Monday, November 05, 2007

November 2007 Middle Vaal Report

It’s not easy turning out these reports with something new and interesting every month. I occasionally read through the back copies of the reports and they contain a multitude of information on catching the two Vaal river yellowfish species, in all conditions bar the 1300 cumecs we had in April 2006. We have covered all the angles in these reports and I believe there is scope to explore various new alternatives going forward.

Keith sent me a link on Spiders not these;f=4;t=3034;st=1980 rather this I thought the man’s gone all traditional, he’s lived in the UK for 10 months and he is already becoming a crusty Brit. Soon we’ll see photo’s of him in tweeds, tie and deerstalker on a chalk stream or heaven forbid leaving a pub in an English rugby sweater. Not! Keith’s always been the thinker and, innovator. If it wasn’t for that one article of him and Garth in TCFF I would most probably still be pursuing only trout on fly. There is nothing wrong with trout, it’s just that I live in a province with summer temps around the mid 30’s, which is not conducive to happy Salmonidae.

Water and Weather forecast

It seems as though this half of summer will be fairly normal as far as Highveld summers go. We’ve had good rains across the area and the Vaal dam is already at 70%. It would be advisable to monitor the dam release as well as the Barrage reservoir release before venturing to the river.

Afternoon thunder storms are a typical feature of summer, I may sound like a typical father figure but working for a mining company I’ve had exposure to the methodology of safety systems and understanding why people get killed. It would be prudent to take head of the threat the accompanying lighting strikes do pose for us on the river. There is no 2nd chance no life time guarantee - get off the water in time!

Insect Activity

I was privileged to be invited to partake in the Northern Cape Bells and met some very interesting fly fisherman and whiskey (apologies Derek) drinkers. It was great to fish different water to what we call home. The aquatic insect life was different, I saw no sign of the Vaal caddis (Hydropsychidae) and most rocks had 75% mayfly nymphs on them.

The area had a lot of spirogyra (rocksnot etc) so Czech nymphing was frustrating. But I managed to get a few fish by swinging a team of flies in the deeper sections. This diving caddis produced two in quick succession -

The best moment of the trip was Saturday evening catching a smallmouth on dry with the lions roaring their greeting at the encroaching darkness.

I can recommend a visit to Nkolo and the Northern Cape waters, with the right planning around the flows etc you will experience the magic of a different Vaal river. You may even be rewarded with some big smallies and in winter excellent largemouth. Believe me I saw the photo’s in Jacques Marais’s presentation, they make you very-very envious.

Approach and Technique
Yellows eat mulberries floating on the surface, tie up some patterns!

If you’ve been fishing for as long as I have you get to a stage in your fly fishing career when it’s not just about the fish and the quantity you catch. A good friend of mine, Zoran eluded to the stages of fly fishing in his front page . These philosophical prophecies are usually brought on by the wisdom of age or when you blank on the water. I have experienced it, it is a humbling experience and very necessary. If it was all too easy we would not grow as Fly Fishers. I certainly take stock after such an event and revaluate my options – throw money at the problem, new fly, new materials etc.

There certainly is opportunity to try these different techniques on the Vaal. Be it now or when the seasons change, bringing on more challenging conditions for the traditional Vaal techniques. People would say that to consistently catch smallies you have to get down in the zone with big heavy bombs – that’s the only way. Yeah right like catching trout consistently on a Mrs Simpson and sinking line - it works but is it really fun? Don’t get me wrong I’m not advocating that these techniques are the purist form of fly fishing and that anything else is akin to coarse fishing.
Don’t go to the river and frustrate yourself to a stage where you’re not enjoying it anymore. The point of our pursuit is still to catch fish and release them unharmed back into their environment. I’m just asking you to get out there and experiment to broaden your horizon.

A good large-scale yellow caught in stillwater - small peacock bugger


There aren’t a lot of new fly patterns developed these days, most are just variations of tried and tested patterns. Sometimes you come across a pattern that just begs: “Take me for a swim in Largie infested water!” The meat-wagon certainly does have most elements I would want in a Largemouth fly - bulk, movement, flash. I’m tying some on SS hooks for the small leeries of Swartvlei and the smallmouth bass.

I received 2 emails for the Largiebase. I believe there are more successful fisherman out there, they either believe in the conspiracy theory (of us trying to steal their secret spot) or don’t have access to email ;-)
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.


I’m off to the Knysna area and will give the Gouritz a go when I’m down there. I may be able to teach those “illegal” Smallmouths to eat a dry fly or 2. On the way down there, I’ll be fishing a mystery dam in the Free State – hopefully the water is clear and the fish are head up and feeding.

Carl & Keith

1 comment:

  1. fear not guys, I am as African as ever and wore my green and gold proudly during the world cup! I have been passionate about spiders (soft hackles) for a long time and being in the UK has only added to that passion. maybe Carl's just jealous that I popped down to my local stream on sunday and slotted a few quick grayling on cdc softhackles :-)