All posts by The Dogged Angler

A truly passionate Angler this is a light hearted account of my angling trips, adventures, successes, failures and learnings.......discovered amidst our beautiful Scottish rivers, lochs and breathtaking scenery.

Crathes Castle on The Dee

22nd-23rd April 2022

This first trip to the the Dee and Crathes Castle beat had been in the calendar for almost two years since being forced to reschedule in 2021 due to Covid-19. My good friend Pat and I were therefore more than excited to fish this great looking beat on the beautiful Dee.

On the drive north I, or rather the sat nav, opted for the rural route into Banchory which took me through some stunning hills and countryside and the lovely wee village of Fettercairn. We had accommodation arranged right beside the river at The Banchory Lodge which didn’t disappoint.

Banchory Lodge Hotel

After a hearty Scottish breakfast we headed for the river at Crathes Castle already concerned at the lack of water but eager to get started. Upon arrival we were greeted by Graham the Ghillie at Crathes Castle who made us most welcome at the well appointed fishing lodge. Having allocated where we would each be fishing Graham then carefully provided Pat and I with detailed information concerning each pool, run and likely lies given the conditions which was much appreciated.

Video Summary

I started on the lower part of the beat carefully fishing down amongst the boulders and riffles of the “Crathes Trough” section. The bright blue skies and sunshine showcased the river in all its glory but combined with a chilly north east wind conditions were far from ideal.

We fished until lunchtime without success, neither moving nor seeing a fish aside from some small trout. After lunch and Pat road testing a new LOOP 7X 15ft rod (which I stayed well away from!) we headed to the top part of this truly beautiful beat.

Pat putting the Loop 7X 15′ rod through it’s paces

We fished this section hard, trying different flies, sizes and tippet depths to no avail however. Despite the lack of fish it was hard not to be impressed at the abundance of wildlife and the beautiful tranquil surroundings that I found myself in. I also got the chance to try my new Mackenzie 13ft FX-1 Graphene for the first time matched with a LOOP SDS Tactical Spey which performed really well when I got it right. One of the pools at the top of the beat – Panter? which had a deep drop off on the opposite bank just screamed fish. This was reinforced by the fact that a landing net was permanently installed on the far bank. Alas no takers unfortunately and once more no fish to be seen or moved. Back to the hotel to recharge and rethink at the bar.

Panter? On Upper part of beat

Given that we had one more day we decided to get on the river before the bright sunshine took over once more. So leaving the hotel at the ungodly time of 5.30am we were fishing just after 6.00am, starting this time at the top of the beat.

By lunchtime we had covered many, but not all of the pools and runs of the top of the beat without success. I did have a firm tug in the “Panter” pool on a Willie Gun conehead but aside from this then no action.

After lunch the sun was blazing and temperatures in the high teens and I opted to fish the interesting looking run above the ‘Boat Pool’ a fast wide glide running down into the deep ‘Boat Pool’ with some interesting streamy sections either side of the main flow. Having tried almost everything else I opted to give a sunray a swing through this section which was almost immediately hit by a small brown trout. In the hot afternoon I was joined by another fisher – a bird of prey which was scanning the water.

Run above/into The “Boat Pool”

Having fished steadily and carefully down this run I called it a day around four o’clock with no offers.

What a stunning beat and whilst obviously disappointed having only seen two fish over the two day then we both agreed that it had been a great couple of days in this lovely part of of the Country.

Drummond Castle – River Earn

11th May 2022

A great day on the River Earn at ‘Drummond Castle’ beat. A first for me on this part of the river but I was in safe hands with my good friend Kevin who has many years experience of fishing this beat, including the halcyon days when Salmon and Sea Trout catches were beyond prolific.

This is truly a lovely beat with some really interesting deep pools and some great looking runs Whilst many pools were fishable many were sadly overgrown with trees and bushes. Alas the water was just too high for the fly so the ‘cheating stick’ was the order of the day.

