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(Last updated: Monday 6th March)
River Don Update
The salmon angling season is now well under way on the river, the first spring fish was landed on the 13th Feb from Kildrummy Fishing's a well-proportioned 5lb fish caught on the fly. Angling effort has remained low throughout the river with only a handful of anglers venturing out each day for a few hours or so. The distinct lack of salmon kelts around this spring was noticeable, these post spawner's help to hold and slow any new arriving fish and I suspect any new fish are pushing quickly upriver.
River levels have remained at a good level having benefited from a top up every week since the season started but have never ran too coloured or high to prevent anglers having a cast, the gusting winds on days over the past couple of weeks though have made conditions testing to say the least.
February fish are a rarity nowadays on the Don but we finished the month with the grand total of 3 springers the same as 2016 Feb, the other two being landed from the ADAA waters at Parkhill heaviest at 16lbs. The first few days of March has seen some activity with a couple of liced fish already being reported.
It's still early days on the Don but the few rods that are out on the lower river are starting to see fresh fish more often which is encouraging news. The river is in fine order at present dropping back nicely after a decent rise at the weekend. The days are lengthening and It's nice to see anglers out having a cast after their work its also been good to see new some new faces on the riverbank this season.
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Seasons Fishing Review 2016
It was a slightly better spring salmon fishing period with over 60 fish reported caught by the end of May as opposed to the 50 or so from the same period 2015. February saw the usual handful caught but it was late March before numbers began to build steadily. By mid April the lower beats reported seeing small runs pushing upstream as the water temperature rose. Fresh fish were reported seen and landed on the upper Don come mid – May. The heaviest fish landed in the spring period was at 20lbs.
When conditions suited Brown Trout anglers enjoyed good sport through April, May and into June with trout up to a fantastic 7.5lbs being landed. Catch and release of these bigger fish is regarded as the norm now on the river with many specimen trout being seen landed again later in the year. Dry fly enthusiasts were reporting decent hatches of Large Dark Olives, these appeared for long spells of the day enticing the trout onto the surface. Plenty of Trout were being landed in the 8-10inch range. The low water conditions later on in the season benefited trout anglers and again some decent catches were had.
The first of the seasons Sea Trout appeared on the lower beats in the last week of May. Catches were not that great for June and July as water levels remained too high for late evening sport but some beats did alright as levels dropped. Fish spread out quickly throughout the system and beats up at Alford saw clean fish landed averaging between 1.5-2.5lbs. Numbers reported were on a par with the previous year. The largest caught seatrout weighed 9lbs but many others were caught between 5-7lbs this season which is unusual for the Don.
Grilse catches were again low for the months of July and August although those landed were in good condition from 4-6lbs. River levels dropped away and remained low through September but the lower beats which should have scored still reported poor returns. Summer fish made up the limited sport available to anglers but quickly went off the take due to the low warm water. Angling pressure was low throughout the catchment and catches were down on all beats. Throughout the summer month's large amounts of finnock were appearing on every high tide at the Don Estuary. Come late September they had increased in size averaging 1lb, hopefully they run as adults next season.
Autumn fish failed to run in large numbers throughout September and most of October. Low water prevailed and anglers had to be content with landing stale coloured fish. When fresh water eventually arrived in October an improvement was seen for a week or so as some new sea liced fish ran in from the sea but unfortunately for the lower river beats these fish pushed quickly upstream evident as silver fish were caught on the middle river along with others which had moved upstream in readiness for spawning. The heaviest landed for the last month was at 25lbs from the upper river.
Catch figures for salmon will be low for another season with certain beats struggling to get into double figures the total reported catch is not in yet but from feedback received will more than likely be below 500 fish landed. Brown trout catches have been much better with quality fishing being found throughout the catchment at an affordable price. The number of trout anglers are increasing on the Don and it is once again attracting anglers from all over the country and abroad to its banks.
Sea Trout and Brown Trout were busy making redds in the burns from the last week of October with salmon redds beginning to be seen in better numbers a week or so later. Late running fish were seen late November and Salmon have been cutting redds into December on the middle and lower river. Redd counts have been average on the middle lower sections but the upper reaches and tributaries have been down on past years.
Best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.