Spring is usually a time for optimism! The first rains, the greening of the countryside, the daylight hours getting longer and, like I said in my last editorial, the returning birdlife adds to early morning chorus. I am not much of a morning bird being more of the night owl. Although that having been said, I am more than comfortable getting up at the "crack of" as Bill Bainbridge calls it, especially if it involves lines and water or a surfboard.

These days it's truly wonderful how much information is available online. Everything from fishing tactics to tackle basics and complexities, to how to tie even the most complex flies. You tube demonstrations mean one hardly ever must ask anyone how to do something anymore. There is a downside to this though. I enjoy company and doing things with other people. I look forward to spending time with friends tying flies or just hanging with a beer in hand or something stronger. Somehow this gets lost in the pursuit of instant cyber knowledge.

I came across this quote by J. B. Priestley: "I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning." As anglers we must be optimistic. Why else would we spend money, time and energy on tackle and to perfect our art if we did not believe in the possible? Sharing all of this with others makes the experience for me even more meaningful.

The 2019 subscriptions are due.

This brings me to the decision of FOSAF's EXCO on Club membership. Clubs will now be able to offer their members FOSAF membership at half the individual subscription which currently is R300.00 per year and which we have decided not to increase in 2019. This discount is only available to club members through their flyfishing Club. The general idea though is to keep things as simple and practical as possible. Please contact the FOSAF Secretariat or myself if you have any questions. The Secretariat will liaise with those clubs who have indicated that they want to take advantage of this offer.

On the NEMBA front, the Court Application has been served on the Minister of Environmental Affairs. Although DEA filed a notice of opposition, they have failed to file their Opposing Affidavit/s in time and it is likely that we will apply to set the matter down for a hearing.

Instead of things getting better, we are being swamped with regulatory proclamations by the DEA. You will recall that in the last editorial I mentioned the SANBI Report on the 2014 National Strategy for Dealing with Biological Invasions in South Africa. Sadly this report has yet to be released for public consumption. In addition to this we have been sent a number of risk assessments to consider in relation to Aquaculture species (which includes rainbow and brown trout). We have been scrutinising these documents and will reply to them with our constructive comments soon.

A further document recently published is the Draft National Biodiversity Framework. This is a complex and multi-faceted framework and we believe the 30 days allowed for comment is far too short. As usual it is not without controversy and we will report further once we have had a chance to digest it.

What is again striking is the fact that DEA are "dondering voort" regardless of anyone's concerns and regardless of our and other stakeholders' requests for proper information. This framework document should for example, take in to account the findings of the SANBI Report. But because this document is not yet in the public domain this has not been done. The old regime should also be reviewed before being replaced by new one. Instead, DEA seems to be ignoring this obligation. It's another example of DEA breaking the very laws that it expects the public to obey. In the light of these facts it appears that DEA is determined to continue implementing a failing framework and strategy without taking account of why they are failing. This is wasteful, reckless and a bad governance approach.

What appears to lie behind all of this is DEA's goal of replacing a law-based environmental management regime with one governed by permits issued at the discretion of officials. Sadly this approach ends up hurting both people and the environment we rely on in equal measure. We will continue to speak the truth to DEA's wrongdoing and highlight the consequent failings of governance and service delivery and the harm this is causing to our streams, rivers and the life within them.

Instead of wasting resources on pipedreams, we appeal to the acting Minister of Environmental Affairs and his colleagues in other Departments dealing with water and land, to take stock of the efforts to manage these natural resources to ensure that the promise contained in section 24 of the Constitution is fulfilled in a meaningful and practical way. The time for real, concerted and coordinated action is now!

The winner of the Member's Draw is Peter Liebetrau of Durban North whose prize is a fly line kindly donated by Mike Philip of Kingfisher, Durban.

I added some fennel, cinnamon, grounded cloves, a dash of Cayenne pepper and a bag of Aspelatus Linearis (ordinary rooibos tea), to my large familiar mug. To this I added boiling water and a bit of honey and sat down to have a long hard look at my fly box. I did not like last year's flies. So back to the drawing board. Bring up an empty fly box and the fly tying vice and start again. What earns a fly or multiple flies the right to be on the end of your line?"Oom George" always said: "There is only one fly that works and that is the one in the water." This is a very important point. How do we gain confidence in a fly? How do we select the fly of the day? - I feel it is the right one.
- It has caught many fish over time.
- It was suggested by "So-and-So", who is the local expert and probably has earned national colours in Fly Fishing.
- It feels "buggy", matches the hatch and the colours under water, etc.

Where "Oom George" is 100% correct is that there are flies that fill fly boxes and never come out, except for extreme circumstances when nothing else works. In those tough circumstances they also do not work and we discard them as useless. We do not lose confidence in our tried and trusted favourites.

