As rivers go, the Dee must surely be the most patriotic.
Royal connections with this mightiest of salmon rivers date back to 1852 when Queen Victoria and her consort, Prince Albert, bought Balmoral Castle outside Crathie. Through the generations, the royals have relished their Deeside downtime, often casting a fly, and always making time to get to know the local community.
So, as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Year draws to a close, let’s look at how her Majesty’s local water fared in 2012.
Thanks to the indomitable Ken Reid from Fish Dee, we have a wealth of statistics and stories at our disposal.
Acknowledged as perhaps the top spring salmon river in the world with stocks rising in recent years, the pressure’s on right from the start of the season.
Feb, March and April were tough months, thanks to rapidly fluctuating weather conditions placing enormous stress on the fish. If I tell you that Aboyne left Athens in the shade, smashing Scotland’s warmest March record at
at 23.6 degrees Celsius, you’ll get the picture.
May started off chilly but temperatures rose dramatically in the last ten days, with whoppers being caught including a 301b salmon at Invery, contributing to a very healthy 762 salmon for the month and starting a positive trend for the summer.
Fittingly, with the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations at full tilt in June, a truly massive salmon of 50 inches long was landed by Nick James, Chairman of the Wye and Usk foundation at Balmoral.
With rod bookings high, runs of salmon and grilse improved through the summer months and catches rocketed much to the delight of all and sundry.
311 salmon were taken in the week of 16 July alone and the runs continued into August with 1042 to the month.
The trusty Park fished well, especially for John Kane from Ayshire who had ten fish in his three days, included a 281b cock salmon, all taken on a size 13 Flamethrower.
September totalled a further 1197 salmon, down slightly on the five-year average, with runs of silver fresh fish dropping towards the end of the month.
No grumbles though for David Wadsworth at Birse who caught a stunning seven fish in three hours, weighing in at 25lbs, 16lbs, 2X 15lbs, 13lbs, 10lbs and 5lbs
The season ended on a high with 414 salmon reported for the final week, and here’s hoping the spring run returns to previous form, making 2013 another fine year.
As always, recognition for the Dee Fishery Board who introduced an obligatory catch and release policy back in 1996 after noticing a drop in returning spring fish. This early foresight, along with other prudent measures, has paid off handsomely ensuring that the Dee remains one of the world’s most iconic and productive salmon rivers.
Here at Salmo, we’re incredibly lucky to have it on our doorstep and I cherish every one of the hundreds of days I’ve been fortunate enough to spend on the river.
For Ken’s full in depth report on the 2013 season, click here.
Now if I could only swing tea with the Queen at Balmoral…………..until next time.