Season Review 2015
As our thoughts turn to 2016, we have some early season availability on the River. Despite a difficult season, I am looking forward to ups and downs which will come our way next year.
While it has been a challenging time for everyone associated with the river, there were some bright spots along the way.
As the season got underway it was encouraging to see two of our long time regulars back on the river after a period of ill health. Tom Marshall celebrated opening day with a 15lbr from the Boat Pool at Carlogie. It was also good to hear of success for Gareth Headland, showing it’s hard to keep good men down.
The fish were not present in numbers although there were a few specimens about. Paul Grewcock had a 20lbr at Lower Crathes, which was topped by Derek Wiseman who picked a 22lbr from the same beat- it was an absolute cracker of a springer.
In early March, David Graham had a very happy Monday when he landed four springers at Lower Blackhall and Kinneskie. Fish of the month, and our biggest so far this season at 24lb, fell to John Laurie at Crathes Castle.
Catches remained depressed during April, but there were some good fish about nonetheless. Nicol Paton had a 20lbr at Kincardine. Highlight of the spring was to hear that veteran angler Alan Lankshear, who is 92, caught two fish at Carlogie. It was impressive to land a couple of springers when numbers are low, but to do so at 92 is quite an achievement.
The sea trout came in June and what they lacked in numbers they made up for in quality. The average size was around 2 1/2lb and there were several reports of fish in the 4-5lb bracket. The largest was a 6lb specimen landed at Ardoe and Murtle
The first two weeks of July were slow on the river with them accounting for 42 and 49 fish respectively. The second half of the month showed a marked improvement and we had our best week of the season with 88 during the wb 20 July. We enjoyed plenty of water throughout the month, although it was unsettled, moving up and down almost daily. There was cautious optimism that August might be more productive. It was interesting to see how fast the fish were running for the upper river; sea liced grilse were taken as far up as Cambus O May and very fresh grilse were also been landed at Monaltrie and Lower Invercauld and Crathie
The first week of August delivered our best weekly catch of the season with 136 salmon and grilse landed. It was encouraging to see an upturn, but in truth we needed a lot more to be anywhere near satisfied. Nonetheless, in the context of this season, it was an encouraging start. We landed 128 during the week beginning 10 August and 99 for week beginning 24 August. The last week of the month saw 144 landed, which rounded the month off at 507.
Unlike the past couple of seasons, the grilse made an appearance and there were reports up and down the river of good quality, hard fighting, and acrobatic fish. Water levels were good and the water temperature has been in the low 50sF for much of the month, creating ideal running conditions. On the downside, levels were up and down like a fiddler’s elbow, which didn’t help. Of course, we shouldn’t complain about having water. In the summer, anglers pray for rain and everyone else is praying for the sun; this year we had plenty of water and the rest of the community had to get by without much sign of the sun. The downside of too much rain was evident every time we got another cloudburst. The river becomes heavily peat stained and lingers for days and days. Just as it clears, away it goes again. It is a fact that if more fish had run the river, we would have caught more of them. But I honestly believe if water conditions had been more settled, we would have done better.
All in all September was a struggle on the river. The rain and corresponding good water levels of August disappeared and the summer we should have had finally turned up towards the end of the month. We began much as we finished August and landed 139 fish. This first week also delivered our biggest fish of the season so far – a 26lb fish landed by local angler John Fyfe at Crathie.
September was a much drier month which saw the river drop and with low numbers of new fish coming in the anglers’ job was doubly hard. For the most part, the catch mirrored any rises and we struggled when we got down to summer levels. The second week saw the catch drop to 70. We had a few first fish among them, which is always good news. James Holman had a 12lbr from Lower Blackhall while Tom Yeadon and Rosana Carson both caught their first fish with Craig McDonald at Cambus.
We started week beginning 14 September in good style. A rise in water levels over the weekend delivered 37 fish on the Monday and 28 on Tuesday, which are the kind of figures we should see regularly. The water fell away, followed by catches, which finished on 112, including another first fish, this time for young Jack Garden at Little Blackhall and Inchmarlo. The last full week of the month concluded with 84 in the book. What fish we did have in the pools, were off the take for long periods and several ghillies were pulling their hair out trying to hook them. The upper river, above Aboyne, closed on the 30th.
The middle and lower river continued to fish into October. There were 52 fish reported for the last full week of the season, which was a poor return. There were some good individual catches. Max Delabre had 6 days at Park, separated by the weekend, during which he landed 12 fish including a belter of 18lb from Bakebare on a Red Frances. Jim Coates had good sport at Dess and Lower Crathes and Danish regular Lars Terkildsen and friends fished Birse. The party were hampered by heavy rain at the start of their week. Lars picked up a couple in Red Brae on a black and orange Monkey and a couple more later on in the week. Hakan Rondahl picked up three fish and a couple of sea trout.
As closing day came round, I think we were all glad to see the back of the 2015 season. George Holsworth reminded us all of the type of sport we would like to see more regularly, landing five including a 13lbr and a 14lbr. A nice way to draw a line under a long season.