December 2020 Southern African Flyfishing Magazine

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ISSN 1011-3681


Nov/Dec 2020 Vol. 34 No.181

Contents - Nov/Dec 2020 Editorial - Andrew Mather .............................................................................................................................................4 The usual editorial guff and a little more First Bite - Romance - Andrew Savs .............................................................................................................................5 A regular witty column on all things flyfishing and beyond An Eastern Cape caper - Andrew Savs........................................................................................................................7 Trout, bangers and platters Spotted Grunter on fly - Deon Stevens........................................................................................................................24 Rarer than Permit Woman in Waders - Michelle Meyer...........................................................................................................................32 Reflections Heritage Flies : Part 10 - Peter Brigg.............................................................................................................................36 The flies of Harry Swart Fishing the Flats - Andrew Mather................................................................................................................................40 A different side of the Orange Field and stream - Andrew Allman.............................................................. ...............................................................58 Dullstroom Kit review: Andrew Savs................................................................................................................................................66 Pisces Predator The river of gaint sea trout - Terkel Broe Christensen.................................................................................................69 The River Karup Hendrik Potgieter LBS - LizĂŠ-Mari Halgryn...................................................................................................................86 Vlieghengeluitdaging Obituary: Gerrie van der Merwe - Ilan Lax.................................................................................................................92 FOSAF News - Ilan Lax .................................................................................................................................................95

NAVIGATING THE MAGAZINE You will note that we make liberal use of hyperlinks both to pages within the magazine and to websites outside it. Links to external websites will enable you to further explore these topics. The idea is that you can navigate around the magazine from the contents page. Each item on the contents page is hyperlinked to the article in the magazine. This means you do not have to scroll through the entire magazine if you don’t want to, you can access specific articles merely by clicking on the link. We also want you to share the magazine with your friends on social media, just go to the share button when you’re looking at the magazine on and you’ll be able to send a link via email, Facebook or Twitter. There is also a hyperlink on the bottom of each page linking you to our website where you can download back issues. Happy exploring!

Dam X, Eastern Cape Photo: Andrew Mather

SOUTHERN AFRICAN FLYFISHING: • Available free of charge online at; • Published bi-monthly; • The official magazine of the Federation of Southern African Flyfishers (FOSAF); • Africa’s original flyfishing magazine LAYOUT AND PUBLISHER: Southern African Flyfishing Magazine (Pty) Ltd Registration No. 2018/356867/07 EDITORS: Ian Cox (082 574 3722) Andrew Mather (083 309 0233) Andrew Savides (082 651 2685) CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS ISSUE: Andrew Allman, Peter Brigg, Terkel Broe Christensen, Ian Cox, Lizé-Mari Halgryn, Ilan Lax, Andrew Mather, Michelle Meyer, Andrew Savides and Deon Stevens. COPYRIGHT Copyright in the magazine reposes in the Publisher. Articles and photographs are published with the permission of the authors, who retain copyright. The magazine and content may be hyperlinked and downloaded for private use but may not be otherwise hyperlinked or reproduced in part or whole without the written permission of the publishers. DISCLAIMER While every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the contents of this magazine, the publishers do not accept responsibility for omissions or errors or their consequences. The views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of the publishers, the editors or the editorial staff. Cover photo: Andrew Savides

EDITORIAL Greetings to all our readers. As we head down the road to Xmas I guess you are all frantically trying to get stuff done before the break. It has been an odd year for us humans. It has probably been a great year for our fishy friends though. It’s all coming up Rainbows. Let us hope they enjoyed the respite of fishing pressure and have multipled and grown fat. Next season hold all sorts of promises. Talking of promises…your editorial team has been hard at work assembling this edition. A task we took on over three years ago. Look the pay is bad…well nonexistent really, however we have managed with the odd advert to keep the ship afloat. This magazine is for you and about you. Don’t be shy to submit a story to us for consideration. The only real non-negotiable is good images. For the non-technical guys if the picture shows multiple Mb …its good for us! Why don’t you take some time over the Xmas holidays to write something for us. We would love to hear from you. When you do get a moment in the festive madness you can read about the great fishing locations be have right here in South Africa. I’ve a friend that loves lists. Lists for his rods, lists for his reels, oh… and lists for his spare lines too! He sends out lists of kit to pack, lists of what food is planned on the trip and whom must buy what. We may not all be as organised as him but take the time to plan your next year’s fishing now. Some trips are extremely popular and book up quickly. I can tell you that planning is the only way to ensure you do get out fishing. To all our content contributers, thank you for your support. To our advertisers, without you this magazine would not be possible. Thank you. Lastly all the very best for Christmas and the New Year from all of us at SA Flyfishing magazine. Enjoy Andrew

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ROMANCE Savs His itchy feet began to develop barely three weeks into isolation. The Sensei is not given to overt displays of emotion and I can’t imagine that he was pacing the floor exactly, but he couldn’t have been a riot to live.

We fished some way up what turned out to be a remarkably pretty stream. Just as we were far enough from our vehicles to be too far from our vehicles the dull, overcast day was rent without warning by a massive thunderstorm. It swept together the filth from the adjacent highway and deposited it in impressive volumes by means of an otherwise rather striking waterfall into the river and onto us.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that coexisting with the man is easy at the best of times, but being holed up in an apartment with a three-year-old for weeks on end will drive the most reasonable man to to ‘act out’ a little.

In minutes the river smelled like a runaway fire in a merkin factory.

In times of stress dark thoughts will inevitably creep their way into the most balanced mind. The least of these thoughts, and a truly victimless crime, would be to travel for reasons not, in the contemporary legal sense, ‘essential’.

Our second attempt yielded better results. We fished another urban stream that we knew for a fact to hold a small population of fish and caught just enough to be able to say with some conviction that we “got some”. It was fun, in it’s own way, and having company again was great, but by the time that we were able to venture beyond the city limits I think that we were both grateful for it.

Decisions involving the lessor of two evils most often make themselves and before long my phone began pinging with incoming satellite images of various rivers that flow through the city. The images had been painstakingly marked-up to show likely productive areas, safe parking and easy access points. By ‘easy access’ I mean ‘well-concealed’. Like bunking English class to smoke behind the woodwork room the whole endeavour had a certain rakish romance about it and I immersed myself in the role of enthusiastic accomplice.

We were of course targeting Natal yellowfish. As far as species go the scaly is certainly en vogue these days. And sure, why not? They’re a cool enough catch on a fly rod and will keep you entertained for a while, although my overwhelming impression of them is that they’re not exactly bright. Unless a scaly is of almost trophy size it just zips around aimlessly in the belly of a pool until it tires out and pretty much allows itself to be landed. Granted, they’re hardly ugly to look at and when they reach trophy proportions they take off like bullet trains, casually breaking tippets and anglers’ hearts. The only problem is that there are just not a lot of trophy sized scaly around - if there were they wouldn’t be trophies, right?

Any preconceived notion of romance ended pretty damned smartly when our first meeting point was described to me as being “straight down the road, right next to the sewage plant”. Now I try in most things to maintain a positive disposition. It wasn’t easy with the fetid tang of a million shits hanging heavily in the air about me as I strung up my rod.


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The larger ones are impressive enough though to have local anglers assign to them the epithet of ‘freshwater GT’ or ‘freshwater bonefish’, depending on the particular angler’s view of these things. I don’t know about you, but to me any species that needs to be described as something that it isn’t, isn’t.

experiment “a few years ago”. In some versions of what I began to suspect was an urban legend the fish soon died out. In others the trout found a foothold and are still there to be caught. About two years ago the trail went dead. There’s a lot of water in the area where the release was said to have taken place and with much of it almost inaccessible I didn’t bother to go search for them myself - you could call me lazy, and you’d be right.

There was a time when the expression would have been ‘a poor man’s GT’, but I suppose it’s hard to think of someone as poor when they have easily ten grand’s worth of tackle in their hand and another ten hanging off their ass. Either way, I just don’t think that pimping on behalf of fish really helps their reputation in any meaningful way. You don’t hear people talking up a GT do you? I’ve never heard anyone say “that’s a GT, or as we call them round here, a flats marlin”.

I didn’t think about it again until it came up in a discussion in a tackle store earlier this year. “Yes”, a fellow customer affirmed, “I know the guy who put them in there”. I leaned hard on the counter and took a deep breath to steady myself. In a single call I had GPS coordinates. It turned out to be that simple - you just had to ask.

Ok, relax - I like scaly just fine. I actually look forward to them in the months when the trout season is closed. They’re found in pretty places, even in town, and there’s always the hope that you’ll luck into a big one.

An hour later, with cold beers between the seats for the unlikely event of a celebration, a friend and I raced off to find these urban trout for ourselves.

They just lack the romance of the salmonids. If catching a wild trout can be compared to a candlelit dinner with an elegant lady in a fine restaurant then catching a scaly is a quickie in the McDonalds parking lot with a girl you just met.

Like a lot of things that are highly anticipated this was fairly anticlimactic. The most recent passing of Haley’s Comet, for example, may have been an event of cosmic significance but for your average punter it was just a blur not worth staying up for.

And speaking of salmonids, would you believe I recently saw one in an urban stream not twenty minutes from my front gate?

The stream was tiny in midwinter. I would have liked to have seen small trout sipping midges here-and-there or gulping terrestrials along the margins. All I did was to spook a small one in an inch or two of water from its crack in a rock.

The first rumours of brown trout being introduced to a stream in the greater Durban area go back a few years. We laughed them off at the time, but the rumours were persistent and were mostly congruous with one another.

