn.  The fishing was fantastic, and between us we landed 5 superb springers all caught on a Gunn Snaelda.  I learnt so much from Jim, not just how to improve my casting, but how to fish the fly correctly, water craft and controlling the depth of the fly. I enclose a few pictures of a memorable few days. I would also make mention of the two Ghillies, Bert and Stewart who were very helpful and extremely polite. All in all, it was a fantastic trip on a superb piece of water.  The evenings consisted of plenty of fly tying, and even more consumption of single malts.  A fantastic time was had by all, and one I will remember for many years to come.’ It’s always nice to receive such an enthusiastic e-mail about a very enjoyable time on the River Dee.

Ian Shaw with a Springer at Park

I would like to make anglers aware that there is one important change to the River Dee conservation code in 2013 sees the introduction of tighter Biosecurity protocols which ask all anglers fishing the river to have their wading boots and landing nets sprayed with a mild disinfectant on arrival at their beat. Disinfection equipment has been supplied to all fishing beats and this process, which was trialled last year on beats, will cause a very minimal disruption to anglers. Angler feedback forms from FishDee include a question asking if disinfection was carried out on the beat. Please write with any news of catches or anecdotes to ken@riverdee.org so I can share this news in the weekly report and FishDee blog. Copyright FishDee

Prospects

After a quieter than hoped for week which saw river levels rising towards the end of the week then we can look forward with some hope that catches will increase during the week ahead. River levels are currently dropping back with the Sepa gauges reading 1ft 9 inches at Ballater and 3ft 4 inches at Park and falling. The maritime influence sees tides will be building during the course of the week from 3.2 metres to 4.0 metres. The river and tidal conditions are ideal for new fish to come forward, if indeed they are there to come forward. High pressure is building over the course of the week which means that winds will be light and variable and there will be little precipitation of consequence. The air temperature as I drove to Dinnet this morning was minus 5 degrees Celsius and we can expect air temperature maxima of around 5 degrees Celsius this week and overnight frosts as temperatures are expected to fall below zero all week. This looks like offering anglers pretty reasonable riverside conditions providing they wrap up well to keep warm.

Jim Fearn with a nice fresh run salmon at Park South

I met some Ghillies and anglers during the week who were fishing hard and diligently and they by and large reported there were, in some beats a good amount of kelts, but few springers. What sport anglers were having required them to fish the fly deep and slow where on the business end, tube flies were very popular and patterns such as Black/Yellow, Gold Bodied Willie Gunn, Dee Monkey, and Park Shrimp provided some sport from Springers where they were located. There were some really nice specimens caught so it pays to ensure your tackle is sound, as a prized Springer is too precious to lose because your equipment wasn’t sound enough or your knots not tied well enough.

Al smiling broadly at his success

As always there is a great amount of fishing availability on the FishDee website during February and March. The weather looks ideal for angling this week so if anglers can manage a visit to the river then please do so. A 3 day break at this time of year can be rewarding with some of the local hotels doing special Fishermans rates for 3 days stays or more. There is good value to be found at the Tor Na Coille Hotel, Banchory Lodge, Raemoir House Hotel, Burnett Arms, British Legion and Douglas Hotel, all located in Banchory. Where you can find rates of between £60 to £90 per night for B and B for single occupancy in a double room. It has been most enjoyable getting out and about in the evening meeting groups of anglers who have all commented really favourably at how well they are being looked after by Ghillies on the river and also the local bars, restaurants and hotels. It is also pleasing to hear how supportive anglers are about the tighter Biosecurity protocols put in place this year. All anglers are being asked to have their waders and any landing nets sprayed with a mild disinfectant prior to commencing fishing. It’s a quick procedure that will help the river and prevent ingress of unwanted pathogens and non native species entering the watercourse.

Anglers looking to source fishing tackle that needs replaced or topped up can visit Somers of Aberdeen, Orvis in Banchory, George Strachan in Aboyne and the Kincardine O’Neil Post Office. Please write with any news of catches or anecdotes to ken@riverdee.org so I can share this news in the weekly report and FishDee blog. Copyright FishDee

Major Investment & Development at the Tor Na Coille Hotel

Major Investment & Development at the Tor Na Coille Hotel

Tor Na Coille 2

This is the first in a series of articles about businesses in the Royal Deeside community who are key players in developing their business model and investing heavily for the future, whilst looking after visiting anglers to Deeside. The Tor Na Coille mansion was built in Banchory in 1873 and at the turn of the century it became one of Royal Deeside’s best appointed hotels attracting European Royal families and the Hollywood legend Charlie Chaplin! The hotel today was purchased in August 2009 by Charlie Anderson, who has assembled a very talented team to manage the hotel. Head Chef Robert Ramsay was appointed in January 2010 and Phillip Fleming was appointed General Manager in November 2010 . They have between them over 55 years of experience at top quality establishments learning and developing their skills in the hospitality business.

