Posts Tagged ‘Cape Piscatorial Society’

On Stream Arms Race

October 11, 2010

I can still recall the early days when I fished the streams of the Limietberg, Schalk Van Der Merwe and I would climb down the concrete retaining blocks of the old road bridge to access the river. There was no fancy tunnel through the mountains and the trip would always be prolonged by the slow progress of trucks up over the Du Toit’s Kloos Pass in front of us. With only a few places to overtake and the fishing awaiting us on the other side it was frequently a frustrating journey.

On the river there were no beats, no catch and release, you only had to notify the club that you were going to be on the water and that was it. We rarely saw anyone else but there were a few spots which we might stake out early where late arriving anglers wouldn’t be able to get in front of us on the stream.

There were more trees on the rivers in those days, the new freeway had yet to be conceived and on some sections of the stream the old road ran close enough to the river, with picnic spots along the way such that it wasn’t uncommon to sneak around a bend in pursuit of trout only to find someone bathing in your favourite run.

 

We didn’t have two weight rods back then either, the standard was a #4 weight, although of generally sloppy action and we used to fish a mixture of dries and nymphs although the dries where our favorites, we already had visions of some kind of “purism” despite the fact that the trout would pretty much eat anything. I can recall that we experimented with all manner of indicators and tied weighted nymphs to represent the heptagenid mayflies as well as the more standard baetis going to some lengths to flatten the bodies and weave in legs and eyes and all manner of subtleties. To be honest we thought that we were pretty hot at this.

Occasionally we would venture further into the mountains, but there was no real path in those days and a long hike up the river would require and equally long return trip back down the river bed at day’s end.

 

Big bushy high floating flies were all that was required.

 

Dry fly fishing was a case of flipping a buoyant dry into the pockets and waiting for a take, if you missed it there was little real problem, another cast, perhaps with a little more focus and in a serious looking crouch and the fish would come again. They would always come again and give you a second chance. The flies were huge by today’s standards, size 12 or even 10, buoyant deer hair patterns, Elk Hair Caddis, Humpies and the like. I seem to recall that one of my favourites was a “Royal Humpy” whilst Schalk preferred a “Rat Faced McDougal, some days we would venture out with little more in the fly box than a selection of hoppers, matching the hatch was for sissies, these were real fish in search of a real meal. Darn I think that there were still barbs on those hooks and certainly Schalk would always take a few fish home for supper.

I recall once fishing behind Schalk when he broke off on the strike to a fish, a remarkable achievement in itself; I doubt the tippet was less than 6 lb breaking strain. That Rat Faced McDougal popped up from the depths right in front of me and I picked it off the water and gave it back to Schalk, some indication of the size and buoyancy of the pattern.

If you wanted to kill a fish the size limit back then was 10” and I think that one could keep quite a few fish if one wished, It could have been as many as ten per day although I don’t honestly recall. What I do remember is that by the season’s end almost all the fish in the stream would be nine and a half inches long or less.

Regretfully Schalk passed on and new fishing partners came and went, but we kept on working on improvement.

We also developed a highly effective manner of dealing with the occasional difficult or selective fish, we simply went and found another one that was more accommodating, it worked every time. If you do that today you are going to be finished with your beat by lunchtime, some level of experimentation and effort is no required and you can’t simply move on to the next fish at each refusal.

Of course over time things change and they did for us, we promoted catch and release fishing, to start  with only the upper beat of the Elandspad was subject to this regulation and even then the old school were complaining about it. Comments such as “it isn’t really fishing if you don’t take a frying pan with you” were commonplace and we were troublesome young bucks with some hidden agenda, equally vilified and distrusted by the more established anglers.

Mind you as with everything else there was more pressure on the streams, more trouble with people getting in each others way on the river and leapfrogging groups would effectively put the fish down for everyone. The beat system was born where you could book your section for the day which not only meant that one could enjoy uninterrupted fishing, but equally that you didn’t have to rise at sparrows fart simply to secure some privacy.

The catch and release regulations spread, the fish, given the opportunity to learn from their mistakes started to get smarter and better educated. No longer would they always come twice and the rainbows started to rise in far more circumspect fashion than was previously the case. Reacting more like cautious browns, sipping in flies and eschewing any poor presentations or dragging flies.

 

The fish were getting smarter, they still are.

 

In fact on our brown trout stream some of the fish had been tagged and we would discuss the relative condition and latest measurements of number 423567 as each season passed. It wasn’t scientific but it proved one thing, that the fish would survive capture if you were careful with them and it laid to rest the argument of the old timers who insisted that the trout was going to go “belly up” anyway so you may as well chuck it in a pan and have it for lunch.

We started to change tactics in response to changes in the fish’s behaviour, gradually flies got a lot smaller and I well recall bringing back from Australia the first size 22 hooks that we had ever actually seen. We stopped simply using nylon and purchased “tippet” material on neat little spools that cost the earth but offered better presentation. Gradually the terminal tackle got thinner and we started going out on a limb with 6 X tippet and eventually 7X (currently the extreme is 8X and even 10X is now available in local stores).

