Wednesday, January 16, 2008

January 2008 Middle Vaal Report

At Sterkies it’s not just about the fish. Photo Dave Weaver

It was a tough December for me on a personal level. We lost a dear friend and two of her kids in a car accident. When such an event happens it tends disappear among the crime and politics of the newspaper. When it comes close like this it shocks you into your soul and made me think again about priorities and life.

I was due to go on a weekend to Sterkfontein dam when I got the news the Friday morning. It really cast a dark cloud over the trip. But getting there and meeting up with friends, making new friends and being out in that magnificent place made me appreciate life so much. Just feeling the wind on my face knowing my mate was still in ICU, recovering to face an incredible loss gave me such a crazy rush of emotion.

It was a tough weekend, the fish were still sulking due to a lack of summer up there, but al the events leading up to and during that weekend just made me realise it’s not just about the fish. It is about getting out there and doing the fishing thing, but we have to enjoy more of the fishing than just catching fish. It would certainly have rated as a very miserable fishing trip because on days we worked hard to bring in 6-7 yellows.

Learning the ropes at dad’s feet.
Water and Weather forecast

The Middle Vaal had a good dry spell over the holidays affording us a shot at some decent fishing. I’ve received reports of guy’s sight fishing at spots on the Vaal. Not sight fishing as in Sterkfontein dam, but a flash of yellow or a tail waving around. I remember a day when nothing happened and I sat down to survey the battlefield – 1 against 200 scenario. Suddenly I noticed movement amongst the rocks, a tell tale (or tail) sign of a feeding fish. One of my first and very ugly crab imitations found the mark and after a hectic battle I released a good Largemouth.

The two week forecast is predicting high rainfall over the fishing and catchment area of the Middle Vaal. It’s always a good idea to check the weekly weather reports leading up to the weekend. The usual conundrum is what to do if you’ve revved yourself into total fishing mode and Simon says on Friday night it is looking bleak for the weekend.

Windguru is a new website I use (Dave Weaver the guru of Sterkfontein uses it). It provides very accurate information for the Vaaldam.

Insect Activity

The hatches are thick this time of the year, usually towards late afternoon when the day visitors who arrived at 5:30 are knackered and heading home. It’s really worthwhile booking an overnight once in a while and getting into the early evening action.

Black fly should be present on most days, remember to add a good quality insect repellent. This is one instance when going eco-friendly is not going to cut it, treat the inside of your shirt as well as your skin.

Approach and Technique
I can honestly say that I am at a loss for words at the moment. We have covered everything in previous reports. I’m not seeing anything new in reports or the forums – or the guys are keeping it close. If you do experience tough conditions or blank on more than one occasion you’re probably a crap fisherman. Hahaha, no please send us an email and we will gladly give advice based on our experiences.

Summer is not traditionally a great time to target these fish but they obviously still feed. A friend of mine in Bothaville has received reports of big fish being caught. Which has galvanised him into action to search for a good largie.

The initial feedback from the telemetry study (non scientific) is that they do enter the rapids and shallower areas to feed. This measured against the winter haunts of 2-5 meters.

The database is growing albeit slowly (would help if I contribute). 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.

We are getting reports and emails of fly fisherman becoming a nuisance on the Vaal. Absolute poppycock you would say we are after all the eco-friendly gentleman of the fishing world. We don’t leave campsites in a mess of rubbish and booze bottles.

Unfortunately we do have the same problem as all other fisherman – limited access to the river. Please keep in mind if you are canoeing on the Vaal you cannot merely stop and fish with no regard for the bank angler or the property owner, same goes for accessing the river at a point and then wading onto another “property”. Yes the resource belongs to all the people but please show the necessary respect and courtesy towards the other users. More on this subject to follow!

I would love some feed back from everyone out there on new items or points of interest you want to see on the blog. Tackle reviews comes to mind – that way I get to test new tackle for free – Patagonia, Sage etc.


Carl & Keith