I haven’t been back to try to catch one. Somehow, and this annoys me, I get an uneasy feeling that it would ruin the whole thing to actually do that. Just knowing that they’re there and then leaving them alone seems the far more romantic option.

Over time I poked for information where I could but there was little of any real substance to be had from people who claimed to be in the know. Various versions of the same story came to light; a local stream was stocked as a joke or some sort of

But then what do I know about romance? I spend my winters fishing for scaly. 6

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A fine 10lb cockfish

An Eastern Cape caper Savs “Be the ball” - Ty Webb, Caddy Shack

wouldn’t want your dominee, as forgiving as his occupation requires him to be, to scroll through.

Between Mount Fletcher and Maclear, not far from where the hills are painted crimson by the blooms of wildflowers and just before the turn to short-cut to Rhodes lies the village of Chevy Chase.

Somewhere in the hazy mists of total lockdown, when even a trip to the grocery store felt like an exciting expedition and we were at our lowest ebb, we capitulated and accepted that a long road trip to the quiet backwaters of the Eastern Cape lay in our collective futures. Dates were agreed and a rough itinerary was planned. You know that shit, as they say, got real when a second, independent, WhatsApp group was formed. Before too long, at around midday on an unexceptional Sunday, we pulled up the truck on a farm just outside of Barkly East and stretched the inevitable aches of seven hours of driving from our middle-aged joints.

It’s an unremarkable rural village, save for it having been named after the star of eighties comedy movies like Caddy Shack and European Vacation. The only reason that we even became aware of it is that it’s where we stopped for an unscheduled toilet break. The village of Chevy Chase plays no further role in this story. Rapture

The afternoon was spent with our host, Cloete “Pikey” du Plessis, driving short distances to look at a few of his favourite local rivers.

From there to our destination in Barkley East the sights along the way comprise of a mix of breathtaking mountain passes and untidy little towns, each long past their heydays. They exist now solely as testament to ongoing municipal mismanagement. The towns, that is. The mountains are ancient and as beautiful as they ever were. They defy description and, for that matter, municipal mismanagement.

The area around Barkly East, Maclear, Rhodes and Lady Grey have too many streams to name. The history of the stocking of the area and early fishing is immortalised in Sydney Hey’s book “The Rapture of the River”. It was first published in 1957 and the most current reprint is widely available at angling stores. It’s somewhat outdated but is a good primer for a trip to the area. More contemporary authors like Sutcliffe and Brigg have also written extensively about the area and a lot of information is available through a Google search.

This was a trip that was long in the making, to the point that we were starting to believe that it would never happen. The foundations for it were laid some three or even fours year ago with the establishment of the now ubiquitous WhatsApp group to help with planning and to keep things organised. Much turbid water has passed under that bridge and the group became a collection of memes and comments that you probably

The Barkly East Angling Society, Maclear Fly Fishing Club and the Wild Trout Association in Rhodes are good starting points for planning 8

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a trip. Booking through one of the several excellent guides in the area will get you up on the learning curve quickly, give you insight into the idiosyncrasies of each stream and ensure that you get the most out your trip. Accommodation is available throughout the region and we can’t recommend the guest house on Cloete du Plessis’ farm more highly - it offered space, comfort and views for miles.

have you ostracised. Make a note of this. Access to the best private water has hinged on less. Barbed Wire and Behemoths Despite a few days of rain the rivers were still subprime but there is no need to guess as to how good they can be under better conditions. The Langkloof was at that odd inbetween point between being blown-out by a recent squall and too low to fish. One good flush and the passing of a few days would see it returning to its celebrated best.

When visiting a new place it is important to assimilate into the local culture. If you want to be taken seriously in the Eastern Cape the guidelines are simple. It’s a given that all drinks are doubles and that you don’t sit out a round. But more important than this is general braai etiquette. You braai on wood. Kuphela. Briquettes or charcoal will earn you sideways glances. Mentions of gas grills will

We fished for a few hours on the Kraai that first afternoon and managed between us a few small yellows. It’s a mixed fishery that holds both smallmouth yellows and rainbow trout.

The Kraai


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Another fine rainbow and only a week under two years old

From the bridge where we accessed the river we could see substantially sized smallies finning about but, other than for one that broke Warren Bradfield off, we used the afternoon to decompress from the trip and the inevitable expectant excitement that goes with it.

centimetre fish that now exceeded eight pounds and topped out at around thirteen pounds. The dam is one under the curatorship of the Barkly East Angling Society. They have a refreshing attitude towards stocking and stock only quality fry in low numbers, far below the bearing capacity of the water. As a result the fish have plenty of food in an environment with low competition and at altitudes that provide a long growth season.

Dinner was a pile of lamb chops straight from the farm we were staying on - not that herby Karroo stuff - and braaibroodjies over hardwood coals. The drinks were dark doubles. We were fitting in just fine.

It wouldn’t be easy, we were assured as we slipped into our waders on the bank, but at least one of us should get a solid knock and may even land an eight pound fish. Surreptitious nervous glances were exchanged. This wasn’t what we had signed up for. We could just as well stay home to not catch fish.

Over our meal the discussion turned to where we were to fish the next day. Much of this trip had been set aside to fish the stillwaters for which the Eastern Cape is renowned. We raised our eyebrows when we were told that we would fish a dam most recently stocked two years ago with seven


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As it turned out not even one of us landed an eight pound fish.

and the fish are over-sized Andrew Mather took the right approach. When they run for weed they’re hard to stop and if they get into it you’re all but done for. When they turn towards you and you don’t have tension on them it’s game over, period. Positioning on the water and choice of tackle make all the difference.

No, we took between us in a morning session five fish on or exceeding ten pounds - and lost another five to heavy weeds and being simply outgunned by what are the most power ful rainbows we’d ever connected with.

Mather fished a seven weight rod with tippet that is of a diameter that I think has a negative X rating. He hooked fewer than half the fish that Warren and I did, but he landed them. To illustrate my point, from slightly behind me he called out “there’s a small fish in a hole in the weeds”, to which we together shouted “well then catch it” and after a few casts he landed an eleven pound cockfish from deep inside the weed. (On a different note, I shudder to think what he considers a big fish.)

How does one explain a day of fishing that seems to defy reality? What words could I use to convince you of the singular quality of experience that day? Let me put it to you this way: I saw two ten pound double-ups in the space of an hour. Let that sink in. Take as much time as you need. I’m not implying that the fishing in these dams is easy. It’s not. You need to have a plan and need to execute it flawlessly. Big fish don’t get that way by being suicidal.

Lunch was Ger man sausage on a barbed-wire grid over another wood fire. It felt just right.

In these dams where weed is prominent

Rainbow trout - slippery


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Double up... on double figure fish!

A smllmouth yellow for the author

The Apothecary

The drive to Gariep is a relatively short one and the change in scenery is interesting. The Drakensberg sort of rolls away behind you to become the Karroo the further one travels East.

The town of Aliwal North lies on the Orange River and about halfway to our next destination, Gariep. It’s an interesting town, steeped in history. On the high street there’s still an old wooden shopfront bearing in thirties style gilded sign-writing the word “apothecary”.

We crossed the Orange at a point on the journey and there being a bridge we stopped to peer over it. What a sight. Muddies and smallmouths proliferated in the rapids. Massive barbel worked an equally massive eddy. Several species of buck moved through the general area and an enormous leguaan creeped across the wide gravel beach, adding a prehistoric feeling to the place.

Cloete popped in to the apothecary to get a few bottles of ‘gout remedy’, a dubious assortment of a dozen or more nameless pills. He gave me a bottle. It’s been next to my bed for weeks. Just having it there and knowing that at some point I may be tempted to use it has frightened the gout clear out of me. Ironically, it has turned out to be the most effective gout treatment I’ve ever been recommended. Who would’ve thought it?

Our rods were packed too deeply in all of our gear to get at them in the time available to us. It wasn’t our first schoolboy error of the trip, but it was one of the worst. 14

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A second largemouth yellowfish for Cloete - right below the Gariep Dam wall.

Journey’s end was the resort of Waschbank on the banks of the Orange. It is, to use awful modern vernacular, a ‘venue’. Comfortable rooms, a large sundeck, a bar and restaurant are all situated not more than a few metres from the edge of river. It’s a cool place and I recommend it highly.

pain in the arse. Cloete says that you catch them so often in the pectoral fins because they eat with their hands. It sounds farfetched, I know, but based on the evidence he may just be right. The fishing was neither fast nor furious. A few kilometres upstream the sluices of the Gariep Dam were being opened wider and for longer than usual and intermittent blasts of large volumes of cold water through the system put the smallmouths down.

The river in front of Waschbank is wide, not too deep and is fairly featureless except for three ridges of rock that run obliquely across it. These ridges are separated by some distance and each serves to create some broken water below them in which the smallmouth yellowfish hold. The area is also full of muddies, a species which Warren crowned himself king over. That’s ok, he can lord over them all he wants; they fight hard, but they frequently foul-hooked and are a

We didn’t mind too much, we hadn’t come here with the specific goal of catching smallmouths and angling for them was just a really pleasant midday interlude after and before the main attraction.


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I landed one very respectable smallie though while wading out of the river on our first session. I drifted a nymph through a hole that we had all overlooked on the way in. I’m not much of a contact nympher and my first decent drift all day was met with a gentle nudge. I set and, not being able to lead it upstream nor follow it downstream, had to hope for the best and play it out. My luck held and it was only two metres from the net when it stopped dead.

No, You Fish Here Not unlike traffic cops, largemouth yellowfish are ambush predators and hang around structure in wait for a prey item to swim by. They’re the apex predator in their environments and together with tiger fish are as good as you’re going to get on a fly rod without heading to the beach. Having pushed our way through the bush and onto a bank consisting of rocky outcrops and boulders along a deep channel Cloete pointed out his favourite spot. Warren lost no time in annexing it, his face a picture of concentration. Neither he nor I have caught a largie and remedying this fact was a singular focus of this trip.

