River Don Report May 2024

River Don Monthly Report

May 2024


A torrential thunderstorm fell across the upper catchment on the 5th of the month, this quickly pushed the water up and within hours the river resembled drinking chocolate due to a combination of freshly ploughed soil flowing off the surrounding fields and a landslide occurring near the village of Keig. This incident badly affected angling activity; over the following two weeks limited angling took place across the beats due to the heavy instream sediment. Catches of late running spring salmon slowed up over the month, only an odd fish was landed from a few beats, but the arrival of this year’s grilse made a welcome appearance and provided sport for anglers along with some good-sized sea trout. The smolt run appears to have been substantial over the past few weeks with regular reports of numerous fish seen congregating above the weirs on the lower reaches.                                                     

A tide fresh sea trout


Fisheries Officers carried patrols across the catchment checking for any sign of illegal activity. Seven rod and line incidents were reported from the estuary up to lower Parkhill these resulted in several anglers being issued with a warning along with tackle being confiscated.

A few anglers were reminded on best practice for catch and release when landing and returning a fish to the river, as water temperatures increase its vital to minimise playing time and handling of fish to ensure survival. It is always best to keep fish in the water at all times, as air exposure affects chance of survival after release.

If you witness or suspect that any suspicious fishing activity is taking place on the 24hr number – 01467 642121. 

Angling Development – Fly Fish 50

Loch Insch fishery held the first of this year’s introduction to fly fishing courses. The programme is structured to assist beginners and give them the skills they need to be able to become a self-sufficient fly fisher. Fly Fish 50 now in its sixth year holds courses over various trout fisheries across Aberdeenshire. A mix of adults and juniors attended Insch over the three sessions which covers appropriate tackle and understanding of knots, a session on improved casting tuition by qualified instructors and volunteers and a final one on basic entomology and fish handling.

INNs Plant Control

Giant hogweed control continues across the Urie catchment, good progress is being made when the weather conditions are suitable for spraying. For more information on the invasive work being carried out please click on the following link SISI | Scottish Invasive Species Initiative

Treated giant hogweed near Old Rayne

River Predation

The third and last spring predator bird survey was completed on May 30th from Poldullie Bridge at Strathdon down to the estuary limits. A total of 67 goosanders and 3 cormorants were counted, most birds were in pairs as is normal for this time of year, the final figure is slightly more than seen last May.  The current licence for controlling has now expired, the quota of birds on the given licence was fulfilled and we will shortly be applying for a goosander licence for Autumn 2024 to Spring 2025.

Two common seals were reported, both seen foraging in the ADAA pools at upper Parkhill. Where possible the seal has been displaced back down river with the assistance of anglers and Fisheries Officers.

No mink were captured over the month.

Compiled by Martin Webster, Fisheries Officer DonDSFB