This year Spring is bang on time.

As I write this editorial the thunder is booming and reverberating across our city. Its early morning, not yet light and the flashes of lightning bring a vibrancy that complements the soaking spring rains. The SWAMBO 1 always seems to know just when the denuded wintered lawn needs feeding with kraal manure and she is seldom out by more than a few days. By midday the nutrients would have soaked into the ground as the grass' verdant spurt becomes immediately evident.

As Andrew Fowler observed in a recent blog, KZN has been blessed with good falls of late snow and early rains. This means that for now, the start of the season has seen many rivers and streams suitably flushed, with more than adequate water levels and this usually means better fishing conditions. The last few years have been different with low water persisting well into September and later. The vagaries of the weather remain hard to predict but some (like "the Guvnor") still have the uncanny ability to get it right, although she sagely refrains from telling one so!

Part of the reason for my tardiness in getting this edition out, was that we were hoping that we might be able to provide some news of the outcome of our case against the Minister of Environmental Affairs around informed consultation and the sufficiency of the information required for making meaningful representations or objections. Unfortunately, no decision has been released yet and our delay was in vain. However, as we were putting this edition to bed, we got the news that the judgement will be delivered on Friday 10 September 2021. We will send a separate News Flash once the judgement is available.

1 John Mortimer QC wrote a series of television plays and later short stories centered around the many travails and exploits of one "Rumpole of the Bailey". Rumpole referred to his better half as "she who must always be obeyed" and other "respectful" euphemisms and terms of endearment like "the Guvnor".

The time has however been well spent as we have had an opportunity to engage the department's officials as part of the task team which the Minister set up with a view to finding workable solutions to address the trout conundrum. The next meeting of the task team is scheduled soon and we remain hopeful that common sense will prevail leading to the long sought-after practical win-win. I for one remain hopeful that we are nearing the end of this exercise so that we can all finally get on with the other more important parts of our lives, like spending more time wetting a line in the riparian zone or at a favourite stillwater.

I read in a recent Cabinet announcement that the National Freshwater (Inland) Wild Capture Fisheries Policy has been approved. Despite not hearing anything further from the officials concerned in this regard, a Google search allowed me to quickly find the latest approved version. (See the link below. 2 ) We will need to consider this version carefully as it will form the basis of government's approach to the management of our freshwater fisheries going forward. FOSAF made submissions around the earlier versions of this policy and participated in the early consultations. We will endeavour to ensure that sustainable approaches inform the implementation of this policy. There is still a long way to go before the ideas in the policy become law and practice and the public will be able to contribute to the development of any new legislation and regulatory frameworks that must still be put in place for effective implementation.

There are so many websites that offer wonderful insights into flyfishing. Also, so many virtual magazines and blogs. One of the more accomplished of these is our own Tom Sutcliffe's "The Spirit of Fly Fishing". (See the link below. 3 ) It comprises a veritable almanac of things fly fishing, from erudite and evocative prose to technical and tackle advice to the most riveting photography and artworks. Tom had thought of giving up this treasure trove but many have prevailed on him to keep it going. I'm sure I speak for many of you when I say we are all grateful for the privilege of sharing this wonderful reflection of his musings and interests. Our EXCO will be meeting soon, to take stock and to think about what we can or should prioritise for the new season. Hopefully, we will receive updates from all our regions and be able to share these with you all in due course. If you would like more information or to become involved in your region, please feel free to contact a regional office bearer who will rope you into one of the activities. (Details are available on our website under the tab "about us" and then "EXCO and Regions". (See the link below. 4 )

The new season beckons and with it the promise of change and visiting some new places and some new experiences. I look forward to my preferred river flyfishing and getting to some of my favourite places. I wish you all as much time as possible in similar pursuits.

Yours on the line,

Ilan Lax
National Chairman


The July 2021 YWG newsletter is now available on the link: Please contact Peter Arderne at if you need any additional information about the YWG.

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A rolling international tour of seemingly random facts

Written by Andrew Fowler

Mark Lloyd is the CEO of the Rivers Trust in the UK. That organization is an umbrella for some 60 plus catchment-based trusts in the UK, which, if you study the map, cover the entire country. I had occasion to meet Mark in York two years back and have a chat with him. I was attending the Rivers Trust annual conference, where Arlin Rickard, the founding CEO was in attendance. Arlin has since been awarded the OBE, having founded first the West Country Rivers Trust, and later the entire umbrella organization. Mark had big shoes to fill, but he has done that admirably. I chatted to him briefly on the bus on day two of the conference as we made our way back from a Natural Flood Management (NFM) project site in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales. It turns out that Mark previously headed up the Angling Trust in the UK, and that he had been fishing in South Africa. Amongst the places he fished here was the wild coast, where he reported his fly rod was stolen by locals, but was later recovered. I said that sounded about right.

