Flyfishing report: Saltwater - Garden Route

Date of Report: Wednesday, 4th May 2022
Name: Brian Sowden
Phone: 076 0525634

Not much has happened on the fly-fishing front so I combined both March & April into one. The Garden Route has been a bit quiet on the fly fishing front the last while and I suspect due to the fact that as always, our weekends are plagued with bad weather.

Firstly, here is an interesting story by Deon Stevens:

"Which species feeds head down - tail up, and frequents the shallows estuaries of the greater Garden Route?

....and did I mention they can be sight-fished??

Move over Spotted Grunter, hello the Pig-Nosed Grunter!

Around Easter, Tidal Loops got a call from a fellow fly fisherman wanting to buy a couple of Tidal Loops Prawn patterns to fish Swartvlei that has been delivering on SG for myself and clients recently. He promptly went out and caught 3 SG in 2 short sessions. He was clearly impressed with the pattern and dropped by on his way home to pick up a couple more, because he was going try his hand at targeting tailing PNG. What? Tailing PNG? Bi-catch yes, but actively targeting them? Surely not?

Anyway, my interest was piqued enough to follow up and when he caught a couple of PNG with a tweaked version of my pattern I was seriously interested.

That guy was Marius Rosseau, probably one of the most accomplished local and international fly fishermen I have had the privilege of fishing with. And when I was invited to spend a few days on his home turf I jumped at the chance. Taking a few of his recent observations on board, I tied up a couple of patterns I thought could work and headed his way.

Suffice to say that the fishing was exceptional. Not easy, but still exceptional. We waded endless shallows casting at fish, spooking them most of the time, but every now and one would commit. Tailing PNG, silvery blue tails exposed, heads down, solitary or sometimes schooling / foraging in pods.

Between Marius, myself and Willie Burger, a fly fisherman who contacted Tidal Loops for some advice, we caught no less than 17 Grunter, Pig-Nosed Grunter, and Marius himself caught a trophy 65 - 70cm Spotted Grunter to round things off.

With Garrick being the staple on the Garden Route for most, and Spotted Grunter more or less understand by those prepared to work for them, this new kid on the block is a great challenge, if you know where to find tailing Steenbras (PNG)

For very deliberate and obvious reasons, no mention has been made of the water we fished, so you'll just have to go find your own tailing PNG's.

Some of our best pics are omitted from this post to avoid any obvious identifiers or markers that may give it all away.

Back to the vice to apply some learnings to the next fly I want to fish to these guys, but best to have a good variety because like their Spotted cousins, these Banded bottom feeders are a whole new challenge.

Here are some pics of our outing. Thanks again to Marius for being such great company. I have very quickly developed a great respect for your knowledge on all things fly and hope we will soon be able to do a few trips together.

Next week it's back to Spotted Grunter, with a couple of bookings nearer to home. They are still active, and definitely still catchable. Watch this space ......

Tidal Loops - constantly striving to find new offerings and tweaking patterns to increase clients' chance of success on the water."

Marius Rousseau wrote the following

"Visiting with Genevieve Van Niekerk and Wian Van Niekerk at Sedgefield ,picked up some awesome Prawn flies from Deon Stevens who runs a Fly fishing guiding and instruction business in the Garden Route called Tidal Loops .Caught two nice Grunter and two small Leervis (Garrick) in skinny water on this fly and will definitely be tying some more in due course! If you get the cast just right to tailing fish and you do not spook them, you stand a good chance. If you are in the area, give him a shout out for some great fun."

In Knysna Martin Young has been biding his time with his newfound passion and racking up his fish count with a bunch of Garrick, Grunter and a few moonies

Poena Bruwer from Breezers Fishing has also put in the time and managed a nice fat Grunter on a Alflexo Crab pattern.

And the fish gave him a decent fight that tested his patience and skill with the fly rod.

Another local, Johannes Meyer, also had some fun with the smaller garrick in Knysna using a brown over white clouser.

The Sedgfield mouth is still open and allows for tidal movement as well as the Goukamma, for now.

Not a lot of news from the other estuaries regarding the catches of fish.

It seems like Knysna and Sedgefield's Swartvlei are the top producers at the moment.

We are moving into our colder months, but that doesn't mean the fish disappears, so keep casting in the hope of a hook up



Deon Stevens with a White Steenbras (Pignose Grunter)


Poena Bruwer with his Grunter