In a game of inches I managed to move it towards me and finally landed it. At some point during the fight it had picked up fifteen or twenty metres of thirty pound mono, complete with sinkers, that was obviously lost by a previous angler. It happens that we lose tackle, but it put a bit of a downer on what was a pretty good fish.

In stark contrast to Warren and I, Andrew, having just returned from a largie trip further down the Orange, was carrying an altogether lighter rod than our seven weights and was determined to land a smallie on a dry fly. This is a feat considered impossible where we were. He hooked one, but broke it off. In my mind he has still earned bragging rights.

Be warned, wading this section of the Orange is treacherous. The bottom is hand polished rock covered by algae with a layer of used motor oil, some KY Jelly and ball bearings. You get the picture. Felt boots and a staff are mandatory.

Waschbank under blue skies


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a while. You don’t need me to tell you where this is going, do you? A cast or two later he was into even a better largemouth than turned out to be his personal best. There weren’t any apologies this time round.

Muddie, muddier, muddiest

Cloete and I moved into positions close to one another and as I was about to make my first cast he turned to me and suggested that we trade places. He had a good feeling about where he was standing, he said. Not seeing any marked different between the two positions, not wanting to reel in and start over and not heeding my own often repeated advice about listening to people who know more than I do I laughed him off. He insisted. I didn’t listen. He insisted some more. I started casting. You don’t need me to tell you where this going, do you? A few casts later and Cloete went tight into a fantastic largie. Apologising and chastising himself all the while he landed it and we took a few photos. I was overjoyed at his success but he kept shaking his head and apologising. I moved back to where I had left my rod, made some casts and while Cloete walked around to see how we were all getting along I managed two very aggressive smallmouths. When they hit the streamer your heart pounds like a steam engine but after a very short while you realise that what you have on the other end is not what you came for. Look, it’s a strong, aggressive fish but just not the droids I was looking for.

Andrew in fine form

We returned to this spot a few times over the next day or two. Andrew landed a nice largie and Warren a great carp - an unusual fish to catch on a muishond. I had two big largemouths follow my fly until they ran out of water but I could not induce a take. It happens. That’s fine. I’ll be back before too long.

Cloete moved back to his original position after Warren and I had both fished from it for


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Andrew Mather blending in on a grey KMS day


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Bangs and Buttermilk

and wet fishing.

Driving back to the farm from Gariep we stopped to look at the Karringmelkspruit, a stream that flows within minutes of Cloete’s farm. It is beyond a shadow of doubt one of the most beautiful streams that I’ve ever laid eyes on - and I’ve been lucky enough o have seen a few. It had risen and cleared somewhat after a storm that passed through since we had left and plans were changed in favour of fishing it for the afternoon.

The KMS, as it is known to the locals, haunts me. It’s only been a few weeks since it disappeared in our rearview mirror and a return to it has already developed into something of an obsession.

Having just alighted on the stream a fish rose, I covered and landed it. This isn’t how I usually go about things and was well pleased and even probably a little smug. In the time it took to release the small rainbow the air temperature dropped several degrees, thunder boomed through the valley and we ran like hell to ride out the storm in the relative safety of the truck.

Our plans were twofold: catch a few more trophy trout and try not to be led astray.

Hold Onto Your Hat We ended the trip in the Queenstown / Dordrecht area with the brothers Webster.

Our success rate was a solid fifty percent. We were fishing waters secured through the Queenstown Fly Fishing Club. They have some excellent dams that regularly produce astounding fish. Some of the dams have accommodation alongside them and the dams in their stable are not spread too far apart to visit more than one in a day. It’s a fair arrangement for the travelling angler.

It never really fully stopped raining but an hour or two later we braved it and were rewarded with a few fish each in a short period of what was pretty unsatisfying, cold

Old school road tripping


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A7lb rainbow from a QFFC water

The wind is known to blow in that part of the world and, brother, did it blow. We met alongside a dam where Gareth, Warren and Andrew each took a fish before we packed it in favour of cold beer and lunch in our cottage. We would wait for evening to fall and the wind to settle before putting in a session in the gloaming. Wind always settles at sunset, right?

Club, to a moth on a pelmet. The evening was a spectacular mess. I contemplated taking my gout pack.

Beers became a cheese platter and a case of white wine. Evening fell and still the wind blew. We braaied monster streaks with all the trimmings. We raised toasts to fish, to friendship, to good times, to the Queenstown

We set the day aside to alternatively nursing our hangovers and working on new ones. The Webster boys are as outstanding caterers as they are excellent company.

Morning came and the wind hadn’t let up. Warren attempted a session on the dam but it was in vain. I never thought that I’d say that a dam would be too dangerous to fish on a kick-boat, but it was.


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The Webster boys are the kings of the cheese board


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All dressed up and nowhere to go

Home, James The Eastern Cape was my childhood home so perhaps I’m a little biased when I speak of it. I will guarantee you though that you will not find people more hospitable, honest or authentic however far you travel across this country - the fishing doesn’t suck either.

I’m not going to bore you with the whole “all good things must come” schlep. We had an incredible week of fishing in the company of outstanding people.

Guided Services

water guiding and advice.

Our trip was prepared with advice from Gareth Webster of Dead Drift Guiding Services while he was taking a forced break from his usual guiding gig in the Seychelles

Contact him to set up a customised itinerary for your trip in the area or for custom flies that work. 072 508 3381

Gareth assisted us in the preparation of flies and tackle and provided expert 22

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Useful Resources

Barkly East Angling Society Cloete du Plessis, https:// Wild Trout Association, Rhodes Dave Walker, Queenstown Fly Fishing Club Andrew van Wyk, https:// 167722159919380 Waschbank River Lodge, 072 4747 465


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Spotted Grunter on fly: Rarer than permit Deon Stevens It has been said that fewer people on the planet have caught Spotted Grunter (SG) on fly than Permit. Kyle Reed who guided at Alphonse states in his article on tying and fishing the G-Route spotted shrimp that they are as tricky as any saltwater flats fish in the tropics. On the Garden Route, we have some excellent saltwater fishing on our doorstep, but hooking one remains one of fly-fishing’s great challenges.

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Expressions like “fish of a thousand casts”, “paying your school-fees” reinforce the view taken in the introductory passage in FOSAF’s Vol 2 handbook on Spotted Grunter that Pomadasys commersonni is and remains one of the most difficult fish to catch on fly.

that one fly you simply must have in your box. I was first introduced to sight-fishing to Grunter by ex-Tourette guide Pierre Swartz about 5 years ago. We stalked tailing fish in mid-calf to knee deep sandflats on Sedgefield’s Swartvlei, throwing Prawn Charlies and Tan Shrimps of various design at any fish that came within range. Needless to say, we blanked on our day out, but not being one to give up, I was out each day until I finally managed to pouch one. It stuck and I was hooked. Our family was living abroad at the time, but the intrigue of anticipating the swim path of a Grunter in knee deep water and somehow convincing it to suck in your chosen pattern stuck with me.

Estuary Grunter feed primarily on the various prawns found in our waters, bloodworm, crabs, an assortment of small fish and yes, seahorse too. Not being a marine biologist, there are certain to be other items on the menu, but prawn patterns remain the main focus for fly fishermen. There are a number of highly innovative fly tyers constantly experimenting and exploring new patterns to try to improve catch rates, using any number of materials to come up with

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In 2017 we made a decision to return to South Africa, which would have had many raising their eyebrows and asking what were you thinking, but coming home for family reasons got the better of any logical thought. But there’s more ‌. I gave up a successful career in finance with Caterpillar Australia to try my hand at providing a fly fishing guiding and instruction service on the Garden Route, with primary targets being Grunter, Garrick and Kob. Tidal Loops was up and running.

smiling on you and you start believing that you have cracked the code to consistency, a couple of blank days can quickly bring you back to earth and your confidence starts to wane. Welcome to the concept of fishing for Grunter as opposed to catching them. The estuaries from Plettenberg Bay to Sedgefield tend to have exceptionally clear water, which probably explains why catching Grunter can be such a challenge. Many locals and visitors would rather throw a lure or fly at Garrick that readily smash anything thrown at them, and then there are a few that choose to cast a surface stick bait at Grunter, which for some inexplicable reason produces better than expected hook-ups.

A few years on, and yes, I have been fortunate enough to have caught quite a few Grunter, and guided a number of clients onto catching these elusive shadows, mostly sight-fished. But just as lady luck seems to be

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Then there are those who take up the challenge of casting a Tan Shrimps, Prawn Charlie, Articulated Deer Hair patterns, AGHA’s, Iron Man imitations, and whatever else they believe to be the one that will work at our beloved Grunter. There are also a number of crab patterns, even bonefish flies that can, on the day, get you a result. A number of highly accomplished fly-tiers, both commercial and local innovators offer a range of patterns that on the right day, deliver results, often best suited to the waters they themselves fish.

deeper water, and give away your presence. It is important to fish productive water, or water where there is activity. Casting over “dead” water will just leave you despondent. •

Fishing a pattern that represents the main food source on the water you are fishing, (if need be, get a prawn pump) and put out your best representative pattern.

Switch to stealth mode when you see Grunter activity - stalking may sound a little over the top, but it certainly improves the odds. Clothing and fly line will make you less conspicuous.

Fish fine and improve presentation - a 7# - 9# rig with a pale coloured or sky blue or similar floating line that ties in with the sky and a standard 9ft nylon leader with another outstretched arms’ length of 6 – 8lb tippet will do the job.

