There’s nothing dry about these fishy tales and fascinating facts

A Scots fisherman has brought together a fascinating collection of stories from fishing on the Dee and Spey.

Iain Ogden has written his second book, Great Salmon Rods of the Dee & Spey, which has recently been released and is limited to 500 signed copies.

In over forty years of regularly casting a line over the length and breadth of both the Dee and the Spey the author has befriended countless fishers, ghillies, factors, and lairds; collectively they were privy to a wealth of local salmon angling knowledge and insight. Hours were spent in factors’ offices, castle libraries and estate mansions investigating potential material in an effort to determine total numbers of salmon caught, details of monster fish, record bags and photographs of note on each prospective protagonist.

Writer Iain Ogden

Additionally, the author has gathered together a host of amusing stories, quotes and anecdotes to humorously punctuate a book describing the angling lives of Great Salmon Rods of the Dee and Spey.

Having lived on Deeside for 25 years and fished widely on rivers throughout Scotland, Iain has previously published a memoirs book Casts on the Dee and Spey.

Iain, who now lives in Norway, first began fishing for salmon while studying at the University of Aberdeen in the early 1970s.

Then, as a microbiologist in a Government Fisheries Laboratory, he moved to Deeside and landed his first Dee fish. By good fortune he was invited, for 28 seasons, to fish the nearby prestigious waters of Tilbouries and park before the days of commercial letting.

Great Salmon Rods of the Dee and Spey, by Iain Ogden

Iain said: ‘It was here I witnessed the last of the great early spring runs of salmon in a river often beset by ice and where huge catches were commonplace.

‘The owners of both estates had an extraordinary passion for their fishing and were willing to share a host of tantalizing records and stories which served to kindle my early interest in historic salmon catches. Unwittingly, these same lairds were the first of what I now define as Great Rods.

Miss Ursula Pickering (Mary Ursula Umfreville Pickering, later Mrs U Vaughan-Lee), matriarch of two middle River Dee beats, Kincardine and Borrowstone, encompassing the stretch around Potarch Bridge. She caught four fish over the magical 30lb mark, biggest 38½lb on the fly in October 1905

‘This volume is not a dry statistical account. Rather, it serves to reveal some of the highlights of angling endeavours gleaned from over 100 years of salmon fishing on two classic Scottish rivers.’

Amongst the content are chapters relevant to Deeside on Major Foster of Park, the Bradfords of Kincardine, Major Mitchell of Cairnton, AF Irvine, 23rd Laird of Drum, The Two Colonels of Altries and others.

Iain added: ‘This volume is not a dry statistical account. Rather, it serves to reveal some of the highlights of angling endeavours gleaned from over 100 years of salmon fishing on two classic Scottish rivers.’

Jack Carr (pictured left) with his ghillie Bob Johnstone with the River Dee’s biggest reported spring fish. Weighing 47½lb it was landed at Durris opposite Park in 1958, 47” long and girth of 27”.

Fascinating facts include:

· GF McCorquodale of Dalchroy – almost 9,000 salmon from the Spey alone including 41 over 30lbs and three of 40lbs;
· The record Dee catch of 66 fish on each of two consecutive days in March 1963 at Tilbouries;
· John Ashley Cooper – over 7,000 fish with three 30-pounders from the Spey;
· The Duchess of Northumberland – from the age of 15 when she caught her first 30-pounder at Gordon Castle to one of exactly 40lbs some 40 years later;

Lady Bernard Gordon Lennox with a 40lb fish from the family’s own water on the Spey at Gordon Castle. It was caught in the Essil pool approximately one mile from the sea.

· Major WN Mitchell fished Cairnton in the manner of his illustrious predecessor AHE Wood, his records revealed;
· Lady Mexborough’s 41-pounder in 1953 followed by 15, 17 & 21 springers in three consecutive days – all from the Brae Water;
· The 40-pound Dee springers of Major DB Foster, Mr K Gibbs, Jack Carr and ghillie Frederick Hill;
· The story behind WG Craven’s 53lb record Spey fish in the long lost Dallachy pool;
· Ten to twelve salmon on repeated afternoons for Richard Waddington on Delfur;
· The Laird of Drum’s 47lb springer on the fly and his bespoke fly collection ;
· Miss Pickering, matriarch of her Middle Dee beats and her four 30-pounders;
· The great year when Arndilly exceeded 1000 salmon one season.

Copies of the book can be ordered from or alternatively, email [email protected] for details.

Mr WG Craven with the River Spey’s record rod caught salmon. Weighing 53lbs it was caught in the Dallachy Pool – no longer a recognised pool, such has the river changed due to floods since October 1897 when the fish was caught

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