|Date of Report: Wednesday, 8th January 2020|
|Name: Andrew Fowler
Phone: 082 574 4262
Here in KZN we are having the usual searing heat of summer. It is pretty intense stuff. I was up at Highmoor before Christmas on a day where the sun was relentless. I said to my colleague that our day’s fishing felt more like an army perseverance test * than a pleasurable day out. Then I retired to a shady spot further down the valley and gave up fishing and waited for the others to give up too. They didn’t. Well, not for a long time anyway, and to my surprise they caught some good fish. I mention this particular day because it seems to be representative of how things have been on our stillwaters here. That is to say, some anglers getting mighty fine fish, despite very warm weather. I am talking a whole bunch of 5 to 6 pound fish.
At the same time, a visit to a dam below Giants Castle the other day, revealed dead fish lying in the shallows….the same fish that had been caught and released a day or two earlier.
That day at Highmoor, the water measured a whopping 25 degrees C at the surface by 3pm. Obviously it was cooler deeper down, but either way, that is scary stuff given the altitude of that water, and it doesn’t auger well for all the lower altitude water (which is EVERYTHING….Highmoor is our highest altitude water). Because of these conditions the Natal Fly Fishers Club has cut the weekly cap on all its stillwaters to just 2 rods per week, in order to limit the amount of damage fishermen can do on the fish, while still allowing the last of the holiday makers the opportunity to fling a fly. The next step is to close all the stillwaters, and that is definitely not far off.
Normally I would be using the opportunity to say something like “Well hey, who cares, we have so much great river water”.
The rivers however, have been limping along. By that I mean that they are not all full and raging, as they could, or should be in thunderstorm season. Instead, this one is up a bit and looking OK today, that one is up a tiny bit more and dirty, and that one over there has dropped again and is looking a bit miserable. So it has been spotty, and I have yet to hear of anyone having a scary wading incident this year, or having their net disappear at speed down the river.
As I write, the Bushmans is dirty, but definitely not a raging torrent, and there is still a lot of spring’s algae around. The Mooi, as far as I know, is looking rather good, and the Umgeni is off colour but not full. The Furth stream is flowing strong and clean. As I write a storm is rumbling off somewhere to the west, and I can guarantee that by the time you read this the above info will be out of date. The chances are that the rivers will have ‘switched places’.
That is unless the river Gods are kind to us, and we get some serious, widespread, algae washing rain across the entire Drakensberg. And that is what we are hoping for.
When we do get that, we will be back out there with tungsten and confidence and a spring in our steps. For now it is furtive stuff and much keeping of the ear to the ground. We await cool days and news of isolated good conditions.
And until we get that proper rain, we will be fishing flies that don’t go “plop”. Maybe a ‘Speckled Faye’, or a pheasant tail nymph, or a subtle dry. On the stillwaters I have been doing well with a dragon chasing a corixa. I also had one bumper day on a minnow pattern.
I will end with an appeal.
If you do get out there, and find fish, be they in a river or a dam, and if you get the formula right, and start catching cast for cast: For goodness sake, please don’t make a pig of yourself in support of your ego. Just stop. Stop catching fish. Resign in the knowledge that if you had gone on you would have clocked up dozens. But don’t clock up dozens. Please. They will only die in these temperatures.
In fact how about 1 or 2 fish, and then go have a G & T and bask in the pleasure of those few fish. Now THAT will get you through the pearly gates……