But in my opinion, having success consistently in these estuaries relies on a number of important considerations •

Fishing with confidence – this applies to all fishing.

Observe what is going on around you – there are often fish closer to you than the one that you see tailing 20m away. Lining these fish close in will send all fish in the area bolting for the security of

Assorted Grunter patterns

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Ideal conditions for me are a rising or dropping tide, preferably on clear sandflats, with the sun behind you, and a slight ripple on the water for ideal spotting. A good idea is to explore the area you are planning on fishing at low tide to look for the tell-tale blow-hole excavations made by grunter. That would indicate the fish frequent this area. As the sandflats get flooded, the Grunter move into the shallows and actively feed, leaving these behind. Hopefully this happens, but some days you gaze across what appears to be a perfect piece of water, seemingly devoid of any activity. There is also often some nuisance value with free-floating water grass catching every cast, so try to get onto the water after the grass has pushed past your spot. Return to contents


Many of the estuaries are often closed to the sea at some time during the season, with no tidal influence to consider. In that case, pick your time and make the most of the most suitable conditions. Present your fly as close as possible to a sighted fish and once you sense that your offering has been seen, start with a slow retrieve, increasing steadily should the fish turn and start following. You will feel a slight resistance as the fly is inhaled, and I like a short and sharp stripstrike to set the hook, and then it’s game on. There is also some merit in fishing low light conditions, my understanding being that reduced visibility improves your chances, but this is not ideal sight-fishing conditions.

As for my patterns of choice, and depending on the water you are fishing, my go-to is a very basic neutral density shrimp / prawn pattern in size 4 or 6 in tan and various shades on olive as my first go-to fly. If I don’t have any success, I try a couple of the commercial sub-surface patterns, and then move onto the floating patter ns. Try concentrate on presentation and dropping your fly where you want it to land.

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I often have conversations with fellow flyfisherman on the merits of imitative versus suggestive, and I would be the first to say that I tie what would only pass as a suggestive pattern, but they do produce results. The imitative school of thought followers would argue that the prawn patterns should swim head-first, but despite this, most prawn patterns are tied with the head trailing. My go-to pattern is no different.


Materials used for the Neutral Density Prawn (NDP) Patridge CS54 Saltwater Shrimp or Gamkatsu B10S Stinger hook - #4 or #6.Both these hooks have a wider gape and assist with the profile shape of a typical prawn / shrimp body. Tan or Olive craft fur, preferably with no flash. I also brush fibres out using a patch of Velcro, giving fly more pulsing fibres to present a more life-like impression. A wrap or two of lead or similar in the bend of the hook to “swim” properly is optional. Micro-chenille in Tan or Olive. Buggy Nymph Rubber Legs in Hare’s Ear Tan or various shades of Olive Tan or Olive Seal fur dubbing for underbody. Eyes – use burnt mono or what I use are transparent orange and dark grey, superglued into position. 2 strands of trailing Gold or similar flash White fly-tying floss (similar to dental floss) or copper wire wrapping It is not a difficult fly to tie, and open to your own personal tweaks, depending on materials at your disposal or what you want to fish.

The estuaries further down the coast don’t always have crystal clear water, and it is on these waters that the floating prawns imitations really come into their own. For some or other reason, the Breede Grunter readily accept a variety of foam and deer hair patterns on a dead drift or very slow retrieve. However you fish, it is important to keep contact with your fly at all times - these guys are difficult enough to catch, so every chance you get must be taken.

As golfing great Gary Player once said something along the lines of the more you play, the luckier you get, and this is no different when targeting Grunter. Try to become acquainted with the waters you fish, or plan to fish, speak to the locals, use a guide if you have limited time, then get out on your own to apply the knowledge gained, and apply a few of the basic guidelines offered above, and you are giving yourself a fair shot at achieving success.

I always have a number of variations of floating prawn in my box, but again I always start off with my pattern, a tightly spun articulated Olive deer hair pattern, with a pair of eyes tied in, and a trailing clump of rough untrimmed deer hair. For added floatation, I often dress the fly with fly floatant just to extend float-time. As long as the fly creates a small wake it is sure to be of interest to any passing Grunter, and all it takes is just one to decide that your offering is worth eating. But the challenge is often just that, finding that one who is willing to take your fly.

It may not happen on your first day out, it seldom does, but the satisfaction when you finally hold a Grunter, also known as “Knorhaan” in your hands and hear that deep grunt that characterises Grunter out of water will keep you coming back. But one thing remains certain. Never for one moment, believe that you have all the answers to consistently catching Grunter on fly. They can put you back in your place in no time, leaving you in no doubt that this very special South African fish remains an enigma, and that you do not know all there is to know.

Exposed sandbanks at low tide

REFLECTIONS Michelle Meyer It started on a day in 2020 while I was bumming on the couch watching Netflix. I suddenly saw a reflection of my past whilst watching The Queen’s Gambit, a marvellous miniseries starring Anya Taylor-Joy and based on the novel by American Walter Tevis. “The Queen's Gambit traces chess prodigy Beth Harmon's life from her childhood ... to her triumphant rise through the Grandmaster ranks.” -wikipedia Now by no means do I consider myself a prodigy, a grandmaster or an orphan in the sixties, and I by no means do I have a disturbing past. But what really struck me was Beth from the series; her personality, her experiences and how chess was a core part of her being and how it defined her way of life. I started fly fishing at the age of ten. It was my Uncle Norman who first put a rod in my hand. He was my role model. He was

always so calm on the banks of the water. We spent forever in silence staring and searching so deeply into the depths. I believe that every young child that goes fishing with a mentor learns to behave more calmly, is a lot more in tune with their surroundings and is able to achieve intense focus and perseverance. Beth as a child was taught chess in an orphanage by the janitor. Later in life she heard of his passing and went back to the orphanage and into the Service Room where they had played. The tears rolled endlessly down my cheeks, as I was only fourteen when my Uncle passed. The passion for the sport you shared, when you realise how special the gift was that they had given you, changes things. It adds that additional drive and, in a way, an indebtedness such that you will never give it up.


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After his passing I was overwhelmed with support by my parents and family members to keep me fishing, even if it was to drive me to every Bell’s Competition so that I could win some tackle and enjoy my hobby with some fellow anglers. Beth was adopted by parents that later divorced. The mother struggled and Beth wanted to compete for money.

The siren sounded and was followed the buzzing of dozens of lines being unwound off of reels. I did my double haul and landed my fly far out across the water. Silence. I think he went as white as a sheet. He might have only gotten about twelve meters out. I just pretended not to notice. Ten minutes later he reeled up and disappeared. I never saw him again.

Lessons. A young girl competing in a predominantly male dominated pastime. Walking in and snatching away the prizes. One short story; Competition Day. We all did our draw and we started lining up on the bank in what seemed like three meter long beats. He walked towards his flag and immediately threw down his toys and started complaining hysterically about getting a spot next to me, convinced that I would be slapping the water and chasing away fish.

What did I learn? Let haters be haters. Even when one feels like you don’t belong you don’t need to convince people to believe in you, just believe in yourself. Eventually all will be revealed, just take your time with things. Grow and observe but enjoy those tough moments when you come out on top and when it’s your time. The feeling will be so great you will be glad you never wasted any negative energy on something that just is what it is.

I ran across the dam to ask my Aunt what I should do, she too loves fly fishing and took me under her wing. She demanded that I get back, reminding me that the siren was about to go off and that I needed to get my line in the water. I ran back, held my breath and waited.

Connections. In one episode after Beth became a little famous she got invited to the popular girls’ school club. Oh boy, those years of puberty. This made me laugh and smile. I got this sudden memory of my past.


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The Spice Girls were it! And just like in the episode the girls all got up and started dancing and singing along to a song Beth had never seemed to have heard before in her life. Indeed, completely oblivious to the new billboard hit, I too stood all stiff at a party I was invited to once. I think my parents were renovating so I was fishing a lot!

Information Gathering. Home internet connections only became popular in my late teens and early twenties. I studied Multimedia at varsity because I wanted to make User Interfaces and Human Computer Interactions my career. So we heard of this thing called facebook and we created accounts and shared varsity themed content and tagged on our friends’ walls. But I couldn’t resist. I had to find flyfishers. After we kinda realised what facebook was, we created our social media profiles. Magazines and books became a part of my special collection. My profile was about flyfishing and there were random tags by Thunder Photographers or ‘friends’ who owned digital cameras and caught you unaware.

However the connections I made on the water, like the connections Beth made, were more could you ask for. From the super-rich to the poorest. From all across the country. People in professions from CEOs to artists. The interesting conversations. I learnt all about truck mechanics on the way to Paris once. I heard life changing stories. Challenges people have overcome. Struggles with travels, illnesses you get in your old age that I had never heard of. The general knowledge about living in certain groups, communities and regions.

I made connections from across the globe. Spain, France, UK, America and more. It was amazing. We shared techniques, mp3 fly tying videos. We taught each other our languages and shared music. I finally had people I could bounce ideas off, and could test questions and theories I had about overseas techniques and entomology. Just like Beth I had a click of friends, a group I could never walk away from. Friends that I have made for life.

Learning about how to travel and how to save up for retirement. Learning how to make good choices. Being protected, watched over and taken care of. Trusting strangers in life threatening situations. Studying people approach each other when wanting to ask a question - which may seem so novel and embarrassing. Observing how everyone present starts to learn and soak up knowledge. Learning how to teach and to be empathetic. And if you are lucky, learning the lyrics to a Scottish Folk Song and teaching the Makarena to a bunch of cold people getting warm through sherry and whiskey.

