Monday, January 26, 2009

Middle Vaal Report

Pristine drinkable and fishable

According to The Blacksmith Institute the World’s Ten Worst pollutants are:
1. Artisanal Gold Mining
2. Contaminated Surface Water
3. Indoor Air Pollution
4. Industrial Mining Activities
5. Groundwater Contamination
6. Metals Smelting and Processing
7. Radioactive Waste and Uranium Mining
8. Untreated Sewage
9. Urban Air Quality
10. Used Lead Acid Battery Recycling
Six of which pose a direct threat to the Vaal and number 8 stands out as the current media reporting focuses again on the troubles of municipalities on the south of the Witwatersrand watershed. Don’t be misled this is not the only problem and may not be the one that tips the scale. Some of the others are remnants of a previous generation who took what they could and left. Reading more on sewage takes you back in history through the serious problems Londoners suffered including a few cholera epidemics – back in 1860’s! It seems history repeats itself, it is so sad that we cannot or do not want to learn from it.
Sewerage is front of mind in summer, it’s the peak of the fishing season and reading about spills leaves one with trepidation every time you plan a trip to the Vaal, in winter we forget it exist. What can one do about it? We cannot get involved in cleaning up, no seriously you don’t want to get involved it is specialised business. It’s not like the Cubs outing picking up paper and plastic around the local park. But as with most things in life we can actually do our bit.
• Report sightings of spillages. FOSAF produced a brochure, which is posted to our Blog with contact details for reporting pollution. Reporting to the press helps in creating awareness but does not solve the problem.
• Join an action group like SAVE.
• Don’t dump non-biodegradable waste down the sewer system. Report companies who do.
• Reduce you consumption of water and production of waste water.

• Take appropriate measures when you answer the call of nature! During our rafting trip through the Richtersveld, I was shocked by the visible signs of human excreta and toilet paper at the popular camping sites. The visitors are mostly affluent people who can afford a 4x4 and fuel to get there- boggles the mind. But I suppose the “Not In My BackYard” principle apply.
o Dig a deep hole 60cm plus.
o Burn the toilet paper.
o Cover up the hole.
Enough of this and back to the fishing.

Water and Weather
December was incredibly hot north of the Magalies, no complaints the rain is here and we are glad for the life giving blessing. It does interfere with the fishing though but you just have to learn to live with it and plan around it. Option one is to fish on Wednesdays, the flows seem to remain constant until then. By Thursday the thunderstorms move in and the heavens dump cubic tons of water onto the paved and tarred wetlands, sending most of it down to the Vaal. Weekend is stuffed!
But there are opportunities when flows remain at fishable levels and the reports I’m seeing are very good. Keep an eye on the weather reports and check the flows! Best to keep all equipment ready and packed for a quick getaway at short notice (make sure you have blanket amnesty with the significant other)!
Weather wise you’ll have regular afternoon thunderstorms to contend with, sometimes worth sitting out as the period afterwards can bring on some of the best fishing of the day.

Insect Activity
It is mostly still caddis patterns bringing home the bacon, with hotspot and flashback nymphs the other favourites. I’m a big advocate for alternative methods, which may not produce the large numbers of fish, but add a new dimension to your fishing. OK you get tough days when the only dimension you want to add is a curved arch into a rod with screeming reel - clearly not conducive to testing new flies or fancy techniques. But one of the followers of the blog Barend sent in this photo of a fish caught in January on a dry. What more do you want????

Klinkhammer from Europe to Africa what a great fly.

Approach and Technique
There is nothing new I can add, I have described every technique I know in the previous reports. I have to confess that I haven’t been to the Vaal in weeks!!! If only I fished more often maybe then I can finally piece together the puzzle of catching 50 5kg smallmouth in a day.
I mentioned earlier about being packed and ready to go fish. Get into the habit of sorting through all the stuff after every trip. Clean the tackle bag, remember to trash the salami sandwich you did not eat, dispose of tippet and recycle all the rubbish you took in. Why leave it there to create a headache for the resort owner! Clean and dry wading boots somewhere out of the sun. Put all the things together and check and check again. On a recent Sterkfontein trip I left my favourite rod and brought an empty rod tube. Fix broken equipment – which reminds me I have to attach a heel on one of my wading boots.
Fish are being caught in good size and quantities, downstream from Orkney area towards Christiana.
The FOSAF sustainable yellowfish pamphlets should be out there at shops and regular venues. If you don’t see it there get into contact with FOSAF or me to request some.

Remember to revive fish before releasing

I have added a slideshow of my popular flies. Most of the current ones are for Sterkfontein dam, but some like the F-fly does work on the Vaal. I will add more when time permit. You can also link to Keith’s site for more advanced stuff, but he is becoming very Eurocentric and I’m not sure his flies will stand up to African conditions ;-)
Our family started recycling most of our household waste. We are going through a learning curve, and there is extra effort involved but at least we are doing something for the planet which our kids will inherit. Are you doing it?

Carl & Keith

1 comment:

  1. Carl, as always a fantastic blog post!

    I believe the patterns I have developed since relocating to the UK are very viable for the Vaal, I think: they are mainly developed for Grayling which are amazingly similar to yellows.

    Regards the use of a klinkhammer in the Vaal... I am seeing Hans van Klinken in a few weeks, he is a great guy, I'll be sure he sees reference to his pattern in yellowsonfly :-)

    good luck for the late summer and autumn seasons on the Vaal guys... autumn and winter have always been my favourite time for vaal yellows and I hope to be on the vaal at least once this year... check out my flies and stuff blog if you're interested in what i am getting up to in the UK