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Salmon on the up

The River Deveron 1st – 6th May 2023

Having spent every spring of the past 30 years on the river Spey, this year, I decided to change my approach.

Partially due to what I have seen in both Iceland and on the Spey, I decided it was time to head back to the Deveron. One of the main reasons being that it is my belief that both the Deveron and a few other rivers are in the process of healing after a series of monster floods in 2009, 11 and 15.

River Deveron in Flood
The River Deveron at Banff during the Flood of October 2009

Those floods were always going to cause havoc with juvenile salmon, especially as they were huge ones, with the river rising as much as 26 feet! Also, because those floods covered the full life cycle of salmon in the river, it meant the natural insurance policy of always having some salmon form the river at Sea was under pressure and stock diminished to a point where it would always take some years to repair. However, repair they will always do. I have always believed Salmon to be a “survivor” Irrespective of how much we try to kill them off, with clean water, gravel, and protection, they will always bounce back.

A Beautiful River
Upper Netherdale has the characteristics of a Highland River

I am sure this is what we are beginning to see. I could see it with the early run on the Spey in the spring of 2022. Based on good record keeping and having my eye on the river every day for the past 40 years, it is my belief that such events are the catalyst for changes in run timings as it affects the number of parr being produced in each part of the river. After such events, Parr from the upper part of the river will survive and outnumber those produced in the lower part, and because we know those are far more likely to be the progeny of early running salmon, then a natural recovery will most likely come in the spring. Salmon are on the up!

River Deveron in Flood
The Lower Deveron, normally 20 meters, in October 2009,was almost one mile wide.

Given this background and my own theory, I thought, with very few people fishing this river and, at this time, given the number of fish available, in all probability, my clients coming to learn to fish and cast, the prospect of a bonus fish would be similar to that of the Spey. Time and hindsight has proved this to be right. Add to this the fact that Deveronside fishing's and most other Deveron beats offer double bank fishing with no opposition on the other side and many more pools per rod too and, for the angler, the whole overall fishing and learning experience is a really good one.

Lovely House By a River
Waterside Lodge River Deveron

What we found during this week was a river in perfect height, the Deveron is prone to running out of water during the summer, however, the Spring offers a much better chance of finding the river at a decent level for salmon fishing. This week saw the river begin around one foot on the marker [a perfect spring height], ending the week around zero. Unfortunately, the weather we had this year was quite cold with the wind in the east the whole week, so little sign of fly life on the river. I say this because, like the Spey, the Deveron offers the angler with the potential of amazing wild Brown Trout fishing at this time, however, the weather really needed to be better for this to materialise.

A Salmon Fisherman
The Turning Wheel at Laithers. One of the many varied pools at Deveronside fishings

This was a residential course where all 4 guests stayed with me in the lovely Waterside Lodge, were fed, watered, and entertained by me in the evening.

Dinner around a Table
Enjoying Dinner at Waterside Lodge

Personally, I really enjoyed this and plan to do more next year. The quality of fishing and sheer number and diversity of pools make this an interesting fishing/casting course, especially for those interested in smaller rods and fishing techniques.

Catching wild Salmon and Trout always comes down to 3 factors. Good Weather, Good Water Levels and having fish there. I f you are lucky enough to have all 3 then you will catch salmon. However, take one of those away then the chances head south! The fish arrived in better numbers toward the end of this week. Who knows when they will come next time!?

Netted Salmon
Another Salmon caught during the week

Releasing a Salmon
Mark Pearson Returning a nice Deveron Salmon

Salmon Being Released
Another Beautiful Deveron May Salmon

Anyone who would like to come along and enjoy this with me next year should feel free to contact me as early as possible as I know this will be extremely popular in 2024.

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May 10, 2023

The hosted instruction and fishing on the Deveron looks superb Ian and your observations regarding recovery of parr numbers following the flood events will, no doubt, prove to be spot on. I look forward to seeing you on the river in June and hear more about the Deveron fishing next year.

Ian Gordon
Ian Gordon
May 10, 2023
Replying to

Hi Andrew, many thanks. The river has definitely had a few more fish in it. Ill look forward to talking when I get back. I was at Lower Pitchroy today and saw a good number of both salmon and sea trout. I have a feeling things will be good when I see you there too.

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