July Monthly Report

River Don Monthly Report

July 2021


Weather wise July followed the same pattern as June, hot sunny days kept daytime anglers off the river and any success was encountered early morning or late evening when air and water temperatures became slightly cooler. River levels fell away to summer lows as the month progressed and angling effort for salmon dropped throughout the river. Seatrout were the main target for those anglers who ventured out and in the wake of a rewarding June there was again a decent amount on the go especially on the middle river beats where several pools came alive as darkness descended. It’s been a few years since we’ve received a decent run of sea trout. The numbers that were hooked and lost were equal to those that were was landed suggesting a decent head of sea trout. Sea trout of up to 6lbs were caught for the month although several bigger specimens were also lost. Low water conditions kept salmon anglers off the river and as a result the catch figure remained low with only an odd salmon taken from Inverurie downstream to the tidal reaches, the heaviest reported was an 18lb salmon from the Manse pool (south bank). Fresh grilse crept in off the tide and settled in the deeper pools at Fintray and Kintore awaiting a rise in water.

Heavy thunderstorms over the catchment on the 28th pushed river levels up to 3.5ft and gave the whole system the lift it so badly required. Boosted by the rise in water a decent turnout of salmon anglers was seen back on the beats as river conditions began to improve.

5lb Seatrout landed in the hours of darkness                                       Fresh grilse landed from Kintore AC


Fisheries Officers maintained regular foot and vehicle patrols over the month dealing with 11 incidents from the estuary limits upriver to Brux Fishing beat above Alford. During the month increased foot patrols were required on the lower reaches where several people were reported illegally fishing early morning and late evening. Warnings of further penalties were given to those individuals suspected if caught continuing to fish and no other incidents were reported. Homemade live bait traps were also found and removed from the riverbank within the city limits as suspect attempted to catch minnows to use as live bait. Two anglers were also dealt with after being found fishing for salmon on a Sunday. Fish passes on the lower river weirs have been regularly checked for traps and blockages, all were clear.   


Angling Development

Aberdeenshire Fly Fish 50 events continued with Raemoir Trout Fishery near Banchory hosting the three evening sessions over the month. Another ten participants from Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire were given first class introduction by the qualified instructors learning all aspects of fly fishing before having a chance to cast a fly and tempt some trout. Despite testing weather conditions on the evenings several adults and children managed to land a fish or two for their efforts and their casting ability and knowledge of the sport greatly improved over the weeks. Feedback received from those participants who attended at both Loch Insch and Raemoir has been very positive with many having purchased their own fly rod and tackle, to further their progression in the sport. These events will continue across various Aberdeenshire fisheries next year. Fisheries Officer Martin Webster has supported the delivery of these events, firstly to raise awareness of the River Don and secondly to develop his CPD. More information can be found here. https://flyfish50.com/

INNS Plant Control

The continued spell of dry weather throughout July allowed for the completion of the remaining mainstem section from Alford to Inverurie and ends this year’s giant hogweed control programme. Although targeted spraying was still the main approach any plants already in flower had their flowering heads removed to prevent seed dispersal.

Focus has now turned to another invasive plant, Himalayan Balsam with its pink/purplish helmet shaped flower is predominantly distributed on the middle and lower reaches of the river from late June to September. Although not harmful to people the plant spreads very fast and shades other native vegetation along the riverbank. The preferred methods to control Balsam is strimming, pulling, or digging out the plants before they flower and seed. Several volunteers’ days throughout August are planned to target the worse affected areas. An update on this seasons INNs plant control with further images will be hosted on the website in following the end of the season.

Pink Salmon

Pink salmon originated in the Pacific Ocean and are non native to Scottish rivers. The species was introduced into Russian rivers in the 1960s and in recent years have spread further west and south. Some 139 were reported captured in Scottish rivers in 2017 the highest ever recorded. Pink salmon have a two year life cycle and although not in the same number further reports were found in 2019. This year has again seen a number (approx 50) appear over various Scottish rivers including the River Don. Two pink salmon both fresh and weighing 2-3lbs were landed by anglers fishing on the Lower Don ADAA waters earlier on in the month. Both fish were humanly dispached and collected for carcass sampling. No further fish were reported for the month.

Fresh pink salmon caught on the River Don 05/07/21                             Spotted Tail on Pink Salmon

NEPS (National Electrofishing Programme for Scotland)

A total of 30 electrofishing site are to be surveyed across the Don as part of the NEPS programme this summer. Sites are selected at random by Marine Scotland Science to remove any bias from the survey. An experienced team the River Dee Trust will be undertaking the surveys on behalf of the Don DSFB. Electrofishing surveys provide important data on the population of juvenile salmon and trout and help us understand the recruitment and productivity of the river. The data from electrofishing is also included in the Conservation Regulation assessment process. The data allows Marine Scotland to assess the conservation status of the river and develop the categorisation of the river in conjunction with information on adult stocks. The dry spell of weather during the month has assisted with this programme and several sites have already been sampled. Further information on the findings will be published later in the year.

Electrofishing by the River Dee Trust                               Juvenile salmon parr from the Urie catchment


Two juvenile common seals were reported in river over the month the furthest upstream was spotted at the Goval Pool just above Parkhill Bridge on the ADAA waters. The other one was observed in the Saugh pool on Grandhome Estate. Both times the individual seal was displaced on downstream. Signs of mink activity have been spotted at Kintore and Ardmurdo beats, monitoring of rafts/traps have been placed in these locations. Some mink were also spotted at Cothal Mill at Upper Parkhill. A mink volunteer was enlisted from one of the nearby properties and cage traps were monitored daily with two mink quickly captured.

Compiled by Martin Webster, Fisheries Officer DonDSFB