I remember a beautiful afternoon, fishing a small dam in Pilgrims Rest. Uncle Arthur was out-fishing us 7 to 1. Afterwards his question was: "Do you come from the Free State?" We replied that it was not the case but why would he ask? "Because, you cast so far", came the return. We wanted to know which fly he used to produce the abundance of fish he caught. "I have no idea. Take a look for yourself." It was a rusty brown traditional English wet fly of which I still do not know the name. We blamed the fly as the reason that he out-fished us. Analysing the situation afterwards something totally different emerged. We were the young, fit ones that ran to the prime spots in the dam. Being on the best spots we fired away for the rest of the afternoon, because you will miss out if you are not on the best spot. Naturally we caught the few biggest fish. We were fishing the old riverbed channel and the inlet.

In the meantime Uncle Arthur hunted the dam wall and the edges. His rod was as soft as spaghetti. (Remember we had the stiff distance casters because in still waters the fish are always far out.) His casts never went over 10 meters. His body was shielded by the small shrub covering the edges. His casts were neat and accurate. In a casual and systematic way he covered the whole area. We were however spooking every fish to Antarctica by slapping on the surface and showing line to any fish considering coming close. Where did they go? Of course they went to the least disturbance where you know who was waiting. Uncle Arthur was fishing the dam like a river, a style of fishing he dearly liked.

In New Zealand I walked into a tiny fishing tackle shop. I greeted politely and was rewarded with a blunt "Howdy". I was taken aback by the greeting. Most dealers are friendly guys just ready to talk fishing. I started my enquiry about which flies they were using for lakes and rivers. The blunt reply was thrown back at me. "What are they feeding on?" Having just arrived I admitted to not having a clue. It was the onset of spring and he then proceeded in explaining that their fish were still more keyed in on smaller baitfish especially in the lakes but also in the rivers. I then enquired about nymphs to take home after my visit.


The same question came again: "What are they feeding on?" "Do they feed on stone flies, caddices, ... "No, we have limited stone flies, ..." Out came the sales boxes filled with flies. There were little "wow's" and "ooh's" and "ahh's". They were basic patterns, the tying not spectacular. What was wrong with my box of flies? There were the usual Gold Ribbed Hare's Ear nymphs, Pheasant Tail nymphs, caddices, etc. Yet what was wrong?

The questions that always needed answering was: Were they going to reach the fish?

- Am I presenting food sized items (mostly very small) at varying depths to where the fish are?
- What does the profile look like?
- Is the weight correct (brass or tungsten beads, extra lead)? We need a variety of sizes to give us different weights.
- Are the body materials smooth for fast penetration through the surface layer and the underlying currents? Smooth bodies like a Perdigon style fly cut through the surface and create less friction in the current. Mostly they consist of varnished or epoxied thread and minimal materials for quick sinking. The other alternative is to tease out the body or use bulky material to reach the bottom slower in fishing shallower water. Am I adaptable enough that I can tease out the rabbit's fur with a bit of Velcro so that the fly will sink slower?
- And lastly before a fly goes back into a fly box, is the hook sharp? What does it help if the business end cannot produce the goods? By checking the hook, we know is it sharp, not broken or damaged.

In my youth when I started fishing there were 4 flies in my box that reached my leader. Walker's Killer, Invicta, Royal Coachman and a Coch-Y-Bundu. Whether you remember or forget the names, or whether they are familiar or not, are unimportant. What is important is that we must know where and how to fish them. If the fish do not see them we do not have a chance of catching that fish.

Choose flies that serve different purposes. A good Caddis pattern or a DDD can be fished on the surface. It can support a small nymph beneath it. Here it serves the purpose of a working fly and a strike indicator. Fishing the fly statically or with a sinking line. Cast it out sink it down. Use long slow pulls and leave it to play in the currents underwater and slowly float backup. Be prepared for hard takes. Your reaction is what! "Are you fishing a dry fly wet!" Think out of the box. Beware of fashions. We all do the same because it worked for one person.

The Uncle Arthur lesson: We have to concentrate on the whole way of fishing and not only on the fly. We are limited by our thoughts and previous experience. Observe what other fisher people do differently. Ask them what they are doing. Ask them about their techniques. Most will gladly tell you. Learn from other disciplines of fishing and adapt it to your conditions. Is the fly the most important ingredient? No, your strategy is. The fly is one part of the total strategy. I sort my flies according to weight. I want to know where they are moving and what movement they impart in the water. Put the food in front of the fish. Tight Lines


Discounts are available to FOSAF members from the following Selected Gold Class Supporters:

Castleburn, Driehoek Syndicate, Finsbury Estate, Flyz Inc, Frontier Flyfishing, Giants Cup Wilderness Reserve, Highland Lodge, Highland Run, Jandi Trading, Hobbies of Antiquity, Kloofzicht, Komati Gorge Lodge, Lake Naverone, Lunsklip Fisheries, Mavungana, Millstream, Nooitgedacht, Oxbow Country Estate, Queenstown FlyFishing Club, Sani Valley Flyfishing and Game Lodge, Stonecutters Lodge, The Fly Casting Coach, Transvaal Fly Fishers Club, Verlorenkloof, Whiskey Creek and Willow Realty (Pty) Ltd

Details are on the FOSAF website -



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