Albeit high the water was a lovely ‘tea’ colour and pretty clear as we worked our way upstream. Kevin managed to hook several nice wee brown trout and I could hear cries of frustration above me as Kevin had several takes or follows from some sizable fish! This pattern continued for most of the day with some lovely small finnock and brown trout accounting for most of the catches. Between the squalls of rain sand martins appeared and provided a stunning display of aerial acrobatics as they fed on the wing amidst the backdrop of Spring colours and new greenery bursting into life. Video below is a snapshot of a very enjoyable day on this lovely part of The Earn

For myself I was delighted to hook and land a beautiful Sea Trout of around 4lb! Towards the end of the day as we worked our way back downstream Kevin turned a large fish in one of the deeper pools on a Vision 110 which unfortunately failed to connect! I opted to have a smoke and wait before I followed him down the same pool ten minutes later covering the high banked pool.

Half way down I got a real shock on looking below me as a very large salmon appeared from at my feet following the vision lure right to the bank!! It came alongside the lure at the very end of the retrieve and turned below my feet before disappearing back into the depths of the pool! Being only feet above I was close enough to see the eyes of what was a lovely fish of at least 15lb – on my scale at least ๐Ÿ™ƒ๐Ÿ™ƒ๐Ÿ˜‚

A great end to a good day out and a beat well worth a return to and hopefully cast a fly.

Dalmarnock on The Tay

2nd February, 2022

Undaunted by a blank first ever visit to the River Tay the previous week I was keen to try it once more if only to get out and cast a line. One of our group the previous week had landed a beautiful wee Springer of 8lb and I was keen to try and follow his example. After carefully trying to predict a weather ‘slot’ between the gales and heavy rain of the week I opted for the Wednesday which appeared to be more favourable. My good friend and passionate salmon angler Pat had agreed to join me for another day on the beautiful Dalmarnock beat.

The Stepp’s Pool

Car packed with both fly and spinning gear, although neither of us were particularly keen to spin, we headed off.

Upon arrival we were warmly greeted once more by Ghillie Colin McFadyen and his young colleague Andrew. We had the beat to ourselves and decided to fish the top end of the beat in the morning and the lower pools after lunch. After some of Colin’s most welcome coffee and ever helpful guidance and advice we headed to the top of the beat.

The upper part of Dalmarnock we both really like as it has some great fly water, easy wading and absolutely beautiful surroundings with the hills and forest to the East. The weather was decent with temperature around 8-9 deg c and dry overcast conditions. It was hard to fail to notice the extent of tree damage and felling on the bank by Beavers whose works (damage) appeared to have accelerated even since our last visit the week before.

Video

The previous week I had struggled to get a decent line out blaming this that and the other including the sinking shooting and heavy tip and fly followed by my poor casting ability which never was in the ‘great’ category.

Following this frustrating first day out of the new season then, in despair I had ditched the sinking shooting head and S5 tip, taken some casting tuition and armed myself with a new Carron 65′ intermediate line.

Not all of these ideas proved to be successful however as I really struggled with the new sunk Carron spey line in the morning thinking perhaps I had been too ambitious and changed too many ‘variables’ at the same time!

Using a mix of flies including Dee Monkeys, Gold Bodied Willie Guns, Haugur we fished the upper part of the beat at “Dalmarnock Bank Pool” before moving downstream to fish “The Stepp’s Pool” without either rods contacting anything.

By lunchtime back at the lodge we were certainly ready for a break, food, coffee and a recharge. Personally I was certainly in need of a rest having ‘struggled’ all morning to get to grips with the new Carron intermediate line with mixed success. In order to avoid further frustration and shoulder damage I decided to change setup and reverted to my old standby of the Rio Scandi Versitip line with the 15ft sink tips.

Fed and rested then after lunch we headed downstream stopping firstly to fish “Sowerby Pool“, which proved to be an interesting pool even if fishable section was short at current levels.

Sowerby

We then headed for the “Ram’s Horn Pool” above and the “Oak Tree Pool” below the road bridge with myself opting for the “Ram’s Horn Pool” above the bridge firstly. I really like this pool with its easy shingle wading and good flow.

I could see Pat below me just beyond the bridge as I carefully covered the water enjoying surroundings and the welcome ease of casting with the scandi setup.

Dalmarnock Beat courtesy of Dalmarnock Fishings

By around four fifteen with a distinct chill in the air and with light and energy fading we decided to call it a day and headed to the car.

