FOSAF FLYFISHING REPORTS - Trout - Kwa-Zulu Natal Midlands

Date of Report: Saturday, 15th September 2018
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Name: Andrew Fowler
Phone: 082 574 4262

I have just taken a look at the NFFC catch results since the beginning of the river season:  Fourteen of the twenty six catch returns received since the first of September, have been from stillwaters, and the balance from the streams. But here’s the thing….the number of fish coming from the streams FAR outstrips how many have been caught in dams, and the largest fish caught across all waters since spring day, comes from a river (The Umgeni).  Now if that isn’t an advert for river fishing, then I just don’t know! 

We had a snowy Saturday night last week-end, but by midday on Sunday, most of it was gone, and a farmer friend told me he got only 4mm of precipitation!  So that may have cooled the water, but it certainly didn’t contribute significantly to flows, although I suppose the thicker snow on the berg will have helped the headwaters a bit more.   The real contributors to good flow at this stage are a decent rain we had in August (unseasonably early for spring….but I think it mostly soaked in), and possibly more significantly, good rains last summer that lifted the water table.   To make my point and amplify the fisherman’s understanding of the significance of this, consider the following.  Last week I looked at a picture of “Bird Pool” on the Umgeni, taken in February 2016 (height of the drought), and compared it with a picture I took that day of the same pool.  The August 2018 flow, (before spring rains arrive), was considerably better than the flow in the height of the summer of 2016.

Then in another example, as I write this, we are trying to empty a trout dam that became infested with bass, and now, at the end of winter, as fast as we pump out the puddle at the bottom, it is filling with groundwater.

I can tell you that the veld is greening up nicely from the bits of drizzle we have had.  The rivers are clean, and as I say above, flowing well considering the time of year.  The water is cool, and the days are warm. Flowers are out everywhere, and the evenings are cool. That is spring for you….it really is a beautiful time to be out on any piece of water. 

As to where you might go, a new option to consider is the Bushman’s tribal water, now that the community flyfishing project is open there.  Anyone can buy a day ticket (R150), and a car guard will be arranged for you (R30), and off you go. It is safe. It is lovely, and it is full of Brown Trout. A few catch returns are in already, and there are no reported blank days yet. Need I say more?  Visit the NFFC website for details, and click on the “day tickets” tab for all the details….anyone can go …  you don’t need to be a club member.

If you go fish this or any other stream at this time of year, expect to find very clean water and lower flows, and those conditions demand attention to a few things that are less important in mid-ummer.  To list a few here: 

  • Searching out the very deepest, and most shaded spots in all but the most miserable weather
  • Fishing finer tippets
  • Fishing lighter nymphs to avoid constant snagging of the bottom
  • Paying SERIOUS attention to stealth….these fish can see you in the low clear conditions….low light conditions make this easier.
  • And use the wind.  ….explanation:   A fisherman remarked to me how well they did the other day on the Mooi, and commented that they were probably helped by the wind. By this he meant that the surface was ruffled by the gusts and this made him less visible to the fish. So even consider waiting for gusts before false casting. I have used this to good effect before.

And the stillwaters? Well the water is warming, and in reviewing 57 NFFC catch returns in the month of August I see a host of fish caught across a wide variety of dams.  There were however no really big fish in August, which surprises me. There was however a scattering of fish from 3 to 4 pounds, again, across a spectrum of waters in the Kamberg and the Dargle. The number of small fish is notable. It is difficult to say why that is, but no harm, they will grow!

What flies are working?  I have no idea. There’s a confession!  I too have a day job, and a family (and I have had a few projects on the go lately) . So don’t feel like some lesser mortal  if you haven’t get out there….just keep trying. I am seeing a gap tomorrow….if all goes according to plan………


Looking over the Mooi at snow at the source of the Umgeni.