Posts Tagged ‘Stream X’

Orange River Adventure

July 17, 2014

Orange River Header

Right now in the depths of winter, rain lashing against the window and snow on the high ground the stream fishing season still feels a long way ahead. Of course it is a good time to tie flies, clean fishing gear and generally have a bit of a tidy up and a sorting out of the kit but it is fishing that I really hanker after.

The lakes offer some solace, the winter weather suits the fish up there in the mountains, they seem to like the chill- and frosty mornings with a bit of a breeze can provide some exceptional sport, but much as I enjoy it, lake fishing isn’t river fishing and that’s the rub.

Dreams of clear streams, dry fly drifts and rising trout trouble my sleep and no amount of flytying or tackle cleaning will rid my soul of the need to be on a river.

There is however a further alternative available, although perhaps not readily so, and that is to head out into the desert and target some winter yellowfish on the Orange River. It has become something of a ritual to include this in our fishing calendar, not only because such a trip offers exceptional fishing but also because the climatic conditions up there provide admittedly chilly evenings and mornings but rather more balmy weather during the day. Thoughts of warm days and plenty of fish when trapped in damp and chilly suburbia make a long drive and rustic camping conditions seem really rather idyllic.

TimYellowCap

 

There was a time we would venture to the Richtersveld, a reasonably organized camping area within a reserve, it offered some great fishing it has to be said but these days we opt for an even more remote spot. At the limits of the South African boundary, right on the Namibian border, where you may go for days without seeing anyone but for the occasional shepherd tending his goats in the arid landscape.

BigBlueSky

This is barren land, given of rough tracks, social weaverbird nests, quiver trees, four wheel drive vehicles and a lot of space, enough space to make you wonder if you haven’t inadvertently switched planets via some unseen cosmic wormhole. On the drive in it is easy to question one’s own sanity in bringing a fly rod along at all, the scenery, spectacular as it is, doesn’t imply any possibility of water, never mind fishing opportunity.

ClassicNamakwa

This is a land of big sky, little but miles of sunbaked sand and rock and glistening quartz crystals with a primal beauty that has to be witnessed personally to be appreciated. Then, just about the time where one wonder’s if you really haven’t lost the plot, and that bringing that fly rod along would, in a court of law, indicate that you were too mentally deranged to be held accountable for your actions, you come across it. Cutting through the barren lands is a green swathe of vegetation, bordering the slightly murky flows of the region’s major river, and in that river await hoards of yellowfish. Better still hoards of naïve yellowfish, uneducated as to the wiles of fly anglers. In short something of an angler’s paradise, right out there in the middle of nowhere.

BigYellow

As the temperatures high up near the river’s source drop lower during the winter months so the fish move downstream to warmer areas and it is a fortunate happenstance that at this very time the flows of the river, generally driven by summer thundershowers in the Witwatersrand, become greatly reduced.

The entire collective, of little rain high on the catchment and cooler temperatures in the head waters contrive to produce, lower down on the river, some of the best yellowfish fishing the county has to offer, right about the time that we are hankering to cast a line on moving water but still generally limited by the flood levels of our native trout streams.

Sean's First Yellow

So we endure a long drive, pack lightly and live roughly in tents amongst the sand dunes of the river bank, and enjoy a few days of that most simple of mantra’s. Eat, Sleep, Fish…

 

EatSleepFish

 

Come and join us on a yellowfish adventure:

This September Inkwazi Fly Fishing in conjunction with Stream X will be hosting two camps in this remote spot. Each trip has space for only eight anglers and includes an overnight stop on the way up to the river to make it easier to get away after work and have an early start on the water the next day.

