Monday, December 04, 2006


I’ve not been on the Vaal a lot the past few weeks: I’ve been focusing on other locations more and flow rates have not been agreeable when I wanted to get on the Vaal. It seems quite a number of you have done pretty well over the past month, thanks for the feedback on what’s been working for you.


The fish have been spawning on and off for the past month in their second spawning session for the summer: the rest period between the 1st and 2nd spawns seemed almost nonexistent in some areas of the river. I don’t know if this is due to global warming, pollution, shifting natural cycles or something else, but this year the timing of the spawning events are very different from those of the past 19 years I’ve been in amongst the yellows of the Vaal.

Remember to avoid spawners, if you see people casting at spawners and they don’t respond to your requests for them to stop, please email a photograph of the culprits to me, try and get a few shots of them in the spawning habitat and a few close-ups of the angler’s face. I intend building a “name and shame” blog where we can expose the idiots to a large audience.


How and wet… well hot for sure, and a little wet with some good rains and 1 or 2 periods of high flows induced by rains. The long range forecast suggests a summer that will be hotter and wetter than average. For the angler this means being very aware of flows is key not only to knowing when the fishing will be at its best but also to avoid potentially life threatening situations: standing in the middle of the main current within 10kms of the Barrage outflow can be very dangerous if officials increase flows quickly to accommodate large volumes of storm water run off from the Barrage feeders. Watch the DWAF flows website at:

This page can be viewed by most mobile phones with access to the internet, very convenient if you are away from your PC and want an update.

If you encounter any pollution along the Gauteng portion of the Vaal River and tributaries (sewage spills, dumping, mine waste water, anything that seems suspicious), please report the incident to the Department of Water and Affairs and Forestry. The contact person is Ephraim Matseba and his contact details are as follows:

(W) (012) 392-1371

(F) (012) 392-1359/1453

(C) 082-809-5727.

If you notice anything in other provinces (Free State and North West) contact me and I will connect you to the appropriate official.

I expected water quality to take a nose dive moving into summer due to the increase in storm water flushing the sewage treatment plants due to illegal storm water ingress, the heavy rains have not come yet; hopefully the municipal officials are prepared.

Water visibility has varied quite a lot over the past few weeks from as much as 75cms to as little as 5cms, the primary cause of reduced “vis” being silt from rainwater ingress (and erosion) and increased flows through the Vaal system (brown water) and from increased water and air temperatures boosting algal growth (green water). Visibility is remarkable changeable over relatively short stretches of water with it poor in 1 location and twice as good just 10kms up or downstream…. Sometimes worth moving around a little if the vis is poor where you are and there’s been know singular large event like big rains that will have dirtied the river over a large area.


It’s all happening, loads of mayfly species are coming off still (normally they being to slow toward mid summer and pick up again in autumn and winter). Size and colour seems to be ranging from large cream and tan clinger nymphs in and around the rapids (#14-16) down to smaller, darker clingers (#16-18) in chocolate and dark coal/black.

The caddis are really in full hatching mode with pupae “in drift” 24/7 and hatches occurring mainly from late afternoon and into darkness (especially on the hotter days). Big cream caddis adults (#8-12) and little tan/slate caddis adults (#12-16) are very prolific. The larvae are typically bright green or dirty olive with some exceptions in brown and cream.

Blackfly are very common now, small black and olive larvae (#16-18) can be very effective in the rapids and slower water. Remember not to wear blue if you want to avoid the itchy bite of the blackfly!


As per October, you can catch ‘em anyway you want to really, they’ll eat most appropriate patterns presented reasonably well (make sure you are connected to your flies via a straight leader or you will miss many takes): Czech nymph, New Zealand style upstream nymphing with an indicator, “dry and dropper”, traditional wet fly, leisinring style swings and lifts, even Stillwater retrieves in the slower pools, dries and emergers in the surface film… really, this is the time of the year to catch them on your terms. In winter you will need to conform to their requirements so make hay while the sun shines.

The fishing is so easy this time of year that many anglers over do it, in my view, by catch and releasing 40, 50 sometimes 100 fish in a day, that’s a lot of fish with holes in their mouths. Please consider trying something new when the fishing is really easy, move to another spot, see if you can get them on dries, do some bird-watching, do something to drop your catch rate. It is not difficult to catch lots of yellows in summer, you don’t need to prove anything to anyone, least of all at the expense of the fish that you “love” so much… let’s walk it like we talk it and be the conservators and stewards of the river we claim to be.

I will be out of range of the Vaal a few times over the next few weeks, out of the country a few times and then down on the KZN South Coast staring at the sea over my belly for a while. I won’t be focusing on the Vaal but will post a report at the end of December.

Feel free to email me over December and let me know how’re you doing on the water, we all learn from each other.

Happy happy,