River and News Reports 2009



State of River

April has been a month of low river flows compared with April of 2008, when river levels were 2 to 3 feet above normal flows due to melting snow and persistent rain fall. Levels this April have struggled, from the start of the month, with the river level only one foot above summer flow.  On the 9th of the month there was an increase in flow by 1 foot, but this level decreased very rapidly. The river flow from the 13th of the month right through to the end of April was bordering on summer flow low levels, which is unusual for April as it is normally a wet month. River levels for the past 28 days of April are shown on the Graph below. 

Fish in River


Very few salmon were landed throughout the river during the month. On the Castle Forbes waters at Alford, the first of their fishing guests of the season managed to land 6 salmon. On the Monymusk waters a brown trout angler fishing a gold head nymph and 4lb nylon hooked a 10lb salmon which took him 40 minutes to land. In the fishing return book in the hotel it reads “amazing day fish swam away nicely”, the same angler also had 3 brown trout largest being 3½lb. Manar fishing’s had 2 salmon for the month and Inverurie had 1 salmon. On the last week of the month on the ADAA waters the upper Parkhill beat landed 8 salmon, Stoneywood mill fishing’s had 1 fish and Grandhome fishing’s had 3 salmon. It was quite noticeable that a lot of the regular salmon anglers on the river were not casting a line for the salmon this month, as the brown trout fishing has been so good and this is where a lot of attention has been made by Don Anglers this month.


On the sea trout side one or two beats have now started to land some sea trout, mostly in the last week of April from Parkhill down to the lower river.

The brown trout has been excellent during the month with high numbers of catches. From Kildrummy waters right down the system to the lower end of the river, beats have done well. The Munymusk fishing’s always seem to produce very large trout, one party of 2 trout anglers had an entry in the return book of 6 large trout with weights ranging from 5lb down to 3lb and many smaller fish and they were only there for the day. There were a lot more entries of trout in the book for the month and many in the 3-4lb range. One or two anglers on the ADAA waters at Kemnay have also done well with the trout again in the 2-3 lb class. At Inverurie and Kintore during the first and second week of the month decent numbers of brown trout were being caught, which were of good size. I had one angler showing me photos of his trout catches on his phone. 

When you move down to Fintry upper and lower Parkhill beats of the ADAA fishing, there have been a very large amount of wild trout caught and some very large ones amongst them, from 5½ maybe 6lb down to your average 1-2lb class fish. It seems that there must be terrific feed for the trout in the river and cover from predatory birds with the weed growth that is prominent from Alford down to the tidal reaches of the Don making the Don a first class trout river.


Salmon in the Classroom


The salmon that the schools had in the classroom are now at the hatchery and these will be released by the school children next month, all the salmon are progressing well at this time.




A total of 54,000 brown trout and 21,000 sea trout have now all been planted out into the upper catchment this month. A full mapping report will be submitted in my next report. In the 1st picture below Stephen is seen releasing the brown trout into the main river at Strathdon, in the 2nd picture you can see the small fry swimming out of the sieve and the last picture shows bucket of healthy sized brown trout fry. All the salmon within the hatchery are progressing well at this time and if the temperature holds will be ready to be planted out next month.



Stephen  releasing the fry                    

Bucket with Fry





State of River




River levels during March have been more settled than in the previous month. The river level has been holding between 1½ to 1 feet above normal base line levels for most of the month. 

Overnight rain on the 28th of the month caused the river height to increase from 1½ to 2½ft. On the 30th the river level fell back to 1½ft, increasing again to a level of 2½ft on the last day of the month. The graph below shows the river levels for the month of March.

 Fish in River


 The angling effort for March was very poor throughout the Don system, which affects the catch returns for spring salmon being caught on the river for the month.

