Monthly Archives: May 2017

On The Beat- with George Murray, Craigendinnie



George Murray


George Murray has been the ghillie at Craigendinnie for the past 17 years, despite the fact he only ever intended to work there for 6 weeks as cover! Newly retired from Elf, George had bumped into Eoin Smith (the current Deecastle ghillie) in Banchory and Eoin had enquired about his availability to fill in for a short time. But when the late Jock Cattanach passed, George was offered the job and has been there ever since. Interestingly, George used to own Murray’s Tackle shop in Banchory (where Orvis is located), which he ran with his wife and son between the 1960s and 1980s.

The Craigendinnie beat is located on the south side of the upper river, just upstream of Aboyne. It has approximately 2 1/2 miles of fishing for 2 rods and has 15 pools. In the spring months, the beat has an agreement with Aboyne Castle which allows the rods from each to fish both banks. It is an excellent arrangement which benefits the anglers.

George likes the water to be lower rather than higher, within reason of course. Ideally a height of between 1′- 1’6″ would suit the whole beat and at that height, George would be confident of a pull anywhere. The beat will take higher water and pools such as Jocky Fyfe, Crofts, Upper Fontie, and the Lorne, will all fish with an extra push of water.

When pressed, George, like many of his anglers, tells me he would pick Jocky Fyfe and perhaps the Lorne as his favourite sports on the beat. Of course, he likes to hedge his bets and tells me, “it all depends on conditions.”



A beautiful springer from Jock Fyfe


In the spring months, George likes an intermediate line with a tip, paired with an 1 1/2″ monkey or Cascade tubes. He also likes to give the Red Frances a swim too. Later as the water drops the floating line, possibly with an intermediate tip is his preferred choice, again, as he likes to stress, it all depends on the conditions. Fly sizes drop back with the water levels and Executioners and Silver Stoats down to s14 or even s16 are useful, as is a Munro if there is a slight tinge of colour in the water.

George is a strong advocate of customer care and takes the time to assess the different needs of each client and enjoys nothing more than a new rod getting a fish. More experienced rods, who have fished the beat many times can usually be relied on to work out the best tactics, for themselves, but for those new to the beat, George is very particular about ensuring they get the best possible advice and support. “Afterall.” he says, ” I like them to come back!”



Lorne Pool



Craigendinnie, is a delightful beat with lots of lovely fly water. The beat is very popular and there is usually a high demand for the fishing. Keep a close eye on FishDee to get a day, On the Beat, with George.



On The Beat- with Keith Cromar, Park


Keith Cromar is Head Ghillie at Park. He has been with the estate since 1987 and learned his trade there under the guidance of the late Major Foster, who was a renowned angler. As Head Ghillie, Keith is responsible for  3 miles of double bank fishing, (let as two separate beats) which includes some wonderful fly pools.

Park fishes in all water heights and anglers have a rich variety of pools. In low water, the tail of Cooper’s into the Long Pool down to the Sheeoch Burn is a great spot for a fish in low water. The bend at Upper Kirks has fished well since Storm Frank. It’s a spot where Keith and his rods have had to relearn how to fish it. There is a fine line between under wading and over wading the pool. If you judge it correctly there is a sweet spot, discovered with some trial and error, where the fly swings perfectly over the lies. The top of Greenbank is a good cast and can be a lively place when the grilse are in.

In higher flows, several other pools burst into life. The Lower Kirks can fish with up to 3′ on the gauge, while the bottom of Greenbank into Castleton will also fish. Castleton itself, is a known high water pool and Keith likes it to have between 3′ and 4′ of water pushing through it.

The House Pool is a good spot for a running fish, there is a lie at the neck, which is worth fishing a few times in a day as there is often a fish resting there before pushing on. The best heights for the House Pool are between 12″ and 18″.

The famous Cellar Pool fishes in all heights. In high water, they are closer to the north bank and as the water drops they move south and can often be picked up under the bushes and trees hard into Park South.


Keith in front of the Park hut. The door shows the watermark and dates fo when the river has flooded. The 2015 mark is on the roof!

The Durris Stream is one of the top pools on the beat and, probably the whole river. It is a pleasure to cast a fly here. It fishes in in low water and up to around 25″. The beat widens into a large wide section beginning with Jetties, flowing through Redwell and Ashtree. A water height of about 30″ is perfect for this part of the beat. There are little clusters of daffodils to look out for. These were planted by Major Foster to mark his favourite taking spots.



Decisions, decisions…

Bakebare has some interesting wading and in Keith’s opinion is the best place to hook a fish as the fight is usually eventful! Hooked fish get their tails in the stream and can empty a reel in short order.

Duffers is well named. It is only a short cast and ‘if he’s there, you’ll get him,’ says Keith.

The Bridge Run is a summer pool and can be exciting in low water for grilse and summer salmon. There is a pocket of water at the top, which, if approached properly, will deliver good sport in July and August.

In the spring slow sinking shooting heads, such as Sink 1 or Sink 2 work well, paired with a Willie Gunn, Monkey or Park Shrimp are good choices, according to Keith. Later, as the water drops and warms, a floater and tips will suffice.

The Stoat’s Tail originated at Park, created by the late George Cooper, who ghillied there for many years. One of the favourite versions of this famous pattern is the Yellow Stoat. When the river falls and clears in summer, a 1/4″ Yellow Stoat, a favourite of Major Foster, on the full floating line can be a deadly way of approaching Park’s salmon.


Yellow Stoats

To find out more about fishing Park, see Park FishDee or visit Park’s website


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