The camps run (including the drive) from September 19th to 24th and 23rd to 28th

Orange River Snapshots

The trip will include an “orientation” evening in Cape Town to appraise anglers of what to expect, what to bring, suitable tackle tactics and flies for the trip and as such represents an ideal starting point for those who have not experienced yellowfish fishing previously. It is of course also a fantastic trip for those who already have yellowfish angling experience (most of the bookings to date are from people who joined us previously and want to experience it all again). In past years fish numbers have been very good and there is still much water to explore which has been previously untapped. If you would like to enquire about joining us please drop me a line on the following link:

Orange River Yellowfish Camp 2014

Brought to you by Inkwazi Flyfishing Cape Town's best fly fishing guiding service.

Brought to you by Inkwazi Flyfishing Cape Town’s best fly fishing guiding service.

 

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A New Arrival

February 28, 2014

NewArrival

Well would you know it, I have a new baby.  It has taken the better part of two or more years to get to this point, people might think that in-vitro fertilization is a long and troublesome process but with no real motivation towards fatherhood and with a natural human longing to leave something behind on my demise, I decided to produce a book, Ok another book so I should have known what I was getting into, but I never realised that the birthing process would make the gestation of the African Elephant seem like quick trip to the shops.

GuideFliesBabyPramMy New “Baby”. . 🙂

In hindsight simple conception, even fertilization in a small glass tube might have proven less troublesome, had I managed to skip the glass tube bit it could have been a heap more fun too for that matter. If I had simply required some lasting acknowledgement of my existence I could have chosen to go with the now almost universal tagging option. Got hold of a spray can and scribbled my name in relative permanence on a variety of train carriages or roadside brickwork. It seems to work well for people like Banksy but then again it isn’t really that permanent and has the added disadvantage of being, to my mind at least, eminently anti-social, destructive and not really worthy of the epithet of “art”. It would however have had the allure of speed.

Graffiti
I suppose I could have simply opted for a spray can to achieve some level of immortality.

One might imagine that having done this previously in print and electronic formats, with publishers and without, well it would all be a piece of cake wouldn’t it?

Alas writing a book isn’t the hardest thing on the planet, it is all the other stuff that goes with it that proves to be the troublesome part, particularly if you have perfectionist tendencies and are pedantic about things like graphics and video content. Yes there was a hiccup right there, having produced eBooks with video content previously (and probably a world first when it comes to fly tying tomes) I found myself rather backed into a corner, some people expressed their dissatisfaction with reading off a screen, wanting to hold and flip the pages, fold down the corners and all that goes with a “proper book” but then again they didn’t really want to miss out on the video bits. So this book includes a CD of video clips that you can read on your computer.

Having produced “Essential Fly Tying Techniques” in electronic format I ventured to produce this publication in similar vein, with a little more anecdotal information on the fishing and thought processes that go into the flies that I fish and use in my work. Simple, Durable Flies that Catch Fish, is what it says on the cover.

GuideFliesCover
It says “Simple, Durable Flies that Catch Fish” on the cover.

Once the decision is made the challenges come thick and fast, to go with photographs, easy in this digital age, or stay with the somewhat retro graphics option. Firstly I like graphic drawings, they have more feel to them somehow compared to photographs, more to the point in a graphic you can clearly demonstrate the exact position of a single turn of thread and other such detail lacking in a photo, it is no mistake that authors such as Oliver Edwards used graphics in his exceptional “Oliver Edwards Fly Tyers Masterclass”.

Fig21Fig5I like graphics over photo’s and that seemed a good enough reason for all the work.

Trouble is that I am not an artist, certainly not with pen and ink anyway so digital graphics had to be the way forward, just that there is a steep learning curve if you want to do something as odd as try to draw peacock herl on a computer screen or convey the ethereal delicacy of a CDC plume. Some feathers had to be constructed fibre by fibre in painfully slow attention to detail. How on earth does one “draw” marabou, or crystal chenille? In the end it all proved to be good entertainment, if frustrating at times.

Fig55 Fig50Drawing things like marabou and crystal chenille posed something of a problem.

Still that was all going well, I found myself a publisher in the form or Barbara Mueller at “New Voices Publishers” and Barbara proved to be a real asset, she, as the name of her business would suggest, specialises in assisting authors to self publish. Having been down the spectacularly unrewarding process of publishing a book with a recognised major publisher in the past I didn’t wish to follow that route again. It is galling in the extreme to see a book that you created with your own blood, sweat and tears sold where the government makes more money from the tax on it than the author gets from the sale.

