It was touch and go but thankfully I was able to travel north in the last week of April and revisit one of my favourite places in the world – the River Dee where it flows through the Glen Tanar and Dinnet & Kinord estates. We were met by ghillies, hoteliers and proprietors relieved to see returning anglers after an extended absence. We were also lucky enough to be met by some beautiful spring salmon.
Conditions were challenging with low temperatures matched by low water levels but overhead conditions were helpful (outside the occasional sleet or hail shower) as we avoided the bright sun of the previous week. Monday started in promising fashion, with a fish lost before lunch. Another fish was risen later in the afternoon which piqued my interest as I would be fishing that pool in the evening, and indeed I hooked a good fish in that same lie after we had our dinner. Sadly, the fly came away just as it was nearing the net but elsewhere my friend Mark had more luck landing a very fresh 7 pounder on a Toucan.
Tuesday was chilly again and the river had eased up a few inches overnight. With drizzle and low cloud on the hill, I switched to my trusty Green Shrimp and in the middle of the afternoon the line drew away steadily in a classic big fish take. Pol Slachd is a lovely pool in which to play a fish but there is always a danger of a drowned line if a fish heads upstream into the deep pot on the far side of the current. This fish was determined to try every trick in the book but eventually I was able to coax his head onto the gravel and admire a magnificent deep 17 pound cock salmon. After a quick picture, I slipped him back into the current at the head of the pool and he soon swam off strongly. I sat down and reflected on a magnificent fish with which to mark my return to the Dee.
As the week went on we caught several more fish, a couple on Frances flies, one each on the NessC and Black & Yellow Shrimp. There was another fish for the Green Shrimp, this time a first ever salmon for Kiloran Buckler landed by herself in the Middle Bobby pool.
Fly of the week, as so often for us, was the Toucan with six fish. This is my default fly for the witching hour before the sun sets and it didn’t let me or the others down. The last fish took at 9:40 pm on Saturday night, a perfect end to a great week.