Probably the best major salmon river in Britain as far as fly fishing is concerned. It will seldom produce the monster bags – either numerically or in size – of waters like the Tay or Tweed, but it is a delight to fish.
The Dee carves its way 90 miles from the heights of the Cairngorms thrusting itself through a high corrie to the Linn o’ Dee around which point various tributary streams join to send the Dee downwards towards Braemar. It is remarkable in that it is such a shallow river, gin clear in ordinary conditions, so that you can often fish the tail of a rippling glide and actually see the salmon move to your fly.
It was on the Dee some 40 years ago that two anglers, Arthur Wood and Anthony Crossley, made their names. Wood is generally recognised as the ‘father’ of the floating line method of fly fishing for salmon. Long before he hit Dee-side to fish the renowned Cairnton beat, he had experimented with small flies fished from a floating line. His catches with this method were phenomenal until his death in the mid-30s. But, along with ideas provided by some of his friends such as Crossley and the American, Lee Wulff, Wood set off a new style of fishing – something very different from the traditional sunk line and big fly, which prevailed on many rivers for much of the season.
It is undoubtedly true that the Dee is particularly suitable for ‘greased line’ fly fishing because of its generally shallow nature and Wood (along with his guests) was able to exploit Cairnton at a time when spring and late spring salmon runs were considerably higher than at present.
Dee fish run early from February on and run hard. Thus especially after a mild winter, some of the beats up-river can expect fair sport from the opening day – Braemar being taken as about the top useful fishing point. Beats like Dinnet, Kincardine O’Neal, Inchmarle,
Blackhall, Woodend, Cairnton (sometimes known as Glassel), Crathes, Park and Drum carry a touch of magic for any salmon angler who knows the Dee or who has simply just read about its reputation. Certainly, the fly enthusiast is unlikely to encounter such a splendid river anywhere in the British Isles. It is basically a spring river with good lies scattered all over the place. Dee salmon run from February on and run hard which means that after a mild winter, up-river beats can expect fair sport from the opening day, Braemar being the upper useful fishing point. The record Dee salmon weighed 56 lbs and was caught at Ardoe Pool in 1886.
Sea trout fishing is at its best in late June and July. Brown trout fishing is mediocre and not a patch on the Aberdeenshire Don.
Hotel and estate fishing is avail-able on the Dee – but early booking is essential.
SOS: Feb 11-Aug 26 (Net); Feb 1-Sept 30 (R&L)
Aboyne.Aberdeens, Grampian S (Apr 15-Jun 15) miles from AboyneLB WT: ATS (A. Brodie, Aboyne. Visitors only likely to get salmon fishing here in Jul and Aug and only by booking at least 3 months inadvance)=Feb1-Sept30s’e Aboyne.Aberdeens, Grampian T (except at high water)2] miles from Aboyne (known as the Aboyne Water) LB DT(Jul and Aug only): (L2)ATS (A. Brodie, Aboyne)14. E Aboyne, Aberdeens, Grampian TSTSVarious sections in area DT: AH (Huntley Arms Hotel, Aboyne)=Feb1-Sept30 Aboyne, Aberdeens, GrampianSTS?-(Apr-Sept)16 miles from Pannanich to AboyneRB (6miles)BB (10miles) DT: (Lin accordance with advance bookings)! ARO (Glen Tanar Estate Office, Estate Office, Glen Tanar, Aboyne, Aberdeenshire A33 5EN(Feb-Junonly)oFeb1-Sept 30je Ballater, Aberdeens, Grampian S?-17milesfrom Invercauld Bridge to Cambus o’MayLB DT: ARO (Invercauld Estate Office, by Ballater. Advance enquiry strongly advised) Banchory, Kincardines, Grampian TSTS?-(afterApr14)1 mile from Banchory BridgetoislandlBB rOOOif Banchory Lodge. T:Ban-chory 2625. 19 rooms (11cJ-1) =.Feb 1-Sept30
Braemar, Aberdeens, Grampian TS4 miles in areaLB WT:(L2)AH(MarLodge, Braemar).+.s’ Dinnet, Aberdeens, Grampian TSTS5 miles known as Dee Castleand Dinnet BeatsBB Ticket enquiries (L 6)ARO (J. T. Sutherland, Chartered Surveyors, Bank of Scotland Buildings, Brechin,Angus)ie Kincardine O’Neil, Aberdeens, GrampianTSTS6 miles known as Ballogie and Carlogie BeatsRB Ticket enquiries: (L7)ARO (J. T. Sutherland, Chartered Surveyors, Bank of Scotland Buildings, Brechin, Angus) “=Feb 15-Sept 30e Dee (Kirkcudbrights)
Not as good as the Aberdeenshire Dee, this river was one of the first Scottish rivers to be affected by hydro-electric activities when a Boreland fish pass was included in the operations.
Solway netting, although slightly reduced over recent years, is, how-ever, still considerable and affects the migratory runs of salmon, grilse and sea trout into this peculiar river system which stems from a couple of lochs, one of which (Loch Ken) is most noted for its pike fishing. It was from this loch some 150 or more years ago that a keeper, one George Murray, employed by the Earl of Stair, was alleged to have taken a pike of 72 lb – a good bit bigger than anything recognised as a record at present.
Trout fishing on Loch Dee can be good, but much of the lower salmon fishing on the Kirkcudbrightshire Dee is held in private hands. The New Galloway and Castle Douglas areas of southwest Scotland appear to be too often ignored by visitors. They offer a wealth of different types of fishing – game and coarse – and locals near Loch Ken will assure you that pike are still there to be caught.
SOS: Feb 11-Aug 26 (Net); Feb 11-Oct 31 (R&L)
New Galloway, Kirkcudbrights, Dumfries& GallowayTS3 mile from Loch StroanlLB Dee (Aberdeens) Record Salmon: 56-0-0 J Gordon 1 Dee (Kirkcudbrights) Record
Trout: 8-14-0 W Park (fly) July 1
DT: AP (Cross Keys and Kenmure Arms, Kenbridge)C (The Cafe, NewGalloway)Apr1-Sept30e
KEN (WATER OF KEN)
Rising on the southern slopes of Windy Standard (2,290 feet) the Water of Ken flows south west to enter Kendoon Loch and on as the River Ken to Dairy to enter Loch Ken at New Galloway. It offers the chance of salmon, trout and some coarse fish, the latter in the lower reaches near Loch Ken.
Carsphairn, Kirkcudbrights, Dumfries &GallowayTSections on Lorgue and Holme estatesBB WT: A (J. Weir, Blacksmith, New Cumnock or Tourist Information Centre, Glenafton Caravan Park)P (Crown Hotel)e
New Galloway, Kirkcudbrights,
DT: AH (Ken Bridge Hotel, New
New Galloway, Kirkcudbrights,
Dumfries&GallowayCTS miles from above Ken Bridge (New
Galloway) to Loch Ken (also a section of Garple Burn)BB
DT: ATS (in area)P (Cross Keys,
Kenmure Arms, Ken Bridge)C(The
Cafe, High Street)=Apr 1-Sept 30