Destinations. It must be said that as a young student and no longer traveling with the family competitive fly fishing was a blessing. A lady invited me to join her team at a Nationals. It was the first time a ladies team would be entered into an event. From there on ladies teams were established in several provinces.


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We trained with the others in our province; juniors, ladies, seniors and travelled and fished hard together. We had lift clubs and I felt safe. It was structured and my parents knew where I was. I recall having a cellphone, but actually having it on wasn’t a thing yet.

posed and calm. It’s the same feeling when you fly in to land at that fishing destination you have dreamed of for so long. How the beauty of the moment, the sense of massive achievement was exactly in line with the feeling I recalled when you land the trophy catch.

What you learn when being part of a provincial team is priceless. You participate in national events and fish restricted waters. Dedicating time and money as an investment into your sport and representing a team is something I would recommend to everybody. Being part of a federation, showing support and paying membership fees helps us to have accessible flyfishing destinations. Being part of a province gives you a sense of responsibility and develops you into a better person in general, as long as you don’t let it get to your head.

The miniseries ends there, so I can’t really relate to what happens next in her life. However, my hope for all of us is to continue to learn every time we visit the water or find ourselves in the company of other fishers. To forever stay grateful for the gift that has been given to us. To never lose the passion or have life bring us down and distract us from our dreams and the place where we find peace. I believe that all my experiences, good and bad, during my journey so far as an angler will continue to help me get through the challenges I face in social and corporate environments. Hopefully all the exercise on the keyboard keeps my fingers flexible and fit for all the flies I still need to tie. May my reflexes stay sharp so that I never miss a bite and also catch the mug before it spills coffee all over my workstation.

Beth learns to speak Russian as her dream is to go to Moscow and compete against the Grandmaster. She doesn’t make it the first time and makes mistakes along the way. The cinematography of Moscow blows you away. The director captures the emotion of suspense and anxiety as she tries to remain


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Photo: Peter Brigg

Heritage Flies - Part 10 The flies of Harry Stewart. Peter Brigg I first met Harry Stewart in the nineties when I happened to be in East London and able to visit him at his home to collect an order of flies for the small retail business, The Fly Fishing Shop, that the late John Wheatley and I ran for a number of years in Westville. I spent an interesting few hours learning about the flies and the man behind them.

immigrated to Zimbabwe in 1951 and for the next 30 years he flyfished for trout in the Nyanga district.

Harry started fishing when he was seven years old on the Gryffe River in Scotland with home-made rods. He got his first proper rod a year later. It was made of greenheart and had a spliced joint and he would bind the two pieces together with insulation tape. At ten he started tying flies for trout. By the age of 15 years he was tying flies for pocket money for Alex Martin Ltd in Glasgow.

In 1968 he started Stewart’s Trout Flies in the backyard of his Salisbury home having trained five young men. At the same time he was a partner in a transport and civils company and in the evenings his wife, Doreen, and his four children would assist in packaging the day’s fly production for postage, mainly to South Africa but also for local use.

Two of the happiest years of his life were between1964 and 1966 when he and his wife Doreen ran the estate at the Troutbeck Inn in the Nyanga mountain range of the then Rhodesia.

After six years in the British army he


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“We had our own Coch-Y-Bonddu hens which became quite tame. When I wanted neck feathers I would go into pen and they would line up to be picked up and held under my arm while I removed the feathers I needed!” Eventually he sold his companies and retired to East London where he continued to tie his signature flies on a small personal scale. Two of his flies, in my view deserve to join the pantheon of indigenous patterns by virtue of the materials he chose and innovative design.

commercially available have much longer fibres and do not provide such a slim profile. The Millionaire’s Taddy is a cult fly in the Eastern Cape and made its name at Harry’s home water, the 108 hectare Gubu Dam that lies on a dirt road between Stutterheim and Keiskammahoek and about 100 km from East London. It contains both brown and rainbow trout. In the November 1997 issue of Piscator, journal of the Cape Piscatorial Society, Harry wrote of the Millionaire’s Taddy: “I gave this fly to my grandson, Keith Rose-Innes, when he was 14 years old. He won the Gubu Dam Fishing Competition – both senior and junior sections! That was five years ago and the orders for the Millionaire’s Taddy increase by the day!”

The Millionaire’s Taddy. The first and most famous is the Millionaire’s Taddy. It is a streamer, tied on a long shank size 8 to 10 hook and has a tail of black marabou mixed with a few strands of Flashabou.

As with all flies, similar concepts have existed before or elsewhere but this does not detract from what is an elegant and tactile response to the need for creating a pattern which embodies movement and a familiar silhouette to dam trout. Some 40 years before Harry created the Millionaire’s Taddy.

It is the body, however, which sets it apart soft, short-fibred mink. I suspect Harry sourced this from a mink coat, hence the name. The Millionaire’s Taddy is a sleek fly which greatly resembles a tadpole and that probably accounts for its success. The mink zonker strips which are now

Photo: Peter Brigg


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Photo: Peter Brigg

Photo: Peter Brigg Harry’s Termite

slid away.

Gubu Dam was stocked regularly by Martin Davies, the famed pisciculturist from Rhodes University in Grahamstown. It was here that Harry tested and refined his patterns.

Harry described the fly in an article he wrote for Piscator No 129, November 1997:

On humid days in summer, a host of termites would leave their nests and many would end up in the dam. Harry said this was champagne fishing as the trout went on a frenzied feeding spree. Harry developed a pattern that was taken with utmost confidence. Much of the fly was conventional. It had a body of spun and clipped deer hair on a size14 fine wire hook and a brown hackle. But it was t h e w i n g s t h a t w e re a n i n g e n i o u s departure from the norm. He would take two partridge feathers and strip the fibres from the left of one and the right of the other. He would then marry them at the quills and tie them in a tent shape over the body so that the quills ran down the centre of the body. The wings are approximately twice the body length. He said that when cast to a selectively feeding fish, his termite imitation was never refused but that it was essential not to strike when the fish rose to it. The fish would first swirl at the fly to drown it and then turn again to take it. Harry said it was imperative to only strike when the leader

“The flying ant was made on a size 12 hook with spun deer hair body trimmed to shape. Two body feathers from the Rhodesian Partridge – light coloured and trimmed to the wing shape of a termite – are then tied flat over the back, and a red cock hackle in front. This was a good floating fly. It was good to look at – very realistic". It could be mistaken for the real flying ant. I fished it at Gubu Dam during a flying termite hatch where they were lying thick on the water and had been wind-blown in lanes along the banks – 15 to 20 feet out. The trout were in a frenzy. Sadly, failing health eventually saw him and his wife immigrate to the cooler climate of New Zealand where he died peacefully at his home in Palmerston North, New Zealand, on 11 February 2008. But, his legacy lives on in the men he trained as fly tyers and in the innovative flies he bequeathed to ensuing generations of flyfishers. Editors note: Heritage Flies is an extension of "South African Fishing Flies; An anthology of milestone patterns" by Peter Brigg and Ed Herbst. 39

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Fishing the Flats

A different side of the Orange river Andrew Mather

The Orange going for broke Andrew Mather

David Pouter with a fat smallie

The Orange going for broke Andrew Mather

The flats We came across a 500m wide flats section where the water was flowing uniformly over a shallow sandy area. We gazing into the clear water while our guide Etienne walked the Arc across the flats looking for dark, moving shapes. Here and there between the weed we could see small groups of fish distributed across the sandy bottom. These small groups of fish where moving in the sandy bottom between the weed clumps. The trick was to cast about 2m in front of them and drift the “gotcha fly” past them along the bottom. Nic, my fishing partner, was at the ready to make his cast standing on the Arc platform. “2 o’clock 10m” barked Etienne. Nic familiar with fishing for Bonefish in Cuba fired the line out upstream of the fish. The weighted flies

quickly sank and started tumbled down the sandy lane towards the fish. Quick as a flash the bigger bonefish rushed in and ate the fly. All hell broke loose. The fish made its first run. If came to the net a beautiful glistening golden yellow colour. Sight fish small mouth Yellows on the flats is a pretty unique experience. Who would have thought that such an environment existed. Nick and I took turns to tempt these small mouth Yellows to eat and had an hour of fun before the drift downstream to camp called. But starting at the beginning this is my fourth trip on the Orange with the Hunterfisher crew.

David Pouter hauled them in!

Largies So those of you whom have done the 1000 casts for a largie listen up… Largies are not that difficult to catch…well certainly not in the right place and with the correct technique. The most productive spots where we took many mature largies was under overhanging branches where birds have roosted. The branches are usually cover in white guano. The boat is moving downstream so typically you may only get one or two shots at best at the honey hole. Line at the ready you need to fire the first shot in when positioned 45 degree upstream. This allows a short time for fly to sink and for a few strips before one is now perpendicular from the spot. This tiny window if fished with skill gives you a second shot at the same spot if you are quick on the cast.

The Author with a nice largie on the sculpin fly

Now having explained the casting part, the fly is critical. The fly has to plop onto the water exactly under these white branches. Exactly on this spot is no lie. A metre away just takes it out the zone. Bearing in mind the trees are within this 1m radius expect to catch a few branches in the course of the day. On this trip we were two to a boat so the second guy got lucky and he got to cast if this happened. Look the whole scenario passes in the flash and one needs to be on top of your game. Jacques on one of the day saw that Nic and I were spraying our cast too much so had us practice casting. Nick would cast at the bank and try land 50 cms from the weed and I would cast and try land on the exact spot his fly did. Did I mention we are both right handed. One of us had to back cast to the spot.

