Fishing Reports - Castle Beat River Deveron
Fresh rain and with more forecast over the next few days should give the river a much needed spate. Fresh salmon & grilse has been seen and caught on the lower beats, but with levels down to just 6cm on the castle gauge (before the latest rain), very few fish have been seem at Castle. The Magician did lose a grilse on the upper beat on the 30th September, and a few fish have been seen on the beat during the month, mainly at Forsyth. We have had a few more sea trout caught including one of 5lb, and a couple each for the professor and yours truely. Mine were small for Castle with the best going just 2lb and both were caught on a snake fly in Forsyth at night. The professor's fish were a better size taken early morning both from Boundary on fly. One took right in the white water at the head of the pool whilst pulling of line to make a cast. When water levels are on the low side the white water at the head of the pools probably offers the best chance of a fish or two during daylight. If fishing fly, you will need to wade and make your cast from the pool above else the fly will whip around too fast. To get the fly down a little (when fishing the white water) you will need either a weighted fly or sinking line / leader, or both.
Earlier in September a Mr Dow was fishing Lower Castle and has kindly provided a short account of his experience plus a photograph. "Hi, my name is John Dow, from Edinburgh. I fished the lower beat on Wednesday 3rd September and struggled all morning in very bright conditions. Stewart popped down at lunch and gave this novice river fisher some very good advice. Come back later in the day, he said, and after a quick look through my fly box he pointed out a very bright orange Ally’s Shrimp. Arrived back on the beat at 5.30pm and had the attached 3lb sea trout in the bag by 6pm from Kingsmill on the Ally’s Shrimp. After a quick trout selfie it was returned. Unfortunately no other fish were forthcoming but did see quite a lot of jumpers so this kept me going. I would like to thank Stewart for his words of wisdom and hope to return again soon to this quite idyllic spot. Best Regards John C Dow"
3lb sea trout caught by John Dow, Kingsmill Pool September 2014.
Fishing has picked up as August gave way to September. The 'Magician' (Ray McDonald) has been tricking the fish again. On the 2nd Sept he caught an 8lb salmon from the tail of Forsyth, and 3 sea trout from various poools. Then on the afternoon of Friday 5th Sept he caught a 6lb salmon from Aislinns on fly and 9 sea trout all in the 3lb - 5lb range from various pools on Lower Castle.
Rain this weekend has reslted in another spate so hopefully there will be further catches to report next week, especially as I will be joining the Professor for a few days fishing during the 2nd half of the week!
6lb salmon caught by Ray McDonald, Aislinns Pool September 2014.
8lb salmon caught by Ray McDonald, Forsyth Pool September 2014.
One of 9 sea trout caught by Ray McDonald, from various pools September 2014.
The French party booked on the river from the middle of last week have not turned up yet, which is a shame as the water levels and colour have given probably the best conditions of the season so far. In the early part of the week the Professor was up or a fanily holiday. On Monday the 18th the river was virtually unfisherable following another spate. By Tuesday the level was still at 60cm on the Castle gauge and running dark. Despite conditions more suited to spinning the Professor persisted with the fly. First he lost a decent sea trout from Gauge Pool, but landed two of 3lb and 4lb from the tail of Forsyth on a tube fly. One of those fish was a real team effort with the Professor hooking the fish, his daughter Beatrix playing the fish, which was then landed by her friend Eliza (see photo below, with the girls modeling the latest in fishing fashion!). The girls then moved down to Boundary Pool by themselves and caught a 4lb sea trout on a spinner. Again, it would seem it was a team effort, with Eliza hooking the fish, and both of them taking turns of playing it on a light 6ft spinning rod. On Wednesday they had to return home, and Stewart popped down in the evening and took a 4lb sea trout from Junction on a spinner.
3lb sea trout being landed by Beatrix & Eliza, Forsyth Pool August 2014.
Well the rains finally arrived! On the 8th August rain finally lead to a decent rise on Saturday the 9th, and Mr Smith was there to take advantage catching 6 sea trout and losing 6 others all by 11am! The details were: two fish from Junction Pool of 4.5lb and 3lb, two fish from Gauge Pool of 3lb each, one from Kingsmill of 3.5lb and one from Hut Pool of 2.5lb. On Sunday the 10th August the heavens broke resulting in a huge 3m spate on Monday and an unfishable river. By late Tuesday afternoon the level at Castle had amazingly dropped to around 50cm, and although dirty was fishable, as proved by Mr Walters who caught two sea trout. On Tuesaday Stewart McDonald popped down to check on how Mr Walters was getting on, and Mr Walters invited Stewart to fish with him. With water levels starting at 50cm and slowly rising during the day, Mr Waters caught a further two sea trout and Stewart added a 5lb sea trout from Junction and a 4lb brown trout from Black Duncan. Successful pools for Mr Walters over the two days included Forsyth, Hut and Ringstone. Previosly there had been very few reports of salmon on other beats, but the latest news indicates that anglers have started catching and seeing fish further downstream. So fingers crossed things may well be about to pick up on the salmon front.
