Saturday, March 29, 2008

April 2008 Middle Vaal Report
(March not published due to bloggers block)

Fast food is part of today’s scourge of instant gratification proliferating society – I hate it. It’s all about doing as little as possible and getting satisfied in a short period of time. When the golden arches first arrived in Rome in 1989 the Italian response was to start what has now become the Slowfood movement. A return to traditional methods and ingredients served to the whole family or friends allowing for plenty of time for conversation and enjoying the food.
Fishing in summer can be fast food like in its approach and gratification. During the summer everyone is queuing up at the drive thru section of the rapids when large schools of smallies congregate to feed and breed. The ethics with regards to targeting the spawners are well published with another great article in the March TCFF. I’m not trying to be a purist saying that fishing in the rapids for feeding fish is wrong or unsporting. At times it’s the only spot to target smallmouth unless you want to spend a frustrating fruitless day on the river. That is certainly not the purpose of our pursuit.
This late part of summer and autumn is the return to slow fishing. It takes us back to a traditional steady approach with long leader and dry fly or maybe a single nymph. Walking the bank searching for the telltale flash of gold visible in the clearing waters of the Vaal. I love just standing observing the surface until you see those lips breaking the surface and the dorsal fin following to confirm a rising feeder.

Water and Weather forecast
The March weather predictions were for higher than expected rainfall. I thought we were in the clear towards the end of March. Flows were settling in the early twenties perfect for late season fishing. Then we had higher than normal rainfall just before the Easter weekend pushing the flow up to 170 cumecs. This left me with a weekend booked in Parys with flows just not breaking below the 60 mark. It was a great family weekend, we had some magnificent wines and lovely food at the local restaurants.

The predictions for April look to be just as dodgy with higher than normal rainfall forecast. The gamble is again to hit the rainfall right for that big weekend.
Insect Activity
The mayflies are starting to dominate in terms of hatches. Easter weekend they were hatching from small #16 to large #12 in colours ranging from cream to black. The odd Vaal caddis was still skating over the surface eliciting splashy takes from eager fish.
I would suggest arming yourself with a variety of nymphs, patterns of which there are hundreds to choose from, in varying sizes, weights and colours. Take a selection of small dries to simulate the adults. Don’t forget to include the odd large attractor dry. It can produce even in hatches of smaller insects. Plus it’s the only option to float a weighted nymph through the glides.
Here is another pattern I came across that is so simple to tie yet will produce plenty of fish in summer when the caddis reigns supreme.
Approach and Technique
My suggestion for the month – get back into some slowfishing. April 2007 I enjoyed amazing dry fly fishing getting 6-10 fish above 5 pounds on some days.

“The time is near” not of the second coming like in Lord of the Rings, but rather of the main season for largemouth yellowfish. If you can’t get out onto the river go to a park or another open area to practice accurate long range casting. Work with longer leaders as this is required when targeting largemouth. Soon the practice will pay dividends.

If you do tie flies get into the archives of flies or favourite sites to brush up and get tying. Hatches magazine had this great fly under their warm water section, nothing new but there are elements that appeal to me. Dark back white belly, classic baitfish triggers.

Do you enjoy photography especially when fly fishing? Have a look at the Zen Photography Hints at there are some tips that should help to improve the shots you take.

Ed Hall is also running a blog it is really worth a read and to give your support for his conservation efforts.

I have started a general blog titled SAVING OUR AQUATIC ENVIRONMENTS
( ). I'd like this blog page to act as a gateway (HOME PAGE OF SORTS) to other blogs and web pages dealing with aquatic conservation in SA. I am still learning about the whole blogging thing so any suggestion on content, layout etc., would be greatly appreciated.

So far I have one link on the 'HOMEPAGE' to another blog page I created - CONSERVATION OF VAAL RIVER AND OF ITS FISHES ( ). I'd also like this site to act as a general discussion page for fishermen to post there comments on conservation and possibly submit information for display on the blog spot.


Carl & Keith