Autumn should be one of the better times to fish for trout before they get otherwise occupied. That is if the weather plays along, we had 4 days of constant change – never a good thing. But I take the cards I’m dealt even if it sees me hiding underneath an upturned boat to escape the deluge of rain. The weekend started well with sunny skies on Saturday, but the fish had a premonition of the impending changes in weather and developed selective lock jaw.
I say selective as the odd fish still came out but I couldn’t attribute my success to one specific fly or technique. On previous visits to Millstream, I would find a fly that worked and when ever experimenting with other flies got boring I would switch and BANG into a fish! On this occasion I was like an out of form batsmen whenever I got into the 30’s I would lose my wicket. I tried most of the flies in my box (no Walkers Killer, although they always work) and got the most takes on GRHE, Black Woolly Bugger and Zak nymph.
Sometimes it’s not the fly, but rather the technique. To me the most important aspect is retrieve rate and how one applies variations to achieve success. I would go slower rather than faster, for this reason I use floating or intermediate lines, preventing snags on the bottom. Most of the dams can be effectively covered with these lines. Yes there are times during the dog days of a hot summer that a sinker will dredge them out of the deep. There is obviously a case in terms of quantity of fish caught for the faithful strip a big fat fly as fast as possible – it’s ugly.
Although I’m not a dry fly purist it is an aspect of fly fishing that has a very special place and stand separate from other approaches due to the visual experience. So to say I was miffed when the fish never really got onto the surface is an understatement. Due to the high rainfall I’m missing out one the autumn dry fly action on the Vaal and now this. The clearing skies brought on the prospect hatching termites and there was a brief period when they took to the air (small #16 body). A #14/16 F-fly produced one fish. These termites land with their wings similar to a caddis, I think the f-fly tied with slightly longer wings and a foam body would be a good imitation. Other patterns like foam and deer hair hoppers failed to produced, I think they just work better on warm windy days, when trout expect them to be active and blown onto the water. I would never go there without them, in fact anywhere in South Africa for that matter.
At least the intermittent fishing gave me opportunity to focus on photography, the two hobbies share the same optimal time of day – early light and afternoon light.