5lb sea trout caught by Stewart Mcdonald, Junction Pool August 2014.
Last week on the 5th August, prior to the rains, three sea trout weighing 5lb, 4lb and 3lb were caught by Stewart Mcdonald, with the best coming from Aislinns.
By the way, the Proffessor has invested in some electronics that measures Castle water levels and temperatures. Check out the Deveron Data menu to see more.
Water levels continue to be low (currently around -3" on the Castle gauge) with showers resulting in levels just rising a few inches from time to time. As you would expect salmon are in short supply and we really need some significant rain before we are likely to see a significant improvement. Sea Trout however will run the river regardless the height and this year the sea trout fishing has been very good. The professor was down for two days (10th & 11th July) and only fished for a few hours each evening. He tends to throw the sea trout text book out of the window (not actually sure he has the text book, but if he did ....) and start fishing whilst it is still light as he likes to retire to a comfortable bed by 00:30! He also would not claim to be a sea trout expert, but as you would expect from a professor he is learning fast! The first evening he lost 3 good sea trout, two of which broke his leader, but he also managed to land a lovely silver fish of 4lb from Meetings Pool on a small black and yellow francis. Despite using a double handed rod the fish managed to drag the professor downstream to Junction Pool where it was landed and safely returned. The professor also caught a smaller fish of 1.5lb from basin on the same fly.
4lb sea trout caught by Andrew Higgins, Meetings Pool July 2014.
The next evening was quieter following a day of bright sunshine. The francis did not produce any interest so the professor switched to a black muddler. As the light faded he finally reached Boundary Pool. As the muddler cut its way through the surface in the moonlight a savage take resulted in no resitance. Thinking that he had missed perhaps his only chance for the evening he stripped the line in only to discover that the fish had been hooked but had immediately swam straight towards him which resulted in a lot of slack line! Once contact was re-established the fish took off all over the pool. After an incredibly accrobatic fight the professor finally slid the net under a fanstatic sea trout of 7lb, which was photgraphed and safely returned (see picture below). The professor is clearlt looking like he will graduate with honors!
7lb sea trout caught by Andrew Higgins, Boundary Pool July 2014.
Water levels continue to be low (around 1" on the Castle gauge) but although salmon have been continued to be in short supply, sea trout catches have been promising. 19 sea trout in a day were reported from one middle upper beat, and the fish have reached Castle. At the end of last week the professor was fishing with two friends and caught sea trout of 1lb from Forsyth and 4lb from Junction (see picture below). He also lost another sea trout from the head of Junction. Not to be outdone, one of the professors guest Neil Jones caught a fantastic sea trout of around 7.5lb from Forsyth. The successful flies were small black wets with red tags. Don't be discouraged by the low water, just fish late & early if possible, and keep your flies small (and scale back the rest of you tackle) unless you are fishing in complete darkness. If fishing during the daytime, also ensure that you stay low and use any available cover or you are likely to spook the fish.
4lb sea trout caught by Andrew Higgins, Junction Pool June 2014.
There were two small spates, one around 5/6th June, and the other on Sunday 8th June. Levels rose by around 25cm and the water carried a lot of colour. There were reports of some sea trout running quickly upstream on these spates, but very few reports of any salmon. This week the water has fallen away quickly and cleared, and as I write the water is around 25cm on the Avochie gauge (just above zero on the Castle gauge). Conditions remain difficult over the entire river, however Ray Stewart put in a few hours at Castle today and was rewarded for his efforts with a silver salmon of around 6lb. Ray spotted the fish moving in the fast water at Boundary pool, and targeted the fish with a small cascade double. If Ray keeps catching in difficult conditions we will have to come up with an appropriate nickname (perhaps the Magician).
6lb salmon caught by Ray McDonald, Boundary Pool June 2014.
Water levels contine to be mainly low and clear, and rain is very much needed, but rain is indeed forecast for most of this week. The Professor was up on a family break last weekend, and he did manage a couple of hours fishing late in the evenings. Although he blanked, he did get a strong pull when fishing a balck muddler across the surface half way down Forsyth. The Professor described a very large swirl from the fish which he believes was probably from a decent sized salmon. The next evening he tried a few sea trout flies without success and then reverted to the black muddler. Fishing Aislinns Pool, he again got a strong pull without connecting with the fish. At least this demonstrates that there are some fish in the pools at Castle despite what has so far proved to be one of the worst Springs on record for the Deveron, coupled with low water levels.
