Tuesday, August 30, 2011

September 2011 Middle Vaal Report

After a seemingly endless winter, spring has finally arrived and that is all I’m saying for now. There will be a few cold fronts, mostly coinciding with our planned weekend fishing trips until the regular summer rainfall sets in and ….! No I’ll be positive, but if I go by the two preceding years you better be booking time off with the wife, boss or lovers the window may be small to enjoy good fishing. I’ve had one of the most memorable days of fishing on the 24th of September in 2001, 2 weeks before my son was born.
While writing this report I got this question via email “The problem is I have not fished the Vaal nearly enough, I was hoping you could give me some pointers on fly selection and were to find early season fish.” I can admit to not fishing the Vaal often enough, especially this winter. Conditions have just been very tough and travelling 300km when the odds are against you is for the young and foolhardy.

Although the smallies never stop feeding in winter, they do go into a feeding festival in anticipation of the first spawning run. The larval stages of the big Vaal caddis are almost at their biggest, think size 8-10 hook, these will be one of the prime targets of the yellows. Prospect the waters you are about to fish in search of these, especially in the deeper channels the fish will not be in the very shallow riffles yet. Expect to fish water up to your waist in depth and remember to make the required technical adjustments to your approach. Your flies will have to get down to the feeding zone. Correct casting – slack, parachute, upstream mend, tuck cast anything to get slack in the line. And good mending technique to keep your flies at the right depth for as long as possible.
To hedge your bets add a good mayfly imitation to the point, black or GRHE. My preferred method would be a NZ style rig, but you can use whatever you are comfortable with. If the algae becomes too much of a hassle I would switch to dry & dropper approach. Vary the depth of the dropper and work the clearings in between the vegetation. Accurate casting will be the game breaker.

Watch the weather reports for frontal systems, my view is never fish the 1-2 days before the system hits. But you could prove me wrong.

July 2011 Middle Vaal Report

The few fishing reports I’m seeing on fishing along the middle Vaal, or should I say lack thereof does not make for great reading. Blanking is the common thread and an absolute lack of any surface activity is another. I visited friends at their house next to the Vaal near Bothaville. It is a great spot for largies, big deep pool, a tributary and some large rocky outcrops. Unfortunately I lost inspiration due to the very low visibility. It seems from the Barrage downstream the visibility is around 40cm, good for summer but nothing compared to winters past.

Well with all the doom and gloom I still believe the fish are there and we can catch them. The Vaal experienced severe flooding during the first few months of 2011. I think it will require a “normal” rainfall season to settle things in the river. Some good news is the sun has reached its apex in the northern hemisphere the subtle changes of the season is happening and it may just bring on something on the river. When you do venture out it is vitally important to first find the fish before wasting time flogging a dead beat. I’ve found on multiple trips down the Vaal even in winter the fish do move around the pools. Fishing last Saturday’s productive throat of the pool produced nothing, until I float downstream. Finding a flat rocky section with very little flow in the bend of the river, it seems the water might be a tad warmer here. Standing on the Arc I could just make out the subsurface shapes of fish, moving and feeding. A few minutes later the first yellow was in the net.
When the fish are not on the surface experiment with a team of nymphs fished progressively deeper. Or use longer droppers with your dries, if you battle to cast the set-up just reduce the leader.

I’m off to try the Palala river this weekend, hope I can find a fish or two willing to take a well presented fly.

June 2011 Middle Vaal Report

I had a look at the 2010 report for June, looking for inspiration. That was the time of the World Cup and we had a massive cold front hitting around mid month. Pretty much the same happened last week but we had a few millimetres of rain. Enough to upset the flows! Added to this there was a mishap at the Barrage, opening of the gates letting out 200 cumecs.

Winter is the time of dry fly and visible fishing on the Vaal. The above sequence of events has put paid to it for a few more weeks. I’m not saying you will not catch on a well presented rig – best a dry and dropper – but when one ventures out in this cold it has to be worth it. The same applies to the largemouth, visibility just make your chances of success so much better.

My suggestion would be to hold out for a few more weeks until you see the DWAF chart flat lining at about 20 cumecs. Tie up some flies, clean the tackle and score some points around the house.

Lucky hunter.