Flyfishing report: Yellowfish - Middle Vaal

Date of Report: Tuesday, 28th November 2023
Name: Chris Williams
Phone: 071 565 1688

The Vaal Dam outflow is currently about 60/70, but at last the Barrage flows have been reduced to a safely wadable and fishable level of officially 10 cbm/sec. Realistically it can vary up to about 20 cbm/sec downstream from the Barrage via Vaal Oewer to the Parys area. We continue to experience the El Nino effect of uncomfortably high air temperatures and absolutely minimal rainfall to date. The river temperature hovers around 22/23° C depending on your proximity to the Dam wall, Barrage outflows and related factors. River fish spawning has definitely been slowed by these conditions. Mudfish have just about completed their spawning, but what with sporadic mating efforts by yellowfish, barbel and carp who anxiously await some rainfall respite to stimulate them, the fishing pickings have been very hard for fly fishers. Fish have generally been mooching around in neutral in oxygen-poor water not overly interested in our fly offerings.  

With the reduced flows in the last few days and subsequent easier river/wading access, some better sport has been enjoyed. For the early rising amongst you, dawn raids on the sheltered slower parts can produce yellows gorging on Baetis spent spinners in the dawn hours. Being lazy, I prefer late afternoon forays initially prospecting with caddis larva, black/brown or olive damsel nymphs and PTN’s. Terrestrials are really starting to kick off. Black ants size fished dry or sub surface sizes 16/18 can be a killer at present especially for smallmouth yellows. A few larger brown ants sizes 14 are also starting to show. A variety of beetles 10/14 and black gnats size 14/18 are also good prospects. Mottled tan moths, bees and flying termites sizes 10/14 are also worth a go fished dry or just sub surface. My favourite fishing however is 1800 hours onwards with tan or lime caddis emergers size 10/12 and dry mottled tan caddis adults size 12/14. Fished to rising yellows in the slower pools can be hectic sport. Those keen to, can add orange or flesh egg coloured beadheads or hotspots on GRHE or PTN nymphs or if you care to, on corresponding egg imitations size 12 or 14.  

As I write this, we have wannabe thunderclouds and the odd drizzle of rain and thunder. This should increase in the next few days with the prospects of at least one decent downpour. So now is an excellent chance to get out fishing if circumstances permit. Reminder that sharing petrol costs with other fly fishers in the area can make things easier on the pocket as well as being a lot of fun. I have also been fishing a few times at sunset every week at my local dam five minutes from my house for barbel and carp. As there are lots of lilypads and weed, I use minimum a 9-weight rod and 15/20 lb tippet. Stealthy fishing and lots of patience often produces one or two fish a trip, but I’m often smoked and I have many blanks but the surrounds and bird life make it so very therapeutic. Pancora wooly buggers/half chickens (with black bodies and egg-coloured orange/flesh/cheese coloured marabou) and silkweed imitation flies are reliable staples. Tight lines and please remember, if possible, to release your fish without them leaving the water. If you need to, rather take a snap of them in the net. Get yourself and your friends/family out fly fishing wherever you may be over the holiday season. It’s often about more than just the fish! 


Photo courtesy of Brandon Stonefield.