Flyfishing report: Trout - Kwa-Zulu Natal Midlands

Date of Report: Tuesday, 19th July 2022
Name: Andrew Fowler
Phone: 082 574 4262

Young Jack Ward stood in my kitchen crumbling coffee pucks with his fingers while his dad and I enjoyed cappuccinos. They had come to fetch a float tube that they had left with me, but I turned to Jack, and then his Dad, and said “How about you leave the float tube at home and fish from the edge?”

They looked at me questioningly.

“It’s just that the tube out there in that crystal clear water, with your legs dangling down…..I mean you will stick out like a Russian artillery piece…”

They were listening.

“Rather hunker down in the grass and throw a long line, with as fine and long a leader as you can manage” I said.

Jack wanted to know about retrieve, and I told him “no retrieve”. I apologised for being boring but said that if he could fiddle less than he was with the coffee pucks, and just sit it out, head down in the grass, watching the leader, and with something way smaller than the usual big winter Woolly Bugger, he may be in with a chance.

I have been away on a trip for a few weeks, and here I was being asked for advice for a Dad and son trip where catching was quite important to keep spirits up. I didn’t have a clue what was fishing well, and where they should go, so I was offering generic winter advice for cold, clear, heavily fished waters.

The following day I was out on a Stillwater myself. It was the first time I had thrown a fly in over 3 weeks, and it felt weird. It was a dead calm day for the most part, and that water was cold and damn it was clear. Like, I mean, frighteningly clear.  I started spotting the odd fish cruising, and then some action in the shallow water over by the spillway caught my attention and I moseyed over there to see what was up. It was like the “U ketchum Troutarama” I tell you: dozens of 2 to 4 pound fish cruising around. The ones near the shore were paired up and skittish as hell. The ones on the periphery were not paired up, but were also skittish as hell. They were also rising to a midge hatch. When I cast over visible fish, they didn’t seem to mind the false casting over their heads….not this day anyway…but when the leader landed it was like I had thrown a grenade!  And this was a 22 ft 4X leader, presented in a way that was as delicate as I can get. So the “ketchum” part wasn’t happening.

Eventually I got a few fish, by fining down to some delicate midge imitations fished on a “washing line” (A midge pupa emerger suspended between a parasol midge on the point and the floating end of the leader at the other). I threw that lot far out, sat down and waited half an hour, and then fish started to show an interest. After lunch I returned, and I couldn’t see the fish because of the low angle of the sun and a slight breeze, so I tied on a woolly bugger and dragged it through them. I got one or 2 more, but only on first casts. It wasn’t as much fun, and I feel a little embarrassed about doing that.  It certainly wasn’t the more effective technique.

I have just learned that some mates of mine whipped the pants off their competitors doing similar long leader, small fly, dead drift stuff this last week. I also heard that Jack caught a Trout. His Dad sent me a picture. The fish was full of snails apparently. Jack must have kept the fish for his Granny (she loves the odd Trout). 

So, with me having been away, my apologies for lack of “how many” “Where” and “what size” news, but I think there is enough in the stories above that you will work it out.

Your granny is counting on you!

Tight lines,



A Midlands dam on a still winter’s day.