A trip to remember – River Dee 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

We all love sharing stories and telling our friends where we’re going this season but isn’t it a sad state of affairs when you’re planning a fishing trip and you continually hear “I wouldn’t bother, it’s not worth it” or “God, it’s fishing badly” or the classic “no fish in the river.”

Too many times I’ve heard these statements and happily, nearly every time they’ve been proven wrong.  Why!? What’s the point? Let me be excited and skunk dramatically if that’s the outcome, but keep your opinion to yourself. My finest opponent was a very nice chap on the banks of the Aberdeenshire Don who on a fine sunny August day around 12 noon decided to tell me how bad the fishing was. The irony was by then I’d landed two grilse, lost two grilse and caught my PB of 21lbs. Laughable!

Alan Ward and I had planned our week on the Aberdeenshire Dee, where we’d tried to fish different beats throughout the week. It’s pretty hard to put either of us on a downer pre fishing so we were buzzing with excitement, especially knowing that we were going to have water. 

The pre trip kit check was underway and with the extreme generosity of the boys from Loop, we were offered the chance to try out the new 7X double handed rod ranges. I haven’t come across many brands that are willing to put rods in hands with no expectations but to give us the chance to try out some the best kit on the market. The Loop team are even now offering kit hire across the full range with the chance to buy. Service – that’s what it’s all about. 

Both Al and I had fished Dinnet before and if any of you haven’t, I would highly recommend it for so many reasons. The beat has so much to offer from relatively early spring, March onwards pending water temperature and height, to the end of the season. Pools that make you dribble with excitement and send your imagination off into record breaking salmon and glorious takes. Banks and tracks are very well maintained making access easy, however I would recommend at least a moderate 4×4 as there are some fairly bumpy tracks. The huts are perfect shelters in stormy weather, however we were lucky enough to not need them as the rain only came during casting practice. There’s even a loo!

Meeting at Dinnet Bridge, we were met by Gordon who was a refreshing upbeat and kind Ghillie with great banter. One part of our two days at Dinnet that made it. 1ft 6’ on the gauge and perfect following lower conditions. Three casts and Al was in with a 10lbs hen fish from High Burn. If any of you have fished with Al, you’ll know that there’s only one setting on the drag and that’s solid. No fish stand a chance, however I admire his confidence and ability to get fish and safety returned. 

Not long since breaking the skunk Al was in again raking the bottom of 29 with a skagit, IMOW Tip T14 and something resembling a giant spider with rigor mortis. A fine 13lbs hen fish landed and returned safely. 29 was stuffed with salmon and sea trout, and Al was taking full advantage. To add insult to injury I yet again watched Al hook in again while continuing down 29. A smaller but very welcome fish of 8lbs came in giving Al a clean hat-trick.

Never a happier fisherman you’ll see and what a joy to be there trying to knock Al’s fish off at the net…

Thankfully my time came and whilst slow swinging a homemade Curry’s Red snealda, I hooked in and landed a 10lber. Before this point you start to wonder what’s happening and what you’re doing wrong but there is never a good answer. Stick to it and hope that your time will come. 

All these fish were landed on Loop Cross SX which is my go-to rod and favourite of all time especially the 12ft 4’ 7# matched with the GDC shooting heads or the Loop skagit. 

The Loop boys arrived and dropped off our goodies. The complete set of 7X double handers, which were immediately set up and taken to the river – of course after a beer and a good chat. 

Matched with the new Loop Tactical, which is a full line great for light line fishing and presentation, I went in and landed a 3lbs grilse on a sun ray. Bit of a fighter and made me look a fool when claiming it was a sea trout. 

So much for no fish – five fish landed and one hell of a day.

The next day brought tougher conditions with a dropping river and a brighter day, however it certainly wasn’t time wasted. Red Brae is a beautiful long pool with multiple taking spots sitting beneath a steep bank of beautifully coloured woodland. A fast swing into slower deep water brought on a heavy take, which turned into a stunning 16lbs cock fish. Due to the dropping river, I had changed down to a much smaller Willie Gunn Snealda and a longer leader. Anyone that fishes with me knows I fish a stupidly long leader with very light breaking strain. 

The best part of this fish was continually calling Al to get him to come down with the camera and get some footage. Little did I know that Al was busy playing a fish but sadly his came off, which of course was my fault as it threw the hook while he was trying to answer the phone! 

Adding to this beauty two sea trout of four and two pounds came to the net, which were extremely welcome. 

These days were perfect. Maybe not for Al losing a good fish on Tuesday but they were all round great days on the river due to the people we were surrounded by, as well as the fish.

For me it doesn’t matter what conditions are like, it makes no difference if catches are down and it certainly won’t make me stop fishing when people feel the need to quash my enthusiasm. If everything is against you, yet you come out on top with even hooking a fish, well happy days. I like many have had days of nothing but I will never stop.