Once again it's my privilege and duty to report to FOSAF's executive, membership and other external stakeholders on our activities, challenges and achievements during the past year.

As reported in previous years, we have continued our engagement with the DEA (in particular it's Biosecurity Unit), the Provincial Conservation Agencies and DAFF around the impact of the NEMBA AIS lists and regulations with particular reference to trout. The promulgation in August last year of the lists and regulations left trout off the lists by agreement. This was to allow for a mapping process to ascertain "where trout are" and the further discussion of a conditional exemption framework for trout which entails a self-regulation approach with entities registering with DAFF. At this stage this is an in principle agreement with the details still to be finalised. The principles agreed see trout listed as invasive category 2 for areas where they do not occur and protected areas. At this stage we have almost finalised the mapping process. Feedback on the maps is awaited. However, much more importantly we are waiting for DEA's feedback on the draft framework sent to them months ago.

Our work on these issues is bearing fruit and I believe that we have reason to be optimistic that a reasonable and practical solution will be found. As always the devil is in the detail and we are now faced with further areas of challenge in new legislation that seeks to impose restrictive approaches despite government's undertaking to create an enabling environment. We remain steadfast in our demand that the regulatory framework must continue to be consulted upon in an open and public manner as required by both the Constitution and NEMA. We will continue to keep you all posted on further developments.

FOSAF's website has been renovated and the new look has received positive feedback. Our involvement with the NEMBA AIS campaign has raised our profile enormously. In addition many fishing websites and fora engage in debate on the campaign and related issues keeping us in the public eye. As the old adage goes: "There is no such thing as bad publicity." I am aware that we have been criticised (by a few of our members) for the robust manner with which we have engaged with some sections of government. However, what most do not realise is that we were left with little option given the attitudes and refusal to engage openly, that we were faced with. In my view we have been successful because we would not back down and because we have stuck to our principles and policies. That we have rallied such huge support for these and our campaign speaks volumes.

Nevertheless, we do need to continue to develop FOSAF's communication with members and the public. Thus far our website, Facebook, Flyfishing magazine, the Tippet, have been useful channels, but we have to find a way to get through to the public in a way that grows FOSAF, its support base and membership. We continue to participate in Trout SA and this association has bolstered our NEMBA campaign. It has also added to our credibility. Our combined efforts together with other aquaculture players to bolster recognition for the value chain is also proving effective and meaningful.

As noted in previous reports, the Tippet is well regarded. I continue to receive positive feedbacks about it. Our thanks are again due to Stuart and Liz Tough who put in all the hard work to get it published and circulated.

As in past years the EXCO have not met since the previous meeting. We did however also have one teleconference. Given the cost of convening EXCOs this modus operandi remains reasonably effective. We do need to try and ensure more regular communication and I had hoped that the website might assist in this regard. We will again need to discuss ideas in this regard at the EXCO. Stuart and Liz and of course Peter Arderne continue to keep us all in touch and their efforts are highly appreciated. During this year's EXCO we will be reviewing some of our objectives and approaches and flowing from this we will also need to assess our other needs and requirements as well as the annual budget.

Full chapter reports will be forthcoming at the EXCO but however I will briefly note some observations:

Eastern Cape: I was once again privileged to attend the EC AGM in November 2014. Brian Clark continues in the Chair and it is safe to say the Chapter is in a healthy state with most of their clubs staying on board and some re-joining. The Chapter must be thanked for their assistance with the mapping exercise by both collating available information and checking the maps and paying for the capture of old references and data that improved the range of information available enormously.

Northvaal: We note the resignation of Peter Mills who has been at the helm of this chapter for many years. We thank him for his long dedication to both the Yellowfish Working Group and to FOSAF and wish him well. Peter Arderne is the acting chairperson. We once again note his outstanding work on the Steenkampsberg environmental project. His help on the mapping process is also much appreciated.

The Western Cape: Leonard Flemming continues to serve as Chairperson of the WC Chapter and has now also assumed leadership of the CPS. The Chapter has had a difficult task navigating the relationship between the CPS and Cape Nature. This has not been easy given the pressures of the ongoing NEMBA situation. Nevertheless Leonard continues to offer support to Cape Nature, in line with FOSAF's policies and principles, by showing leadership in facilitating activities in support of aquatic biodiversity conservation efforts.

KZN: Jim Read has been a stalwart of FOSAF in KZN. The Chapter committee is active and well supported. It continues to try and engage with EKZNW and other stakeholders despite the fact that the freshwater fishing liaison committee has become defunct. We have heard good news that some clubs in the region are again growing. However, a few clubs remain vulnerable.