The Author with Miss Rubberlips

The Orange going for broke Andrew Mather

Shane Sclanders with a lively largie

Well there had to be someone that upset the applecart!

Fly choice was a heavy weighted sculpin fly tied with black rabbit zonker strips of the tail and palmered around the head. This ensured the right plop sund and the sink rate was fantastic. Sometimes when a cast is made a couple of largies, and smallies, for that matter, come up to look at what just dropped in. one of my spots three fish rose. They all looked the same size. First strip yielded nothing. A quick strip in and recast without any false casting put the fly back on the spot. This time I got a chase. Still no hookup. A third cast was tried…up, and back down. I saw the fish drive and felt the hit. A good fish that fought me deep. When it finally can out it was a 9lb smallie! Oh well you can’t win them all.

Fly lines choice was interesting. Some of the lads used intermediate and sink line. These were more effective in the larger pools where a lot of the thousand blind casts happened. At the honey holes the Rio 4 D line came into its own. This is a specialist line. Tip is a Sink 5 followed by a sink 3 section then a section of intermediate and finally a floating section. It seems like a super complicated set up but it works well for several reasons. The floating line makes it easy to lift off a longer cast then straight sink line. Casting across current seams can be better managed when you can see and work the floating section while the sink part does its thing.

This rapid was full of these large females

Nic Davies pulled this out the hat! Mike with his 95 cms largie Photo: Stelios Comninos

4lbs of gold

Accomodation streamside The sleeping accommodation is divided into two sleeper tents with stretchers to keep you off the ground. It’s useful to be off the ground out here as there are some things you don’t want crawling over you‌ like the scorpion Rob found on his bag one morning! A main tent serving as a kitchen/dining room is set up but mostly we just sat around the fire in the evening and ate while telling stories. Well the good news is that the Golden Shovel is no longer. A portapotty now takes its place and is a welcome improvement to the trip. Another winner was the hot showers. A craftly set up of a cooler box holding hot water and a small electric

powered water pump complete with shower head. A welcome improvement to washing in the river and having your dangly bits nibbled by small fish, but perhaps some chaps may disagree! The camp staff have the set up break down regime down to a fine art. Not once did we have to ewait for the camp to be set up. We walked in off the water to ice cold gin and tonics with ice! Last Night The last night is spent at Plato Lodge. Hot showers, probper beds and good home cooked Northern Cape cos put a fantastic end to this trip. All that was left was to drive home...1500 odd kilomters and dream/plan next years trip!

Mike Chisholm with another fat female

The killer fly of the trip Rob Hibbert with a beauty

Nymphing the rapids Nothing beats a good nymphing session for getting numbers! At one of the days overnight spots was the most magnificent rapids section with an island which split the river into two sections. Here the team of six happy anglers descended for a session that I have never experience to date. Eager large smallmouth yellows were a plenty. When I mean big it was not uncommon to catch a ten pounder and have her give your 6 weight a real rev. Yes nymphing with a 6 weight might appear to be overkill but mark

The armoury

my words several of the lads got smashed fishing 6 weights. When we first arrived we were greeted to spawning muddies along the banks. It wasn’t long before we had a few on the line. Damn this fish had shoulders and boy did they give a solid fight. David soon became the Muddy King as he hooked them one after another and had them sit on him. They have this habit of once hooked to somehow resist all efforts to move them from the spot they got hooked. Of one assumes that you have got hooked on rocks as there is no give at all. Only to wade over and see your line move sideways!

Dragon HUnter Fishing Safari

After a very successful 2019/2020 season in the Richtersveld in Namibia, we found ourselves with 24 hours to leave, and join the rest of the world in the uncertainty as the Covid 19 pandemic and panic spread through society at large. Although lockdown was relaxed for local travel, crossing borders was still impossible, and will be a risk for the foreseeable future. Having fished the Orange River from source to sea over the last 20 years, we opened google maps, and pulled out the little black book of contact details of those wonderful people we met during these adventures.

Blessing in disguise? Hunter Fisher prides itself, not just about the level of our guides, but also on our client’s overall experience. Our priority was to find a stretch of river that will give our clients the opportunity to land that trophy Dragon. A close second is that the logistical support still enables us to supply the highest level of service during the trip. Great food, access to friendly staff, enough ice, transfer support etc., are just as important to ensure you have an experience of a lifetime. After identifying a few stretches we knew from experience had amazing fishing, we connected with Gen and Lea from Plato Lodge. Having been involved in River Rafting for some time, this amazing desert lodge, just a short transfer from the get out point, hit the jack pot for us. Not only did we connect with amazing people that understand our needs, but they had access to an amazing untouched piece of the Orange river! Hunter Fisher have successfully negotiated exclusive launch and get out points to run this 22km stretch of untouched wilderness and fishing.

A Uniquely Satisfying Fishing Experience We will start fishing about 22km upstream from Plato Lodge, launching from Blaauputz. From the launch spot, the river turns away from all agricultural activity and is mostly inaccessible by car… read: zero fishing pressure from the locals . The river structure varies significantly over this 22km stretch. From rapids filled with huge Small Mouth Yellows to deep pools with great structure, ensuring a real chance at a Trophy Large Mouth Yellow. Or like we like to call these big boys – a real Dragon! Every day we start and end off the day at a rapid. Big Small Mouth yellows in numbers give you a good end and/or start to your fishing day. With the pressure to catch a fish off, we spend the fishing day slowly drifting from prime lie to the next prime lie, hunting these elusive Dragons. We will spend 2 nights at the third camp spot just because the fishing is incredible. This rapid has the best nymphing water full up with some of the biggest Smallies that both Jacques and I have ever experienced! And there are plenty to go around!

Excellent team and equipment Our customised inflatable rafts are manned by competent guides who keep the boat in position while the clients (2 per boat) can stand and cast at the fish. All the boats have electric trolling motors to make haste of the long pools, and rowing is done by the guides when it is suitable. This way clients do not have to tire themselves out by rowing.

They can rather expend their energy on what matters: fishing! The Hunterfisher support team operates in the background, setting up and breaking down the camps every day and moving them from spot to spot. They also ensure that you are well looked after in terms of cuisine. The team provide clients with delicious meals, keeping hungry anglers satisfied with traditional Northern Cape fare. And when you have had your fill of food and drink, the accommodation will ensure that you have a comfortable night’s sleep, to be fresh for each day of excellent fishing.

Itinerary Day 1:

Day 2,

Day 3:

Day 4:

Day 5:

Day 6:

Day 7:

Arrive Plato Lodge from 14h00. After book in, you will have the opportunity to do a quick afternoon session a few minutes drive down the road on Plato’s private stretch of Orange river. On registration you will be issued with a HF dry bags to safely store your personal belongings during the drift. After a great Northern Cape dinner, and a few drinks in the bar, you will retire for a good nights rest to get ready for 5 days on the water. Breakfast will be served at 7h00 sharp, after which you will be transferred to the put-in point where the Hunterfisher guides will eagerly await you to get you fishing and on the way to the first overnight camp at Elandsbay. The Hunter Fisher camp crew would by the time of your arrival, have pitched camp, ready with a cold one, to celebrate your catch. Leaving the camp crew to pack and move camp downstream to Skeleton coast, we will be fishing some big water with lots of structure toward our next camp. Probably one of the best Nymphing rapids we have seen on the Orange! We will stay at Skeleton coast fishing for big tippet snapping Small mouth yellows. We will not move camp, and sleep over here a second night. Now hold on to your 17lb tippet Dragon Hunters. From here to “ get out, the following day, has been described by the lucky few who has been here, as the best Largie water on the Orange! We will travel to our last camp, hunting for that trophy! We will sleep over at Leopards Leap camp, and hopefully all 3 boats can come in with the “Dragon” flag hoisted. After breakfast we will attack the last stretch of this epic piece of the Orange river, getting out at Platos private camp for a late lunch. You will be transferred back to the Lodge. After a dust off and shower, we meet up at the bar for a “lekker kuier” and great Northern Cape dinner. Departure after a good night’s sleep and healthy breakfast.

Hunterfisher offer two packages:A couples hosted trip for 5 fisherman and their respective partners (minimum 5 couples). A guided Trophy Large and Small mouth Yellowfish trip (maximum 6 anglers). For more information contact :Etienne Erasmus Cell: 082 613 9462 email: Jacques Marais Cell: 082 256 0966 email:

Field and stream Dullstroom Andrew Allman The Outlook from the cottage above Meike's Meir

We all have that preferred golf club, or special rod, a favourite fly or even our best loved rig that we return to when we need it most. We naturally try to grow our skills and keep up with the latest trends and technology but when we are experiencing a prolonged dry- patch or have not caught for a while, then no advice is better than our own repository of personal experience.

seemed to attach themselves to our hook. We also return to those favoured haunts where we know we are almost guaranteed a decent sized fish, coupled with a good night’s rest, in pleasant and tranquil surroundings. In a nutshell we return to venues which we believe will reduce our stress. Field and Steam is one of those places that seems to thrive on many happy returns. Some people first visited the farm 25 years ago and have been making the annual pilgrimage every year thereafter and see no reason to change now. Even youngsters who visit the waters for the first time, outwardly express their intention to return! I was anxious to find out exactly why and with the relaxation in lockdown rules, I was determined to put Field and Stream to the test.

