Thursday, May 14, 2009

May Middle Vaal Report

“By 2035 SA will need 65-billion cubic kilometres of water and our current national stock stands at 33-billion. Our problem is that we are managing our water resources so badly, and are putting pressure on available fresh water,”. Dr Anthony Turton
Alarmist some might say but after the Energy crisis of early 2008 I would prefer to err on the side of panic. It is a fact that we, those in Gauteng in close proximity to the Middle Vaal have been blessed with average to above average rainfall in the last 3 seasons. A fact lost on us City slickers used to bottled water and water on tap. We complain about the rising cost and dropping quality of our potable water, but until recently it wasn’t frowned upon for Rand Water to provide strategic water supplies to a mining company. Water was that cheap.
It may also be that we are protected from a severe water shortage experienced by the rest of our arid country because we have large upstream strategic reserves. Unfortunately it will be difficult to avoid the massive influx of refugees fleeing a desolate country side.
We really need to switch on and approach this challenge as a national threat. Do your bit to conserve water – bath with a friend, join an action campaign, make sure the company you work for don’t pollute and get your parents to switch on it’s your future.
Approach and technique

The plethora of April public holidays gave me enough free minutes and I eventually got onto the river. The mornings are crisp with a thick layer of mist drifting off the relatively warm river water. Winter in all her glory is here. There is no need to be on the water at first light, it is certainly a lot more pleasurable to reset the alarm and crawl deeper under the duvet. Unless if you’re into photography, that is the time to get out and experience the light fantastic.
The hatches will only start around 10 am, with sufficient numbers to get the fish onto the surface and feeding. My first day out started at 2 pm and the fish were already locked into a thick hatch of Mayfly. The clarity was around 50 cm but the yellows were able to pick size 16 naturals off with a few obliging to take a well presented dry. When I feel confident I switch flies after every fish, experimenting with different patterns. The naturals (nymphal shucks) were dun to almost black in the water. The flies producing were the f-fly, loopwing emerger, dark klinkhammers and even a CDC ant in size 16-18. The fish refused bigger patterns I used as an indicator.

The next morning the action was slow but it was great to be on the river for the first time with my son. He thoroughly enjoyed it and I was astonished that he persisted and did not head back to his PSP at the lodge. He even paddled me around the pool while I stood up spotting fish.

Again as mentioned in previous reports, first thing is to find the fish. Move around until you see the activity or spot the dark shapes just below the surface. You cannot fish blind in those large pools of the Vaal. On that morning I found the fish in a large pool, just where the water was smoothing out from the turmoil of the rapids. The hatches were sporadic so I reverted to the double burger with extra fries approach. A big hopper cast about 1 metre upstream of the fish was enough to entice my first fish of the morning. Once the hatch started they ignored the large fly again. I switched to small #16 offerings and had some great fun with decent size fish up to 5 pounds.
Insect Activity
The flies are small and sometimes it takes a lot of guts to stick such a small fly out there especially if you are used to lobbing #10 caddis boms in summer.
Believe me it does work. If you tie your own flies and battle to get the mayflies picture perfect don’t despair! I watched and collected a lot of the naturals and they were a sorry bunch.The cripples and emergers are scraggly bits none of the pure lines of the duns floating on the surface. The fish didn’t mind in fact they were the easy pickings.
This little fellow joined me, but mom was close by and she was a monster

Cheers until next month, enjoy the dry fly fishing.

Carl & Keith