Archive for September, 2009

Targeting Daphnia Feeders

September 21, 2009
This post sponsored by Inkwazi Fly Fishing Safaris

This post sponsored by Inkwazi Fly Fishing Safaris

The trouble with lakes is that they are big, if you are used to small virtually unnamed spate streams they are massively big actually and I am sure I am not the first angler who stood on the side of a large stillwater impoundment and wondered if there was a trout within rifle shot, never mind a moderate cast. My first forays into stillwater trouting were fraught with lack of confidence.

The sheer size is intimidating enough and then there is the issue of the depth, in the streams that I fished the depth wasn’t too much of a worry but now I was fishing in three dimensions, and without too much of a clue. It did strike me that the boat anglers had an advantage because obviously all the fish must be out in the middle right?, and there I was trapped fishing close to the bank, by both financial limitation and poor casting. Boat hire was pretty pricey and my rod was a penny horror of fiberglass construction. However I had one fortuitous advantage, I had come across and purchased a book by Brian Clarke called “In the pursuit of stillwater trout” and in it he stripped the process of targeting stillwater fish from the bank down to a handful of patterns and some pretty pragmatic ideas about where to find fish and what flies to use based on the imitation of natural patterns. The most obviously popular one being midge pupa, consumed by almost all stillwater trout in large number. So it was that I became an “imitative” fisherman, shirking all of those gaudy “lures” of rainbow hue and focusing on simple hare’s ears, midge and sedge (caddis) pupa and doing rather well at it. In fact that particular book is I believe out of print but it makes for great reading and is highly recommended if you can lay your hands on a copy. It also removed much of the complexity not least because Clarke advocated only even using floating lines for good reasons and so tackle set up was a breeze..

However down the years I became somewhat enamored with boat fishing, particularly drift boat fishing in what you might loosely regard as “loch style” and here simply imitative fishing isn’t quite the same. Whilst I still shun most of the purple and fluorescent pink creations of the over active piscatorial minds and view many of these patterns simply as “stock fish lures”, I have come to realize that sometimes simply fishing imitative nymphs isn’t the way to go. For the record where I fish these days the fish are stocked as fingerlings and by the time we are catching them they are fully acclimatized to their natural surrounds

Daphnia blooms can lead to large concentrations of feeding fish.

Daphnia blooms can lead to large concentrations of feeding fish.

Take for instance Daphnia feeders, sure Daphnia are real bugs and the trout eat them in massive numbers, but you can’t really imitate them. They are microscopic organisms and in stomach samples from trout they appear somewhat similar to the non descript gloop that used to served up as pudding in school dinning rooms all over the UK. Individual organisms almost indiscernible in the porridge like mass. They were less of an issue when fishing from the bank as most daphnia seem to inhabit deeper water, being apparently photophobic they should really be regarded more like plankton than anything else and the trout feed on them rather like whales feed on krill, simply swimming through the mass with mouths agape.

Individual daphnia are tiny, but in clouds they provide a significant food source to fish.

Individual daphnia are tiny, but in clouds they provide a significant food source to fish.

Out in a boat, and particularly at certain times of the year this planktonic mass becomes a significant food source, perhaps even the most significant and so it has been of late on our local stillwaters down here in the Cape. Winter sees a slowing down of insect hatches and the fish seem to have moved away from the edges of the dams, obviously there simply isn’t a whole lot of food there in the shallows right at the moment and the attraction of the swarms of daphnia out in the middle have lured the fish away.

Concentrations of Daphnia have a distinct orange colour.

Concentrations of Daphnia have a distinct orange colour.

As I mentioned I have shunned bright flies and lures for years, believing them to be unnecessary and frequently unproductive, and that would still hold true for the most part but daphnia feeders seem to be something of an exception. You can’t imitate their food source so what to do? It has been widely accepted for years that orange seems to be a particularly good colour to use for daphnia feeding trout, apparently in sufficient mass these microscopic bugs have a somewhat orange colouration, I am not sure that I can see that in stomach samples but in an aquarium the colour is pretty distinct, see the image above,  for whatever reason orange does seem to do the business much of the time.

So, on the last three trips out in the boat we have found through trial and error that the most effective thing to do is to simply drift in relatively deep water, searching different depths with various lines and covering water until we hit the fish. It sounds hit and miss and perhaps it is to a degree but the point is that once you find them you find them in concentration and from then on you can systematically take fish after fish by simply repeating the drift over the productive area.

Daphnia probably represent the only significant food source out in the depths and if you find fish in such waters there is a real chance that this is what they are feeding on. To date our most productive fly has been an orange booby, without flash or complex construction and although we fish three flies and have taken fish on all manner of patterns, including nymphs and imitative designs the orange has out fished them over and over. In fact it isn’t rare to find that having fished all day the only fly to have taken anything was that bright orange booby.

It still grates that this works, I would love to be able to be twitching midge pupa, or swimming dragonfly nymphs  in the shallows but when the fish are focused on these daphnia swarms there is little for it but to go out after them.

An important note though, if you are at the wrong depth you will frequently catch nothing, a point made clear only the other day when I was nine fish to nil up on my boat partner until he changed lines, then we were matching each other fish for fish from then on.

So drift as much as you can, change lines from intermediate through to Di 5 or even faster sinking for that matter, and once you locate the fish simply turn around and repeat the drift every time it goes quite.

If you have never done this type of thing before it takes some faith, out there in the middle it seems highly unlikely that you are going to find anything and for long periods you won’t, but if you can locate those pods of fish and the clouds of daphnia that they are consuming they you are in for a high ol’ time.

