As we approach the 1st of March, which marks the opening of the upper beats of the River Dee, we asked our Ghillie, Colin Espie, what activity he has seen at the River over the winter months and his expectations for the 2018 fishing season.
By Colin Espie, Ghillie
"As the 2017 salmon fishing season drew to a close more activity was seen in the river as the male fish became more aggressive as spawning time approached.
Final tasks at the river before the winter months included strimming of the summers vegetation growth prior to our autumn work in the forest and on the hill.
Spawning activity has been seen in all the usual places and interestingly in a new river channel on Deecastle beat which was created during the huge spate which followed Storm Frank. This new channel is waded across to access Red Brae, one of our major holding pools. During the mid summer months dozens of juvenile fish could be seen darting away to hide under stones which, after a couple of growing seasons, has coloured up and weed has started to colonise the river bed. A very welcome sight indeed.
This part of the river has seen little in the way of prolonged high water during the winter which would normally move the shingle about. Plenty of time for that to happen though if we get a quick thaw.
With the frosty weather and grue on the surface recently there has been little in the way of kelt movement, although walking the banks with my spaniels they seem to find plenty of dead kelts which hopefully is a good sign.
Having completed our strimming in the autumn, maintenance of the access roads has been keeping us busy recently and although we do not start fishing until the beginning of March our huts will need a spruce up before then.
Small groups of Goldeneye ducks are present on the slower moving parts of the beat and as the weather starts to warm up come springtime we will see much more wildlife activity. The River Dee is looking good. I am confident that 2018 will be a successful fishing season and wish all the anglers tight lines."