FOSAF FLYFISHING REPORTS - Yellowfish - East Free State

Date of Report: Monday, 18th March 2019
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Name: David Weaver
Phone: 083 303 4230

As the season draws to an end, we remember the good days of fishing that we have had during the summer and grieve our demise as the fishing gets tougher.  This last weekend we hooked two fish and landed none.  We drove around looking for fish and those we found were ‘head-down’ and were not eating.  By the end of the day our vest patches were full of a variety of patterns and our fly-boxes were empty.  There was no sign of feeding fish so no hatches to match.  Two long days on our stunning Sterkies still beats office time.  When the fishing is good you don’t see boats driving around but on weekends like we have just had, Sterkies looks like a testing ground for fishing craft as everybody drives around looking for feeding fish.  If you were planning a weekend of catching fish at Sterkies, either change your mindset, to ‘a weekend of good fishing’, or change your booking.

A few fish are being caught in the late afternoon as the fish anticipate the termite alates and move into the shallower water.  We had some good rain over the last few weeks and some spectacular termite hatches.  The weekend there were none.  The Amur Falcons have started leaving on their long migration back to the Amur Valley in northern Russia.  When they leave the fishing at Sterkies is all but over.  I saw no evidence of spawning.

It has been interesting watching how Sterkies has changed over the years.  One of the most disturbing aspects that I have seen is the increase in the amount of aquatic vegetation in the dam.  Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand the importance of aquatic vegetation in the ecosystem, but it is going to influence our fishing style.  There are many places in the dam that we can’t fish anymore because of the weed.  The entire Boschkloof estuary is closed with weed and so places like Arrarat Bay, Barbel Bay and even along The Ledges, the weed is so thick that you need a mask and fins to get your fish out the water.

In the early years there wasn’t much weed, and the fish relied on terrestrials as their major food source, hence Sterkies’ reputation as a premier dry-fly destination.  With the increase of the aquatic Vegetation there is going to be far more aquatic invertebrates available so it looks like we might have to start fishing nymphs again.  Going back to “The Dark Side” and resorting to subsurface flies will be darker than Stage 4 load shedding.