Posts Tagged ‘Fizantakraal Lodge’

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

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

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.

Big Fish on Fine Tippets.

September 20, 2010

Small flies, fine tippets, big fish and broken reels.

I was recently invited to join a group at Fizantekraal Lodge in the Limietberg. The venue is stunning but the fishing in the ponds isn’t really my cup of tea most of the time and the main attraction was the opportunity to fish parts of the Kraalstroom River, a tightly overgrown crystal clear stream that runs through the property.

On the first day we fished sections of the stream, it was tricky stuff with trees enveloping the river and making casting extremely testing,  forcing us to resort to “bow and arrow” presentations a lot of the time and flipping both dry flies and weighted nymphs into the runs and plunge pools in search of fish. The fishing was thankfully quite reasonable and it was fun to experiment on these relatively naïve and seldom targeted small stream trout.

However having walked up parts of the river to a section that seemed to be devoid of fish for some reason I headed back to the lodge to join the other guests for lunch. The route taking me right past the stocked ponds which hold fish anywhere from 1 kilogram up to 3 plus. They are relatively small impoundments but the fish are only stocked at a rate to replace those taken by visitors and as a consequence things aren’t always quite as easy as one might imagine. The fish have seen it all , or so you may think, and can prove difficult and spooky in the clear water.

As I was walking past one of the ponds I saw a large fish cruising and despite the fact that I was rigged up for the river with a #18 parachute dry fly and 7X tippet I simply couldn’t resist the temptation to have a cast.  The fish lazily deviated slightly from his previous path, hovered under the tiny dry for a few moments and then inhaled it with confidence.  That was where the fun started, to date it was by far the largest fish I had tackled on such fine gear and I had to be exceptionally careful to let the line spin off the reel each time the fish ran, jumped or shook its head. To be honest I had little real expectation of landing it, but after a spirited and lengthy battle he was netted. The fish weighed in at approximately 2.5 Kilograms, a very large fish to be taking on 7X tippet material and a tiny fly.

Fizantakraal Lodge.

After lunch and a little more thought it struck me that the one thing that these fish don’t see from most anglers is a tiny dry fly and they would on occasion rise to naturals as there were good midge and mayfly hatches on these ponds.  So I headed out to see if I might repeat the process with another fish and sure enough the same result, a solid take an exceptionally spirited fight and a fish of just over two kilos in the net. I seemed to really be on to something and proceeded to experiment more and more, the gambit worked like a treat although the fish did prove to be very tippet shy and even that fine nylon needed to be degreased and sunk below the surface to avoid a lot of refusals.

The Author with one of the tiny parachute patterns that proved so effective. Yes that is 7X tippet !!

By the end of the weekend I must have taken well over twenty five fish using these tiny dry flies and fine nylon, fished on a Stealth Deep Red 8’4” 3wt rod. I actually only broke off on three fish the entire time and trust me that wasn’t because they didn’t put up a battle. The largest fish which jumped feet in the air on several occasions was estimated at well over three kilos and I lost him after he took me well into the backing, dislodged the pawl on my CFO reel due to the speed of the runs and finally snagged me in some sunken bushes. One more fish also ran me into the bushes and pulled the hook out. The final breakoff was from a tiddler which had entered the dams from the stream, a fish of no more than eight inches. This fish took the fly just as I was pulling in to re-cast and without the shock absorption of a soft rod to protect it the tippet broke like cotton.

This tiny Olive Parachute proved particularly effective.

The whole exercise proved to be extremely interesting and I think that the key points were these:

Firstly that it is in fact entirely possible to land such large fish on such light gear with more than a modicum of success, to be frank I didn’t think that it could be done with any regularity  until I tried it.

Secondly that even in a stocked pond environment it proved to me that the fish, as with their natural stream cousins,  are more than a little susceptible to a well presented small fly and it proved to be a truly winning tactic despite the fact that it was really discovered by accident.

Thirdly it was obvious that one really needs to develop what cricketers refer to as “Soft Hands”, that is the ability to play a fish carefully, pulling hard when you can but ready at a moment’s notice to let go when the need arises. I think that this is a skill that takes time to develop and I know a lot of anglers don’t like to fish so fine even on the river where the maximum size of the fish is probably twenty inches or so.  Although this was really pushing the envelope I do fish this fine nylon regularly if not indeed most of the time. I suspect that the more one uses such light tackle the more one gets used to it and compensates, which is a great advantage when called upon to fish light  as one still maintains ones confidence.

Finally the role of the rod is critical and again reinforces my view that many rods are far too stiff, perhaps offering some advantage to distance casting but failing to protect light tippets when a fish is hooked. This to me it is essential, that a rod, and particularly a light stream rod, provides functionality for casting, controlling the drift and protecting the tippet when one hooks a fish. It proved quite amazing how much pressure one could put on a fish with such light tippet so long as the tip was there to protect against sudden resistance from the fish.

It has long been my position that sharp small hooks actually hook fish better than larger ones and it was interesting that with the size of these trout  the hook ups were frequently in the bony jaws of these fish and yet the hooks penetrated and held, often being quite resistant to removal. Given the limited pressure one could apply on the strike due to the light tippet this provides more evidence still at how effective sharpening hooks and removing the barbs can be.

I know that I shall have a lot more confidence fishing 7X tippet on the rivers in the future and have another tactic to try on stillwaters when the opportunity presents itself.

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