The Dullstroom Fly Fishers BONANZA has recently closed it’s books on it’s 6th year as one of SA’s leading fly fishing events and in the process broken all previous records for fund raising for the local needy – all thanks to the amazing generosity of participants, sponsors and water owners. In his closing presentation, Alan Hatton (the BONANZA event coordinator) pointed out “….. that this year, we were faced with some very special challenges – namely, how to somehow improve the fishing quality notwithstanding the recent drought conditions and the shortage of quality fish in the market, how to re-engage Dullstroom’s Town Dam in the public fly fishing scene and, last but not least, how to top last year’s record fund-raising achievement of R 70,000. Well, true to form, Dullstroom and all the good folks that supported the BONANZA rose, like hungry trout, to the challenge!
Starting with the fund raising task, the DFFA smashed all previous records and handed over a cheque for R 85,000 to Helping Hands (Dullstroom’s own registered charitable organization). According to Alan, “We pretty much know that, once we are fully subscribed at 100 anglers, then we will hit our fund-raising objectives after operating costs for the event ….. but what really gets us into the territory that we are now achieving is the generosity of participants and donors when requested to “dig deep” every time they hear the words auction, raffles and fines. And dig deep they did – boosting the funds raised by more than R 40,000. We are very proud of our association with Helping Hands and delighted to be able to make this sizeable contribution to their good work.” In her acceptance of the donation, Elsa Vermeulen (Helping Hands Treasurer) thanked the DFFA and all BONANZA supporters for their achievement and indicated her delight “ …. that the DFFA trusts Helping Hands to distribute their funds fairly and equitably.” She also indicated the local causes that benefited from donations such as this – top of the list once again being Dullstroom Epilepsy Centre, but also including local schools, the Dullstroom Learning Centre, crèches, nurseries and the aged “ …… all will benefit from a donation of this magnitude.”
Alan Hatton (left) and Peter St Clair (right) handing over the cheque to Elsa Vermeulen
But back to the fishing , which can be summarized very simply ….. far more fish were caught than last year (563 versus 400), but there were far fewer specimens, the biggest fish being 60 cms, with 4 others over 55 cms. Fishing conditions were also better than last year ,which was badly affected by heavy storms, but a few dams did not deliver to their potential, including DFFA’s own club dam (Jansons), which somehow kept it’s fish well hidden for the 3 days of the event. The dams that fared best in the event were the two Walkersons’ dams (Production / Long Final) and Jurassic Pond (all private waters), with Brookwood Trout Farm once again triumphing and scooping the Jan de Jager floating trophy for best water. Brookwood’s Ken Bain summed it up well “We didn’t enjoy handing the trophy back – and we were determined that we should get it back on the shelf as quickly as possible, so we were intent on delivering more and better fish in a fly fishing environment that both delighted and challenged the 30 anglers that were lucky enough to draw Brookwood. Seems like we succeeded!”
But the outcome that put a smile on many faces in the DFFA was the returns from Dullstroom’s Town Dam. Every angler in the event was challenged to fish this water in one of the five sessions. The Club has been supporting the new lessee, who recently re-launched “Dullstroom By The Dam”, with a co-funded stocking and bankside improvement program targeted at getting the Town Dam back on the fly fishing map. “This Dam was once the jewel in Dullstroom’s fly fishing crown, it’s where the Dullstroom fly fishing scene kicked off, and we are determined to re-polish that jewel!” quipped Alan “It’s fitting that it delivered the result that it did – what we expected was a weekend of stocky bashing for points with good numbers of small fish – because that’s what we put in over the past two months or so. Well, not only did we get that, despite the low water conditions, with 154 fish coming out over the weekend, but a number of superbly conditioned fish in the high 40 cms emerged, the largest being 50 cms. We are absolutely delighted and it can now only improve over time with the continued support of Dullstroom Fly Fishers and Oaklane Homeowners.”
The principal results are sumarised below:
The BONANZA has quickly earned a reputation for an impressive list of prizes (this year totaling more than R 250,000), principally from the main sponsor Xplorer Fly Fishing and their two co-sponsors SecureTech and Zero Appliances – but there are a host of other sponsors that contribute prizes, including feature prizes for first fish, last fish, best dressed team, and the “True Grit” award sponsored by Drew Kennedy as a tribute to brother Mike who passed on as DFFA Chairman a number of years back. There have been some fitting winners of this award over the years, including twp development anglers, but none so fitting as this year’s winner – Dean Angove, a disabled fly fisher who not only demonstrates great strength of character in overcoming his disability on and in the water, but consistently goes out of his way to assist less experienced anglers. Well done Dean – it’s what this event is all about and we look forward to seeing you again in 2017!
List of sponsors
Principal Sponsor – Xplorer Fly Fishing
Co-Sponsors – Secure Tech / Zero Appliances
Session sponsors: De Wit Motors, Ermelo/Frontier Fly Fishing/Mavungana Flyfishing/ The Village Angler/Walkersons Hotel & Spa/Cpirit.
Accommodation sponsors: Black Leopard Camp/Brookwood Trout Farm/Greystone Lodge/ Highland Run (Dream Resorts)/Little Troutbeck/Millstram Farm/ Treeferns Trout Lodge/Verlorenkloof Estate.
Feature Draw Prize Sponsor: Mutual Safes & Security
The Siyifunile student marshalls
Dean Angove (left) receives his “True Grit” prize from Drew KennedyReturn to News