Friendships are no different. Acquaintances are ten a penny and they will always be near when the goings are good but when your back is to the wall then your true buddies stand tall and it is to them you return for your escape or just for a listening ear. Fishing resorts also hold some significance for us. We remember the place where we caught our first trout, the spot where we hooked and then lost that monster trout or the site of the ‘honey hole’ where fish just Return to contents


Into this conundrum add a fishing buddy, whom we shall call Chris who 10 years ago, left the Highveld waters for the mountain streams of the Cape. Chris recently returned to Gauteng and was hell- bent on catching something a little bigger than the ‘fry’ he had come to appreciate in streams near his home. I have known Chris for many years and besides being a damn fine bloke, he has the further attribute of being a very good fisherman of all sorts. The offer to visit Field and Stream could not have come at a better time and I was more than happy to have Chris alongside me at the water’s edge.

I couldn’t have been happier to travel back to Dullstroom, a leisure paced 2.5hour journey from Johannesburg and with interprovincial travel once again opened up but with less people on the roads, the kms. just seemed to fly by. Once in Dullstroom, we were directed to Field and Stream turnoff which was around 9km from the town along the road to Tonteldoos. It was then another 2 km down to the cottages. Our accommodation was situated overlooking the dam, ‘Meike’s Meir’ with a weir (Williams’ Favourite) a bit further on and some hills in the far distance. Although the dry brown landscape of winter prevailed, the view from the covered veranda over the w a t e r, w a s s p l e n d i d . We f o u n d t h e accommodation to be comfortable and easily able to sleep four adults in two rooms, each with separate bathrooms and then there is a loft suitable for a few kids. I was informed that around 30% of Field and Stream guests are fly fishers who are free to fish two dams, a weir and when flowing freely, around 4km of the Witpoort river is available.

Some of us who write experientials know just how difficult it can be to catch fish almost on demand and then photograph them single- handed and release them safely back into the water. The stress to both fish and fisherman can be avoided if one is fortunate enough to have a companion to carry both the landing net and camera whilst shadowing the fly fisherman as he walks his beat. In our case, we decided to share the chore based on priority given to the “Fish On” call.

Prepping for a late afternoon session

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Most visitors are there just for the relaxation and I am told the area holds quite a bit of history. There are 5 units of accommodation suitable for 2 to 10 sleepers and the farm can sleep up to 30 guests at any one time. There is a boma and conference centre for those larger groups.

whom he treats with the same enthusiasm as his pet dogs. Greg introduced 2 production reservoirs to grow his fish up to a max of 2kg before they are introduced at various growth stages into the farm waters. Greg tries his best to emulate the right mix of trout sizes, that one would expect to find occurring naturally. I am informed that the farm do not only stock from these ponds , but have several other direct stockings from the hatcheries to supplement and add a few decent sized Browns to the mix.

Greg Williams, the Owner is hands on. The farm extends 926 fenced hectares and is home to both cattle and game. Greg built up everything from scratch and whilst he no longer resides on the farm, he visits there every day and is intimately involved in it’s running and most passionate regards his trout

Safely released

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The water clarity in both dams, being winter and with the source originating on the farm was seen to be of a very high quality and with not much foliage to hide behind, we did have to crouch or stand away from the water’s edge.

do in fact, catch. They suggest flies and tactics but as we all well know it comes down to how you find the water and handle the fishing on the day .The fishing can be quite technical at times and we did not experience very large daily catches either by ourselves or from those whom we met but that is not to say it does not ever happen!

I visited the growing ponds and was witness to a re- stocking exercise which will again be performed in a few months. This process is ongoing and ensures that there is abundance of trout. Greg informed me that fly fishers mainly practise catch and release with barbless hooks and that there are no real predators threatening his trout population. He believes the trout mortality rate is mostly due to natural causes and that through his stocking programme there are therefore some very large fish on the property.

Greg informed me of a strange natural phenomenon that occurs annually with the first rains when small tilapia somehow find their way into his farm waters and the trout become very aggressive in their attempts to hunt them down. I will make a mental note to contact Greg to ascertain when this happens again and hopefully will be in the area and can partake in the ’tilapia run’. We caught at both’ Meike’s Meir’ and ‘Matuka Dam’, did not fish the river and were not successful in the weir. To be fair, we did not give the latter much of a chance as

On that score, both Greg and Manager, Gavin go out of their way to ensure fly fishers

Early morning success

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Tranquillity over Meike’s Meir before the evening rise

Matuka Dam

we were not keen to cross the steppingstone wall to fish from the level ground on the far side. Our attempts were all from the rock ledges on lodge side of the weir which we saw had a deep drop- off into the water below but with the limited casting space, these efforts were rather half- hearted. There are some big fish in those dams and my preference is for ‘Matuka’ dam which is out of sight and away from any activity of the cottages but just a short walk/drive away. The dam is unusual in that part of the old wall was washed away and forms a channel between the original and new wall incorporating an enlarged area. That channel is deep and therefore considered a good holding spot. We caught on the western side of the dam and behind the Return to contents


aforementioned old wall. I am an average fly fisher, gaining most joy from the experience and not the catch. My buddy asked me to impart what I knew about nymphing. I am pleased to say that the student was most ardent in his ministrations and indeed bettered the teacher on the final scorecard. One aspect I feel worthy of account is the number of fish who followed the fly virtually to the water’s edge and then swerved away at the last instant. It was that micro moment of truth when you decided to stop or accelerate your retrieve that either left you with a grin or a frown. There would be absolute quiet and then from no- where an expletive charged the air and you knew that someone had made the wrong choice!

Matuka at dusk

We tried an array of flies suggested by those in the know , but at the end of the day we returned to some old favourites such as the black/green Woolly Bugger with flash, either fished alone or with a PTN dropper; with the latter being the most successful fly of the trip. This was all fished on intermediate line. ‘Meike’s Meir’ on the other hand, is particularly suitable to floating line and White Death is a killer when the sun has dropped and the trout have come out to play.

Aside from the fishing, there is hiking and prolific bird life with the sight of my favourite species, the Malachite Sunbird a welcome return for both my fishing buddy and I.

‘’Will I return’’? ‘’Do fish Swim’’?

Happiness is ...

PISCES PREDATOR PONTOON BOATS A REVIEW Pem Reyneke, a retired painting contractor from the KZN South Coast, called me up out of the blue to discuss kickboats. Unsolicited phone calls rarely get my attention but when they’re fishing related I’m known to put my feet up on my desk and chat away. He’s an engaging guy and a week or so later I stopped by to meet him and to check out his operation.

standards. He told me how he sourced the PVC used and had the manufacturer use a smaller weave, more emulsifiers and higher UV protection additives than the standard product. This all helps to make the material more supple to withstand being repeatedly inflated and deflated and to protect it from the sun. He tells me that he had to bond his house to afford the minimum order run of his first purchase of PVC, but asks that we don’t mention this to his wife.

First impressions count, and he left a good one. Pem is fixated on quality and reputation. “Oom Pem”, as he’s a f f e c t i o n a t e l y k n o w n i n b a s s c i rc l e s somehow still manages to remain excited about pontoon boats even after doing it for so many years. We walked through his workshop where he and one assistant make all of the components of the boats, from start to finish, and I couldn’t help but smile. “We’re like friends who work together”, Pem explained, and I could see that this is something that is deeply important to him.

To give you an idea of the durability of the material being used in the pontoons, Pem has his own boat strapped to the roof of his car and we had a good look at it. It looks as good as the pontoons being prepared for shipping - except that it had been on the roof for a year already. That’s pretty good going. The woven nylon stuff with the internal bladder has nothing close to this sort of durability.

In Pisces Predator Pem has mastered that difficult trick where you produce an object that is a little better than it needs to be, where it needs to be better. It is short on frills and long on value and quality. “Find a reasonable negative review anywhere”, he told me, “and I’ll discount your purchase”.

The pontoons carry a one year unconditional replacement guarantee on seam welding and material and a further five year free repair guarantee on seam welding. The boat is supplied with a patch kit, valve connector and four-rod holder.

These are extremely popular boats among bass anglers, and the fact that the sequentially numbered pontoons in the workshop carried tags somewhere in the low thousands, you’d think you’d find at least one bad review. Save yourself the time, there isn’t one. Pem makes the pontoons himself to ensure that they meet with his exacting

Road Tripping


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Reassuring Stability

I borrowed a model and used it extensively a week later on a trip to the Eastern Cape. I got to spend some real time on it and feel that I can give a pretty fair appraisal of it under various conditions.

help all that much. The seat on the Pisces Predator is level with the top of the pontoons. I’ve given this some thought and I’m kinda stumped on which I prefer. On one hand, dropping the seat even a few inches would have been great in the gale force winds that we had to fish in but, on the other, the extra height for casting and spotting fish was fantastic.

Let’s get this one out of the way pontoon boats hate wind. That’s a universal law. Without your legs dangling below it in the water like a keel, as they would on a conventional trout kickboat, these things tend to drift in the wind. Some manufacturers compensate for this by lowering the seat level to below the height of the top of the pontoons, but it doesn’t

You’re high and dry and the boat is so manoeuvrable that you get to feeling that you’ll be happy to put up with the wind for the added advantage of height.


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My backcasts usually tend to leave rooster tails across the water behind me but I can’t remember slapping the water once in all the time that I fished from the boat. A proper anchor is however an absolute necessity with any pontoon boat as you will pay the price for your extra height..

onto. This is no substitute for the wearing of proper safety devices, but it's a small comfort. The boat was developed originally for bass anglers. It has a rear section onto which an electric motor and battery can be mounted. The collapsable crate into which the boat and frame collapses doubles as storage space when it is clipped onto the inflated boat.

The Pisces Predator packs so small that it fits into its own tackle basket. The thing is lightweight and is unbelievably easy to assemble. Pieces clip together and are then “double locked” into place by the bolts that hold the seat down.

