|Name: Andrew Fowler
Phone: 082 574 4262
A dam in the Umgeni catchment
The fishing in our parts has been wonderful! It pleases me to be able to say that.
I have heard of no less than 6 reports of fish of over seven pounds over the last 3 weeks. All were from private water, and two of the venues were reported in such vague terms that I could tell someone wanted to keep something up their sleeves. Fair enough, I say: good fishing often doesn’t stay that way if everyone gets to know where it is.
The Natal Fly-fishers club has also had some great returns, with fish of up to six pounds coming out of four of their waters, across Boston, Dargle, and the Kamberg.
Water temperatures are no doubt plummeting since the frost has started in earnest now, but were I think warmer than usual until a week ago. Temperatures of 10 to 8 degrees were recorded by a team doing some top-up stocking of NFFC dams this week, but two weeks ago I measured a temperature of 12 degrees in the Dargle.
Mornings are characterised by a carpet of white everywhere now, but the days are as warm and sunny as only a midlands winter day can be.
I was out on a boat with a visiting Australian friend 2 week-ends back, and both he and I were thoroughly broken up by good fish. In my case it was a knotted leader I was using and one of the knots gave way. Perhaps I need to rethink knotted leaders. More knots = more that can go wrong!
Those fish took a small Damsel, and a large hairy green thing respectively. So fly choice, if based on that alone, remains wide open. I have tended to cater for the winter aggression of large still-water trout in terms of what flies I offer up, but I am not confident that I couldn’t be out-fished by someone using micro patterns.
One thing is for sure and that is that the water is crystal clear. If we assume that this demands thinner tippets, and that is a fair assumption to make, then really large flies are out of the question. Throwing big patterns on tippets of 3X or thinner is not clever. The tippet weakens and you lose fish. So one solution is to tie up your Matukas, and Zonkers, and other attractor patterns in slightly smaller sizes. I am talking size 10 to 8 here, and contemplating foregoing the size 6 or larger. For those you need a 2X tippet, and if the water is just too clear for that, then my advice would be to rather fight a strong fish on 3X tippet in good condition than 3X in poor condition due to your having attempted to throw a #4 fly on it.
I have been having some fun on a zonker strip pattern of late. It is tied on a #8 or #6 hook, but the dressing starts half way up the shank, and is very light, with no added weight. The zonker strip (wound) gives it a lot of bulk though, so you get a fly that is lightweight, large looking, and easy to throw. I can throw the size 8 on a 3X with confidence. See pic below.
Your challenge comes in in the weedy dams, where nothing lighter than 2X is practical. There I guess you have to compensate for the thicker tippet by being more stealthy in every other way.
The Boston Dargle festival starts tomorrow, and I have a feeling we are going to see some monster Trout coming out of their waters this year. Watch this space! I chatted to organiser Pete Smith yesterday, and he says all is arranged and they are looking forward to hosting teams from far and wide.