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.