There were plenty of showers last week which resulted in a small rise in water levels. At times the river carried a fair amount of colour. Paul Proctor had been a repeat visitor to Castle but conditions were not great for the dry fly and the larger fish did not play ball. However Stewart McDonald (the chap who has taken over the reigns from Bert) took a nice 3lb brown trout from Kingsmill Pool on fly (see picture below). Not to be outdone, his son Ray McDonald took a 6lb salmon from Oak Run also on a black and yellow fly. This is the first salmon of the season from Castle but then the fishing effort has been minimal so far. The water level has slowly dropped to around 28cm on the Avochie gauge, so we would like to see more rain. To date the spring salmon run on the river so far been poor, so please return as many fish as possible.
6lb springer caught by Ray McDonald, Oak Run May 2014.
3lb brown trout caught by Stewart McDonald, Kingsmill May 2014.
We have some sad news. Bert has moved away from the area in order to be closer to his main job, where he is a ghillie on the River Dee. Bert will be sadly missed at Castle where he has performed a fantastic job looking after the beat and guests. Regular followers of these reports will know that Bert is famous for popping down to the water for a few minutes in the evening and catching a salmon after just a few casts (always on the fly). Bert is also famous for his photography skills and his general use of technology! On a serious note, we would like to wish Bert the very best and thank him for all his help. I know the professor says he is always welcome at Castle should he be in the area.
Water levels have very gradually fallen away, with no significant rainfall since the last report. This has resulted in very clear water most of the time, and clearly the upper middle beats are not favoured by such conditions. Even fishing on the lower and lower middle beats has been slow and some rainfall is needed to draw more fish into the river.
Given a warm day, there have been some good hatches of March Browns and the trout fishing can be very good at this time of year. Last week we had the pleasure to welcome the renowned brown trout angler and journalist Paul Proctor to Castle. Paul encountered a cold wind which restricted the fly hatch, but managed a number of trout to 1lb 10oz. I understand he enjoyed fishing the beat so we hope he will return at some point in the future and see if he catch one or two of the larger ones that we believe frequent the beats.
We also had another very experienced brown trout fly fisherman on Upper Castle during the week and his best fish was beautifuly marked and weighed 4lb and had a couple of others of 1lb. Not only was this gent a good angler but he can take a decent photo as well (see below).
Lovely 4lb brown trout, Firs Pool April 2014.
Safely returned, 4lb brown trout, April 2014.
A new chap Stewart has taken over the reins from Bert at Castle, and I understand that his son Ray has just taken a 3lb trout, to add to the already very successful week.
3b brown trout caught by Ray MacDonald April 2014.
The Deveron must offer some of the best wild brown trout fishing to the Uk, and can be enjoyed at Castle for as little as £15 a day during April and May.
The river has been running clear but at a good height of around 35cm on the Avochie gauge. Two more springers reported this week off a beat between Turriff and Huntly.
Water levels remain excellent at around 40cm on the Avochie gauge. Levels have been topped up by a combination of snow melt and showers (as I write it is raining heavily). At least half a dozen springer have been caught so far on the Deveron since the start of the season from the middle / upper middle beats. Other than the Professor fishing for a couple of hours on Saturday, there have been no rods on Castle so nothing to report fish wise. Clearence work on Upper Castle has however began and it will be very interesting to see how productive its pools prove to be this season. Bookings on Lower Castle are already filling up towards the end of the season, but given water, earlier in the season can be just as productive and there is a better chance of silver fish. Upper Castle has in some years been more productive than Lower Castle, so it could prove to be a great alternative to Lower given the improvements taking place this year.
14lb springer caught from the beat immediately downstream of Castle yesterday. This is the 2nd of the season from this beat, so as suspected good water levels have resulted in fish being well upriver. Although fish are unlikely to be present in large quantities, the quality of a Deveron sping bar of silver makes the effort, and cold, well worthwhile. A day ticket at this time of year at Castle is just £10 to encourage anglers try for these surperb fish. Water levels remain excellent at around 45cm on the Avochie gauge.
Season Starting 14th February 2014
The 2014 season is now underway and the main news at Castle is that an additional 1.5 miles of fishing has been aquired by the fishery. The original Castle beat will now be known as Lower Castle , and the newly aquired fishing, above the junction of the Bogie, will be know as Upper Castle. You can book either individual beat, or you can book exclusive rights to both beats which gives you access to 30 named pools.
Talking of named pools, last year regular readers of the blog may recall that No-Name pool on Lower Castle is to have a name, and from hence forth it shall be known as Aislinns. Some may recall that Aislinns produced the best fish of 2013, and 19lb salmon to the Proffessor.
So far the early days of the seasons have been in stark contrast to the low water days of 2013. The water has been both high and relatively warm for the time of year, which has resulted in early spring salmon running quicking upriver to the upper middle beats such as Castle. As I write (22nd Feb) the water has dropped to around 50cm on the Avochie gauge and is holding steady. The chances of an early springer from Castle look excellent and I understand Bert is chomping at the bit to get on the water and see if he can land a February fish.