Wednesday, September 05, 2007

September 2007 Middle Vaal Report

Summer is just around the corner and for many flyfishers the hiatus is over. But it’s also the time of the year when our beloved yellowfish spawn. Please take the time to read through Keith’s excellent advice

We do have an impact but must try to keep it to a minimum. There really is no achievement in catching huge quantities of spawning adults. Send us an email if you do see fish spawning.

And please send us photographs of people targeting spawning fish... we'll post the images on a "name and shame blog"

Water and Weather forecast

I don’t know about the weather in your area but on this side of the Magalies mountains winter has vaporised in the +30C day time temperatures. The normal summer fishing conditions that bring the crowds back to the Vaal is around the corner. The gamble the next few weeks would be to get the inevitable cold front during the week with warm pleasant weather over the weekends.

The water temperature at the Barrage is +/- 14C, this is at 7am, so depending where you are fishing in the Dome you will get water that’s above 16C in the afternoon. This may be sufficient to bring the smallies right up or into the rapids – but more on that later.

The flow data available here will be accurate and sufficient to plan a trip until the summer rains come. Water clarity is still good at around 100cm.

Bad news at this stage for those people living off the land is that the rainfall forecast is below average for September. So that’s just about every one of us as Woolies get their food off the land as well.

Insect Activity

Reports coming in from the weekend indicate that the compound insect hatches have started.

At this stage the caddis are small, #14-16 light brown adults (Elk Hair Caddis, Kaufmann’s stimulator), subsurface these would be represented by tan/cream larvae. Get ready for the appearance of the large Vaal caddis, don’t arrive without the range of patterns to imitate them. The larvae spend all winter fattening up to a size 10 even 8 hook.

The summer mayfly hatches will be interspersed with the caddis, size and colour of the adults will vary, but a friend had great success on an Adams recently. Unless you are a prodigious flytyer who enjoy tying different colour variations of the patterns it will be safe to take the generic patterns readily available in the shops – nymphs are predominately brown to black and adults cream to black.

The hatches will last much later in the afternoon, even after sunset. You’ll have enough time to fish the hatch and drive back for the 22:00 kick off of the World Cup matches – before inevitably falling asleep in a one sided Bokke vs USA mismatch.

The blackfly are out as well, “Peaceful Sleep” helps for the adults, these help for the larvae .

Approach and Technique

We still have a window of opportunity for some good dry fly fishing to sighted fish. The fish have not entered the rapids yet, but should be congregated just below them. This area can be very productive during hatches, as all the cripples and other easy meals end up here. It’s like drive-thru with the cars parked and the burgers floating to the windows.

Fishing a dry as indicator can make your day so much more interesting. I’ve had evenings on the Vaal with fish hitting a Hydrolater, in a blanket hatch of mayfly and small caddis. Phew what more do you want??? The larger flies are certainly easier to follow in the low light.

This time of the year the algae ( becomes a serious problem on the Vaal. It has always been there, but it is particularly bad in places. This is due to the increase in nutrients (untreated sewerage, fertilizer and feedlots on the river banks) coupled with the clarity allowing more sunlight to penetrate. Reports from Bothaville area is that the rapids are unfishable. If your approach is limited to the conventional summer nymphing tactics you are in for a very frustrating day. My suggestion is:
• Investigate different venues and also areas at the same venue. The growth of algae and other vegetation varies in severity along the Middle Vaal.
• As mentioned earlier the fish will be poised to move up into the fast broken water. Target them in the eye or throat of the pools just below the rapid were the water is deeper. A dry & dropper drifted in the channels between the algae and water grass will limit foul ups. Up your tippet to 3X to give you the ability to turn fish away from the thick grass.
• If you have access to a boat prospect until you find fish actively feeding. There are still pods of fish holding in water too deep for any vegetation to grow. You can target these with long casts (to avoid spooking them) and a dry & dropper rig.

MidCurrent has compiled a list of 42 Fly Fishing Strategy Tips have a look through them in preparation for the summer trips.


To date we have not received any reports of largemouth caught – I assume you are all bum fly fishers who cannot catch any. If any of you catch a largemouth please send us a brief email with the following details:
• Fly, size, colour.
• Date, time.
• Area, general, no need to divulge secret spots.
• Tactics, line, depth, retrieve.

This should benefit fellow anglers and could also provide valuable information to the conservation and research people.


The Northern Cape Bells festival will be held at Nkolo Spa from 4 to 7 October. It’s a great venue and the event is always well organised. More info can be found here:
Drie Provinsies Vlieghengel Klub & Northern Cape Yellowfish Working Group

I have received isolated reports and photo’s of injured fish, please be on the look out for yellows with injuries and send us a brief email with details even photo’s. On the other hand a friend fished below Parys on the weekend and he reported fat good conditioned fish that put up a serious fight!

I found this bit of disturbing news on the Reservoir site.

Scientist Warns of Typhoid Time-Bomb
At one point the Franschhoek sewerage works linked to the Berg River were running at 200% capacity but without any chlorine for two months "someone forgot to order it". In June, the Wellington municipality dumped "an enormous heap" from a bucket latrine system onto the banks of the Berg River. Barnes took water samples from the river nearby and found an E. coli count of 216 000. The E.coli bacterium is used as an international standard to measure water pollution. The European Union standard for avoiding contact with water when it is polluted is just 1 000 E.coli to 100ml of water, while South Africa's standard the responsibility of the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry is 2000. "I notified all the authorities possible. Nothing was done." Referring to a Boland township, Barnes said a sewer there had overflowed for six months. "I couldn't get the municipality to come in and clean it up they said they couldn't find it. But the school was just nearby and every child coming to school went right past it. Also, it was running straight into a water course." Despite this year's extremely good rainfall, Barnes has found E. coli counts in the Berg River that were way over the safety standard.

Our rainy season is about to start and this threat will again rear its ugly head. Please report incidents to us or use the Water Crime link on the FOSAF site.

On a lighter note….

Carl & Keith

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:21 PM

    Dont know if you noticed that "willy's" fish on your main page has a serious anal infection. Should report this to the YWG.
    I have fished the same pool that he is in at the start of winter and all the largies I caught were in exceptional condition.

    Tight Loops