The last month of the salmon angling season started well; decent catches were reported throughout the river with plenty of fish evident in the pools. Most of the fish landed continued to be coloured grilse from 3-7lbs with the odd double figured fish appearing. Unfortunately, despite an increase in water levels the final few weeks were a struggle for anglers across many beats, for some reason the fish began to switch off with only the odd fish landed. Perhaps the continuing mild weather played a part or maybe the fish were just preoccupied with spawning time looming, however it was encouraging to see an increase in fish moving upstream from Parkhill up to Semeil.
Overall, another testing season for salmon angling, a promising start in the spring months was followed up by a sustained drought over the summer period which lessened angling activity. Catches were minimal across the river and didn’t improve until water eventually arrived late August upon which runs of grilse lying in the lower reaches pushed upstream giving improved catches to many beats throughout September and into October. Again, no significant run of fresh autumn fish appeared, although the final few days of the season did produce a few sea liced fish off the lower river coloured fish made up the bulk of those landed in the last couple of months.
Fisheries Officers maintained patrols across the catchment, with an increase in legitimate angling activity throughout the river any illegal interest was minimal. Foot patrols were regularly carried out across many beats to ensure anglers were carrying an authorised permit on their possession and several anglers were given guidance on their inadequate fish landing and handling techniques. Two separate incidents were reported and dealt with over the month with a warning issued to the offenders. All fish passes were regularly inspected and kept clear of debris to allow free upstream passage for fish.
The second autumn predator bird survey was completed on the 20th of the month. A total of 111 goosanders and 12 cormorants were recorded from Poldullie bridge at Strathdon down to the estuary limit. Goosanders were most predominant on the Kemnay to Parkhill stretch with several large flocks observed. The application for a Piscivorous Bird License running from autumn 2022 until late spring 2023 has now been received with a quota of 26 goosanders and 3 cormorants being permitted to be controlled. Licences are currently being distributed to marksmen. As in previous years marksmen are required to adhere to the guidelines and sign a declaration form to be licensed. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any queries or if you wish to become a marksman.
Fifteen sites across the catchment are surveyed on a weekly basis from the middle of October until spawning completion normally around mid-December. This season’s surveys commenced on the upper reaches on the 14th with the middle and lower sites following on a week later. A few test redds were observed as fish moved around looking for suitable gravel areas to utilise. The first trout redds began to appear on the tributaries as the month ended but with the continuing spell of mild weather salmon have been reluctant to get started. Good numbers of salmon and trout were seen off the back of increased water levels at the Newe weir at Strathdon as the month ended.
Salmon redd found in the Upper Don during weekly repeat redd counts
Compiled by Martin Webster
Fisheries Officer DonDSFB