The Deveron may not be ranked as premier league but on it's day it can play in the top class game. With a reputation for big salmon this river needs to be taken seriously. Mrs 'Tiny' Morrison caught the biggest salmon taken in the UK with the fly on the Deveron, 61lbs.
For myself the Deveron is memorable. Cornihaugh, provided my first mid teens fish followed 2 days later by my best ever fish of about 23lbs having lost a fish of similar stature less than half an hour earlier. In the end, more after hte manner of the Ket Stone cops, an elderly chap netted the fish wtih his home made net, the net broke off leaving him holding a pole and a shocked expression! Me, I dropped mry rod and dived, almost into the river, catching the net before it disappeared into the river, I was not losing an other big un, no way. The fish was landed, my camera off course was half a mile away so the fish was returned with care leaving me with heart stopping memories.
For the Deveron I recommend a 15 foot rod, a 13 footer might be adequate on the middle river, but those big fish demand something with a bit of 'welly' if you expect to land them.
On the subject of big fish one November up in the Cabrach where the river is little more than a burn I counted, among many other fish, at least a dozen spectacular spawning salmon. They were so big they wallowed in the small pools and shallow runs their backs well clear of the water as they forged upstream. My estimate of their size was in the high 20s into the 30lb plus range, a most impressive sight.
My favourite beats are in the middle reaches of the river below Huntly where some of the most attractive and interesting water can be found. The beats are not so far from the sea that, with a spate, the fish can be in the middle beats with long tailed sea lice still attached.
Just at the end of the bottom beats are Lower and UpperNetherdale (with the wonderfully named "Black Beast Pot") where I look a stunning springer against the odds.
One cold March day about 1pm on Lower Heron with the water temperature just below 46C I perceived a subtle change in the weather. The temperature rose a smidgen, the air felt different. I had been trawling a big tube on a fast sink line to no avail. I changed tactics.
The pool isn't particularly deep so I set up a floating line with a fast sink leader and an inch and a half Ally Shimp treble. This set up allowed the the fly to 'dangle' just off the bottom. Half way down the pool I had a solid take and the fish was on, what a fight! Just as I was getting ready to net the fish the leader popped through the top eye of the rod and stuck fast. If the fish ran the game was up, it ran, right into my landing net! It just shows you that paying attention to subtle changes, new tactics and a big favour from lady luck can make your day.
Then there is Inverkeithnny folowed upstream by Marnoch with the best bank for fishing the renown Falconers Pool. The Marnoch ghillie once describe his very successful technique which was to fish with very light tackle drifting a dry fly down stream on a 3lb leader. He had salmon and big sea trout off Falconers but I confess I am to cowardly to try his method. He was an Aussie. Opposite Marnoch is Kinairdy.
Above Marnoch Bridge there are Boat of Turtory, Ardmeallie and Glennie beats. I have had some great times on Boat, some salmon, great trout and once I just watched a pair of otter cubs having a rumble, tumbling down the bank into the the Boat Pool then dashing back up the bank to do it all over again. It ruined the fishing but I wouldn't have missed it for a fish.
Just a few miles up stream there is Cornihaugh / Mains of Mayen, Rothiemay and the Castle beat below Milltown of Rothiemay. I believe Cornihaugh and Mains of Mayen have been combined to make a mega beat.
Above the bridge at Rothiemay is Avochie, an extensive fishery which includes the junction pool where the Isla joins the Deveron. You can fish the Isla on the Huntly Town ticket, the trout on the Isla are excellent with a 10lb fish recorded to a dry fly. I had a red letter day with half a dozen ballistic brownies of a 1.5 to 2 lbs on a dry Greenwell, unforgertable.
Further up there is Coniecleugh, the Castle Beat and the Huntly Town water which includes fishing on the Bogie and Isla.
The Huntly Town Water is really the upper river from the bridge at Huntly Castle up to a mile or so below Glass.
Very much a spate water but back end in October I have seen fish crowding into the small pools, males chasing each other for dominance in the better redds. Fish were actually rushing onto the sandy shore in their frenzy. After a good spate the Huntly water can be very productive. Locals told me that the Bogie was once a fine sea trout water but like Conniecleugh beat it was ruined when mill weirs were dynamited and the fish just pass through now.
These are just a few of the beats the river has to offer. Lower down there is Montcoffer a fine flowing beat until it hits a rock wall and passes through a narrow gorge, such a surprise for the Deveron with the approach to the beat requiring a drive across an old stone hump back bridge right out of extras for Lord of the Rings.
Turrif AC have a fine stretch of river adjacent to the town and Banff and McDuff AA have the last three quarters of a mile of the river before it meets the North Sea.
Some beats are not easy to book "dead mens shoes" one beat was describe to me as. Many beats are available on week and day ticket. It's not an over priced river in spring a tenner might be enough for a day but from June onwards prices rise as salmon and seas trout arrive.
Remember the Deverons' reputation for big fish, maybe not a 61 pounder but 20s happen every year and bigger!