Yellows in the Vaal are survivors.

The poor yellowfish has been dealt a difficult hand this last season. For some reason department of water affairs has held the water levels of the river probably at the lowest average I can remember. With little rain to help the flow rates. The low flow by itself shouldn’t be a major issue but consider the amount of pollution that has been added to the system.  This then becomes a real concern that could very easily turn on itself and implode, especially so with the Vaal Dam levels receding as well. This certainly allows for very little scope to flush the system and maybe just give it a boost every now and then. Yet the yellows still manage to survive. I doubt the unrelenting heat waves that we have been experiencing   helps with the situation either, warming the water and depleting the oxygen levels.

 The above-mentioned issues of heat and pollution have created an environment for just another looming disaster which we are undoubtedly holding our breath about. The water lettuce above the Barrage, despite interested parties such as SAVE trying their best to contain the spread of the lettuce. This could become another continuous problem if not sorted out quickly. There have been some bio controls added to the system and although this sounds like a plan and looks to be partially proactive. I seriously doubt those few surviving beetles have the appetite to control the rapid growth of the lettuce. If they were able to be effective, they would pretty much have to be the size of dinosaurs by now. Government has done a bit of spraying and that seems to have been halted because of the risk of toxicity. Just another threat to the yellowfish.  A video release seemed to imply that the real trouble is in the seeding of the plants and that once their seeds have been dropped to the bottom of the river that this would then become an ongoing problem. So, all the measures they have implemented appear to be just lip service to fool people into believing that something has been done. But I fear that the little bit perceived to be done is actual way to slow and not aggressive enough. So, the plan isn’t a plan at all. I have been following various platforms about it and the daily pictures don’t really show that there is any improvement. I believe they are holding much of the weed in the Taaibos River. I hope that if that river dies that it doesn’t affect the Vaal River, guess we will soon know.

All these things appear to have created a season on the Vaal of varied results for the anglers and reports have been all over the place. Talk of good days and bad days. Ordinarily the yellows under extreme heat tend not to move into the shallow rapids and with the low flow rates one would expect the fishing to be difficult. There also seem to be a lot of fry and small fish about which is really encouraging. Late afternoon fishing has presented itself with some good days, fish tend to hold back from the rapids a bit sitting in deeper or slower moving water in the heat, but then there are days where they behave as if nothing has happened at all. The yellowfish in the river have proven to be far more resilient than the catfish and carp in the Vaal Dam. These have been excessively difficult this year. Along with the heat another very prevalent weather change has raised its head this year. Strong winds in what would normally be less windy months and the ever-present east wind, have really been affecting the activities of these species. Small largemouth yellow are coming out more and more on the fly in the dam. This is probably an underrated change that I hope is going to open more largie fishing opportunities in the future, that is of course if we can curb the amount of netting happening in the dam. I have already caught several largemouth yellows with very distinctive V and diamond shape net marks on their bodies in the dam. I can only imagine that the netting on the river has also been more destructive with low flow rate allowing the netting community to access a greater area of water.


Coming to the fly I have prepared. With the multitude of fly patterns going around of which some are becoming ever more complicated, once again the top performing fly for me this past season has been even more simple than normal, despite that it keeps on coming up trumps and getting me into fish. Quite often it’s my smaller fly that catches the bulk of my fish, but this is the heavier fly on my rig. Maybe the fact that the heavier fly can be presented slower to what must be lethargic fish in an environment of depleted oxygen both by the pollution and the warmer water. If it is the smaller fish or numbers, you’re after, they have for the past few weeks been coming back to old faithful small orange beaded flies. Ptn and black flashback that I tie with orange beads as the focal point of the fly.


Fly tying Materials:

Dubbing PRISM SLF SLP100 black

070 UTC black cotton

X small res copper wire

CDC tan or grey

3.5mm gold tungsten slotted bead.

Grip hook 12723 size 18.


Step 1

I use a 3.5 gold slotted bead with a size 16 or 18 grip hook. I like the wide gap on this hook, and I find them to be much stronger than most jig hooks. Which is a bonus for the super strong yellowfish.

I put the hook in the vice at a downward angle as it helps position the slotted bead better. I push the bead upwards and secure its position with cotton. This stops the bead from dropping into the gap on the hook keeping it wide open. Being a slotted bead, this places the bulk of the bead weight above the hook, effectively turning it upside down just like a jig hook would. I then capture the wire in just behind the bead.



I feed the cotton backwards to the bend of the hook trapping the wire in all the way back simultaneously. Wind the cotton back towards the bead with touching turns, maintaining a smooth, thin profile.


Step 3

Wind the copper wire back up to the bead and trap it down. At this stage I sometimes change to nano silk for a small head and a slight finish.


Step 4

Take a small amount of dubbing and build a slight thorax right up to the back of the bead.


Step 5

Take a small amount of CDC and tie it in just behind the bead and wip finish. You can spin the CDC on behind the hook if you like a prettier finish.


Other flies referred to in the article.



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