The River Don September Report 2023

River Don Monthly Report
September 2023

A mixed bag of weather for anglers to contend with over the month, high air temperatures over the first week meant low angling effort took place across many beats. Thankfully after a few months of little or no water a decent rise of 2.5ft appeared on the 18th due to heavy rainfall across the catchment. After the debris had washed through anglers were back out in better numbers and reports soon came in of an odd fish or two being landed. The expected arrival of silver fresh fish appearing off the rise didn’t amount to anything, only one or two were seen and caught, coloured fish many already in full spawning livery made up the bulk of the catches. The first overnight frosts of the autumn period also seemed to kick start the bigger resident fish into pushing upstream, several fish were landed in the 15-20lb bracket. As the month ended some clean sea trout made a late appearance off the bigger tides a few were reported off the lower and tidal reaches.
A reminder on fish handling, as we enter the final month of the season. Please handle fish with care following the Don Conservation Code and guidance here on fish handling. Its paramount that these fish are returned safely to go on to spawn and contribute to future stocks.

Cock fish in spawning colours from Semeil Farm on the upper Don

Fisheries Officers maintained foot and vehicle patrols across the catchment checking for any sign of illegal activity. Fisheries Officers dealt with 5 separate incidents which saw several offenders issued with a warning for illegal fishing with rod and line. Several anglers were checked on various beats and reminded to always have on them whilst fishing their valid 2023 permits. Fish passes were regularly checked and cleared of any blocking debris to allow fish passage. 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
The first of three autumn Goosander and Cormorant counts took place on the on the 25th of September from Poldullie bridge at Strathdon down to the estuary. An increase in goosanders was seen across the system with several larger flocks noted on the water. The final count was above the average for the time of year totalling 151 goosanders and 5 cormorants.
Our Piscivorous Bird License has been submitted to NatureScot and anticipate its arrival in October. Should you wish to be a licensed marksmen then please contact Jim Kerr on
Only one seal was reported in river at the Grandhome beat, the seal spotted by anglers was already on the move downstream. Please report any in river seal sightings into the Fishery Board – 01467 642121
Another two mink were captured for the month, one each from Burnhervie and Lochter burns where rafts are regularly monitored by volunteers. This brings the total to 11 so far for the year. Please report any sightings to

INNS Plant Control

Japanese knotweed is the last of the invasive plants to be treated on the Don, it isn’t a major issue but there are plenty of smaller patches scattered across the catchment and it’s important to get on top of these at this stage and prevent it becoming a major problem. Jan and volunteers have been out controlling this plant within the project areas but please report any sightings to With the plant control all wrapped up for another season Jan would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who helped. If you’d like to get involved next year you can find out more and sign up on the SISI website: Volunteering Opportunities | Scottish Invasive Species Initiative

Compiled by Martin Webster, Fisheries Officer DonDSFB