High Water for the National Champs

This post sponsored by Inkwazi Fly Fishing Safaris

This post sponsored by Inkwazi Fly Fishing Safaris

High water levels help clean out the streams

Following on the post about pollution on the Smallblaar I am very happy to be able to report that a combination of action from Cape Nature Conservation, Du Toit’s Estate and Molopong Aquaculture seems to have nipped the problem in the bud. That and the cleansing affects of yet another early season deluge that has sent flow rates soaring and cleaned out any of the silt that was flushed into the river.

As I was taught in my childhood, “it is an ill wind that blows nobody any good” and in this instance the cleansing effects of the high water has definitely been good for the river, although much less so for the National Championships or for guiding operations for that matter.

Adaptability is going to be key in the National Championships.

I fished the Smallblaar on Wednesday for a few hours in the afternoon before heading out to say hello to old friends and some new ones, down in the Cape for the Nationals. The river was high, in fact nearly too high to fish and the nasty swirling downstream winds made for very trying conditions. I generally find that the wind will never stop me fishing, but it does stop me fishing well and fishing well is really what it is all about.

The high waters made for difficult if not positively dangerous conditions in the pocket water and the wind prevented much in the way of line control. On the water the currents whipped the line and dragged the flies almost immediately and if one lifted the rod tip the wind would simply cause the same problem.

Quality drifts, and quality drifts are the name of the game on these catch and release waters, proved extremely hard to come by and so therefore did the fish. In the wider and slower sections I picked up some fish on pure dry flies, fishing along the edges and out of the main maelstrom of current I could find trout feeding, not many and they weren’t rising but they were there.

In the pocket water I fished nymphs hung under high floating dry flies and even resorted to fishing pure mono rigs with tungsten beads. Both methods produced fish but would have, I am sure produced more if the wind hadn’t interfered with the line control as much as it did. In three hours I managed to land about ten fish, the best in the region of 19”, but didn’t fish much of the water, it was too onerous a task to try to wade up the stream and the going was of necessity slow.

Having had more rain over the past two evenings I suspect that conditions for the early part of the National Championships is going to sort out the men from the boys, both in terms of fishing technique and aggressive wading styles. There are going to be some swimmers by the day’s end I am pretty sure. raging currents and slippery rocks make for a lethal combination at times.

Classic Dry Fly Fishing isn't likely to produce the goods for competitors and adaptability is likely to be the key to success.

Classic Dry Fly Fishing isn't likely to produce the goods for competitors and adaptability is likely to be the key to success.

It is a pity really, these streams offer such good quality technical dry fly fishing much of the time and that is what one would have expected to sort out the top anglers from the “also rans” in this Nationals. Now it is going to be a question of who can adapt best to less than ideal conditions, what beats they get and how well they manage to make the most of the water in front of them.

Changing techniques throughout the session, and adapting from the wider slower runs and back to the raging pockets is going to make for a busy time for the competitors and those with the widest variety of skills and the ability to change from one technique to the other are likely to be those who come to the fore.

The cold snap is however likely to be good for the lake sessions, Lakensvlei has been fishing very well towards the back end of winter and the guys in the boats are likely to have an enjoyable time of it. Those with boat sessions on the first day will be more than happy to give the rivers time to settle down a bit, although it won’t give them an advantage as they will only be competing against other anglers with the same draw.

It is going to prove an interesting competition and I am pretty sure that there are going to be some odd methodologies put to use and some good stories of adaptability and technical variation come the end.

I am hoping that the waters will recede a bit, there is guiding work to be done and I won’t take clients on the stream if the conditions are unfishable. For now the sun is due to come out, weather conditions are likely to be fine, even hot, but the water levels are going to keep everyone away from classical upstream dry fly fishing on many of the beats for at least the first part of the National Competition.

I like rain, rain is water and water is housing for trout, but I think that is enough already, time for some summer sunshine.

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