On the last trip we landed more than 20 fish in a morning session, despite the fact that several hours of that time was spent drifting without result. It is, to repeat the lessons from an earlier article, very much a case of “first find the fish”, but it can prove deadly effective if you have the faith and patience for it.

Win a Sage Fly Fishing Outfit

September 19, 2009


This post sponsored by Inkwazi Fly Fishing Safaris

This post sponsored by Inkwazi Fly Fishing Safaris

I do try to bring you news that you can use, be it where to find fish, great flies for the day or how to make your own fishing lanyard. But this time I can tell you how to win great fishing gear and help a worthy cause at the same time. All for less than the price of a small pizza.

Develoflies have launched their second “rods for a cause” promotion. Read on…

Promotion sponsored by Develo Flies in aid of Cape Town's Red Cross Childrens Hospital

Promotion sponsored by Develo Flies in aid of Cape Town's Red Cross Childrens Hospital


Up for grabs:

Sage 4wt Flight rod/reel combo worth R6,000.
All proceeds raised will go to Tom Sutcliffe’s Red Cross Children’s Hospital Trust – Cape Town.
Multiple ticket purchases allowed

Closing Date: : October 1st 2009 so you don’t have much time

To Enter: Go to and visit their on line store.then simply buy a ticket, in fact buy a few.

Of course you can purchase other stuff too, each purchase pays for one person in the developing world to get safe, clean drinking water for one year.

If you are resident in Cape Town and off to buy some gear or do some fishing you can also purchase tickets at:

Stream X in Milnerton, Eikendal outside Somerset West or Jonkershoek in Stellenbosch.

Less than the price of a Pizza

Mind you, you don’t need a social conscience you can just want to win some cool fishing gear for the price of a small pizza and that’s fine too.

Overseas clients: (that is  not living in South Africa where we are based)

Please note that the raffle is open to anyone, but if you are living outside of South Africa you are going to have to put up the delivery costs to your location. Still can’t be a bad deal even then can it?

Wishing you luck .

New Website Launched.

September 9, 2009

Forgive me father for I have sinned, it has been three weeks since my last post.. Things have been more than a little hectic, not least because I have been studiously banging away on the keyboard to try to put together and updated website at But that has  now been completed, if they every really are and the only thing standing between me and some fishing is dreadful weather.. Oh well that is always the way of things early in the season and we have come to expect as much.

This post sponsored by Inkwazi Fly Fishing Safaris

This post sponsored by Inkwazi Fly Fishing Safaris

WOW..1100 visits this blog has now had over a thousand visits, not a lot in the grand scheme of things perhaps but rewarding none the less and thank you to all of you who have taken a look at the content and provided feedback.

The latest newsletter from the Cape Piscatorial Society follows:

Cape Piscatorial Society Newsletter.                                      Thursday, September 10, 2009

There are times when I completely impress myself with my psychic and spiritual powers, not the least important manifestation of which is the ability to produce rain when called upon to do so. It has become apparent over the years that all I need to do to induce unexpectedly severe precipitation is to book a beat on a trout stream in early September. The moment the booking is confirmed and I have grafted like a dog with other tasks to free up time to allow some piscatorial pleasure the heavens open.

In fact, this time around the process was so completely effective that not only did it rain but the weather deteriorated sufficiently to produce snow on the Stellenbosch Mountains and to ground a bulk tanker off Blouberg beach and if anyone finds out that it was my fault things could get a little tricky. I may find that I am in fact responsible for a localized environmental disaster and all I really wanted to do was to go fishing..

So in short, I have managed to induce foul weather once again, failed to hit the streams in the first two weeks of the season and consequently have very little to report. I did get a report from Greg Madgin, he apparently did manage some stream time on Saturday and despite high water was able to cast a line and catch some fish, although he reported that the Elandspad was particularly slippery underfoot. In fact he alluded to problems with the grip afforded by his Aquastealth soles, a problem that I have never faced but we shall see.

As an aside Greg also mentioned that he curtailed operations early to get home to watch the rugby, but of course slipping into frigid torrents may have proved a little more exciting and less frustrating than actually enduring the total pig’s ear that the Boks made of their first attempt to secure the tri nations crown. With some good fortune perhaps either the streams or the Boks will perform better this weekend..

There is still hope:

I am due to spend some time with the WP B team this coming weekend, in preparation for their assault on the National Fly Fishing Championships to be held on our local waters in October. So may have something to report next week. In fact, given that I didn’t actually make any bookings I may just circumvent the weather Gods and trick them into allowing some sunshine. Let’s hope so.

Forthcoming events: Fly Fishing Heritage Day

Don’t forget that we have a new national holiday a week next Thursday with Fly Fishing Heritage Day being celebrated at Stream X in Milnerton on September 24th. Craig Thom will be hosting an open day with various attractions, including but not confined to Fly tying and fly casting demonstrations and / or instruction as well as copious amount of beer and apparently a “fly casting challenge”. I suspect it would be best if you partake of the challenge before the beer but then on the other hand both my darts and pool playing is generally improved by intake of some “Dutch Courage” so who knows? .

An interesting aside:

I was recently reading a book on bites and stings, (Bitten by Pamela Nagami.M.D.) an odd subject you may well think but interesting none the less. One of the chapters dealt with the infestation of fire ants that has gradually moved across the continental United States. These nasty and highly toxic little critters have apparently even been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of trout who have fed on mating swarms of flying fire ants and succumbed to the toxins contained therein. So not only, as we all know, do trout just love ants but it would seem that they are even willing to die for them.. the efficacy of including a few ant patterns in one’s fly box can’t be sneezed at.

And Finally:

I have recently launched a completely updated “Inkwazi Fly Fishing” website, with free downloads, some fly pattern information, links and lots of other , what I hope will prove to be, useful stuff. You can check it out at