Handling the pressure.

Darn, three months without fishing can be a long time and in these parts we are blessed that our closed season on the trout streams is so short. In other parts of the world it can last a lot longer and limitations of fishing aren’t only dependent upon the legislation but you have to put up with frozen waters, snow and even fish kill so I suppose there isn’t too much to complain about.

However the fact that anglers across the globe have more limited options than we do here in Cape Town doesn’t make those three months pass any faster and by the time the season opened I was more than ready to hit the streams.

There have been distractions, fly tying for myself and others and of course  some time on stillwaters boat fishing which alleviates the pain a little but what I really wanted was some time on a stream.  I do consider myself something of a stream specialist if only because casting a fly over moving water is more entertaining, perhaps one might even argue that it can be entertaining even when unproductive, something that lake fishing rarely manages in my mind.

So it was  the rivers although high were  at least at fishable levels in the first weekend of the new season, a rarity of late it has to be said, Mike and I headed for the water. Fly boxes filled to the brim with crisp new patterns in abundance and buoyed with enthusiasm, not least because we had only recently watched “The Source New Zealand” on DVD. Our trout weren’t going to go to those proportions even on a good day but we did hope for some top water action. There is little that raises the spirits more than watching even a moderate fish rise on the current to intercept a carefully presented dry fly.

As said the water was high but more than fishable and we had carefully selected a beat which had some width to it allowing for the presentation of dries in relatively shallow water despite the fact that the season was only recently opened.

Mike rather likes a spot of nymphing and we experimented with varying methods between us, at first simply reveling in the pleasures of casting over moving water. The wind was bad though and getting worse, a howling NW gale straight into our faces, that direction of the compass a harbinger of cold fronts more often than not and with them the drop in barometric pressure.

Now I have for a very long time held that the fishing goes off when there is a sudden barometric drop and frequently there is little to explain the sudden disappearance of the fish but for the weather charts, even in the middle of summer.  There are plenty out there who still doubt this but I have been snookered more than once for no apparent reason only to find rain within the next 24 hours. It isn’t that the fish are picky, they simply aren’t there and one doesn’t even spook them when wading never mind actually see any rising.

We battled the wind and really to be honest had quite a bit of fun trying against the odds to find a cooperative fish. In fact at one point I did find one and a trout appeared under the dry before refusing it. It seemed a little odd this early in the season for the fish to be as fussy but closer examination revealed a dreadful little tangle of nylon around the fly, the result of bashing it into the force ten gale for most of the morning. Usually I would pick up on something like that in short order but conditions were such that the mishap wasn’t that obvious except of course to the fish which promptly decided all was not well and wouldn’t come back again.

Mike is a good angler and better friend and we work well together on the stream, in fact we both commented that we seemed to be having a great deal of fun despite the appalling results, by which I mean we never saw or rose another fish the entire day. We fished methodically and carefully, played with getting some camera shots of the fly floating down the stream and other diversions but it was apparent that the fish really just were not on and there was nothing to be done about it. Our hopes were raised with the appearance of some blue winged olives along the bank but still not a fish moved and I was ready to take bets on the movement of the barometer, I know these streams and there are fish there and they should have been feeding but they weren’t.

The next day was cloudy and I was expecting rain at any moment but by late afternoon things still remained dry and I was beginning to doubt my predictions, surely Mike and I couldn’t have fished that badly, it had to be the pressure. Late evening and the heavens opened and the rain poured down so I went in search of a record of the atmospheric pressure to see what had been going on.

The graph below, courtesy of www.southafricanweather.co.za clearly illustrates the cause of our poor day.

A plummeting barometer and the fishing goes to hell.

The bottom dropping out of the glass precisely at the point we headed for the stream. Somehow the trout know about the weather even when the anglers don’t and once again this adds fuel to the fire when it comes to argument. To me it is simply proof, the fish don’t feed well on a rapidly dropping barometer, or at least the trout in our streams don’t.  I am too scared to look at the barometer before I go fishing, it could give me too good an excuse for non performance but seeking answers in retrospect seems reasonable.

So whilst I still hold to the maxim that the best day to go fishing is any day you can get away, I am equally convinced that  the day you can get time away from the office and the car from the family, you would still do well to pray that the event coincides with a rising barometer.

We will have to delay catching the first trout of the season, but we did at least learn something and we had a great time casting into that gale. With fish rising and light winds next time (we hope) it is going to seem dreadfully easy. So I am not sure if the season has really started for us, based on going fishing it has, but should one consider the capture of the first trout in September, well then we still have to wait our turn.

Obviously some people had more success than us over the weekend, at least that is what I hear but at the same time the numbers weren’t fantastic. You may be interested to see some great underwater shots on Morne’s blog http://theafricanflyangler.blogspot.com/ check it out.

This blog is sponsored by Inkwazi Fly Fishing Safaris, http:// www.inkwaziflyfishing.co.za”

You can find out more about fishing the steams of the Western Cape on that address, loads of free downloads, fly patterns and more. If you enjoy this blog don’t forget to leave a message, it’s nice to know we have readers out there who appreciate the effort.

May the road rise to meet you, the wind be always at your back and the barometer rise when you head for the water..

Disclaimer: Please do note that we don’t have any control or gain any benefit from the Google Ads that sometimes appear on our posts. Their presence therefore, whilst perhaps useful doesn’t imply any relationship or endorsement of those links by the writers of this blog.

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