Despite our best efforts we had not connected with anything neither Springer or Kelt but this had not dampened our enthusiasm as we agreed that it had been a good, enjoyable day and great to get out once more.

Thank you once more to Colin McFadyen for his warmest of welcomes and for sharing his knowledge and advice.

We will certainly be back for another day and hopefully some silver.

The beautiful River Lochy

July 12th-14th 2021

When my friend Pat invited Michael and myself to fish the infamous River Lochy last Summer then there was absolutely no hesitation whatsoever. This was a river that had existed on my wish list for years and one which I had longed to fish given its prodigious history and reputation.

Unabashed by the Summer drought and daily temperatures of 27-29 deg c we set about exploring this stunningly beautiful river changing beat each day.

On arrival we were greeted by a somewhat long walk over the boulders in order to reach the water’s edge which highlighted just how severe the Summer drought and its effects were. The heat at the height of the day was fierce to say the least and saw Pat at one stage ‘cooling off’ as he sat in the river in his waders

VIDEO

Unabashed by the conditions we fished each beat hard each day trying every trick in our armoury in order to entice a fish from very small doubles to sunrays and small hitches. Pat managed successive follows on a sunray with the fish veering away each time . I managed to raise a fish two or three times in the fast water at the tail of a pool on a small hitch fly but again fish refused to take!

The deeper pools certainly had fish showing but despite our best efforts they seemed to be completely disinterested in any effort to take a fly, almost a “oh I can’t be bothered in this heat”.

However the conditions or ‘finicky’ the fish were, to be fishing amidst the absolutely amazing scenery with the Nevis Mountain range as a backdrop was simply breathtaking and I thoroughly enjoyed our trip, company and craic.

Hindsight is as always wonderful and having thought about our trip then we all agreed that some very early morning starts and returns to the river in the evening would most likely have been more productive. Great thing hindsight!

This is definitely a river worth fishing and one that I would love another go at for sure.

A week on a “Wee Highland River”

September 2021

After suffering one of the driest Summer salmon seasons across Scotland for many many years we were all looking forwards to salvaging what was left of the 2021 Season and we were not disappointed.

Following all of the run up preparations, fly tying and general buzz and jokes the day finally arrived when we headed north, cars laden with gear, provisions and beverages.

All six of us had been studying the weather forecasts for days previously and one thing at least we were agreed upon was that rain was due mid week thankfully.

The six rods were ‘democratically’ divided into two teams, the “A Team” which included myself of course and the “B” team in order to ensure that we were well distributed across the 8 miles of water and of course to provide some ‘friendly’ competition.

Kevin working his way down the pool

Day one saw the “A Team” on the upper reaches where the initial small pools were formed within a series of gorges. The river was very low meaning that fishing may well be restricted to those pools that had sufficient holding water however with 8 miles and 35 named pools we figured that even in low water we should be able to find some good holding pools.

I had barely reached the bank or got setup when my friend Kevin was already tightening into his first fish! A bonny wee grilse of around 4lbs, a good omen of things to come.

The following video provides a taste of the week and its results

Video summary of a tremendous week

During these first couple of days there were fish landed, lost and risen in decent numbers even with the water conditions that prevailed. I paused frequently, for many reasons but often to just take in the absolutely stunning scenery and landscape that we found ourselves in, it was truly breathtaking. Other pauses on my part were more related to the exertioon of walking distances of 8-10 miles that we were covering in each of the 10-11hr fishing days and my utter lack of fitness. Given that we were fishing the whole week I decided to adopt a Marathon rather than a Sprint approach so frequent coffee and smoke breaks were in play for me.

On the Wednesday the much anticipated and very welcome rains thankfully began with an overnight deluge on Tuesday evening resulting in a good rise on the gauges. In fact for most of the morning the river was continuing to rise which afforded us time to explore some the dramatic falls at the head of the system before reaching for rods.

The fishing had been good the last few days but what a difference some fresh water made. With fish now stirred up and on the move then we were soon in amongst them with some great fish and sport for each rod, especially the “A Team” of course, amidst this wild beautiful place.

Ariel antics!

Lunch at the hut each day allowed tales of catches, fish won and lost and general rivalry to be exchanged. Bacon or sausage rolls and Angus’s steaming hot cuppa soup were particularly welcome!