For some of the anglers that did venture out onto the river they managed to land spring salmon. Grandhome fishing’s had 4 fish for the month, 2 of these fish were taken by guests who landed two very nice 7lb fish. The Stoneywood paper mill water on the lower river also landed 1 spring fish of 7-8lb. On the ADAA waters of Parkhill 4 fish were caught for the month. Moving up river the Aberdeenshire council fishing’s of Kintore managed to grass two fresh salmon, Ardmurdo fishing’s at Inverurie also had two spring salmon of 7lb and the other one was measured at 38 inches in length and estimated weight to be 21lb and was covered in sea lice, the angler floy tagged both fish and then released them, the same angler also landed a large sea trout of 28 inches which was also released.

On the Inverurie fishing’s lots of Kelts were been landed but nothing fresh reported. From Monymusk up to Alford waters there has been very little angling activity to achieve catch returns for the month. On the Towie water at Glenkindie where Ballater angling club have leased this water for a 2nd season, they managed to land their first fish of the season a nice 8lb spring salmon. All the salmon and trout mentioned were released back to the system.

After a meeting that my Senior Bailiff Mr S Murphy had with Alex Macallan who looks after the fishing for Stoneywood paper Mill fishing’s, the mill fishing’s are now catch and release until 1st June and they are going to follow the Don conservation code. This now makes the river 85% catch and release which is fantastic news for the conservation of the Don salmon, but we still can’t be complacent as there is still a lot more we can achieve in protecting the spring stock.

The Brown trout season has now started, last season some very big trout were landed from all over the system and it was great to see anglers releasing their trout for future stock. Already there have been some big trout landed, and the season has just commenced.

On the Monymusk waters two brown trout anglers landed a nice basket of trout, with the largest trout weighing 6½lb, all trout were released. On the Kintore stretch of river one trout angler landed a nice 5½lb trout. It looks like it will be another year for big trout on the Don system. The top of the Don system is still very cold with snow still lying in the Grampian Mountains.

The slow snow melt is keeping the river temperature very cold, which will keep the trout firmly on the bed of the river to feed. Best bet would be the middle stretches down to the lower Don, where the air and river temperature is slightly warmer.  Once the month of May comes in, this is the time to move further up river. Good luck to all you trout anglers for the 2009 season.


Salmon in the Classroom


All the salmon eggs have now hatched in both of the primary schools and are progressing very well, during the Easter break I will be taking the eggs back to the hatchery until the schools start once again. 



All the hatchery stock salmon and trout have all hatched successfully, I was hoping to get all of the salmon eggs planted out as eyed ova, but this did not work out due to river conditions and weather conditions. The salmon will now be planted out as unfed fry in late April possibly May.


Health and Safety


On the 23rd of March myself and the two bailiffs attended a First aid appointed person outdoor course, this was a good course to go on not only to learn about first aid for treating ourselves, but also anyone who may be needing assistance on the river bank until professional emergency help arrives. We all received our certificates a few days after the course. And will need to attend a refresher course in three years time.


Safe Use of Pesticides


I have now booked myself and staff in for a course on the safe use of pesticides.  This is a two day course and will allow us to deal with Hogweed at a later date once the Hogweed survey is completed.


Jim Kerr


River Superintendent



State of River


For the first half of February the Don system was covered in a blanket of deep snow, and icece flows were moving down steam from the top reaches of the system. The air temperature during night fall dropped to -15c.  On the 15th of the month the air temperature increased to 12c causing a huge snow melt, which in turn put the river into full flood conditions, reaching a height of 7ft above normal flows. As the days passed the river slowly started to drop back in height, by the end of February the river was still running high at 2ft above normal base level. The Graph below showing the river levels for February.

