Thursday, July 05, 2007

JULY 2007 Middle Vaal report

A crisp clear morning on the Vaal

Water and Weather forecast

Technically speaking summer is on the way, the daylight units are increasing although the temperatures are certainly not. It is still damn cold even on this side of the Magalies. The key to success is to fish the weekend following a few days of mild temperatures - in the low 20’s. The forces of nature don’t always coincide with our schedule of Saturday and Sunday fishing, so take leave in the week. You want to avoid fishing with an approaching frontal system over the Southern parts of the country.

As we approach August the incidences of windy days increase. Excessive wind is always a problem for the fly fisherman, whether it’s 6 guys in a small cabin or the force of nature making life hell on the water. It makes casting harder, reduces the visibility, stops insects hatching and creates windknots (not my casting). The graph below is for the town of Potchefstroom, but should be a good indication of conditions on the water. The timing would vary but bargain on having wind from 10 am to 3 pm. Prime fishing time.

The flow rates are down to a constant 11 cumecs (23-29 June) a perfect rate for winter fishing. No data available from the Barrage at the moment. Clarity still varies but in general it is great – over 100cm in most areas.

Insect Activity

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 being 10 am to 3 pm (Predominately windy!?).

Approach and Technique

My last trip out was to Elgro lodge, we fished in fairly high flows of +30 cumecs (peak of 70). This made for tough fishing and easy paddling. Clarity wasn’t great and the fish were unsettled by the unseasonal flows. The first fish we found were holding over rocky flats in the large pools, but these weren’t keen to take the fly. It was late afternoon before we spotted the first consistent surface feeders. I took my first fish of the day with the sun and moon setting almost simultaneously. One more fish followed on a CDC emerger before it became to dark to fish.

A Great Egret warming up in the first rays.

Somewhere there must be written – in Chinese – “Man can row all day only to catch fish at end of day, be patient!”

Although the fishing wasn’t great on the numbers side it was a wonderful day out. Just that one fish on the CDC fly made it for me – it’s an addictive experience seeing a smallie sipping in a dry fly. I’ll be happy to be Bill Murray in Groundhog Day waking up every morning, going to the Vaal and watch those lips break the surface sipping in the #14 MF.

I did learn one valuable lesson; don’t try to catch both species of Vaal yellowfish on one day, it’s an exercise in frustration. Or at least during the same session. Try to focus on the largies (this will be tough when there is no takes) and only switch to the small stuff when you spot pods of actively feeding smallies.

The action can be slow when fishing exclusively for Largies, you can get some takes from smallmouth by fishing smaller attractor patterns or a tandem rig with one being a mayfly/dragon nymph.


Reading the State of Yellowfish Report kept me up till 23:00 last night, it is scary stuff. If we (that’s you and me) maintain status quo our kids will have very few if any options to fish for yellows. Get involved and do your bit for saving the environment by reducing you ecological footprint

If the weather is bad this weekend take out Groundhog Day and tie some flies.

Carl & Keith