Tuesday, May 06, 2008

May 2008 Middle Vaal Report

It’s time to confess: “Hi my name is Carl and I fished for stocked trout at a lodge in Mpumalanga.” Everyone: “Hi Carl!” Ok it’s not really a sin and heck it’s not always that easy, I blanked on the Monday morning. We certainly do have some great rivers and stillwaters and the most beautiful scenery in that province. It is also where I started my love for fly fishing on a syndicate farm on the Slaaihoek road. There are just a few aspects of it that I don’t enjoy that much now that I have seen the light.
Before you send me hate mail I do not include fishing for wild trout under the vices of the dark side of fly fisher folk. Keith is actually fishing for them, using his great imitations of these:
http://www.hatches.tv/play.php?vid=258 That is when spring does arrive in the Northern Hemisphere. The weather has been all over the place in the States, a friend in Seattle was complaining about the snow in April. So don’t complain about our early winter, at least we have clear skies on most winter days.

I enjoy following various international fly fishing forums and visiting the websites. It fuels new ideas in fly tying and reminds me of old trout techniques to try out on yellows. What does strike me is their dependence on the arrival of spring, apart from the obvious opening of the season, at times it’s downright impossible to fish due to the weather.

Water and Weather forecast

Free rising wild trout on light tackle

On the topic of weather we have now (hopefully) seen the end of the rainy (I was writing this before 1 May!) season. Planning a trip is not so much dependant on the rain as on frontal systems bringing cold and drastic changes in pressure which is not conducive to good fishing. Have you ever used this synoptic chart which is available here http://www.weathersa.co.za/ship/ship.gif?

I’m not a meteorologist but the line with the shark teeth ;-) = Cold Front. The jury is still out over the effects of High pressure vs Low pressure on fishing. A quick Google will give you the two sides of the story. I certainly don’t like fishing a day before a major frontal system hits, thereafter it is back to normal.
Flows should have settled into the winter reserve regime, they have been fairly constant for the last 2 weeks. Temperatures are dropping steadily hovering around 15C – time for the waders unless you managed to stay dry all day. On that keep some warm dry clothing stashed if you do get dunked, something windproof and some polar fleece.
Visibility is improving and in the region of 100cm which should increase if all the variables remain constant. But being variables they don’t so like predicting weather I’ll stick to ball park predictions and reserve the right to cock-up occasionally. But the nice thing is you do get days when smallies are 30cm below the surface and very visible from afar-so rather perfect your casting and presentation skills than worry about clarity.

Insect Activity
The mayflies are starting to dominate in terms of hatches- baetis species should be the dominate fly. But you don’t need to worry about the Latin or counting the tails to catch fish. Be prepared with the right size and colour fly. On a recent trip I was catching them on an ant imitation because it resembled the size and colour of the spent naturals. The smaller caddis species will be present in sizes from 12 down to 20. Keep in mind the wing versus body ratio of the caddis when choosing your flies.
As mentioned earlier there is so much we can learn from other fly fishing people. John Gordon developed and tie some amazing small patterns to fool the very elusive fish of the San Juan river in New Mexico.
http://www.danica.com/flytier. Some of those patterns will work for selective smallies. Don’t be fooled into thinking a yellow won’t see those small flies, soon the water will be clear and if you present the fly to a pod of them good fun will be had. Now to find a hook that will keep a fat winter smallmouth.

Approach and Technique
Following on with the April theme we will stick to slow fishing. My last outing to Elgro Lodge the fishing in the rapids was very slow. I decided to take the boat downstream to locate the fish as the estate agents say: “Location, location!” I found pods of them feeding on a smorgasbord of nymphs, emergers and spent adult mayflies. The fish weren’t big but they were eager to take a well presented fly and that ladies and gentleman is the most enjoyable part of our sport!

The flies used were all tied with CDC.

1 F-fly

2 Loopwing CDC emerger
3 CDC spent wing
4 Vaal caddis
5 CDC ant

Pick up a current edition of a local FF magazine and you will see an article on fishing for Largemouth – the best time to fish is now. You cannot get better advice from this section than what Ian Couryer is writing. He has a wealth of experience pursuing these fish as an angler and guide.

A mate reported seeing a lot of largemouth feeding activity in the pools while out fishing over the long weekend. The smallmouth where feeding on the surface in the bigger deeper pools. Other smaller fish could be warming themselves in the warmer top layers during the day. This explains the visible feeding on the surface.

A good option is to fish baitfish imitations on or near the surface. Especially in the tail-outs close to quieter water with protected bays, hyacinth beds and rocky outcrops. Juvenile fish hang around these rocks and occasionally venture out to far. Fish the imitation all the way back to the rod, lifting the leader and then fly clear of the water. Don’t commence casting with 3meters of fly line out the tip, it is easier to load the rod but you will miss takes. Stand back from the edge at least until you have covered the drop-off with a few casts.


Carl & Keith
mailto:carl.yellowfeverat@gmail.com remove the (at) to mail
mailto:keithat@yellowsonfly.com remove the (at) to mail