The fresh water continued to provide some great action despite the noticeably short lived increase in water height which dropped surprisingly quickly during the next few days.

Evenings back at the lodge were very convivial where despite the physical tiredness the competition and rivalry concerning fishing rolled over to include the cooking as we each took a turn to produce a culinary masterpiece. Contrary to expectations there were certainly a few beers, malts and glasses of wine consumed following dinner. However it was not the sessions or ‘carnage’ that you might expect with six guys gone fishing, perhaps physical exhaustion also affected my mates and it was not just myself! So sleep was not an issue for any of us aside from the excruciating cramp I was awoken to on the first night which was only matched by the volume of snoring the following night coming from the next door room (Malcolm’s room).

This wonderful wee river continued to produce fish during the last few days even with the water having dropped back again. Each evening we had taken account and note of fish caught and lost each day and the sheer number and range of fish we were catching had begun to dawn on everyone as the tally kept growing.

Even with two days fishing remaining I had already surpassed by far my own expectations in terms of fish landed and was already heading for my best salmon week ever despite the fact that my catches are seldom ‘prolific’!

Despite of course bringing a vast armoury of rods and equipment the only rods I actually used were my 14′ 9wt Loop Cross SX (used only on the day when waters had risen significantly), a Sage X Switch rod made a brief appearance but by far the most used rod was the 10′ 7wt Sage X single hander which proved to be the most useful rod teamed with a Rio Trout Spey or Rio Camo Intermediate and short sink tips.

Interestingly 75% of my fish were taken on the same fly, a Phatogorva Brass Conehead Tube that I had tied a week earlier using a plastic price tag retainer to make the eyes as I did not have the black plastic needed. So the other 300-400 hundred flies remained in the box.

My most successful fly of the week – Phatogorva Brass Conehead

By the end of the week the place and the fishing had continued to deliver in terms of fish and sheer beauty. Our tally had now reached impressive numbers with the Keeper indicating that we had certainly had good week in terms of exceeding previous records. The “A Team’ had certainly led the way with Malcom contributing a ‘significant’ number of fish landed to the total fish caught over the week.

Fishing aside this was a truly enjoyable and memorable week for me for so many reasons. Given the really poor salmon season this year it was great to ‘recover’ some of the season with some unbelievable catches of fish across the week and the group with fish ranging in size from 4lb to 17lb. Yes these were coloured fish but strong and beautiful nevertheless. The surroundings alone cannot be understated where we had the majority of the river entirely to ourselves. Finally the company, craic and fellowship was simply brilliant. Thank you guys for a great week!

Whilst memories have been forged forever in my mind I am already looking forward to returning next year.

Discovering The Hitch

North Esk 29th July 2021

With the water level falling rapidly and nothing else working on a hot muggy day I decided that I might give this “hitch fly” a swim.

After adding one “Micro Hitch Fly” the results were quick and violent! just a pity that I couldn’t hold onto what was clearly a big fish after it tore off downstream like a train!

Video clip

Yes in hindsight there are a few learning points here that ‘might’ have increased the odds in my favour but nevertheless a very exciting way to fish and one that I will be using again.

A couple of days on Loch Lomond

28th – 29th May 2021

Friday 28th May saw us leaving the Leven in convoy heading for two days on the loch. Struggling to able to contain their excitement were two eager young anglers Adam and Cameron and their Dad Michael in the other boat with Michael. Before leaving I was encouraged to ensure that I accepted a walkie talkie from the boys in order to share news of catch reports instantly between boats.

Young Cameron ‘showing the way” with a lovely Lomond Sea Trout

Flat calm conditions did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm with the calm only disturbed by the occasional clunk of the striker weight signalling a take. In my own case these takes proved to be no more than a small pike alas.

Young Cameron did however show the way on day one and put the ‘older’ anglers to shame by catching his first Lomond Sea Trout, a lovely wee fish of around 2lbs.

Following a night on Buccinch morning saw us back out on the water with renewed enthusiasm and heading north towards the Ross Isles. Fish remained elusive with conditions proving similarly difficult. With the need for sustenance a priority we met ashore at the Ross Isles for an outdoor ‘roll on sausage’ .