After my return to SA, my wife and I met with Christine Colvin, who then headed up the Freshwater conservation portfolio for WWF, and she encouraged me to start Upland River Conservation, which I have since done. Christine has since emigrated to the UK, where she works for ...... the Rivers Trust, under Mark Lloyd. And just last week Upland River Conservation was putting in a catchment remediation project proposal to a local funder, in which I partnered with WWF, and in doing so mentioned the part Christine played in the formation of my NGO. The proposal includes some creative silt settlement structures, aimed at reducing silt runoff from dirt roads into some of our upland Trout streams. The concept stems from structures I saw in the Yorkshire Dales, as well as a day spent with the Westcountry Rivers Trust. It turns out that NFM has application here in [relatively] dry sunny SA, for slowing runoff for the purpose of increasing water ingress, and hence restoring base flow in streams, so that fish have some water over their backs before it rains in spring. Part of that solution involves putting logs across gullies. The British have a very classy scientific term for this: "leaky dams". I hope to be taking pictures of leaky dams below road drainages on the Inzinga and uMngeni rivers in the near future. I will be sending those pictures to the West Country Rivers Trust, because the two of us have been discussing the notion of 'sister streams' in our respective countries. It is a notion that I struggled to get the Americans in the Driftless area to grasp. But I do gain huge benefit from the research and information coming out of the USA. A particular example is the suite of measures being employed in the Chesapeake bay area, where schemes aim to fence cattle out of riparian zones, and compare the water quality of streams flowing through those areas, vs ones where cattle are free to enter the stream. Part of what I have learned from that is how to begin to address farmers on this prickly topic. The leaders in that difficult topic are surely the Australians who masterfully employed psychologists before tackling the farmers whose land drains onto the great barrier reef, and there has been much learning from that study.

Coupled with these interactions are my calls and mails with some South African greats like Jim Taylor right here in Howick, and Rudolph Rascher from dept agric "landcare" in the Western Cape. Then there is Sue Viljoen from WWF who is working on the business case for more water sensitive dairy farming, and Dr Mark Graham who pioneered the "citizen science" concept of us common mortals collecting basic, but very useful water quality measures to aid the database of water quality readings out there. That database is growing in its accuracy and cover, and will surely feed into the data exploring the interplay between water quality and land-use. In a similar vein I last week received an e-mail from Dr Alana Rebelo from Antwerp university (and working from Stellenbosch) telling me that she had finished her post-doctoral research, and inviting me to click on her link. This took me to a map which uses Google Earth type mapping, overlaid with information derived from vegetation colour analysis (to put it in laymans terms). From that I was able to confirm that her "sentinel 2" technology works a treat, and that the clump of trees on the slopes above the uMngeni above Sheardown farm is indeed all gum, but with a sprinkling of pine at the top, and some wattle on the south corner. I can therefore rely on it for the species composition of some other spots in the valley that I haven't got to, and which are the subject of a proposal to Anglos for forest margin remediation in two KZN river catchments.

This seemingly obscure work on forests and road drains and the like are all part of what Mark Lloyd recently described as "wicked solutions". Water quality (and the status of our fisheries) is what is called a wicked problem... "one that appears too costly, too interconnected, too comprehensive and too contradictory to fix", and Mark postulates that a wicked problem needs a wicked solution. That would be one that is costly, interconnected, comprehensive, and contradictory (like using NFM ideas to solve drought related issues).

Mark brings this together succinctly when he writes "It's vital to understand that the quality of the habitat in a river is directly linked to its ability to process pollutants, or to be resilient to water scarcity". And that is as applicable here in sunny SA as it is in the green hills of England, or the rolling countryside of the Chesapeake bay catchment. Which, after a rolling international tour of seemingly random facts, brings me around to my points:

  1. We can be assured that there is a great deal going on behind the scenes which recognizes the beleaguered nature of our fresh water resources;
  2. There is very pertinent, applicable and helpful research coming out that we can use here in SA, whether it came from our shores or others;
  3. There is international collaboration on these issues beyond what you might be aware of; and
  4. We have some very capable, leading-edge people right here in SA working on our water quality problems and finding solutions.

And in closing: There is no better time for the fly fishing fraternity to come to the fore and assist in achieving delivery of water quality remediation initiatives on the ground. We have the potential to make and strengthen bonds with scientists and ecologists, and to assist them in doing the stuff that doesn't necessarily come easy to academics: Implementation.

So, if you have a stream, a lake, or a stretch of beach where you like to flyfish, and if it is close to your heart, and if you have concerns about its well-being, now is a good time to pick up the phone and start to make plans to do something about it. I think you will be pleasantly surprised to see how much support and understanding there is out there.


Ed Herbst has once again donated two R300-00 vouchers to 2 lucky winners!

  1. The winner of the R300-00 Upstream Voucher is: Mr Mark Dahl (membership number: ID0002)
  2. The winner of the R300-00 voucher for Frontier Flyfishing is: Mr Danie Heymans (membership number: AH0012)
Congrats to the lucky winners! Thanks again Ed!


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

Castleburn, Driehoek Syndicate, Frontier Flyfishing, Giants Cup Wilderness Reserve, Highland Lodge, Highland Run, Jandi Trading, Kloofzicht, Lake Naverone, Mavungana, Millstream, Sani Valley Flyfishing and Game Lodge, Wildfly Fishing, Transvaal Fly Fishers Club, Verlorenkloof, Whiskey Creek and Willow Realty (Pty) Ltd, Cape Piscatorial Society, Marabou Trout Syndicate, Mr Stuart Bird.



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