We built our own ultralight rods, to start with the Orvis “Superfine 7’ 9”  #2 weight became the standard, those with the old favourite “Osprey #4’s” were now regarded as little more than hackers.

 

The availability of fine soft tippet material is still probably one of the greatest weapons in the stream angler's arsenal.

 

With the advent of light rods and catch and release we were now fishing barbless hooks all the time, we had figured out that you actually land more fish on those and we started to sharpen our hooks, first with pebbles from the stream bed and later with purpose built diamond dust hones carried in our pockets.

Leaders got longer and finer, we degreased them to make them sink and took much more care in our positions and presentations on the streams. The fish were larger now, larger and wiser and consequently more demanding. There were even occasions when one would have to match the hatch, particularly if there were ants on the water.

A further and oft ignored development of the Catch and Release regulations was that at one level information was more easily passed from one angler to another. Now there was no need to hide the truth about the flies which one fished or the best beats or your knowledge of a good fish on a particular section. Previously one would keep quite, not wishing to encourage someone to improve only to go and whip out your favourite nineteen incher tucked away under the bushes of “dry fly run”.

Whilst all the time the fish were getting better and better at the game as well, it may seem an unfair battle , what with us using micrometer measured tippets, carbon graphite rods, camouflage clothing, fancy dry fly floatants, hooks sharpeners and all the mod cons but I am not sure that our catch rates ever climbed that much. We would do better for a while but the fish would get smarter and things would level off again.

 

Of all the improvements in gear, using your brains is still what will keep you ahead.

 

Today the streams of the Limietberg probably offer the most technically demanding fishing in the country. There are plenty of fish to be sure, and there are some really good ones too for that matter, but they are a whole heap more demanding of the angler compared to the days of climbing down those bridge supports in search of supper.

We don’t actually fish in a pristine natural environment, much as we may enjoy the illusion, we fish in the midst of a highly technical arms race where we get better weapons and the trout continuously update their defenses. I have to confess that this is the way that I like it, but there is one down side, beginners to the sport are in for something of a rough ride without help. The trout on these streams have already received their education and if you are a neophyte angler you start off at something of a disadvantage. The only option is to go out on the water and start working on your education to catch up.

 

Bells provide essential support for the education of neophyte anglers

 

Shortly the Cape Piscatorial Society, together with Bell’s Whiskey, will host the latest “Bell’s Fly Fishing Festival“. Unlike most other fishing festivals it isn’t a competition. In the context of this article it is more like “infantry school”, where newcomers can get some on stream experience from old hands and learn some of the subtleties and tricks of the trade. In times past this may have simply been a fun way to spend the weekend and a means of perhaps improving one’s catch rate. Today, with the arms race if full swing it is more of an essential right of passage. Without some help it is going to take the average newcomer a lot of time on the water to catch up. As said previously, if you are starting out, the fish are way ahead of you and learning more each season.

This article is dedicated to those who came before us and created this fishery and the people who still look after it for the benefit of all. It is also in recognition of the assistance offered by Bells and the dedicated anglers who act as guides, who provide the means for so many newcomers to get a start at this wonderful obsession we call fly fishing. Welcome to the arms race.

Brought to you by Inkwazi Fly Fishing Safaris and Stealth Fly Rod and Reel.

 

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CPS Newsletter Sept 30 2010

October 1, 2010

Cape Piscatorial Society Newsletter                        September 30th 2010

Despite the fact that the fishing has been a little slow in the early season I suppose it is fair to say that it hasn’t been quite as slow as previous years when we couldn’t even fish. No doubt not only a plus for the anglers but equally for those small towns downstream of the fishing who haven’t seen half of their houses washed away this year.

Fly anglers I am convinced are a rather perverse lot, in the end it isn’t the fish that you catch that make you return to a specific water but rather those that you see but don’t tempt. Much the same with the poor fishing, I have been out on the streams more in the past month than I have for a long while, again that perversity, had it been good I probably wouldn’t have been quite so motivated, the sense that “we have to crack it one day” has kept me going.

A trip to the headwaters:

With that in mind I set off yesterday , of course hence the late posting of this newsletter, for the Upper Witte. This is a stream which I used to fish regularly, in fact in my youth we would head up there two days on the same weekend, making the trip twice in quick succession although rarely to fish the same beat. Back then there were fish in the lower beats, I suspect they are now gone or the numbers further diminished. The place suffers dreadfully from the over abstraction of water from the summer flows, bringing the water levels lower down to a standstill and I am sure that can’t be good for the trout, or for that matter for any indigenous fishes that aren’t yet on the evolutionary brink of growing legs and lungs.

I keep thinking that I should do an exploratory trip up the lower sections whilst the flows are still reasonable to find out for sure if there are any fish left down there. It is a pity, years back on my birthday I caught a 22” brownie below the hiking hut and it breaks my heart to think that, what at this time of year looks like excellent water, has been reduced to such a state by narcissistic self interest.

