Flyfishing report: Trout - Kwa-Zulu Natal Midlands

Date of Report: Wednesday, 12th January 2022
Name: Andrew Fowler
Phone: 082 574 4262

I feel under-equipped to give this report. In the lead up to the end of the year, I was a bit like the lawnmower as it runs out of petrol….you know how it revs out of control before it dies….yup…that was me. I fished myself a little silly. I reckoned it isn’t called the silly season for nothing.

But since then, I haven’ t been out once.

I guess I could have taken my canoe out of the garage and paddled it around in the brown flood waters, but somehow I had little inclination. Everything was brown and totally awash.

People were flying their drones, planes and helicopters over various dam spillways and waterfalls and sharing the footage on whatsapp groups to “wows!” “oohs!” and “aaahs!”. It didn’t feel trouty at all.

I have noted that the excessive rain has been more around the level of Howick and Dargle, the epicentre of it all being directly over my house in Hilton, and that up in the mountains, at least by some reports, the rain hasn’t been quite as excessive.  It still sounded like a flood to me.

Albert falls dam raised from 40% about 2 weeks ago to 80% this morning. The Karkloof had 110mm in one afternoon, and I had 155mm at my house in the week.  Quite frankly I can’t even picture a Trout stream not in flood. Some dams are reported dirty too.

But our local club stats show that there were 24 rod days between Christmas and today (11th Jan) and that just under 90- trout were caught, a third of which were over 2 pounds.  So, I don’t know where those fellows found non-flooded waters, but clearly they are there, and perhaps I should head my own regular advice and just get out there. I did speak to an old friend on the Bushmans the other day and he described the river as nice and clean, but pumping. But that was twenty storms ago.

I can report that while the rain has no doubt moderated water temperatures and that rivers have no doubt experienced some cold flows; dam surface temps still seem to be hovering around 20 degrees…only 1 degree lower than we often find at this time of year.

The fishing trips that I had, and which 1 or 2 mates had, between Christmas and new year, were all about dodging storms, crossing carefully, and looking for the side eddies and sheltered spots where a fish might hold out in strong current. I guess we could have thrown 3.5 mm plus beads, but I broke a rod with a 2mm bead in December, and that served to confirm my aversion to flinging the heavy stuff.

My advice would be to head up as high as you can, and to go prepared to just pick side pockets rather than fish the whole stream as we normally do. I think you should also go with a plan B and C and be prepared to skip from one venue to another. Take some rain gear too, and be prepared to hunker down in a cave with your graphite lightning conductor way over there in the veld. I mean there is some hope….yesterday we had no rain at all (well…less than 1 mm…that counts as zero in this temporary new normal)

I am not complaining.  Autumn is going to be spectacular!

Tight lines.


Storm over the KZN Midlands