Phillip Fleming & Robert Ramsay

The hotel has recently been undergoing a multi million pound refurbishment programme since acquisition, with 18 of the bedrooms and suites now completely overhauled. Each of the bedrooms now has a tasteful individual theme and top quality furniture throughout. The final 7 bedrooms in the hotel are being refurbished just now, and are expected to be finished by the end of March 2013. The public areas of the hotel have been tastefully refurbished with elegant furniture and fittings and a delightful collection of art, including works by local artists decorating the walls, and a regular supply of wonderful fresh flower displays.

 

There has been a significant 6 figure investment in a fabulous new kitchen installed in January / February 2013, which has state of the art equipment to ensure both high and consistent standards of top quality food, which is now quicker than ever from the team of 7 talented chefs. Robert Ramsay has designed the kitchen and sourced the equipment from Lockhart’s who are renowned for providing top quality kitchen equipment. Robert commented ‘The design was based on the business requirements utilising more efficient equipment which will provide significant cost savings in the long term, as well as providing a far more comfortable working environment for my kitchen team. Of course what that means for the customer is the benefit in receiving top quality meals delivered consistently day in day out. ’ Robert discussed enthusiastically the new equipment and what the specific roles of each unit was and how it was more efficient than the previous equipment, as well as being extremely user friendly for the kitchen team. It is really quite something to see how technology in a commercial kitchen differs from a domestic environment. The net result of this investment is a very impressive kitchen, which in the short and long term will justify the expenditure, and ensure a very happy team of staff produce top quality dining experiences for visitors.

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The Tor Na Coille Hotel is acquiring AA membership and currently working towards a 2 rosette standard for food, and ultimately aiming for the very prestigious red star recognition. They offer a very nice bar/bistro experience with a popular range of meals utilising freshly prepared and local sourced food, including beef, game and sea food, which the north east of Scotland is renowned for. Their Royal Deeside restaurant offers more relaxed formal dining in a beautifully appointed room with unique features. There is a sumptuous menu there and a very good range of fine wines. The hotel is very popular with the local residents who come along in good numbers to enjoy a very fine 3 course lunch menu offering terrific value at £12.00 per person and high teas later in the afternoon.

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Visiting anglers account for about 20% of the hotels business and they are made very welcome by the team who are used to dealing with requests for flexible dining times, packed lunches and drying and storage facilities. The hotel offers fisherman’s rates of £60 per night for bed and breakfast for a stay of 3 or more nights for a single person in a double room. Double occupancy is £85 per night for bed and breakfast in a double or twin room for two occupants. There is the opportunity to upgrade to a master deluxe double or junior suite for those looking for a lot of space. This is proving to be a very popular package with visiting anglers who throng to the hotel in good numbers during the spring and summer months.

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In terms of accolades, the hotel was presented with the Scottish Boutique Country House Hotel award of the year in 2012. Phillip Fleming was awarded a gold medal as General Manager and Robert Ramsay was awarded Chef Fellowship, as a trainer of chefs. All the awards are from The Scottish Hotel Awards Group who blind visit hospitality establishments and carry out extensive research on their delivery of service and food excellence. The service team at the hotel have all been undergoing their hospitality training awards and the youthful team are very enthusiastic, courteous and pleasant. The proof of the pudding, as they say is in the eating, and anglers return time and time again to the hotel and bring more and more eager visitors who wish to savour the Tor Na Coille experience. This is no surprise given how highly rated the hotel is by the helpful Tripadvisor website, where feedback from visitors is really first class. In this day and age it is easy to criticise businesses as the country weathers a tough recession and employers are making cutbacks, however it is very refreshing to see people taking the time and effort to sing the praises of the unsung heroes who go the extra mile to ensure visitors to Deeside get very well looked after. Let’s hope the hotel continues to go from strength to strength in the future.  See www.tornacoille.com or call tel no 01330 822242

1338900980SAM_0331 Chef

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