Irrespective of past agreement it does seem to me to be insane that anyone, person or organization for that matter should be allowed to abstract the entire flow of a river and one hopes that in time sanity and the law will prevail and the water in the Witte will once again flow during the summer months.

Headwater brownie, spectacularly colourful.

Mind you people all tell me that everything has an up side to it and if there is one here it is that there is fishing higher up, not only that but you need to be seriously motivated and relatively fit to access it. Hence there is less pressure on this water than almost any other beat under out control.

My little jaunt on Thursday probably equated to a round trip on foot of some twenty odd kilometers, I think that is enough to stave off the advances of the average couch potato. I did however find fish, a few I spotted and duly spooked and several I picked up prospecting at longish range.
The water up here is ridiculously clear despite its amber hue and the fish are equally not used to seeing anything much by way of movement so are particularly quick to take offense at any intrusion. Paradoxically at the same time I don’t think that they are particularly fussed about fly patterns and the like, they don’t see enough of them to form an opinion.

Presentation Presentation, the fly didn't seem to be too important.

It is a trip that I haven’t made in years, in fact I ventured further up the stream than ever previously and it was both challenging and fun despite the near crippling stomp homewards. These fish are as pretty as they always were; a particularly noticeable feature of the strain is a frequently bright red dotted adipose fin, such that for a second they look almost as though they were tagged. High up the pickings are thin and the water thinner so I doubt that there are many monsters up there, but there could be a few and I think that I shall have to make the trip again in the not too distant future, I just need a bit of time for my calves to recover. Still it was worth it, wonderful scenery, clear water and some genuine wild trout, not a lot of them but some. Working on the same basis that I measure the fuel consumption of my car you could say that working on the distance walked it averaged out at about fourty trout per hundred kilometers an entertaining if entirly useless statistic.

So October is upon us, the first month of the season passed and that means that summer should be around the corner, more stable conditions and removal of the rain jacket from your back pack to make way for the sunblock. The Cape Piscatorial Society’s Bells Fly Fishing Festival takes place in October, I don’t know if it is fully subscribed as I type but if it isn’t then you definitely want to enquire about it if you are a novice angler on our waters.

This festival has a special place in my heart because the one disadvantage of our catch and release regulations is that the fishing is a whole lot tougher than it used to be. I like that, I like the fact that it is more challenging, that there are more and bigger fish and that they demand greater expertise from the anglers. I also like the fact that if one finds and releases a 19” fish you know that it isn’t going to be whipped out next week by someone else and end up under a grill with some toasted almonds.

I even like the fact that because of the catch and release issue most anglers will offer quality advice to newcomers, something a whole lot less likely to happen if they think that their neophyte protégée is going to be having a good ol’ fry up with the product of his learning.  But it does make it hard if you are a beginner and the Bells Festival with its opportunity to fish with some of the best anglers in the province at least allows anglers to learn the ropes a bit faster than simply bashing about on their own without guidance. It is something quite special and if you are looking to improve your angling, or currently struggling on the streams then there cannot be a better investment than to attend this one.

I shall be posting some information and images of my recent Witte River Trip on my next post on this blog so keep you eyes open for that.

For now the sun is shining, the barometer seems to have settled somewhat from its roller coaster ride of the past month and things are looking up. If you are out and about on the streams over the weekend, as always, “Be Careful Out There”.

Tim

CPS Newsletter Sept 23rd 2010

September 22, 2010

With the Cape Piscatorial Society’s office still not fully functional and Jean away, the regular newsletter is once again posted here for the benefit of the members. I trust that you will find it useful.

Cape Piscatorial Society Newsletter September 23rd 2010

Of course it could simply be that I am getting old, I don’t remember fishing so many times in the early season and being so darn cold all the time. Perhaps my memory is failing, perhaps my blood is thinning or possibly it is simply that for years the rivers have been too high to fish in September so I never noticed?  Hell I don’t know but it has been a “Funny Ol’ start” to the season.

Perhaps it is simply that over the course of the close season our dreams are made up of rising trout, clear water and blazing sunshine because that is how we like to think of our fishing more than the fact that it is the actual reality of things. Apparently memories are selective, which is why we have larger families than perhaps we should for the well being of the planet. According to the experts, if women really remembered what child birth was like and didn’t simply switch on false recollections of sweet little glowing cherubs then we would be into negative population growth in short order.

Either way be it reality or a false recollection of “the way things were”, I have to say that I have personally had something of a disappointing start to the season and haven’t really “Hit it right” as of yet.

I have received some reports of anglers who have had great fishing but I would have to say that on average the reverse has been true and most seem to have enjoyed less sport than they expected.  There are other oddities as well, I like to believe that everything in nature has a logical answer; trouble is that we don’t necessarily understand or see that answer.

