FishDee beats reported 4,496 salmon and 779 sea trout in 2013 which is not the final total for the river, with a number of other beats catches to be added to these totals before we finalise the 2013 catch returns, however the salmon catch should be above 5,000 for the season. The three preceding years had produced approximately a combined total of 25,000 salmon, so the 2013 salmon catch is down a bit on these years. This is inline with other rivers throughout the Northern Hemisphere where there appears to have been a downturn in catches across virtually every country that’s sees migratory Atlantic Salmon running their rivers. There are never any guarantees of how big the annual run of salmon will be into salmon rivers as there are many variables involved which affect nature. Perhaps a good way to look at this is to consider that there’s not been a good harvest this year; but there’s not a lot wrong with the farm.
The biggest verified salmon caught in 2013 at 28lbs-Roald Meyer at Lower Crathes
The Spring period was bitterly cold, which seemed to go on for ever, salmon didn’t run in any great numbers with February seeing 190 reported, 270 for March, 479 for April and May produced 646 salmon. There were some good specimens about in March and April and Lower Crathes produced a 28lb salmon to visitor Roald Mayer which is the largest verified salmon for the 2013 fishing season. There are reports of two other 28lb salmon from Dess and Lower Invercauld and Monaltrie however neither fish were witnessed, nor were images taken at the point of capture. Some of the beats did have a pretty reasonable spring and Ghillies seemed happy at Crathes, Invery and Tilquhillie. There wasn’t any significant upstream migration in April when the snows did melt and the river levels rose. Park and Lower Crathes did reasonably well in April and May and Carlogie had a decent May. The Glentanar and Dinnet beats normally do very well in May and their anglers had to work hard for scant rewards compared to normal.
Mark Paterson fishing at Dess in a snow shower
Summer arrived and many of the Ghillies would have been hoping for a wet summer as a drought can really put the brakes on sport for visiting anglers. The last few years had seen cool damp summers and sport had been very decent at times. This year saw Deeside get a decent amount of sunshine, heat and very little rain, and as a result sport was slow for anglers this year. There were 590 salmon reported in June, 253 in July and 528 in August and a lot of fishermen sat in the sunshine and just accepted that you get the odd year when water conditions aren’t ideal for salmon angling.There were the two reported 28lbers taken during this period at Dess and Invercauld to Messrs Hartle and Stephenson. It was noticeable that Grilse numbers were reported to be down as were sea trout numbers.
Meriel Harper playing her first ever salmon with Dad Geoff Fisher at Lower Crathes
We came into September with continued low water levels which persisted into October and this impacted a bit on catches with FishDee beats reporting 781 for September and the beats below Aboyne Bridge reported 759 for the first fortnight in October. The welcome lift in water levels really got fish on the move and anglers were catching fish across the catchment. This was noticeable in the catch returns for Sept/October with Park reporting 200, Birse 115, Ballogie 100 and Altries with 98. The year will not be remembered as a classic by any matter of means however a positive piece of news was obtained when a visiting salmon biologist from Norway was diving in the river looking at habitat. He has surveyed many rivers in Norway and advised that the juvenile stocks in the River Dee were the best he had ever seen anywhere with a fantastic habitat for juvenile salmon recruitment. So we look forward to the 2014 salmon fishing season and it’s heartening to hear our sister River Tweed has had a very good late run of salmon-could this mean we shall have a great run of spring fish ? Well we will all have to book fishing on the Dee and come and find out. Merry Christmas to you all and Tight Lines in 2014 to all readers.
Keith Webster with a fine February salmon
Ken Reid Fisheries Development Officer DDSFB & River Dee Trust Office Mill of Dinnet, Aboyne Aberdeenshire, Scotland,AB34 5LA D +44 (0) 13398 80411 M +44 (0) 7979 878971 E-Mail firstname.lastname@example.org www.riverdee.org.uk and www.fishdee.co.uk
River Dee Trust Registered Charity No SC028497