Friday, August 03, 2007


Flat clear and calm


August is the windy month, frontal systems will carry remnants of the Southeaster which will test the ability of a 5 weight and your perseverance. In fact wind will be a factor on most days, adapt and use the wind to your advantage – the ripple will give cover against observant yellows in clear water. Staying away from the river because of wind, would be like the All Blacks not touring because Schalk is playing. Day time temperatures are slowly increasing and the peach

blossoms are out in the Magaliesberg.

The water temperature at the Barrage is doing its utmost to breach the 10 degree mark, almost in the range were the Capies would take to the water at Clifton in December. I fished the Parys area 3 weekends ago without waders, if you don’t enter the water or fish after sunset waders aren’t essential.

Flows are constant at what I would assume to be the winter reserve flow: providing for low and very clear water.


Mayflies are the dominant emerging insects. Be on the lookout for drifting nymphs, emerging adults or the returned spent adults. Try to spot the adult naturals and imitate them - colours range from cream to black, combined with a dark brown or hare’s ear nymph you should cover the surface and sub-surface cycle. The mayflies hatch anytime during the day but the best time is between 10am to 3pm.


Drifting a team of nymphs

There is one aspect of fishing for yellows on the Vaal which is extremely frustrating but keeps me coming back for more. Those days when I don’t catch anything, blank, zip, no takes no knocks just nothing. Three weeks ago we fished the Parys area on an absolutely perfect Saturday; apart from the fact that the All Blacks gave us another clap. There was little to no wind, the flow was right and the visibility up to 2 meters. There was a good hatch of #14 Mayfly
coming off, but no regular feeders. The best I could do for the day was photographing this porcupine feeding on an island.

The next day was another absolute beauty. I dropped into a few venues and walked the bank looking for action. The whole pool at Dimalachite was void of any rises or cruising fish. I decided to turn back and head to the previous day’s venue, at least we had seen some movement there.

Fishing deep on an intermediate line, I picked up the first fish 30 minutes into the session on a squirrel Zonker nymph (tungsten bead). The line was left to drift through the deepest part of the pool and then retrieved as the flies approached the base of a rocky outcrop. The fish took on the retrieve.

I moved on; upstream to a bigger pool with a rocky ledge that affords a great vantage point over the tail-out. I spotted a good 7lb fish in the tail-out but not much else in the pool or along the ledge. By the way I stuffed up by throwing the weighted zonker to the fish in the tail out, I should have switched to a smaller weighted nymph.

I worked the rest of the pool all the way to the head, just below the rapid. The swallows were feeding on hatching Mayfly (#14 brown) in the rapid which was a good sign but the fish stayed down. I allowed the current to take me into an eddy and then I spotted pods of 5-10 fish
cruising lazily; 30cm below the surface. I switched to a brown CDC emerger with an unweighted nymph on the dropper, which they refused. I tried everything in the C&F box, stepped down on the tippet, super sized the meal to a large foam beetle – nothing!

In hindsight I should have tried ultra small flies (#18's maybe). The tactic might work but the only way of knowing is to go back to the river and try that. If you find those flies or hooks too small, try tying smaller nymphs on bigger hooks like these demi-nymphs .


I’ve had very little success this winter but Grant got this solid fish in the Parys area.

"Fast retrieve, fished deep, fished close to edge/structure, big flashy fly".

I’ve heard good reports of decent largies taken in the Northern Cape, one of 7kg, unfortunately not on fly.

Keith suggested we get a largemouth catch database going.

This should benefit fellow anglers and could also provide valuable information to the conservation and research people in time when we have built up enough data.

If any of you catch a largemouth please send us a brief email with the following details:

  • Dimensions (fork length, girth) and notes on condition
  • Fly, size, colour
  • Date, time.
  • Area, general, no need to divulge secret spots.
  • Tactics, line, depth, retrieve.
  • Photographs
  • Weather conditions


The Proceedings of the Yellowfish Working Group Conference is available on the FOSAF website. A word of thanks to Peter Arderne who edited the document.

Melissa Brand is from the University of Johannesburg, undertaking a study which is aimed at determining the social and economic value of the yellowfish in the Vaal River as a targeted angling species. If we can prove that this resource has a value then the Government will support the industry by managing the Vaal River. Please visit the website and complete the questionnaire. The students at UJ (see Linda Nel’s telemetry study on the same website) are doing valuable work to raise the status of yellowfish as a flagship species. What is a Flagship species? Think Black rhino, the general public, NGOs and Government can identify with a rhino better than the Lessor Spotted Tree Toad. Once the rhino reserve is proclaimed and funded, the above mentioned LSTT will benefit as well.

Our UK correspondent (at large) has recently been published on one of Fly Tying’s premier websites - This site has an absolute treasure of fly patterns and ideas for the fly tier, many which can be used or adapted for our beloved yellowfish.


Carl (& Keith)

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