Take for example the browns on the Smallblaar/Molenaars beats. Not a week or so ago in pretty grim conditions Mike Spinola took a number of really good quality browns whilst I didn’t manage any and only caught small rainbows. A week later Mike fished the same water and lo and behold he only caught rainbows, that is the same angler on the same beat, odd.

I have for a while wondered if browns don’t respond differently ( compared to the rainbows),  to variations of water height, barometric pressure and the like but I don’t really have an explanation for this state of affairs, although as said I suspect that there is one. It could be an advantage in that when one species isn’t playing ball the other is but it is something of an oddity none the less.

Anyway perhaps the cooler and variable conditions are a blessing, one suspects that we have had a lot less rain than usual and should things heat up too quickly we are likely to be in for a hard time of things come summer, I say come summer as it obviously has yet to arrive based on the time it takes in a hot shower for me to recover after a day on the water.

Fun experimenting at Fizantakraal,

Fishing tiny dries on fine tippet to large cruising fish proved very interesting.

I shan’t bore you with all the details here, you can look them up on a previous post on the Paracaddis Blog (Big Fish on Fine Tippets) if you so wish, but I did have a very interesting trip last weekend.

I suppose that every fishing day is a little different and the purpose of the day can change unexpectedly. Some times I am happy working on getting great presentations, sometimes I want to catch a lot of fish and then there are those outings when I simply want to target one particularly tricky trout, it all depends. One thing that I do enjoy on occasion is to experiment, to see how fish react to different things and for that matter how I react to them. This past weekend I unexpectedly found myself experimenting on how large a fish I could tackle on tiny flies and ultra-fine tippets and the results were quite amazing. I took fish up to nearly three kilos on size 18 dry flies and 7X tippet and broke off or lost an amazingly small percentage of the fish. Don’t kid yourselves, these weren’t simply flaccid, tailless stockies, these fish went wild when hooked and I saw my backing more than once, something of a rarity on my three weight I have to say.  Again I would recommend that you have a look at that post on the blog, but one thing that it did make clear to me, there is absolutely no reason why one should feel under gunned fishing ultra-light tippet on the streams. Further that if these relatively uneducated trout react so positively to tiny dries and so negatively to the nylon then it does behoove us to take a little more care and consideration when targeting the trout in the streams. In fact I would suggest to you that if you don’t already take a spool of 7X with you (and quite possibly 8X for that matter) and that you don’t carry some form of leader de-greaser as well then you are limiting yourself, particularly as the water levels drop and the sun comes out. I do hope that it will come out, one supposes that will be the case at some point.

Weather Information:

It appears that one site that I have been using and recommending for weather info and barometric pressure had some problem with it however it seems to be working fine again now the link for the main site is http://www.southafricanweather.co.za.

Detailed Barometric Pressure Charts are available from this site.

I have however found another one which will give you a long and detailed forecast for the Worcester area, which of course is nearer to the fishing than the Cape Town one. You can reach I on http://www.windfinder.com/forecast/worcester_airport

The detail is quite amazing and I include a screen shot of the forecast for the weekend as an example.
It however doesn’t seem to be deadly accurate as I was on the river on Tuesday and whilst the forecast indicates no rain, it rained for most of the day, at least in the mountains.

Parachute Flies:

I have been having a lot of fun with parachute patterns of late, as per the above and I have developed some great improvements in the way that I tie them which makes them more durable, I think more imitative and a whole lot easier to tie, particularly in small sizes. I shall be giving a demo of these techniques at the Stream X Fly Fishing Heritage Day celebrations at Stream X on Friday if you would like to learn more.

Some but no longer all, of the modifications can be found in a free downloadable E-book at Smashwords if you have yet to look at that.

River conditions: From fishing on Tuesday I can tell you that the water levels are up again, probably a welcome thing in the longer term but there must have been more rain in the mountains than there was in Cape Town one would imagine, so be prepared to take some nymphs with you and a rain jacket. Luckily we did both but the wind was very chilly and the rain on and off for the entire time we were up there.

The weather is still looking a little cool and dodgy over the next few days, but one is going to hit right at some point and as my old saltwater fishing mate Greg Clarke used to say “in fishing there it is no good waiting for the news, you need to get out there and make the news or you are going to miss it”.

So wherever you are heading over the long weekend, as always “Be Careful Out There”. Tim

Newsletter hosting courtesy of Inkwazi Fly Fishing Safaris:

This newsletter is hosted on “The Fishing Gene Blog” courtesy of Inkwazi Fly Fishing Safaris, the Cape’s longest standing full service trout guiding operation.

Cape Piscatorial Society News

September 16, 2010

Cape Piscatorial Society Newsletter.                Thursday Sept 16th

This time around, as Jean is out of the office the newsletter such as it is, is being posted on this blog and this will continue until the office is up and running at full capacity again.

Of course it also means that we can have some images in the news, something problematic with the e mail versions due to all those darned corporate firewalls. Yes we know that you read this stuff at the office. 🙂

So here is the news, Brought to you courtesy of :

INKWAZI FLY FISHING SAFARIS and the “FISHING GENE” Blog.


