|Date of Report: Thursday, 10th January 2019|
|Name: Andrew Fowler
Phone: 082 574 4262
Here in KZN we have suffered the heat of summer as usual. It does however seem that the heat came a bit early and perhaps one could say, out of sequence. We often have a cloudy and stormy December, where the biggest problem a fly fisherman has is either lightning or rivers being blown out. This time around we had heat and dry, which is normally the preserve of January. As a result, our waters heated up alarmingly. Back in 2017, The Natal Fly Fishers Club managed to keep their waters open until after the festive season, but in December they had to be closed around the 18th. Since then we have had our cloud and mist, but it seems to me that in many cases it wasn’t enough to bring water temperatures back down. I fished the middle Bushmans on Sunday and measured 21 degrees. That isn’t half bad, because back in December we had 23 degrees at the surface on some stillwaters, and evidence that fish which swam off strongly the day before, had turned belly up.
My mate Anton had one of those at a club dam up at Giants Castle, and we know of 5 fish that died after a fishing day in the Dargle.
So, as a result of those water closures, and some conservatism on the side of the syndicate owners too, my news is largely of rivers.
On the rivers: a few days before I measured 21 degrees on the Bushmans, my mate Jan measured 17 degrees a few farms higher up. So the rivers are variable, and get a cold flush sometimes, and are the better place to be than a dam where the water temp changes as slowly as a wealthy granny takes to die.
The Ncibidwana felt warm the other day when I visited it, but it was flowing as clear as the Bushmans. The Mooi got a really decent flush about a week or so before Christmas, turned dirty, but has since been running clean. I haven’t been the Umgeni way, but a landowner told me around new years that he had had 160mm so far in December. I expect it will be flowing well. I was caught in a storm in the upper catchment of the Little Mooi on about the 30th, which should have done good things for that river, and I heard the Elands is flowing well, albeit difficult to fish with some recent bush clearing along its banks.
The Bushmans is not flowing as strongly as it could be. Amazing that it is so close to the others and yet seems to be standing behind the door when the rains come. There are a few dry patches like that. Chatting to a farmer lower down in the Kamberg valley last week, he was bemoaning the fact that the storms all seem to start and end in the berg and while he can see and hear them, none are coming down the valley to fill his dams. The dams in the Kamberg valley do indeed look quite alarmingly low for this time of year.
As I type this, it is thundering outside. My report will be out of date by the time I hit “send”…
Enough about weather: As far as the fishing goes, I met Jan Korrubel on the roadside last week. He was taking clients up the Bushmans, and I believe they had a cracker day. I was on the new community beat, but only had an hour or two that day. I had some success on a small brown woolly bugger. Anton Smith lost a fish of …let’s say “some proportions” on the Bhungani beat on some weird and wonderful creation tied by his mate, and caught a few more on his favourite, the Elk Hair Caddis. And speaking of success: The community project is coming along pleasingly. They have had 38 fishing parties since it opened in September. Roughly half were club members, and the other half were purchasers of day tickets. All the ticket money is accounted for, and the locals are delighted. A few signs have gone AWOL, and there are reports that a car guard sometimes arrives without his uniform, but looking beyond those minor things, we have a lot of fishermen enjoying the river who might not have done so before. I am sure you will agree that it is not overfished either. At 38 bookings, that is 6% of the potential maximum for that period, and is the equivalent of two parties a week. That is on 5 beats covering 18kms of river.
Look out for news of a river cleanup in late January….we will be calling for volunteers to come and join in.
Back to Caddis. At this time of year the Caddis are prevalent. Most often you need a size 16 or so, and it needs to be a dark grey coloured thing with a distinctive shape like any good adult caddis imitation. The Elk Hair caddis, or CDC and Elk is as good as any, but I have been using the hot and unpredictable weather patches to tie up some WAY more complicated ones that take forever to tie, and may even work as well as Al Troth’s pattern. Or not. You get the idea.