Salmon & Trout Fishing on Scotland’s River Don

The River Don is situated in the North East of Scotland between the Rivers Dee and Ythan. Surrounded by attractive scenery it is often described as a hidden gem by anglers visiting Donside. People return year after year to fish this lovely wild river where fresh salmon can be landed from the opening day on 11th of February till the last day of October.

The river has something for everyone to explore whether it be salmon sea trout or wild brown trout. Many well-known celebrities and sporting stars travel hundreds of miles to the Don annually for its peaceful laidback approach to fishing. There is no 9 till 5 fishing here, anglers are free to fish whenever they choose.

A few have even decided that the pace of life meets their needs and have purchased property close to its banks. The river is certainly not overfished and more often than not an angler will have a beat all to himself with only the local wildlife as company.

Estates offer day or weekly lets and can also provide corporate lets with accommodation available. Council beats provide visitors or local residents with a range of daily or season permits. The Aberdeen and District Angling Association have daily and weekly permits available for visiting anglers and enjoy some of the best fishing on offer with both low and high water beats. Permits for salmon and trout can also be purchased online at FishDon

The spring run is not what it was but come early April good numbers of fish appear and build into May. The average weight is from 7 – 9lbs although more fish of between 15-20lb have been apparent in recent years. Good sport can be had on the lower and middle beats where the cost for a day’s fishing is still very affordable. The upper beats start to see salmon appearing in their pools by early May.

Sea trout fishing on the Don takes place primarily from beats around Inverurie downstream to the estuary, numbers landed vary from year to year but a few beats report catches of between 50- 80 fish each season with June and July being the best months to temp these welcome visitors. The average Don Sea trout weighs 2.5lbs, although fish of 5-7lb are landed each season. Fly fishing in the summer evenings between 9pm and midnight provides the best results.

Given water grilse and summer fish arrive around June through till Aug and quickly spread themselves throughout the system giving good sport to all areas. This season has seen good numbers of big fish running the river with the best reported weighing 32lbs. Again there is always plenty of availability on many prime beats to be had for under £50 a day.

The Don has always been well known for its backend run when large runs of fish enter during September and October. The lower beats do best if the river stays low but with the arrival of rain silver fish can be taken as far upriver at Alford.

The River Don is most famously known for its wild brown trout fishing and dedicated trout anglers especially the dry fly enthusiasts appear on Donside when the season opens on April 1st. Parties of anglers from many countries across the world return to try and temp that specimen fish they may have seen or lost the previous year. The months of April and May are when the bigger fish are most likely to be encountered when large hatches of March Brown and Olives appear daily bringing them to the surface. Each season trout up to 7lbs are landed and with more anglers practicing catch and release bigger fish are there to be had each year.

The number of anglers visiting Donside is increasing annually, so whether its salmon sea trout or browns that you’re after make a point of fishing this lovely river and you may well find your own hidden gem.

Martin Webster is the River Reporter for the River Don

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