LOW PRESSURE BLUES:

I have had a number of people contact me about the variations in the barometric pressure since the previous post on the Fishing Gene Blog

It would appear that despite my desperation and loss of confidence, what a thing confidence is when fishing, a lot of people have endured what appeared to be perfect conditions without seeing much or any activity at all. Nick King wrote to me to say that despite perfect conditions and hatching Holsloot spinners on the river of the same name he saw precisely no activity on the part of the fish. I have been out three times since the start of the season and things have been poor.

The first trip produced one faint hearted refusal from a fish in the shallows. The second with a client was chilly and again without much by way of activity although we did find one feeding fish which was missed three times after the obligatory changes of flies. On Sunday I fished with Mike Spinola again and once more the conditions looked great. There were towering clouds of mating mayfly spinners above the parking spot and the sun shone out of a blue sky. The first pool showed no rising fish, rather unusual for that particular piece of water, and we battled on. The first fish a brown took my fly right up against the bank and promptly turned downstream into a strong current under the overhanging trees and hooked up the leader in the branches. Not an auspicious start to the season.

The going was slow but Mike did far better than I did with a number of really great browns around sixteen inches or so and fat as the proverbial brewer’s apron. Mind you the luck wasn’t totally with Mike either when he lost a good fish which after jumping a few times headed under, what he obviously knew to be a good rock hidey hole and stuck Mike’s leader under the boulders, it was that kind of day.

I only managed a number or small rainbows, at least I finally broke the duck for the season but the fishing was very poor, except for a period around three thirty in the afternoon when all of a sudden we picked up fish back to back in a number of pockets, catching more fish in half an hour than we had all day to that point. A review of the barometric chart once at home showed a falling glass all day with a leveling off for a period around three thirty, a coincidence? I think not.

I do wonder if we never noticed this as much in the past or whether with the rivers being fishable earlier in the year than normal we are still in the midst of some spring like unseasonable pressure changes. It would appear however that right now if you are out on a rising glass you do well and if not then you are in for a hard time of things. If you would like to check out the pressure charts for Cape Town you can visit the link HERE it won’t help a lot but might provide a decent enough explanation or at least excuse.

HOLSLOOT BLUES

Shane Saunders was also in contact to say that he did poorly on account of the pressure drops, and also that beat two of the Holsloot is badly in need of some brush clearing, apparently things have got so bad on this notoriously overgrown section that now less than half of it is actually fishable.

Perhaps time for a working party on that piece but we need to liaise with Cape Nature as to how best and when best to tackle the problem. Cutting back the bush at the wrong time of year or in the incorrect manner makes things worse not better and one can replace a single old branch with a dozen new shoots if one isn’t careful.

HOOK UP BLUES:

Yet another day on the river trying to beat these cold fronts and really not that nice, low cloud, fog, howling gales in all directions and pretty darn chilly but that wasn’t really the problem. The problem was my striking. Odd isn’t it? when it is working we pay it no heed and when not, well it is I suppose like the golfer’s yips, you simply cannot get it right. I suspect that I was snatching at things a bit too eagerly, what with waiting for days to get a half decent chance at a feeding trout, or even finding a feeing trout for that matter.

I think that perhaps the timing of the strike and the tempo of it as well for that matter is one of the most difficult skills to master. Not least because you cannot practice it without willing fish and I have noticed that it is one of the abilities that seem to be lost over the course of the closed season.

Anyway I missed far more takes then I should have done and that was frustrating. All the more so when you know darn well that the fish aren’t going to give you a second chance. A few times I resorted to a nymph and hooked up on the fish that had been missed or perhaps had “come short” previously but as said, somewhat annoying.

When one is fully tuned in, probably from a lot of fishing and therefore practice, one adapts to the fish , a slow rise and a slower strike, a snappy rise and a suitably hastened response, whatever it is I am currently missing it but hopefully in time I shall get back into the groove.

On the plus side the rivers are in fine fettle but then again they probably shouldn’t  be at this point on the calendar and without more rain it is going to be a warm and low water summer season so the best weather you can find at this juncture should be the time to get out there.

YouTubeVideo:

I have also recently uploaded a couple of clips of feeding trout in the Limietberg Reserve, watching fish, even on video does tune the eye and helps develop the skill of fish spotting when out there on the water. If you would like to check out the video you will find it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DxpT7of4MM

A still shot from the video capturing a trout at the very moment of rising to take a fly.

Don’t Forget:

Presentation from Liquid horizons at the club rooms this evening. 16th Sept


A presentation on fishing in Pategonia with Liquid Horizons, complimentary snacks will be provided.

7.00 for 7.30 at the clubrooms in the Mercantile Building in Hout Street

Flyfishing Heritage Day at Stream X.


Stream X are hosting their open day on Heritage Day, that is September 24th in case you have forgotten.

This is usually a fun event and a great place and time to meet up with various anglers, experts and novices alike. Learn some new tricks and enjoy some socializing over a draught beer.