WealthWarningThere were many further hurdles, how to set up a system where someone might purchase the book? It is remarkably tricky and the banks, despite their constant advertising for “entrepreneurial clients” actually close the shutters just as soon as you say the words “self-employed”. In the process it has necessitated rebuilding my website, learning some basic HTML code and more. I am not sure that it is entirely solved but it is mostly solved.

PayFastLogoThe book “Guide Flies” has been completed in eBook format for some time but now finally the glossy printed, page turning, corner folding, paper textured “real book” is available. Not only that but it comes with its own compact disc containing video clips of every fly in the book so even if you prefer to do your bedtime reading with nothing more electronic than a decent lamp you can still check out the tying processes on screen next time you return to the computer. I suppose it really is the best of both worlds when you get right down to it.

“Guide Flies” boasts some 150 pages, 60 odd full colour graphics, detailed descriptions of the flies, the tying process and perhaps as importantly the thought process behind their development. The CD has 25 video clips of fly tying covering everything from the torque of thread on a parachute dry to the ultra-durable “Super Glue Whip Finish” and effective fly patterns to cope with almost every trout fishing eventuality from stillwater to spring creeks.

GuideFliesBookandCD

It has been a labour of love, a learning curve of stupendous gradient but I am well pleased with the result, in the end I suppose that “the proof of the pudding will be in the eating”, if not yours hopefully the trout’s..

If you would like to obtain a copy of my book in either paper or electronic format you can do so in a variety of ways:

Email me your request on rolston@iafrica.com

Purchase on line from my website at www.inkwaziflyfishing.co.za/bookshop.html

Purchase from Netbooks on line at www.netbooks.co.za

Purchase from a fly fishing outlet http://urban-fly-fisher.com/ or www.streamx.co.za and hopefully more in due course.

Damsels

Backpack Paranoia

January 17, 2014

BackpackHead

Things have been a bit of a whirl of late, what with the silly season (which closely aligns with the festive season in these parts). Guiding days, handyman jobs, urgent fixes, hot weather, a trip out to the lake and a great deal of traipsing up and down the stream valleys in search of fish.

 I suppose that in some way that is an excuse for the lack of activity on this blog, although really it should have provided more than a little material to play with as well. Right now though the panic hasn’t ended, and I am heading out again over the weekend to a remote river valley which one only gets to see based on a lucky draw ticket.

It has all been a bit of a rush and at the kind invitation of Craig Thom at Stream X, Cape Town’s best fly fishing shop, I am due to hike into the Jan Du Toit’s Rver with him in search of pristine conditions and hopefully more than a few trout.

JDT 2The River is something very special and worth the effort to reach it.

This river is unique in so many ways as to render it virtually indescribable to anyone who hasn’t visited it previously. The hike in to the overnight camp is a couple of hours and the going is pretty steep, the river itself is crystal, benefitting from that age old conservation mechanism that protects places that require physical effort and some risk to reach. There are fairly well worn paths if you can keep on them as they cross and re-cross the river but it is a remote and beautiful piece of the countryside and demanding to fish. Not so much that the fish are particularly educated, although they are far from stupid, more tricky because the water would make a fine bottle of London Dry Gin look a tad murky, although to be fair at depth the stream takes on a slightly emerald hue, and the boulders in the river range from pebbles to the size of a double garage.

Because of the hike everything needs to be stripped down to the bare minimum, my six fly boxes have been compacted into just two, one for the dry flies and another for subsurface patterns. There is plenty of room in two boxes but the heap of flies will be tricky to sort on the water, and it will take more time than usual to find the ones that I want.

I shall forego the normal fishing boots and run the risk of slipping more, but carrying in two sets of footwear is unnecessarily troublesome and the wading boots would occupy too much space in the backpack so I shall walk and fish in the same pair. Leaving me with wet feet on the way home which isn’t too much of a problem and the risk of slipping which could be far more serious. Up there there aren’t any easy options of escape should one pick up an injury.