Fishing down the Loch without further reports then excitement of the day before and a late night had taken its toll and we decided to pull in the rods and head for home after lunchtime.

No salmon to report but none the less a very enjoyable couple of days on the ‘Big Loch’. The boys already asking when they can go again!

River Annan – Cleuchhead

22nd May 2021

A favourite beat on the Annan and after weeks of patiently waiting for a decent rise in levels finally Saturday looked like a sustained rise in height at Cleuchhead.

On arrival water was high and coloured and dropping – ideal but a chilly cold wind blowing upstream.

We covered the lower river with spinning rods initially and almost immediately I managed to lose a half decent trout to the rapala.

The morning was hard going for me after this but produced some lovely brown trout and sea trout for Kevin and Malcolm.

The afternoon saw me with the fly rod and a Dee Monkey on the upper section of the beat. As if to mirror the morning I had just begun when I got a decent tug as the fly swung across the main stream and a healthy bend in the rod. Sadly the bend in the rod lasted only seconds following some serious head shaking as the fish made it’s exit. The chilly cold wind continued to make its presence known as I continued to fish down the pool at Jimmy’s before opting for a walk to the car and a coffee.

Kevin, Lewis and Malcom continued to add to their tally of browns and some really great looking sea trout up to 3.5lb and managing to move at least one salmon.

A great day however for myself, despite being out-fished yet again by the McCormick Clan. The total for the day I think was something like nine brown trout and at least five sea trout.

Another enjoyable day at this lovely beat on the Annan

Loch Tay firsts

19th April 2021

My first and very memorable introduction to Loch Tay on Monday 19th April. As it happened it was a day of ‘triple’ firsts!

A kind invite by friend and experienced angler John Bell saw us loading the boat and slowly nosing down the river and into the Loch. As we made our way we caught sight of a beaver going about its business and evidence of their ‘woodworking skills’ were clear to see. Our spirits were high despite the decidedly cold conditions and little sign of the forecast light winds.

Entering the loch it was hard not to be impressed by the stunning beauty of the mountains and hills rising along the its banks.

Fishing the morning in all but flat calm conditions the only noteworthy interruptions were several nice brown trout, not our intended prey however.

Relying on John’s knowledge of the loch’s likely holding areas we fished on through lunch without stopping or fish aside from the occasional trout. Shortly after lunchtime a noticeable wind appeared which lifted our spirits and hopes.

Video

Video summary

As if in response to the change of conditions we were suddenly jolted into action when the striker weight on the inside rod clattered to the floor and the rod buckled. Based upon a prearranged ‘agreement’ I took the rod whilst John attended to the other two rods. My initial thought that the lure was hung up on the bottom was instantly dispelled as the rod bent and a lump of silver leaped clear of the water just off the shore! This was a strong fish which certainly made its presence known with some strong runs and leaps and its complete refusal to comply. I of course in an adrenaline fuelled state had this fish down as 20lbs. After some further runs and some scary thrashing below our feet and initial refusals to come near the net John skilfully and deftly netted the fish of around 15-16lbs (unweighed). An absolutely beautiful piece of silver with that stunning bluish purple hue. After a brief photo and a few minutes to recover, this beautiful fish bolted once more back into the depths.

With congratulations, hand shakes and me grinning from ear to ear we reset the rods and set off again circling once more over the same lie. Literally minutes later the ‘poker’ rod buckled and with roles reversed this time John lifted this rod as I attended to the others. Alas as John lifted into the fish the rod almost immediately went limp signalling a missed opportunity sadly.

We continued to fish in earnest for the remaining few hours with no further action aside from the occasional brownie. Heading back into the river I still had that smug grin and the feeling of appreciation having had such a great (first) day on the Tay, actually three firsts in one day – first Tay salmon and my first springer of the year and a PB salmon!

A huge thank you to John Bell for sharing his experience, knowledge and company.

I found out later that in our drawing of straws to decide who would have first rod chance that both straws were in fact the same length! John had graciously ensured that I would definitely get the first rod chance, thank you John for a truly memorable day of firsts.

Thank you also to Grant Tigwell at Loch Tay Fish ‘n’ Trips for your excellent boat hire and assistance – see link below http://www.lochtayfishntrips.co.uk/index.php