|Date of Report: Monday, 6th July 2020|
|Name: Andrew Fowler
Phone: 082 574 4262
The COVID lockdown put paid to our river season! Just when the mid-summer spate was over, we weren’t allowed to go out, and we missed that sweet spot in early April. So be it.
Now that it is stillwater season, there are various regulations that allow some, but not all, anglers, onto the water, depending on where you live and work. That being said, a large number of anglers have burst from their homes and gone fishing! From both club records, as well; as some private water information that I have, I can tell you that the fly anglers have been fishing up a storm.
The results have been interesting.
Firstly, the context is that we are having a proper winter. That is to say, it has been brutally cold, particularly in the mornings, with healthy frosts.
With this in mind, it seems that the fishing only really gets going late morning when the water warms just a little, above the 7 or 8 degree mark. But in those midday, bright beautiful conditions, there has been some real “wow” fishing. But not for all! During the month of June, few blank days were reported, and some hefty trout were coming in. It was glorious. Now that we have moved into July, I am seeing catch returns and hearing of, a lot more blank days. But the lunkers are definitely still being caught.
By Lunkers, I mean fish of 5 to 7 pounds. In the history of NFFC returns I don’t remember as many big fish coming out as there have been in the last 6 weeks. I mean 7 or 8 fish reported as 7 pounders, and perhaps 30 or so in the 5 lbs plus range. This is across a good number of waters too…not just some hot spot.
Some stillwaters are of course quite heavily populated with trout for whatever reason, and continue to produce a lot of fish. A group of friends helping a local hatchery get fish eggs reported 15 fish in a single mornings fishing…all strong Rainbows from 2.5 to 4 pounds, that made the reel sing!
I personally have been out a few times, and have has some fabulous days. The water has of course been gin clear, and stealth has been important, as have lighter leaders, and I confess to a few “smash-ups”!
As to what patterns: It varies. I have done well on a brown coloured dragonfly nymph. I have caught a fish that regurgitated a minnow, and subsequently did well on an olive zonker minnow imitation. When fish were moving, I caught on a black DDD as well as the #16 Pheasant tail nymph that I hung under it. I have also caught on a woolly bugger, which has some subtle blue in the body wrap…just a little more subtle than the infamous “speed cop”, but only just.
As usual in winter, it is about putting in the time. It can be slow but you need to be out there, moving about the stillwater, looking for where the fishing are, as well as what depth they might be at. When you intercept them, expect big, very strong rainbows, that will test that tippet for you!
So, if lockdown rules allow you to get out there, don’t delay! We all know that fly fishing is the best social distancing you can do, and I sense that with this awful pandemic, there is a spirit of living ones days to the full. Perhaps this explains why so many have been out, and why we see a flurry of new members joining the NFFC.
Winter on a KZN Midlands lake