Free State: Dirk Human has also resigned as FOSAF representative for the Free State. We understand his wish to engage in other activities and thank him for his efforts over the years. The struggle to achieve significant buy-in from the various fly-anglers and clubs in the province continues and we will need to find a suitable person/s to run with this difficult task.

Dr Bill Bainbridge despite health issues continues to lead this committee. Much of the focus has been on the NEM:BA process which is reported on above.

Peter Arderne remains a magnificent ambassador for FOSAF and flyfishing. He has a remarkable ability to persistently pester regional fishing reports and other material out of seemingly unwilling or reticent correspondents. We thank him for his tireless efforts.

Once again special thanks are due to Stuart and Liz Tough for their efficient commitment in managing FOSAF, the AGM and the EXCO and our travel arrangements and logistics. Their efforts are appreciated.

Thanks are also due to:

  • Our Auditors for AFS. John Webber who stood down as honorary auditor must also be thanked for his many years of commitment to FOSAF;
  • our President Andrew Levy and vice-presidents Tom Sutcliffe and Bill Mincher for their wise counsel when its needed;
  • the rest of the EXCO for their on-going support and commitment.
I think it is important to once again thank the wives and partners of EXCO members for sharing their significant others with us and holding the fort in their absence on FOSAF business. Perhaps we could find a way to recognise them in some way.

Last year I bemoaned the fact that FOSAF appeared to "struggle to get through to fly anglers with a meaningful and significant message". The impact of our NEMBA campaign has changed this. How we build on this is our challenge going forward.

Many years ago when I first encountered FOSAF I made the observation that if flyfishing did not meaningfully contribute to our emerging new South Africa we would become irrelevant. I am heartened to be able to report that FOSAF does indeed in many ways play a meaningful role as a civil society organisation. Our projects make a difference and our principles and policies have stood us in good stead. This EXCO will review our objectives and whatever comes out of this process will hopefully imbue us with fresh purpose and drive to take us forward.

The winner of the April/May members draw is Theunis Pretorius of Garsfontein whose prize is a copy of Martin Rudman's "Fishing Stories for Africa". The winner of the June/July members draw is Peter Backwell of Benmore in Johannesburg and his prize is flyfishing equipment donated by Mike Philip of Kingfisher in Durban.

MAKING THE TRANSITION Ė Tim Rolston a Fly Fishing Guide

It is a fairly frequent occurrence that I am asked to guide fly anglers who are often quite seasoned fishermen on small stillwaters but who are complete novices when it comes to rivers, and it strikes me that there is a great deal of misapprehension for such anglers in taking the plunge and tackling moving water. It’s understandable; whilst large lakes can be pretty intimidating it isn’t too hard to build a sense of familiarity with the smaller stocked lakes that abound in certain parts of the country. Not only are they of a size that begets confidence that at least the fish are within even moderate casting range but equally because such venues are generally commercial they are geared towards success. Any small stillwater venue which constantly fails to produce captured fish quickly goes out of business as anglers move to other, more “amenable” locations. That isn’t to suggest that such venues don’t have immense value, they offer opportunities for people to fly fish and learn the basics of fly fishing for that matter, it is just that most of us, including the beginners themselves, recognize that small ponds and stocked fish are not quite the same thing as venturing out in pursuit of wild trout.

So if you have reached the point where you think that you are ready for something of a transition and would at least like to sample some other forms of the piscatorial arts what do you need to know to improve your chances of success?

For my money, the most important factor, and this goes for any new venue or species of fish, is to better understand the behavior of your chosen quarry. All too often the novice is inundated with information on tackle, flies, tippets, leaders and fishing styles but much of the time focusing on that to start with is rather a case of "putting the cart before the horse". What is of more value to my mind is understanding why there are changes required in terms of methods, tactics and tackle and building on that.

Firstly there are some fundamental differences between trout in lakes and trout in rivers which if you are to be successful need to be understood. Trout in stillwater, which can for that matter include large pools in rivers, don't feed in the same way as fish in running water. A trout in running water is pre-programmed to eat food items that are brought to it on the current. Be they hatching insects, drowned bugs, spent spinners, baetis nymphs or whatever. You will note that because the fish relies on the current to bring the food to them the majority of that food is both small and pretty helpless when at the mercy of the flow.

That differs significantly to trout in lakes or large pools where there is no current to bring food and where therefore the fish needs to swim about looking for dinner. It all comes down to efficiency and one thing that the angler should get their head around is that nature is endless efficient. Fish as with all other wild animals do things that are efficient in terms of collecting energy (food) and burning energy (effort). In a river it is generally more efficient to wait for the food to come to you, in a lake, without that luxury the fish has to move about and hunt down food.

