The River Dee
The River Dee enjoys international fame as one of the four largest rivers in Scotland, with a reputation for providing the finest spring fishing in the UK. It is an attractive river, rising in the Cairngorms and draining an area of over 2,000 square kilometres before entering the North Sea at Aberdeen, having travelled a course of over 90 miles.
The Dee provides the best spring fishing in Europe and is one of the big four classic salmon rivers in Scotland, with beautiful fly fishing water. Tilbouries is mentioned in John Ashley Cooper's book: The Great Salmon Rivers of Scotland. Tilbouries is unique in providing diverse fishings with small and large width pools in an attractive secluded woodland setting with excellent access via vehicle or foot.
The River Dee Board has been active in removing all of the nets from around the estuary and for much of the East Coast of Scotland, including a contribution to the buyout of the Northumbrian drift nets.
Since 1999 there has been a catch and release policy on the river, with 99% of caught fish being released in 2012; one of the best observed policies in Scotland.
The Tilbouries beat, like most beats on the Dee, operates a fly only policy.
There continues to be very extensive habitat improvement works throughout the river with a resultant improvement on catch numbers. With £2.6m of funding support there is work in progress on the creation of nearly 1,100 acres of new riparian woodland on over 70km of river bank and 45 km of buffer strips.
The conservation measures being promoted by the Dee Board give great hope for the future health of the river and for the continued improvement of catches throughout the river system. The total rod catch in 2012 was 10,411 (including October); the second best return in 44 years, with 1,352 sea trout and the largest recorded salmon was 36 Ibs.
The Culter Burn which joins the river a short distance downstream is due to be opened up and will provide an extra 50 miles of fish habitat and nursery areas, which will enhance the lower river in particular.
The season opens on 1st February and closes on 15th October. Historically the Dee is renowned for its spring fishing but the Dee's summer salmon and grilse are the most abundant of the river's fish stocks, with plentiful runs of sea trout in May, June and July. The autumn run starts in September, providing excellent and productive fishing throughout the lower river.
The most productive months on these fishings have been:
Tilbouries offers some excellent fly fishing over about 2.4 km and benefits from a long productive season.
It has been customary to fish 6 rods from February to May and in the latter half of the season. Four rods only are fished during June and July. A house rod has been kept in hand and is fished at the owner's discretion.
Upstream just above the top island the beat marches with Upper Drum and Lower Durris; the bottom of Tilbouries marches with Altries.
A strip of river bank of varying width along the entire length of the beat, together with the solum to the medium filum and a part of the islands are owned.
Between Craiglug and the bottom of the Island Stream the fishings are like double bank as it is not possible for these parts to be fished from the north bank.
Access to the fishing is off the private drive past Cairnton Cottage or alternatively to Craiglug along a track marked A - B on the plan.
In the last 50 years the best year was 1963 with a catch of 327 salmon, when 66 fish were caught on two consecutive days in March.
The beat is divided into 9 main pools as follows:
Craiglug is a high water pool which fishes well even with the water over the top of the gauge; a good resting pool with the river in spate. Craiglug is particularly attractive and is well sheltered. The island opposite abounds with wildlife and flora; kingfishers, roe deer and otters are often seen.
A small and interesting pool; like Craiglug it is also fished in high water.
Junction and Island Stream:
A lot of people's favourite. Another sheltered pool; very pretty and secluded. Lovely fly water providing fishing over a wide range of heights.
One of the deepest and most well-known pools on the Lower Dee. It lies adjacent and downstream of the fishing hut and tends to be well fished. The pool was renowned for yielding heavy fish in the days of spinning. Sea trout are often taken at the neck.
This pool tends to be productive in all heights of water. It holds fish well from February to the end of the season, the summer and 'back end' being the most productive. A good holding pool for salmon, grilse and sea trout.
The Greenbank forms the top end of Lawson's and is fished from the bank in high water. Fish run close to the south bank when the river is high.
Probably one of the longest pools on the Dee at 675 yards. It is divided into four sections including The Greenbank, Head of Lawson's, Mid Lawson's and Tail of Lawson's. A lovely stretch of easy wading fly water and the most productive part of the beat. On a falling coloured water the sea trout fishing can be very good. A mixed woodland adjacent to Lawson's is now well established.
This is an ideal low water pool which can produce both large fish and grilse. Classic fast fly water. During the summer and at low water one can stand and count fish running the river over the shingle bars at the head of this pool; a spectacular sight.
There are 3 separate pools within the pot, reputedly the best holding pool on the lower river. Fishes very well in mid and low water. It has a fast flow over deep water, with always the chance of a big fish resting here.
The cottage was built in 1989 and extended in 2003. It sits in a prime location beside the access road to the fishings and the cottage overlooks the river. The cottage provides very comfortable accommodation on one level in an elevated position with views of the river. It is built of harled block work under a slate roof.
The front door leads into a spacious hallway with an opening to the right to the living area, and to the left to the bedroom wing.
The living area was added in 2003 and comprises a lounge with windows to the south and north, the latter overlooks the river and fishing hut. There is also a solid fuel stove. A door leads into the conservatory with views up the Dee valley. There is a well-appointed kitchen with floor and wall units. The bedroom wing includes a west facing master bedroom with en suite shower room, another ensuite bedroom, double bedroom, family bathroom, office and utility room. Outside there is a double garage.
Cairnton Cottage is easily maintained and efficient to run. EPC Rating C.
The Tilbouries Fishings is situated in an attractive part of Lower Deeside and enjoys a combination of seclusion and accessibility. Located on the south bank of the River Dee about 8 miles downstream of the prosperous town of Banchory, Tilbouries is considered one of the premier beats on the river with fishing for 6 rods.
The fishings are within easy reach of the cosmopolitan city of Aberdeen, the Oil Capital of Europe, which offers all the cultural, shopping, educational and entertainment facilities one would expect of a vibrant city of 212,000 people.
The location also allows for easy access to the Deeside area which combines an excellent variety of sport with magnificent scenery, cultural attractions, varied leisure pursuits and productive farms and woodlands.
The expanding Deeside town of Banchory offers a wide range of local amenities including a variety of shops, banks, restaurants, garden centres, hotels, library, health centre, dentists, two primary schools and a renowned secondary school. There are also two golf courses, a driving range and arts centre.
Fishing hut and outbuildings
There is a traditional granite wall fishing hut beside the Cairnton pool (6.15m x 3.7m) which is pine lined with a wood stove and well equipped for a comfortable day on the river. Adjacent is a small brick store.
Just downstream of the hut are a range of storage buildings including ladies WC, workshop, wood store and a secure steel container.
There are two blocks of farmland which have recently been added to the property. In front of the house is a 27 acre grass field, which is let for annual grazing and silage which produces £3000 per annum. At the bottom of the beat adjacent to Alfred's Pot are two further fields (22 acres), let for annual grazing; these are more like permanent pasture and produces £1500 per annum. Both fields have access onto the South Deeside road. These fields could be paddocks or part planted to add further to the privacy of the fishings.
A feature of these fishings is the amount of woodland on the riverbank, at the top of the beat this is generally native broadleaves on the steep bank, whilst below the house there is a mixture of the grand Douglas Fir, European Larch, Scots Pine and Beech trees, while a good access road winds through the trees.
From Aberdeen take the B9077 on the south side of the river towards Banchory. Pass through Maryculter. Continue for 2 miles and turn right down a hard track (marked Private) to Cairnton Cottage, situated beside the river.