FOSAF NEWS - Epson Wild Trout Festival - edited report by Dave Walker

 

The format of the 2016 festival was altered slightly to extend time on the water by one day as well as to include a mini-tackle fair where participants had an opportunity to try out the casting characteristics of a wide range of small stream rigs on the lawn at the Rhodes River Park. Thanks to Sean de Wet for the use of the premises.

Of the 42 participants who fished, several were unfortunate enough to have “blanked” during the festival while others were more successful to the extent that the total catch amounted to 93 rainbow trout ranging from 21 of less than 10cm to 2 of more than 45cm.

The impact of the El Nino phenomenon that brought severe drought conditions to the entire country is clearly evident as the previous lowest number caught was 172 in 2011 that was in stark contrast to 2015 & 2016. 2011 saw much rain prior to the festival resulting in “fat” water in all of the catchments of the Eastern Cape Highlands. In theory, now we’ve seen it all, ultra-thin to positively obese water! The festival catches say that the most fish ever recorded between 2001and 2016 was 1726 in 2013. Significantly, this was two seasons after the rain of 2011 however, when the rain or snow falls is far more important than the annual total. The lack of winter snow is a significant factor in the bigger picture as has been demonstrated over the past three winters. This, combined with the dearth of summer rain, is supported by the 2016 catch returns statistics. For more on weather, see: http://www.weathersa.co.za/learning/climate-questions/35-how-does-enso-affect-south-africa

Whereas the total catch has varied widely from year to year, the size range augurs well for the future provided that we enjoy follow-up precipitation until El Nino fades away. The sooner this happens, the better! We trust that things will only improve for 2017

The Bokspruit is the most reliable and prolific spawning stream in the area. The Loch Ness catch stats also confirm the fact that it is self-recruiting making it the highest self-sustaining still-water fishery in South Africa. According to Google Earth, the altitude at the dam wall is 2554m above sea-level and going fishing up there is in itself, an outing of note.

Other than the fishing technicalities, the festival auction raised a massive R61 700 bolstered by auction items from a wide range of people and businesses. Amongst others, an item of note was the Andrew Savides net donated by Jan

Table 3. 2016 donors

Andrew Savides

Chris Bladen

Epson/Martin van Riet

Frontier Flyfishng

Gavin Erwin

Jan #Net Must Stay Korrubel

Maplanga Advertising/Shackletons

Miles Divett

Peter Brigg

Russell Dickson

Sharland Urquhart/Gordon van der Spuy

Shaun Futter.

Tom Sutcliffe

 

Korrubel on the understanding that #The Net Must Stay. The reason for this being that the 2014 beard saga continues in that Savs and Jan conspired to include a “beard fly” in the construction of the net, an insert secured for posterity by clear epoxy at the base of the handle. Accordingly, it has been installed in the “Baardhoek” at Walkerbouts! First-time festival participants’ Des and Di Sharp were the “net-less” supporters of the cause that has raised R4 350 for the WTA thus far! Thanks to auctioneer Terry Andrews and his able assistant Miles Divett for their auctioneering skills.

The seven Rhodes Stoepsitfees blankets generated the huge amount of R5 850. Traditionally, blanket auction funds were used to buy commercially made blankets that were given to deserving people from the Zakhele township such as Aids orphans and the aged. In view of the auction proceeds, we will engage with the community to establish if there may be more pressing needs requiring financial assistance.

Auctioneer Terry Andrews and right, Afzul Soobedaar, Blake Wickham, Mark Hansen, Dick Plaistowe, Nigel Vaughan and Martin van Riet

Festival feedback received to date from participants has been very positive and an interesting comment was that stretching it to four days of fishing and five nights of talking about fishing, is a major improvement as it allowed participants to unwind and relax to a better degree than the previous shorter event. Now the trick is to convince more folk to emulate Nigel Vaughan who has been coming to Rhodes for the festival but making it a week-long outing! For next year’s event planning, the 2017 festival will run from Thursday 16th March to Monday, the 20th March 2017. Tuesday the 21st is a public holiday, Human Rights day.

Quentin was last in these parts for the WTA’s inaugural Barkly East-based event, the FOSAF/Spoornet Flyfishing Festival in Barkly East in April 1992! The event was also attended by then-Johannesburger, now-resident Tony Kietzman, our director of guiding.

Thanks to all of the participants, sponsors, guides, staff at Walkerbouts Inn and most importantly, the Wild Trout Association’s riparian members without whose loyal and much-valued support, there would not be as much fly fishing water open to the public as there is. In addition, there would not be an annual festival or indeed, the Wild Trout Association that administers the waters on their behalf.

 

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