River Don Monthly Report
Unfortunately for salmon anglers’ landings remained low throughout the month. River levels fell away over the weeks and a rise was badly required for those fishing on the middle and upper reaches. Beats on the lower river from Kintore downstream picked away on the odd day but by the end of the month only a handful of clean autumn fish had been reported landed. Stale fish were holding in several pools on the lower reaches but proved difficult to temp due to the prevalent conditions. Water temperatures remained in the high 500 0f until the first touch of frost appeared on the 20th which sparked the coloured fish back into life, a few were landed on several beats as they moved upstream nearer to the spawning beds. The upper beats began to see fish appear in the pools as the month moved on the majority already in full spawning dress. A rise of water on the 28th gave one last flicker of hope to anglers and many were back out on the river with renewed optimism as we entered the last month. Coloured sea trout have been landed on various beats with fish up to 7lbs being reported.
A clean autumn salmon landed at Kintore AC
A sea trout in full spawning colours
Fisheries Officers maintained regular foot and vehicle patrols throughout the catchment dealing with 3 incidents of illegal activity from the estuary upriver to Fintray. Due to low water conditions several pools on the lower reaches were found to be holding a stock of fish and were frequently visited by Fisheries Officers to ensure no illegal methods of fishing were being employed. Several anglers were gently reminded about their repetition style of fishing in such areas. Fish passes were regularly inspected to ensure free passage for fish heading upstream, no blockages were found.
A routine inspection of the Craigievar pre-weir installed on the Leochel burn last year found a small breach had occurred due to the severe winter floods experienced. The breach channels a proportion of the main flow away from the pass and if left would have undermined the weir. Repair work using locally sourced boulders has begun to backfill the area washed out and reinforce the bank to prevent further damage occurring. As can be seen in the photographs below work is ongoing with completion expected early next month.
Breach on left bank of pre-weir
Boulders positioned to backfill and re-establish the bank
The first of three proposed autumn predator bird surveys were completed on the 21st from Poldullie Bridge at Strathdon downstream to the estuary limits. A total of 173 goosanders and 2 cormorants were counted, this figure is on par with last September’s tally. The new licence to control predator birds is expected shortly, thereafter marksman will be contacted with the required documentation to sign off.
A juvenile common seal was seen in river on a few occasions over the month the furthest upstream sighting witnessed by anglers at the Manse pool (Lower Fintray) This is most likely the same loan seal reported over the past couple of months. When in the vicinity Fisheries officers have been attending the reported sightings to collate photographs to assist with identification and to displace the seal downstream with the use of non-lethal methods.
A few mink have been reported seen on the riverbanks at Fintray and Kintore. Volunteers continue to monitor rafts and traps in these areas although no further captures were reported over the month.
Compiled by Martin Webster
Fisheries Officer DonDSFB