It therefore stands to reason that much of the time the fish in a lake will find and eat larger food items than would be available to its riverine cousins, compensation of you will for the additional effort required in finding that food in the first place. If large food items are not available then the fish will tend towards areas of high food concentrations, it simply isn't efficient enough to swim a mile to eat one midge.

How does all of that affect you as the angler? Well it should be pretty apparent then that your tactics need to be different to match up to the behavior of the fish. One certainty in fishing, the trout are going to do whatever it is that they want to do on any given day and the successful fisherman will learn to fit in with that, you don't get to choose what the fish should be doing or eating, they choose you follow.

So if the fish in a lake are moving, you can to a large degree wait for them to come to you, in a river that isn't the case and you need to move constantly hunting down fish which are staying still and feeding off the current.

You as the hunter are also now bound by the universal laws of natural efficiency, so if you spend more time fishing where you think there should be fish or where preferably you can see fish you will catch more.

So some quick pointers which should assist you on most rivers: You should learn about the flow of a river, trout feed where the flow brings them food and offers them at the same time protection from endless swimming against the current. Those are called lies, (not the angler's "it was at least 20 inches" type of lies, but places where fish lie). A feeding lie will have most of the flow concentrating the food right over the fish's position, the flow of bubbles, leaves etc. in the river should help you identify those flows. I like to think of them as conveyer belts, bringing lunch to you whenever you feel like it.

The flow won't be too fast or too slow, too fast and the food whizzes past before the fish can react, too slow and you have to wait too long in between snacks. With practice you can learn to be very accurate in terms of where you are likely to find feeding fish, and ignore much of the stream.

The food items, as mentioned, are likely of necessity to be fairly small and helpless, so the flies that you use are going to seem dreadfully tiny compared to the average South African stillwater angler's patterns. Where a size 10 fly might be considered a little diminutive on a lake it would be a pretty large imitation for most of our streams. Remember that is because of what the trout eat, not because of what the angler happens to think about it.

The fish may feed either on, in or below the surface film, depending on what food availability there is, in most of our rivers the food chain isn't strong enough for the fish to only eat one kind of bug, a sensible small nymph or dry fly will work most of the time without overdoing the entomology. Elk hair caddis, pheasant tail nymph, Adams and such will all work much of the time.

Big pools are not usually the best places to fish. If you are a stillwater angler you are likely to feel more comfortable in such places, they are like little dams and they will seem cosy and familiar, but remember most of the fish in a flowing river will feed in the current.

As a general rule fish in rivers will face upstream and you have a far better chance of sneaking up on them if you walk upstream and approach them from behind.

Short cast are better than long ones. Again a general rule is that the bugs that riverine fish eat are stuck in the current and unable to swim against it, if your fly doesn’t behave in similar manner it is likely to be ignored or refused by the fish. The further you cast the harder it is to get that “drag free drift” so focus on short accurate presentations most of the time.

Don’t forget to strike. When you are pulling your papa roach fast through your local pond and a fish grabs it, chances are it will be hooked by default. On a river you are not pulling the fly and therefore the fish will, on discovering that its lunch isn’t quite what it thought it was, will spit it out. You need to add tension to the line to pull the hook home or you will not catch any fish. So remember to strike when you get a take.

Cast efficiently. In a lake, if you make a poor and splashy cast it wonít make too much difference, the fish you are targeting is moving and probably hasnít arrived at your location yet, on a river the fish is staying still and a poor cast will see it running for cover.

Fish light rods and lines and thinner tippet. It is quite simple, you are going to be fishing with smaller flies and they are best fished on lighter gear. Not because the guy at the fly shop says so, but because that is what the fish are eating. Online resources:

All in all, with some logical thought you can remove much of the mystery and fear associated with fishing on rivers, it is just a case of thinking the differences through carefully and adapting to the new conditions.


Discounts are available to FOSAF members from the following Affiliate Resorts:
Southern Drakensburg/KZN: Giants Cup Wilderness Reserve, Lake Naverone, Riverlea, Sani Valley Flyfishing and Game Lodge and Wildfly.
Gauteng and Mpumulanga:Kloofzicht, Stonecutters Lodge, Vaal Streams, Treeferns Trout Lodge and Nooitgedacht.

Discounts are available to FOSAF members from the following Affiliates: Frontier Flyfishing, Torburnlea, and from the following Member Clubs: Underberg/Himeville and Dullstroom.

Contact details and information are available from Liz 011 467 5992 and on the FOSAF website.


Finsbury Estate, Highland Run, Komati Gorge Lodge, Katrinusrust, Lunsklip Fisheries, Mavungana, Millstream, Oxbow Country Estate, Stealth Fly Rod (Pty) Ltd, Transvaal Fly Fishers Club, Verlorenkloof and Whiskey Creek

Details are on the FOSAF website ???


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