I am planning to be there and for one thing will be demonstrating my improved methods for tying parachute patterns, so I hope that we shall see a good turnout.

Volunteers: Cape Stream fishing data capture.

With all the variations of the fishing of late and the reports I have been receiving from various anglers I an considering undertaking  a study of the fishing through the season and I am looking for anglers who might be willing to participate in the project. What it would require would be some fairly specific data on catching fish on our streams, the requirements would be specific but not overly detailed and the results would be kept anonymous. Obviously I am looking for straight no bullshit, no inflating the figures types of information. If you fish fairly regularly and would be willing to provide some detailed reports on a regular basis please contact me on the e mail rolston@iafrica.com

The information wouldn’t reveal your favourite beats or best fly patterns or anything like that so you need not worry on that front, I am just interested in collating a lot of data and it would be helpful to have more information from more anglers than just that which I can collect on my own.

Finally:

As with previous newsletters which are sent out personally from the secretary: I end with the following thoughts. If you are out fishing, driving, watching rugby or simply surfing the internet. “Be Careful Out There”

Tim

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Three Days at Lakensvlei

May 5, 2010

Sunset over the Cape Piscatorial Society's premier stillwater.

Having had quite some layoff from things piscatorial events conspired to produce a surfeit of angling over the past week or so. Much of the best of it being at Lakensvlei dam, a water owned by the Hex River Water Board with the fishing controlled by the Cape Piscatorial Society here in Cape Town.

Influenced by competition fishing many of us have taken to drift boat fishing this relatively large water and recently I became the proud part owner of a “Fishduc” inflatable. The inflatable packs up small, is exceptionally versatile and affords an excellent fishing platform for drift boating when combined with a drogue system to reduce the rate of the drift.

Mike Spinola with a nice fish from our new boat.

Up until then most anglers here would fish from float tubes, personally I never liked them if only for the reason that you inevitably end up trolling and not casting, some anglers could be seen only casting about once every half an hour. Anyway, do you really want to spend the rest of your fishing days going backwards?

The drift boat option affords the opportunity to drift onto new water constantly whilst searching fish and the ability to locate the fish efficiently in a large body of water is really the great advantage of this style. The advantages of being able to chat to your boat partner, pick up your coffee cup, fags or a stiff whisky don’t go amiss either for that matter.

The isolated fishing hut on the banks makes for a rustic but perfectly comfortable home for a day or two with only gas stove and candles or gas lamps spending a couple of nights out there really does bring things into perspective in terms of what is really important and what isn’t.

Waking in the early hours the sunrise over the rapidly cooling dam and the consequent low clouds of early morning mist were a picture and the sunsets in the evenings, well something special that’s for sure.

The first day saw us work hard for fish but we managed seven each by day’s end, an exhausting day’s end to be sure and I was glad that I was staying over and not having to make the two hour drive back to town. We drifted a great deal of the lake and didn’t ever really find too much of a concentration of fish except where they were on the top , besotted with a fall of flying ants and taking no interest in most of the flies that we had to throw at them. It would seem that like their riverine brethren stillwater trout love ants.

In fact one of the fish that was badly hooked and therefore killed subsequently proved to be literally “stuffed to the gills” with these little hymenoptera no wonder they wouldn’t look at anything else.

Yes that entire pile of food is just ants.. trout love ants..

Day two saw me afloat with a client and if anything the fish were even less in evidence, we fished hard covered a lot of water and only later in the evening when the fish started to move on the top did we have any degree of success. Although rising fish moping up the remnants of the ant fall seemed a little less choosy, perhaps the numbers of ants was waning and as a result the fish becoming a little less selective.

Day three and my third fishing partner of the extended weekend and we cracked it, we found good numbers of fish in one of the arms and caught some thirty trout between us for the day. Many still showing evidence of being stuffed with ants, although I believe that quite a few were feeding just under the surface to the sunken insects. All the fish were in the extreme shallows, perhaps lured there by the drifting ants being piled up on the windward bank by the breeze and offering easy pickings.

Time to return home after three hard days of rowing and fishing, having caught approximately thirty trout to my rod and having enjoyed a wonderfully peaceful and basic existence on the edge of a gorgeous stillwater. Not to mention the chance to share the experience with three different anglers on different days. It rarely gets much better than this and although I returned tired out from casting and rowing, the boat is in the garage and I can go back pretty any time I wish.  Winter is here and that means I may well wish to return quite a lot.

Our new ARK inflatable boat. The world is now our oyster, or at least the wet bits are.

INFORMATION:

ARK inflatables.

If you would like to find out more about ARK inflatable craft for white water rafting, fishing or simply family recreation they have outlets all over the world. You can locate a dealer near you by visiting www.arkinflatables.com

Ark have outlets in: South Africa, USA and Canada, Sweden, Costa Rica and the UK. With a wide variety of craft and the option to custom build you something really special visit their site and have a look at what they have to offer. Visit their website at www.arkinflatables.com or e mail them for information at ARK inflatables.

