Posts Tagged ‘Molenaars’

Farewell to a season

May 23, 2010

My final day on the streams for a season, a mixed bag and a lot of hard work but some good fishing and a memorable day.

Farewell to a season.

This was to be the last chance for the season, the rivers hereabouts close in a week’s time and various commitments, work, a Nature Conservation course and the possible arrival of another cold front meant that I had one last chance at getting in some river time.

The streams had settled back from their flood conditions just in time to offer some last hope, and I had already missed out on a trip with Peter earlier in the week. We had planned to get out for an afternoon; it is a long drive for a few hours fishing but needs must as the clock was ticking. Plans had been made and I was all ready to go when some inconsiderate decided to take the chance to smash my car window and when I should have been happily driving to a rendezvous with Peter and some fish I was busying myself trying to get a new drivers side front window. Worse still Peter apparently “hammered e’m” and took some twenty five fish so I was doubly annoyed about the glass, more so than the stolen GPS that went with it.

I managed to sneak away for a few hours the following afternoon and ventured out on my own. For some reason the fishing wasn’t as “on” as when Pete was there the day before, I took a few fish but it wasn’t spectacular and I worked hard at it for maybe half a dozen trout before the fading light and the poor visibility of casting into the setting sun put paid to the trip.

Mind you I rarely fish well under such circumstances the mad dash drive up the freeway, the hurried tackling up and the rush in the hope of getting into some fish before the light fails isn’t the best way to set about something which always seems to work a lot better when one is relaxed.

I still had one booking left, here we book the water on a beat system, which works well and means that not only don’t the fish get constantly harassed but that you can arrive late in the day and still have water to yourself. The idea had been that I may have been fishing a competition trial but that fell through so I had the water to myself and one last chance at it.

To be honest though I didn’t awaken filled with enthusiasm, it was a late and rather boozy night the evening before, the local rugby team having made it to the finals of the Super 14 and that was cause for celebration, maybe a little too much celebration for an early start to a fishing day. So when I finally raised my weary head from the pillow, made some coffee and packed the gear the sun was well up.

The weather forecast was good with balmy “berg winds” but that also meant a strong likelihood of an impending cold front, a dropping barometer and blustery breezes into ones face on the river, and so it was when I arrived.

I was fishing one of the lowest beats on the streams we fish, “The Molenaars” section. This is for us big water, not so much the volume but one of the few sections where the river widens, it traditionally holds less fish but some of the best sized ones around and they seem to always be in particularly good condition. The idea being to finish the season with something of a “bang”.

The Molenaars Beat, slightly bigger water and usually the home of some large trout.

I think that some sort of celestial power was trying to keep me from the water, not only had I had to deal with the window incident only days previous but now on the way out through the Huguenot tunnel , a long passage of some four and a half kilometers through the mountain it became obvious that there was a problem with the car’s headlights  and I couldn’t get them to dip properly. More time wasted as I did running repairs at the road side and finally, FINALLY, I was rigged up and ready to go.

The wind was howling downstream and for the first hour I didn’t so much as sniff a fish, see a rise or anything else of note. I became convinced that the barometer was dropping and that it was going to be a struggle, but this was the last day and I had to persevere. I added a nymph to the rig and fished both dry and dropper studiously in all the likely looking spots to no avail. Then eventually there was a boil just as I lifted off a fast pocket and a second presentation produced the first fish of the day. A gorgeous brownie. This is something new; these streams haven’t ever contained brown trout until this season. I am still not sure from whence they came, rumour has it that they were escapees from a trout farm, but they would have had to have lost a lot of fish, reports of brown trout being caught have increased and increased over the past few months. Still there is something wonderfully seductive about the take of a dry fly by a brown trout. They don’t seem so much to rise to the fly as simply appear beneath it and then make a languid roll or simply inhale the pattern with hardly a blip on the surface. I managed to steel myself not to strike to rapidly, a fatal error on browns and he was on and in the net in short order.

A brown trout, a new addtion to these waters.

If they have one lack for all their gorgeous colouration and delicate rise forms they don’t fight like the rainbows do. Generally here they make little tumbles and you know almost instantly that it is a brown, even if you didn’t pick that up from the rise form.

I pressed on the wind shifting 180° in the space of one cast and making presentation difficult, the wind will almost never make it impossible for me to fish, but it does make it difficult and sometimes impossible to fish well and I really wanted to fish well on my final day of the season.

The next fish was one of the smallest rainbows I have taken this year, and all the more remarkable as this is generally big trout water, but it is encouraging to see them, it means that the stream is healthy and there are more fish coming on. These rivers are unstocked catch and release water, completely self sustaining wild, and by now pretty educated fish.

The wind settled down a bit and I saw a rise, a cast to cover that and another brownie, what is it that they seem to be coming up when I can’t find a rainbow?

The next three fish were all browns and despite the lack of rises I never got a take on the nymph, when they wanted to eat they wanted the dry and that was fine by me, I love to see a trout take a dry fly and all the more a brownie. It is slow motion, heart stoppingly beautiful, the defining moment if you are a dyed in the wool dry fly man, the fight doesn’t count for as much as watching that take.

Then I started to take rainbows, one after the other in some cases, the odd brownie mixed in but a couple of the bows were in tremendous nick, up to 18 inches and fat enough to look good coming out of a dam.

The day and with it the season was however drawing to a close, the light was failing and the river turning silver in the setting sun, tricky to read the water and spot good holding lies never mind see the fly. I kept on in the hope of one more final fish for the year, it is a fatal flaw the moment one decides “this will be the last” things either dry up or go wrong. I dropped two fish out of successive pockets due to the dry having tangled in the wind and I was pulling it backwards out of their mouths. One super rainbow in the 18” range tangled itself in the dropper during a prolonged battle and the line snapped trying to land the fish tail first in a strong flow. Then a brilliant drift over a fast current lane into slow water under the trees, with a reach mend and lots of additional mending to get the drift right. A fish came out from the shadows, inhaled the fly and was on, a fitting final fish for the season I was thinking but he came off the hook. The takes dried up and I kept on in the hope of one more, just one more. A small rainbow of about twelve inches was the final fish of the season, not a grand finish I suppose but compared to the way things looking in the morning I hadn’t done badly and was well pleased with the way I had fished.

The browns seemed far more active than the bows for most of the day.

Sometimes perseverance is the only answer and at some point in the day the fish certainly woke up a bit and by then I had got my eye in and was getting good drifts. It was a rewarding day; I probably landed fifteen or so fish maybe a few more. A fitting end and time for me to concentrate on tying some flies, fishing stillwaters and maybe taking things a little easy for a while. The fish are I am sure more pleased to see the end. It means freedom to eat without worry and no harassment from anglers for three months or so. Plus the chance to have sex and I suppose one can’t sneeze at that. September seems a long way off but there are things to be done and the fish deserve a rest. Actually the fishing guides deserve a rest too for that matter.

This post sponsored by Inkwazi Fly Fishing Safaris, Cape Town's only dedicated fly fishing guiding service.

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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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