Wednesday, January 18, 2012

January 2012 Middle Vaal Report

Apologies for the hiatus over the December holidays. Work and holiday got in the way of fishing reports, mostly work. I trust you had a good rest and enjoyed fly fishing possibly in some other part of this country covered by the many reports on the FOSAF site.
Sedgefield late afternoon fly fishing
I had one decent session with the Garrick at Sedgefield, small fish but on light tackle it was exiting. For the rest of the holiday success evaded me due to some obscure reason only saltwater fish know about.

Through some cunning planning and negotiation I managed to convince the family to stay over at Rooipoort near Kimberley on the way back home. It has always been on my bucket list to visit this unspoilt part of our country and to fish for the Yellowfish in the Vaal bordering the reserve.

A magnificent Red Hartebeest bull, Rooipoort
We arrived late afternoon on New Year ’s Eve, not enough time to fish but I did get to drive down to the river. This place is big, it’s 7km on a good dirt road to get to the river! I inspected the water in the last rays of 2011 sunlight. It looked promising but I did not see a rapid at this spot.

Petroglyphs, Rooipoort. Glad they're not in the Vaal anymore.
Next day I was back at the spot closest to the house. There were some fishy activity but as far as the eye can see it was flat open water. I walked the banks trying to spot feeding fish, while my efforts was unsuccessful I spotted a new species for me, some very big. Grass carp with their yellowish bodies almost confused with our beloved yellow – a flat head and black markings on the tail showed them up. They also refused the fly. I continued downstream stopping whenever the riverine bush allowed but a walk along the banks proved futile. The only fish I saw were the grass carp cruising and the occasional catfish.

The long flat piece of water continued for at least 5km maybe even longer. Eventually I could spot a change in features downstream – islands with channels and reeds. As I walked out of the bush I could hear the murmur of the river and then the full force of destruction hit me. This whole area was being mined by the “community” bordering the reserve. Full on earth works right in the middle of the stream bed, damming up and channelling the flow and a big 3X2m oil spill left right there. Some very large and powerful machinery was used here. I walked to the spot where I could hear the water, it was gushing through 2 or 3 storm water pipes. I got one yellow there.

I drove further downstream looking for a place that resembled a natural stream bed, something like the middle Vaal. The next drift (shallow section) looked better at least the mining was done on the banks clearly by a large contract mining operation. Being 1 January all looked quiet only a few people moving about and the tell-tale string of 2 litre bottles across the river. Obviously holding up a gill net supplying someone with protein or income. I wish it could selectively catch the hundreds of grass carp that I saw during the day. I got a few consolation yellows from the deeper channels. The river at this place was nice and clear affording me an opportunity to search for feeding yellows but the only fish visible in the shallow water was grass carp. After a disappointing day I called it quits and started the long trip back.

The reports I get to see from the middle Vaal are positive. Beginning December the water was still clear, with the moderate rainfall it should remain like that. If you time your trip with decent flows you will fish one of the best pieces of fly fishing water in the world.

New Year Milkyway

Cheers from

Carl & Keith