Time has not permitted another foray to the Vaal before our annual seaside holiday, so I will have to let her rest until sometime in 2011. I’ll be crossing over the Vaal a few times this holiday – always casting an eye over to spot a fisherman or the ripples of a rise. If you do get to fish the river this December Herman’s report is as comprehensive a guide as you will find anywhere.
The Actual Vaal Report by Herman Botes
My experience on the Vaal so far this season has been an on-off affair. The unusual weather patterns seems to play a bit of havoc with my fishing outings , or I’m just picking bad days to step onto the water.
Very disappointing for me was the lack of surface activity at dusk (the time of day I look forward to all afternoon) - the fish do move into the thin water at dusk though. When you see fish activity in the thin water at dusk a dry-and dropper approach can be a lot of fun and you do not hang up as you would if you persisted with a standard nymph rig. Also try this same set up smack bang in the middle of the afternoon if the fishing is slow and concentrate on the smoother glides & runs just below some broken water.
Nov / Dec is mostly a caddis affair with the fish concentrating on grubbing on the rocks in the fast aerated riffle& pocket water , especially in low light and overcast weather. The rest of the day the fish hang out below overhanging trees / vegetation and deeper glides. It’s purposeful fishing, but if you get them in hard feeding mode , you will get pockets of full blown action along your beat . Imitations of Macrostemum Capense (green rockworm) & mustard caddis are good bets for control flies and Garth Wellman’s Green Machine as a dropper can be deadly. I also noted a very high percentage of ginger caddis (brown head/thorax ) in # 14 on the rocks at most venues. The interesting thing is that their appearance coincides with the disappearance of the forest green caddis(black head & thorax) # 14 Go figure ….
My pet challenge in summer is also to bump into a Trico mayfly migration which bring its own challenge and variation to the game. Trico Mays are big….. #14 for adult with football humped wing cases. The nymphs are STOUT with olive/brown dorsal side and yellow/cream ventral side -do not confuse them with the black Leptophlioebeadae? Mays of the same size.When these mays are ready to hatch the mature nymphs migrate to the slack water on the sides of the runs and shallow slacks behind big boulders from where they hatch. They do this by simply walking over & under the rocks. Needless to say the fish follow. To establish if a migration is happening or has happened - turn over a couple of the loser rocks on the side of the river. If one of the rocks is crawling with trico’s (looks like a cattle farm) , you could be in for some good fishing by concentrating on the thin water on the sides and using a stealthy approach. In good water clarity and light you can even sight fish to individual fish using a dry-and-dropper setup. Anglers mostly use a brown Mayfly imitation to imitate the nymphs and I had on occasion achieved good results with a brown gold bead may with a golden flashback. However this is not always effective , especially if you are simply covering water. Lately I found the yellow/cream/mustard ventral colour of the nymph to be more of an attraction and definite trigger - combine that with a brown thorax and a gold / copper or orange bead for an effective imitation. And of course a scruffy picked out GRHE will also account for fish.