Well that’s really torn it, there I was churning out dry flies in preparation for the coming season. Caddis Caddis, Caddis….. Parachute Parachute… and really rather getting into the swing of things. I had already got down the some of the micro patterns and given that I start with the larger sizes first that indicates some sort of progress. In fact I probably had well over two hundred brand new caddis patterns in the box and was about to move on to the mayflies when the phone rang.
Now it isn’t as though the call was an unwelcome intrusion, not at all, it is just that, as I was saying, I was in the swing of things and rather looking forward to starting the season on the rivers with a well stocked fly box and spoiled for choice no matter how ornery the fish were being.
The call was from my very good mate Mike and the essence of the phone call was to say “we’re on”. There is a lot that can be conveyed in a few words and those two admittedly foreshortened gems changed the pattern of my thinking and the pattern of my fly tying in one fell swoop. You see we have been talking about heading back to the Orange River in pursuit of Largemouth and Smallmouth Yellows and now after months of debate and false starts it appears that all the potential participants had managed to get ducks in a row, gain leave of absence from work and loved ones and we were going.
For those unfamiliar with Southern African fly fishing, we have a number of unique aspects to our fishing amongst them several species of Yellowfish. If you don’t know what yellowfish are let’s just say that they are like giant carp designed by Enzo Ferrari. The smallmouths can reach well over ten pounds and the Largemouths well over that many kilos. They love large rivers and fast water, they have massive tails and pure muscular bodies and they take flies. In fact they take flies really rather well so long as one has the right techniques.
Which conveniently brings me back to the disruption of the fly tying, not only were we going but we were going in less than a week’s time and here I was tying micro caddis patterns when now what I needed were Czech nymphs and lots of them, preferably sporting lead and tungsten accoutrements. Of course I am excited to be going, we are headed for the Orange River at a point where it is the border between South Africa and Namibia. One of the few disadvantages of living in Cape Town is that we are not near good yellowfish fishing, the guys up in the big smoke of Johannesburg have yellows on their doorsteps, but then they don’t have good trout fishing and we have better scenery.
So in something like six days time we are going to be driving for around eight or so hours and ending up in a desert where there are no facilities at all. That means that I have less than a week to wind up work commitments, write at least one newspaper column, pack tent, utensils, cooking gear, rods, reels, lines, boots waders .. etc etc etc and of course those flies. So the size 20 dry fly hooks were put back into their place and I started strapping Czech nymphs with abandon. The fly tying room, only recently tidied out now looks like a bomb hit it again and in less than two days I have managed to add about a hundred and ten yellowfish flies to my box. Whether that is enough I am not sure but pretty soon I am going to have to focus on other stuff, flies are important but I need to buy some food too, Oh and pack some clothes as well I suppose.
What makes it tricky is that although the fish are frequently not that selective, having the correct weights and sizes of flies for various water conditions is critical and a few flies of different styles or colours , in a few sizes in a few different weights pretty soon adds up to a boxful. Not only that but Czech nymphing on the rocky sections of the Orange River which the Yellows just love can see you loose six flies in two casts without too much trouble if things go wrong, so quantity is pretty much an essential.
Anyway I already have more flies than Mike, I have found my neoprene waders, the tent, the sleeping mat, the large fishing net and a couple of different reels that don’t get hauled out that often and progress is being made.
Now I will have to focus on work for a day or two and hopefully by then I will have found a few moments to tie a couple of dozen more patterns and then that will have to do.
Darn I am excited; there is not always a great deal of finesse in fishing for yellows, at least not to the degree required on our catch and release, crystal clear trout streams. But at the same time one can do serious numbers of fish in a day, end up with sore arms, sore legs and soaking wet from the odd swim for that matter. This is exciting fishing and the possibility of hitting a real lunker is always with one, even if the fish are of more moderate dimensions, five pounders are far from unusual and you will hear your reel scream far more often than on most trout waters.. Then on top of that the scenery is truly spectacular, totally remote and wild in the most glorious sense. We are planning on exploring some new waters, or at least new for us and to be honest we aren’t exactly sure where we are going so it is something of an adventure.
Anyway there are flies to tie, prepare for some great images and fish talk on our return.
Whilst I am away there is time for you to update your own trout fly box and sorry but I cocked up the previous link so that you could download this for free. In case you want to get a copy and were unable to please try again by clicking the image below or this link
I am really sorry that the previous link didn’t work, sticky fingers more than anything so if you didn’t get what you wanted to please try again. Thanks.