FOSAF FLYFISHING REPORTS - Yellowfish - East Free State

Date of Report: Wednesday, 26th February 2020
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Name: David Weaver
Phone: 083 303 4230

As another season draws to a close, and I don’t make this statement based on any calendar date, we are scratching for fish on Sterkies.  The fishing seasons on Sterkies are judged by natural events and not by days of the year.  Let me elaborate.

The Cosmos has started flowering, the Termites are flying, and the Amur Falcons are starting to gather in large flocks, at their pre-migration, traditional roosts.  The fish have all but finished spawning, 3 spawns this season, and have moved off the spawning areas. 

When these events occur, the fish are no longer concentrated in predictable areas and start dispersing throughout the dam looking for feeding areas.  They also start their winter transition into a more vegetarian based diet and are not searching for the high protein diets that are needed during the summer breeding season.  Yes, they will still gorge themselves at a good termite alate (when the termites take to the wing) and this also comes with its inherent problems for the Flyfisher.  I have noticed that after a good, late afternoon termite alate, the fish will not feed the following day until about 16h30. They are quite simply satiated and have no need to feed.

So how do we prepare our Fly boxes for a late season visit to Sterkies?  Make sure that you have termite patterns, large, for the late afternoon and small for the morning session.  Flies that cover these bases are: Stimulators, Foam-Winged Hoppers in tan, DDD’s and Klippies en Gaans.

The feeding progression during an ant/termite hatch is interesting.  As the hatch starts and the fish start taking the terrestrials off the surface of the water, they will take any dry fly presented.  About ten minutes into the hatch they will only sip the naturals and will deftly push your lovingly tied hoppers and beetles aside, to get at the naturals.  If at this stage you don’t have immaculately tied ant/termite patterns, that are perfectly placed in front of feeding fish, your chances of hooking a fish are zero.  With pisces purposefully porpoising, perfectly all around you and the water alive with activity, your zen gets seriously messed up as the fish refuse every offering you throw at them.  Rather sit back, relax and enjoy the spectacle.  Then go home, light the fire, have a good bash, sleep late, knowing full well that there is no need to be on the water before lunch time the next day.

The best thing about this time of the year is that; those in the know are walking secluded, obscure banks and all the rest are crowded on the spawning areas.  Last Saturday I counted 15 flyfishermen on the short section from Bird Island to North Pier. The guys were crowded in there, so it looked like a stocky pond at Dullies. 

Go find a quiet bank, with a scum-line within casting distance, where you think there is good food, get an elevated perch, sit behind a rock and wait for those cruisers to come into range.  Sit out the afternoon shower and then enjoy the termite alate and its associated excitement. 

Sterkies is a tough piece of water to catch fish on, but the most beautiful place to go fishing.  Get your Zen right and enjoy your surrounds.  Stop worrying about filling your social media pages with pictures of you holding “Slabs of Gold” and “Sterkies Gold”. With the right Zen, you will be rewarded with fulfilment far beyond mere numbers. 

The stages in a Sterkies Flyfishers life:

Stage one…you want to catch any fish anyhow.

Stage two… you want to catch lots of fish and photograph all of them.

Stage three… you want to catch the biggest fish.

Stage four… you only want to catch fish on a dry fly.

Stage five… you just want to go fishing.  If you do hook a fish, only on dry, you enjoy the first run but then you go for a long line release, not wanting to stress the fish.  You take a picture of your stunning surroundings.

If you identify with stages one, two or three, then rather go fish the Vaal at this time of the year. Because Sterkies will frustrate the hell out of you.