River Don Report February 22

River Don Monthly Report

February 2022


The salmon angling season got underway on the 11th of February. River levels were on the low side for the time of year and a cold frosty morning welcomed the first anglers onto the water. By lunch time a decent turnout of rods was seen across various beats from Alford downstream to Grandhome, but despite best efforts only a few salmon and seatrout kelts were reported by the end of the day. A rise in water levels on the 17th renewed enthusiasm and a couple of fresh fish were hooked and lost. The following day the first fresh fish was landed off the river at upper Parkhill, river conditions then took a turn for the worse due to combined melting snow and heavy rainfall, levels rose to 4ft, and angling effort was hampered over the coming days. As soon as conditions began to improve another two fresh fish were reported, again off the ADAA beats. It’s been a promising start to the season, catch figures have already shown an improvement compared to last February.  

A cold and frosty start to the salmon season.

David Paton trophy

This season’s first fresh salmon off the river was claimed by local angler Raymond Thomson. Raymond is a member of the Aberdeen & District Angling Association and landed the 11lb fresh fish from the Upper Parkhill beat on the 18th February. The fish was witnessed by fellow members and reported to the fishery board with accompanying photo for verification. It’s one fish he certainly won’t forget as it was also his first ever salmon.  Covid restrictions has prevented the past couple of years winners’ presentations taking place at the Opening River march, but it’s hoped that the trophy and bottle of malt kindly supplied by Glen Garioch Distillery will be handed over to Raymond next February.

Raymond returning the first fresh salmon of the new season.

Opening March to the River

A turnout of around 50 people including office staff and Board members attended the event hosted by Inverurie Angling Association. Due to Covid restrictions the last two years have been cancelled so it was a welcome sight to have the public back in attendance again to mark the opening of the salmon angling season. After being led by piper down to the riverbank the local minister blessed the river before the Deputy Provost for Aberdeenshire Council made the first cast.


Fisheries Officers maintained regular patrols across the catchment focusing on the middle and lower reaches of the river where most of the early angling effort is occurring. Spring fish are moving into the system in increasing numbers and as the angling season got underway checks across various beats begun to ensure anglers have their up-to-date fishing permit on hand. The main salmon holding pools have also been inspected for any signs of illegal netting. Four separate incidents involving illegal rod and line were reported and dealt with over the month from Parkhill bridge down to Seaton.

Habitat Improvement

Work started on a badly eroded section of bankside on the Bandley burn near Alford. Sediment from the eroded bank has also been displaced downstream onto suitable spawning gravel and became compacted. The 18m section of bank is being protected using willow spiling which has proved successful over the past few years on several other sites across the catchment. Willow posts are firstly inserted into the toe of the bank which allows willow whips to be then weaved around the posts. This creates a strong natural living structure which stabilises the remaining bank, reduces further erosion and provides shade and cover for fish. Repairing this section of burn will reduce fine sediments entering the watercourse at this location and improve local spawning habitat.

The section of eroded bank with inserted posts in place ready to begin willow weaving, and the finished product.

Compiled by Martin Webster

Fisheries Officer DonDSFB