March is beginning to slip on, and here in Aberdeenshire it’s becoming more and more evident that spring is growing impatient waiting in the wings. The days are lengthening, and on my recent foray to the River Deveron in search of my elusive Springer the snowdrops are now in full bloom and the tree-lined banks show fattening buds. Pregnant with tightly wrapped leafs waiting to burst forth given the right weather. The land seems to be starting to come to life once more, like those same fattening leaf buds, that in the months to come will shade some of my favourite spots on the Deveron. That same anticipation and nervous impatience visible on the River bank and outside my office window just now, is Spring waiting to be sprung. That excitement is also beginning to build up in me. Like a school boy unbuttoning his girlfriends bra for the first time, I am almost shaking with excitement. Anticipation so tangible I can taste it in my mouth! The Brown Trout season is about to open! And I know every devoted wild Brown Trouter out there is feeling the same.
I am an unashamed Trout Bum and although the Trout season opens most places in Scotland on March 15th my surging excitement will just have to remain corked, till April 1st for Trout on the Deveron. I adore fishing for those beautiful golden brown beauties,spotted with black and red. Often as whiley as the proverbial fox, with an infuriating ability to ignore a perfectly tied and presented fly that would drive you to insanity! But like any addict it makes you return in search of that brown trout fishing fix, time after time!
I am in a privilege position of living almost on the banks of the Deveron. And with the local Association ticket I am entitled to fish 3 great Rivers; The Deveron, The Isla and The Bogie. For what is almost peanuts cost wise I get to fish three quality and quite different rivers in character. Offering some extremely good Brown Trout and Sea Trout fishing. The Deveron holds a particularly special place in my heart. Famous for being a hidden gem of a river and of course, Tiny Morrison and the UKs largest fly caught Salmon at 61lb. It is also where 6 years ago we decided to buy a neglected old estate cottage and spent 18 months renovating, to create our current home. Situated on the hills looking South East over the Deveron Valley, and only 200m from the Deveron’s banks it was an easy decision to make. The Rivers proximity means on those much-anticipated and hopefully soon to return late spring and summers days, I love to slip down through the trees and on to some of the less well trodden Trout pools. And in the dappled sunshine under the over hanging broadleaf’s, I love nothing more than casting a dry-fly on a light 3wt rod. Searching for Trout on some of the beautiful shady glides and the more open tumbling boulder strown faster water sections that can produce a considerable amount of good-sized trout. And this is where I have to make a confession, I don’t eat Trout! Put off it for life as an undergrad working in hotels, I can’t even stomach the smell. But my loss is the trout’s gain, everything gets released except maybe 1 fish a year that I take for my endlessly patient fishing widow.
The Deveron, where I fish it, on the Huntly Burgh water the beat below the Aswanley beat. It is by no measure a large river 20-25ft/5-6m wide. A stoney rocky bottomed river, that rises on the Cabraich an upland area, about 10 miles from where I fish it. A river of large meanders constrained by Landscape, the Granite, and the Metamorphic geology. A River I have not as of yet see freeze in the winter, even in minus 21c. Even though it is rising off peat laden hills, I have seen it run Gin clear regularly, only to rise 3 meters over night taking the colour of a Starbucks hot chocolate, minus the Marshmallows. Like any good spate river it is changeable, then there are the times when the depth gauge seems to show no upward movement, even after days of rain with every permit holder screaming for rain to bring up the water and the summer runs of Sea-Trout. But like any devoted lover you take the rough with the smooth!
I fish the Deveron almost everyday that will allow during the open season. And have spent many happy days on it. I love the late spring days of May and the early summer ones of June when the river banks are roaring and surging into life and the trout are feed and fighting hard. Certainly in May you can fish almost all day from morning to late in the evening, as the light never seems to totally go from the sky, being this bit further North. The water and weather hasn’t got warm enough to put the fish off feeding during the middle of the day on these May days. And I can often disappear after breakfast and only quickly return for dinner and a cupa before seeing the day out on 1 of my many favourite pools.
And now for an apology! there are not as many pictures in this weeks blog, there’s a couple of reasons for this; I rarely take my camera or phone from my pocket during my Trout fores, I’m too busy fishing and also i don’t want every one knowing my favourite spots, selfish I know! But I guess if you want to find them, you will just have to come with me!
It quite often takes a combination of factors to collide fortuitously and produce Trout fishing Nirvana. One day in particular on the Deveron comes to mind. Early July the morning before my little sisters Wedding. I am damned if I can remember their wedding anniversary, But I remember the day before fondly. The weather was just perfect, quite still and warm, the Glen was filled with mist, and almost not a breath of wind. 5am, already quite bright and the sun fast rising I threw on waders, a t-shirt, cap and polariser’s. I opted for a Hardy/Greys streamflex 9ft 3wt to allow longer casts, not to spook the fish in the light peaty water as I daintily stumble trough the pool, a ballerina I am not! The streamflex is a very reasonable priced, light rod that is just simply brilliant for River work, I have 8 or 9 of them at different weights and use them endlessly teamed with a Hardy flyweight reel and the Cortland Sylk line.
Almost running from the house, I am on the river by 20 past and set up a New Zealand style rig, a12ft 2lb frog hair leader, with a size 14 black klinkahammer, and from the bend of the Klinks Hook I tie a 12inch length of leader, with a size 16 GH hares ears nymph with a flash back. Then wait and watch, containing my urge to just chuck the fly out there and get fishing, the sun isn’t managing to break through the mist which is creating an eerie quite stillness, this is great news! The fish won’t be hiding from the glaring brightness, the mist so thick I couldn’t see the top end of the pool, or the next pool below the riffle. and the light that was seeping through was casting a beautiful neutral light. The quiet stillness was only being broken by the dawn chorus and the enticing sounds of sipping and toping fish all around me. Trout Nirvana! I move to the tail of the pool and send my first cast out and up-stream at about 20 degree, reaching just into the tail of the pool, usually a great spot to find trout. The line begins to swing round and BANG! The Kink disappears and I am into my first fish, taken on the Nymph a lovely 9in brownie, I like to fish the fly about 20 degree across and up-stream from me and let it swing right round to about 30 degree below my position. a bit like the Clyde style technique. I am sure some are shaking their heads at this, but it has proved itself, time and again for me.
That was the first fish of over 45. The next 2 and a half hours and 3 pools flew past in a blur of pleasure, None of them were much bigger than that first fish and many were smaller but it was brilliant sport. My face was beginning to hurt from smiling. I would rather have 2 hours of that wild Brown Trout sport blissfulness, than a days worth of over fed rainbow hooligan bashing. Greeted at the bottom of the last pool by a rather frustrated looking better half, anxious to head South for the wedding, my day drew to an end. Imagine the cheek of it spoiling a good days fishing for a Wedding! The next day as I recanted the tail of my day’s fishing to some of the Grooms Uncles and Cousins they openingly professed that it would have been a damned shame to spoil this fine day for………….. a Wedding! I Love my little sister but she should have considered a winter Wedding!
If you are looking for a hidden gem Aberdeenshire, try a couple of days on the Deveron and hopefully soon I can wet your appetite with more about the neglected treasure that is the Bogie