JDT 4Deep enough and the water takes on a brilliant emerald hue.

Of course I am a fisherman so more preparation goes into the tackle than the food and camping requirements, but it all has to be stripped down. I have checked and rechecked the gear list, rod, reel, tippet and fly boxes, a spare leader or two, polaroids (in such clear water it would be a travesty to forget those), net and my lanyard with hook sharpener, nippers, floatant and such all attached. The lanyard is a winner because so long as I don’t forget or lose it it carries most of the little tools and nick nacks which I might require on the stream. Then of course there has been a little bit of last minute fly tying, it seems that the last flies tied before a trip, usually wrapped rapidly in a state of mild panic, often prove to be the most effective.

I have also had to unpack my fishing vest, the one I have been using is too bulky for travel. With moulded pockets that tend to have one feeling like Mae West out on the water, all a bit front heavy,  it is simply too bulky to pack and I have dug out an old and tattered vest from the past, hidden in the back corner of a cupboard, which can be rolled up and stuffed into the pack. Of course, unpacking a fishing vest is a dangerous operation, all too easy to forget something important and even if not forgotten it could be a trial to locate what one is looking for. Unpacking and repacking a fishing vest can become a little like fiddling with a solved Rubic Cube, you might never get it back to the way that it was.

Hopefully with the fishing gear list all ticked off I can then move on to the logistics in terms of clothing and food. I suppose that it says something that I am far more willing to go hungry than to be missing an essential piece of fishing equipment and then again probably less keen to be cold or wet than to be starving. It all comes down to priorities, and on my list fishing gear comes first and food last, a sort of “Maslow’s hierarchy of fishing trip packing”. In short if I forget the biscuits it will be annoying but if I forget the 7X tippet it has the potential to ruin the weekend.

JDT 1Fishing takes priority, food and clothing come second.

The real problem with these trips is that there is no turning back, up in the highest portion of this steep sided valley one is hours from the car and further still from the nearest fly shop, what you forget you do without and that’s about the sum of things.

So the lists have been typed out and will be checked and rechecked, somewhere along the way, in the car or on the path I will have the customary panic that some essential item has been left on the kitchen counter, it is all part of the process, a case of backpack paranoia and which of us hasn’t pulled over to check a pocket during such a venture in the past?

I have fished this particular river a few times a year for well over a decade so at least I know what to expect, there will be some serious hiking, rock scrambling and at a few notable spots some death defying rock climbing to reach better fishing water. (When did a potentially lethal fall stop any of us seeking out better angling?)

In the steep sided kloof the sun will leave early and arrive late and I shall probably end up sleeping for far longer than I ever would at home. The sleep though is generally interrupted by rustling in the bush at some point of the evening, a visit from a near tame Spotted Gennet that always seems to know when there are people and therefore potential food in the valley. Years back some wag wrote “Scorpion Cave” in charcoal on the side of the cliff were we overnight, that alone can leave one rather fitful when trying to doze off and if we are fortunate we might get to see dancing fireflies  jetting about on the far side of the stream when it gets dark.

JDT 5Pretty streams begat pretty fish.

My first trip up this river years ago was part of a restocking programme, we all carried baby trout on our backs, suitably ensconced in plastic bags filled with clean water and pure oxygen. Twenty babies to a bag and two bags to a person. The terrain is such that the river’s fish can easily become isolated from one another due to numerous barrier falls and so we stocked a couple of fingerlings in each pool taking care to spread them out and provide the best chance of creating a self-sustaining population. For the most part it seems to have worked, although there are still sections where the trout are thin on the ground or absent completely, then it is a case of hiking to the next barrier and trying again.

All in all I am looking forward to it, perhaps not the hike so much but definitely the fishing, with luck I shan’t forget anything essential but I think that I had better go and check that packing list again just in case.

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