The River Don Monthly Report March 2023


The first two weeks of March proved hard going for salmon angling, although the odd fresh fish was seen running over the weirs on the lower reaches, low cold water and blustery weather conditions meant angling effort remained minimal across all beats. Snow melt and combined rainfall brought a welcomed 4ft lift in water levels on the 13th this helped to pull in more fish off the coast. Over the following week an increase in catches was reported with 15 fresh salmon landed from various beats. Aided by steady water levels these runs of fish quickly spread out over the river, over the remaining week fresh sea liced fish were reported in small numbers off the middle and upper beats as far upriver at Strathdon. Most landed were typical Don sized springers from 6-9lbs with an occasional one creeping into double figures. By the end of the month over 20 fish were reported with a good few others lost. Most beats are now underway for the season with at least a fish or two in the book.

Upper Don springer


Throughout the month Fisheries Officers maintained foot patrols across the catchment checking for any sign of illegal activity. Higher river levels kept fish on the move preventing a build-up of stock in the pools. Whilst on patrol one incident of illegal rod and line fishing was witnessed by Fisheries Officers resulting in the first-time offender being issued with a warning. Several anglers were reminded on best practice catch and release measures and how important it is that any fish remains in the water whilst being unhooked.  

Please contact the Fisheries Officers if you witness or suspect that any suspicious fishing activity is taking place on the 24hr number – 01467 642121  All information received will be treated in strictest confidence.

River Predation

No seals were reported in river over the month although increasing numbers of both common and grey were regularly seen hauled out on the sand at the Balgownie site near the estuary. At the most 30 were counted on one occasion.

The first of three spring predator bird surveys was completed on the 24th of March from Poldullie Bridge at Strathdon down to the estuary limits. A total of 68 Goosanders and 4 Cormorants were counted, this figure is slightly down from the previous year’s March. Please contact for any updates on this years remaining goosander/cormorant license quota.  

Along with the assistance from volunteers’ the monitoring of mink rafts continues over the main river and surrounding tributaries. Two mink were successfully trapped in March, one at Kintore and another on the River Urie. Please report any sightings of mink into Jan Simpson invasive officer with the River Dee Trust on the SISI project:

Willow Bank Protection

Although several days were lost over the month due to high water flows work on the eroded section of bankside on the Milton burn at Corsindae was completed. Locally won willow posts and canes and previously restored locations was used on the 26m section, in addition the section was also backfilled with brash tree cuttings to add further protection from future floods. The finished project will not only help to stabilise and prevent further bank loss but also preserve the surrounding spawning gravel from sedimentation.

Below photos show before and after completed protection work.

Compiled by Martin Webster, Fisheries Officer DonDSFB