Fly fishing in and around Cape Town South Africa.

This post is sponsored by Inkwazi Fly Fishing Safaris, Cape Town’s top flyfishing guiding service, you can find out more about what they have to offer on www.inkwaziflyfishing.co.za or e mail them at Inkwazi Flyfishing

The Cape Piscatorial Society.

You can reach the Cape Piscatorial Society on the link www.piscator.co.za or contact the secretary at Cape Piscatorial Society

Fishduc Hire in Cape Town:

You can hire these boats from ARK inflatables.

Or StreamX e mail: StreamX

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 www.inkwaziflyfishing.co.za. 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 www.inkwaziflyfishing.co.za

Fishing Cape Streams Part #1

July 20, 2009

Sponsored by Inkwazi Fly Fishing Safaris, Cape Town’s leading Trout Guiding Service.

Getting ready:

Preparing for a new season on the streams and planning your approach for the best season ever.

In the next six or seven weeks I will be putting together a number of posts to help you prepare for the coming trout stream season. Covering all the essential things that you really should be up to now to insure a seamless and fun start to the season as well as offering some advice which should help you make it one of the best seasons to date.

I will be covering topics related to sorting out your gear, tying essential fly patterns, rigging leaders, and top tips on ways to improve your efficacy out there on the streams. Most social anglers don’t get anywhere near to their potential and one of the differences between them and the “experts” is the way that they approach things and the preparations they undertake before the time. You simply aren’t going to make the best of it if you head out with a rummage bag of bits and bobs and hope for the best.

To start the ball rolling here are some things to think about in the coming week:

Permits: Don’t forget that whilst the rivers of the Limietberg Reserve are essentially public water you need permits both to fish and to be in the reserve as well as a freshwater angling license. To be honest the freshwater license is a bit of a stretch because there is very little checking up and our illustrious administrators in government simply want to take your money without doing a whole lot for it. You are however supposed to have one and you can obtain them from most of the angling shops. These freshwater licenses are NOT the ones that you get from the post office so don’t be mistaken; those are sea angling permits and not the same thing.

If you are not already a member, join the CPS (Cape Piscatorial Society)

On a cost effectiveness basis if you belong to the Cape Piscatorial Society you can reduce the costs and improve the ease with which you book water and should you intend to fish more than five times or so in the season. (One would hope that if you are reading this then that is the case) it is significantly cost effective to join up. If you live out of Cape Town you can join for even less dough as a “country member” so it is well worth the investment. Members with Season River Fishing permits can simply book water by phone, without the hassle of making additional bank deposits, sending faxes and all the rest of it and that alone makes it worth obtaining membership and a season permit. The society also boasts a fantastic fishing library for members, have regular meetings and act as coordinators for all bookings of water in the Limietberg. You can contact them on cpsoc@netactive.co.za and visit their website at www.piscator.co.za have a chat to Elizabeth or Jean at the offices and they will help you set up whatever needs to be done.

Wild Cards.

You will also need a permit to be in the reserve and again if you are South African you are advised to obtain a “wild card” which covers entry into the reserve as well as a heap of other ones. The wild card can be purchased as “Cape Cluster” which affords you free access to the fishing waters as well as free entry to Boulder’s Beach, Table Mountain National Park, Cape Point reserve (this will cost you R60 a trip without the card so you can easily get your money back), Silvermine reserve and others. If you pay a little bit more you can cover entry into all the SAN parks reserves in the country, which means that trip to the Richtersveld Reserve in search of Yellowfish or any number of other spots becomes highly cost effective.

You can get more information on the wild card system from https://www.wildcard.co.za for those based in the Southern Suburbs I recommend that you chat to Cathy at the National Parks office in Westlake, she is am amazingly efficient and cheerful lady and one of the parks employees who seems to take her job seriously and has proven to be wonderfully helpful to me in the past. Wild Cards are significantly more expensive for non SA residents but could prove to be worthwhile if you intend to fish a lot or visit other reserves whilst here.

The primary trout streams of the Western Cape and the home waters of Cape Town Anglers


The waters that we fish are for the most part public access waters in the Limietberg Reserve and are effectively three rivers although the nomenclature used in angling circles would indicate that there are more.

All the rivers are divided into beats which can be booked for one party of anglers (maximum two) for the day. This brilliant and probably unique system for public access means that you are not bothered by other anglers and the fish are not overly stressed with people casting over them all day. It is a super system and makes the best use of the resource, so remember if you are new at this, booking is essential and you can’t just pitch up and fish when and where you feel like it. Remember: ALL the waters are strictly catch and release, no barbed hooks, no kill fisheries.. these are not places to go and collect your lunch, but they offer superb angling for non indigenous but self sustaining populations of trout which are wary and street smart. Technique is the key to success, not necessarily matching the hatch but fly presentation is what separates the men from the boys on all of these waters and they can be a real challenge. Many of the waters offer superb sight fishing to visible fish much of the season when the water is low and clear enough to target specific fish. With some care you may spend an entire day rarely casting blind at all.

