Thursday, March 08, 2007


Water and Weather

The heat wave we experienced does make one think twice about the global warming debate. The low rainfall has certainly dealt a major financial blow to the crop farmers, spare a thought for the landowners whose land you are accessing - it’s not just great weather for fishing when it doesn’t rain. Flow rates should remain at safe and pleasant levels for fishing.

On these extremely hot days it will pay dividends to get out of the sun during the hottest part of the day. Relax in the shade, assess the morning’s action or lack there of, retie leaders and replenish the fluid levels in your body. That will see you rested and ready for the late afternoon to dusk session, which should be the most productive. This is also the time of day the bigger fish will be feeding more aggressively.

March is the beginning of autumn; with a drop in morning temperatures and a shortening in daylight hours. The fish will certainly stop spawning by now. They will drop out of the shallowest of water unless large hatches bring them into the shallows.

The water temperature at the Barrage is currently around 23 C. Please fight fish quickly and keep them in the water to minimise stress on the fish. Make sure you revive the fish properly before releasing.

Insect Activity

The predominant caddis larvae on the rocks are the smaller tan ones – almost a “natural” latex colour, but all the usual patterns like mustard, tan, cream (#12-16) should work well. The caddis’s hatching are small size 14-16 with brown or light brown wings and lime or tan abdomens.

Mayflies, the clingers are all over the rocks in the rapids in various shades and sizes. Any decent imitation in dark brown, black and Hare’s ear will produce#12-16. They will become the dominant emerging insect from now on right through winter.

Approach and Technique

Water clarity is certainly better than mid summer therefore a stealthy approach will pay dividends. This makes dry fly fishing more of an option. Two friends landed their 1st Vaal Smallies on the dry in February, one going on to take another 9. It’s a great dimension of Smallmouth fishing which everyone should try when conditions are optimal like now.

Some guys are complaining that regular spots are not fishing well at the moment. I believe that we tend to get stuck in a rut especially in summer. We fish the same riffle and seam every weekend because the fish are always there. When things change you need to stay ahead of the game. Try to tune into the environment when you get to the river things are changing, daylight hours, temperatures and rainfall (flow rates) are all adjusting to the coming season. It is difficult if one spends 8 hours a day in air-conditioned offices to be aware of what is transgressing on and in the river, you need to get into the habitat of analysing the situation on arrival rather than rushing at the water.

With the spawn over the fish will disperse somewhat and take up positions where they can get the best possible access to food. They are now improving their conditioning in anticipation of winter – please note they will continue feeding through winter.
Start prospecting the deeper water just below the rapids, be aware that although the flow is slower the depth will require proper presentation techniques to get the flies in the zone.

Glides; the slow, smooth surfaced areas between rapids are a great spot to prospect for the larger specimens. This water has an even depth around 1m deep. It is ideal dry fly water, wait until you notice fish feeding on the surface (head and tail rise) before switching to the dry. The glides can be fished successfully with a normal NZ rig but with less weight on the flies. Tail-outs; the end of the pool just above the rapid, will be another great spot for big fish especially in the late afternoon or early morning.


The improved clarity is great news for those looking to get hooked into their first largemouth yellowfish. If you’re not yet into winter fishing now is the time to give it a go. Just remember fishing exclusively for Largies is sometimes slow and tedious.

These fish do use sight to hunt coupled with the other senses, their large upward facing eyes always scanning the water in front and above for prey. Find them around structure, deeper holes/channels, undercuts or in the tail outs just above the rapids. Crab imitations like this one in various weights or the regular large attractor flies will work.

The tail out is a great place to prospect after sunset. Choose large bulky flies like zonker muddlers in these low light conditions. They create a lot of disturbance which registers on the fish’s lateral line. For more heart stopping action throw a small popper (10-15mm head) – cast and leave to drift or swing across current. Best to use 2X or stronger tippets in these low light situations!


During the weekend of 13-15 April 2007 the Yellowfish Working Group Annual General Meeting will be held at Elgro River Lodge. More details are available at .