Fish in River

The start of the salmon angling season commenced on Wednesday11th of February. There were very few rods on the river due to the winter conditions. On that day the bailiffs only counted 7 anglers from the lower Don up to Alford waters, which was very poor angling effort and only salmon Kelts were landed and returned. The first spring salmon of 6lb was landed on the 12th on the Aberdeenshire council waters at Inverurie. The opening march to the river at Inverurie was held on Saturday the 13th, there was a good turn out for the event, with local anglers and their children, members of the Don trust, Mr Alistair Wallace chairman of the DDSFB.  Retired Councillor Mr Raymond Bisset said a few nice words and a poem before handing over to the local minister, where the river was then blessed with some good malt whisky



The river is still running

March Prospects

The river is still running high, but I think once the river temperature starts to increase during March more spring salmon will be landed up and down the river. Looking at the tides for the coming month, from the 10th of March to the 15th March there are large spring tides of 4 to 4.3Meters and again from the 26th of the month to the end of March, 4 meter tides are expected which will push spring fish into the system.

Salmon in the Class Room

The Salmon in the classroom has now started again with salmon eggs being introduced into two Primary schools, Tullynessle Primary and Keig Primary school.  Since putting the eggs into the schools aquariums, one of the schools salmon has now started to hatch and is progressing very well.




All stock are progressing well at this time, in March we will attempt to plant some of the salmon eggs out into the upper system once the river levels stabilise. If this is not possible they will be put out as unfed fry into the system.

The Brown trout are now starting to hatch and are progressing well at this time.

Jim Kerr

River Superintendent







The first month of the year has been a cold one with bouts of snow covering the upper Don system, at times Ice flows were moving slowly down the upper half of the system. The river heights during the month have been moderate with very slight increases in levels, on the 13th of the month the river went up 6inchs and on the 23rd the river went up again due to snow melt by 1ft. The river went up again on the 26th and by the end of the month the river was 1ft above normal flows.  




As is normal for this time of year Kelts are plentiful in most pools from Alford to the lower Don. During the second week of January the bailiffs were seeing fresh spring salmon moving through the lower Don at Seaton park coming straight of the tide; these fish were in the 8lb range. This run of spring fish coincides with the biggest tides of the month. 




Closed season




Gyrodactylus warning signs supplied by ASFB are in the process of being put up in car parks up and down the river system. The signs are to make anglers aware of how important it is to disinfect all their fishing equipment before going on to the river.




The school projects have now started with Brown trout being introduced to Inverurie Secondary school. In attendance on the day were members of Inverurie Angling Association, who were the sponsors of the equipment for the project, and Iain Morrison from the Don Trust who took a lot of good photos which are on the Trust website.  Doctor Sam Martin from the Aberdeen University, who works as a Biologist, gave the children an educational talk on Brown trout.  Inverurie Angling Association offered the children free fishing to try to encourage them to try fishing, and told the children that fishing equipment would be supplied to any one who was interested in trying out the sport.




A meeting was held on the 20th of the month with myself, FWAG and Jacobs, who are handling the Aberdeen Westerly peripheral Route affairs (AWPR) where it was debated on the best way to get as much out of the money available to ourselves from the AWPR. Originally we were going to survey the river for hogweed and then spray it, but by doing the whole river we would only get one year out of the money available to us. It was decided the best way forward would be to concentrate on a smaller area from the source of the Hogweed at Strathdon down to Alford Bridge, and instead of getting one years spraying we could in fact get two years spraying, which would make more sense. FWAG will still be doing the survey work on the Urie system and the Board staff will be carrying out the survey work on the main river and all the spraying on the Urie and the Main River. We were told that as the Aberdeen Westerly Peripheral Route is still going through parliament, and if there are more public meetings concerning the new route that it is possible that no money will be available till 2010. I asked them if it would be okay to start my survey this spring and they replied that would be a good idea as it would show AWPR managers how urgent a matter this is to the Don Salmon Fishery.




During the second week of January the first two troughs of eyed salmon eggs were planted out into the head waters of the river system, we did try to get back into the head waters to get another trough of eggs out but there was to much snow blocking the tracks in the hills. All stock within the hatchery is progressing well at this time.


Jim Kerr

River Superintendent



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