The rivers are:

The Holsloot River: This stream is a “tailwater” fishery, flowing out of the Stettynskloof Dam on the outskirts of Rawsonville. The stream is particularly useful in that it generally maintains better flows in the heat of summer and paradoxically, as a result of the capacitor like effects of the dam, lower flows when the other streams are in flood. It can make for a particularly good venue in early season and again in mid summer. There is private water on this stream managed by Dwarsberg Farm, where you can also book into one of a number of cottages or camp sites and fish the private sections. The stream has a reputation of blowing hot and cold and there are days when the fishing can be excellent or alternatively particularly slow. In addition to permits and bookings you will require an access code from the CPS office to be able to enter the gate and drive up the dirt road to the fishing waters. Don’t venture out without that code or you are going to get stuck. The code varies on a weekly basis so make sure that you obtain it when you are booking water.

The Molenaars Beat:

The Molenaars beat is a private section of water that is currently included in the fishery management of the CPS, it is in reality simply the lower section of the Smallblaar River, boasts fewer but larger trout on average and can provide some really really good fishing, particularly earlier in the season. Being lower down the mountains the waters tend to become very warm in mid summer and the fishing becomes less good. This is a section to be targeted early and late season in particular but it probably offers the best chance of a twenty inch plus fish of all the streams.

The Smallblaar River:

This is where things become a little tricky, the Smallblaar is labeled by the roads department as the Molenaars River and as such can cause some confusion to first timers, the fact that you see a road sign indicating “Molenaars River” doesn’t mean that you are on the Molenaars Stretch so take care and ask for some advice if you are not sure where to go to find your beat. The situation is further complicated by the fact that the Smallblaar River’s beats have a private section in the middle of them so that beats one to five are below the Du Toit’s Kloof Hotel, the hotel section can also be booked but it isn’t a recommended piece over weekends when it can become inundated with swimmers and casual observers. The last beat of this stream, beat six, is well above the hotel, separated from the rest by a private section. Beat six is a tiny tributary of the main river joining up at the intersection with the Elandspad. Parking for Beat six is the same as parking for the Elandspad River. As with the Molenaars, there are some exceptionally good fish on this stream, and the catch and release regulations have seen the growth of both fish densities and size over the past few years. Also as with the Molenaars, although to a lesser degree, the stream suffers from very warm water in mid summer and is best left alone at that time. Not simply because the fishing isn’t as good but because you are likely to over stress the fish and kill them in the warm waters of mid summer.

The Elandspad River:

This stream offers no vehicular access and requires that you walk in to your beat along the footpath, which if you are nervous of heights may prove a little taxing. The lower beats are not far from the road but you can hike and hour or two in and out of the upper sections. The stream probably provides the main spawning areas for most of this entire system, fish density is high and as you progress to the upper beats on average the numbers of fish go up and the overall size of fish comes down. Don’t be mislead though, there are fish up to 19” plus up there and for the active the stream offers some superb angling.

The Witte River:

This is our only Brown Trout stream and is high up on Bain’s Kloof Pass. The fishing of late has suffered in the lower beats which used to be home to some quality fish. The continuous abstraction of nearly the entire flow of the stream in the summer months by agricultural concerns leads to near stagnation lower down and makes it very difficult for sustainable fish populations to survive. Beats above the take off furrow however provide good angling at the price of some severe walking. There is no vehicular access to these beats and you have to leg it in. The height of the stream and its location make for some pretty dramatic scenery and some equally dramatic weather changes, strong winds and rain squalls in early season can make your trip a real gamble. There are less fish in this stream than in most of the rainbow waters and the river if fished mostly by those who particularly like to target browns. The browns behave slightly differently to the rainbows of the other waters and represent a challenge unique to this stream and that particular species. All in all you will either fall in love with this water or learn to hate it depending on your particular view point. Don’t even consider this stream unless you are prepared to leg it up into the mountains and don’t go without suitable clothing, things change up there fast and early season hypothermia can become a real threat.

The season runs from Sept to May inclusive on these streams and some planning will afford good angling throughout those nine months of open season.

So there they are, with some planning you can have great fishing season through, targeting the Holsloot throughout the year, The Witte for brown’s early season in particular, the Molenaars and the Smallblaar for all but the hottest months and the Elandspad again for much of the entire season. Plenty to choose from.

Organise your permits, licenses and membership fees now and in the next post we will discuss some preparations of gear and flies for the coming season.

If you want more information try visiting www.piscator.co.za, www.inkwaziflyfishing.co.za or mail us at rolston@iafrica.com

Inkwazi Flyfishing Safaris offers guided fishing experiences on these waters, including full service guiding and tutorial guiding for those who wish to hone techniques and improve their effectiveness. Most clients find that they will double their catch rates after some on stream tuition so if you are planning on making this your best season ever, consider booking a day with us to refine your skills.

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