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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.