On the subject of electric motors, I don't know why trout anglers don't use them more often than they do. We use fins and as a result move backwards up weedbanks or structure; basically fishing into water that we've just paddled through. With an electric 'sneaker' motor behind you the angler can move forwards, fishing into undisturbed water.

The aluminium components are all powder coated and connectors have been selected to withstand extremely low temperatures without becoming brittle. This is not only a consideration for winter fishing in the high 'Berg as these kickboats now have an agent who is selling them in as far afield as Canada.

Pem specifically asked me for insight into what needs to be changed on the boat to make it more trout friendly. I haven’t come up with much outside of the adding of a stripping / line tray and a platform for an anchor and net where the battery would be.

When you have it assembled it the boat almost looks as though it’s missing something. I like that. I think it’s as zen as hell. I’m reaching that phase where I'm simplifying, and what I can leave out of my fishing gear is almost as important as what I bring along. Having a boat that is compact and light can only make it that much easier to live with.

Ok, so what about the price? I’m going to be straight-up about that: this boat is ridiculously inexpensive. It comes in two models with the larger of the two leaving you with change from five grand. Let’s get some perspective on that - it costs roughly the same as two decent PVC flylines and backing.

Despite its intentional simplicity the pontoon boat is remarkably stable. I initially did not inflate it nearly as hard as I should have, despite being told to, but it still never felt 'wobbly'. Despite having fought or landed several trout in the ten pound range from it at no time did I feel as though I could capsize the craft or slip off of it. With a double, independent pontoon system any mishap that might burst a pontoon still leaves you with one to hold

In summary, this is a value for money, nononsense, no-frills, high-quality boat that gets the job done. I’ve got one on my letter to Santa this year. For enquiries contact Pem Reyneke on 083 301 2851 or


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The River of the Giant Sea Trout: The River Karup Terkel Broe Christensen Denmark’s River Karup is probably one of the best fishing waters for trophy sea trout. In the world! Sea trout weighing more than 10 kilos (22 lb) are not common anywhere in the world. Not even on the River Karup. All the same, this river offers the chance of hooking large ‘specimen’ fish of that calibre. The river is definitely also worth a visit if sea trout in the 4-8 kilos (8-17 lb) range are enough to fulfil your wildest fishing dreams.

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The River Karup meanders, free-flowing and undammed, nearly 80 kilometres through some of Denmark’s most beautiful and unspoilt countryside. Its valley has been protected since the 1960s to prevent any harmful exploitation.

few sea trout in the 5-8 kilos (11-17 lb) range are caught. It was in this river that a local angler had his wildest fishing dreams come true, nearly 100 years ago. The fish he hooked and ultimately landed turned out to be a monster and an all-time record for sea trout caught in Denmark. Weighing in at 14.4 kilos (31 lb), this mighty fish beat the world record at the time it was caught back in 1929.

In other words, this is an idyllic place. It is when you take a closer look at the river’s stock of sea trout that your pulse really begins to race: the average weight is a stunning 4 kilos (8 lb), and every year quite a

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May springers Although the angling season opens on March 1, it is not until April-May that the first sea trout start their migration up the river. This early in the season, the fish are few and far between, making it a challenge to hook an early ‘springer’. From about June 1, there will be fish on most beats, on both the lower and upper sections of the river. The sea trout continue to run during summer and autumn until the season ends on October 31. The key to success The River Karup has a reputation as a difficult place to lure sea. Numerous factors have to be in place to do so. Having the right tackle, obviously, is one of them. Most important, though, is knowing the river well. Visiting anglers will soon realise that ‘river craft’ is so much more

important here than in most other rivers. This is because most sea trout fishing takes place in the evening, at night and in the early morning. In other words, you’ll be out there fishing for big fish in pitch darkness. Even with the right gear and a good knowledge of the river, you must be prepared to invest a lot of hours. Not because there’s a shortage of sea trout, but because these fish are so difficult to outwit. During a normal season, anglers land some 6 to 9 tonnes of sea trout in the river. This number translates into somewhere between 1,500 and 2,250 fish. Although you are allowed to kill sea trout you catch in River Karup, an increasing number of anglers are practising catch & release: today, about one in three sea trout landed in the river are released.

In the darkness

an impressive bulge in the water.

The best fishing is done at night because sea trout migrate under cover of darkness and early in the morning. You will typically start fishing just before the sun goes down and continue into the dark.

During the day, the fish hide away under the banks and in the deeper parts of the pools. As the light begins to fade after sunset, the fish become alert and active. Some trout will migrate further upstream whilst stationary fish move to the middle of the river and become particularly aware of what is moving near the surface of the water.

Quite often you will witness how the river comes alive as a huge fish passes, creating


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Surface flies

Learn to adapt to no light

What really sets night fishing for sea trout apart, are the wake flies used. Most anglers use black or dark-coloured tube flies to achieve maximum contrast against the surface.

To get the most out of night-time fishing, you should take the time to familiarize yourself with the location that you’re fishing while it’s still daylight. It’s much easier to fish a place you know well than one that is unfamiliar to you. Make a note of the obstacles that might get in your way, perhaps even sketch a map.

These semi-buoyant flies wobble in a lifelike way across the surface, causing a big wake so attractive to this species.

Pharyngeal teeth of a grass carp


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Another important thing to remember is that you’ll have to turn out day and night and start living an inverted fish-at-night, sleep-by-day routine.

will be no match for these strong fish.” Kenneth explains and continues: “My line is a floater and I use a 10-foot single-handed fly rod or a short doublehanded rod".

Fishing for information As most anglers will know, fishing for information is one of the best ways to shorten your learning curve. In line with this, I cast my line and hooked up with one of the local sea trout experts, Kenneth Nielsen, who knows all about fishing the River Karup.

Short shooting heads The choice of floating fly line is worth a few thoughts, Kenneth explains: “On a narrow and deep river like this, it can be advantageous to use an ultra-short shooting head. My favourite, a Zhort Zhooter from Zpey, measures only 6.6 metres and is designed by local fishermen for this type of fishing".

During a normal season, Kenneth will be ‘on the beat’ for up to 50 days or nights in his search for the river’s silver bars. I asked Kenneth if there were any hints and shortcuts he might have for night time sea trout anglers.

In the autumn, when the water is colder, it can be worthwhile to fish the fly slightly deeper. There is a simple way to do so without having to change to a sinking line, Kenneth says:

Robust gear “One key to successful night fishing is to simplify your gear, although it must be robust enough to cope with any large sea trout in the river. You will be penalised for fishing with equipment that is too flimsy. Your leader must be at least 0.35-0.40 millimetres, otherwise it

“I use a sinking poly-leader, sinking speed 3, which I connect to my floating line. This setup is also worth trying in the period after the weed in the river has been cut". 75

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Make the fly swim

across the river, it is time for a new cast. This is when a short shooting head turns out to be an advantage:

After casting his line downstream at close to a 45-degree angle, Kenneth lets the fly sink for half a second and then accelerates it: “I’m convinced that the sea trout’s feeding response is triggered by a fly moving surprisingly and at good speed. To achieve this, I raise the rod after the initial pause and retrieve a metre of line to make the fly accelerate.

“It’s piece of cake to lift a short shooting head free of the water and to make a new cast without any false casting, which is important. Just think what a fly line will do when it is whipped back and forth in the air just above the lie of a big a wary sea trout – with disturbing water droplets “raining” down from the line onto the water…

After the initial ‘sprint’, it is mainly left to the current to make the fly swing towards his own bank, though Kenneth will sometimes retrieve his line with a slow figure-of-eight. Then, as the fly nears the end of its drift, I slowly lift the rod in order to make the fly move attractively, right into the undercut bank.

Cover the lies slowly According to Kenneth, another key to success is the speed at which you move: “I often see anglers moving forward with two metres between each cast. The problem is that if you cover the water that fast there is a risk that the sea trout will only see the fly once or not see it at all".

No false casting Now that the fly has moved enticingly


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“Experience has taught me that the fish are teased by flies that repeatedly sweep over their lie. So when fishing at night, it’s better to take it easy than try to hustle all over the place. Nevertheless, Kenneth does acknowledge that two metres between each cast can be appropriate when fishing early in the season: “In April and May, when there are not many fish around, it is important to cover a lot of water. But as soon as I spot a fish, or when I know that there are fish in a certain place, I invariably slow down to half a metre at most between each cast.

Keep noise to a minimum “I would like to stress the importance of moving cautiously, walking softly and avoiding making noises that can spook the fish,” says Kenneth before concluding with a warning about the use of light at night: “Using a flashlight, or even the glow of a cigarette, can ruin your chances of catching a fish. And I can guarantee you, that even though you may not understand a word of Danish, you will have no difficulty understanding the shouts coming from upstream or downstream if you forget this and flash a torch about along the river!"

The average size of the fish is impressive in the River Karup. This sublime summer sea trout, caught by Kenneth Nielsen, weighed 7.3 kilos (16 lb).

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Kenneth Nielsen night fishing in August in the River Karup.

Sea trout during the day Night owls and early birds The pursuit of sea trout is not restricted to the twilight hours, it can continue during the day: with stealth and good presentation you can catch sea trout in even the brightest sunlight.

In the early morning hours, when ‘night owl’ sea trout fly-fishermen head home after a night’s concentrated effort, they’ll often meet ‘early birds’, because the quiet early morning hours are the favoured time of day for some anglers. Morning is a peaceful time of day, as midnight blue slowly turns to lighter blue before the sun finally rises.

Though catching sea trout during the day is considered very challenging, anglers fishing during daylight have demonstrated year after year that doing so can be most rewarding.

A local daytime expert

For the fly fisher, the only difference when it comes to tackle is that the fly has to be presented deeper – be that with a fully sinking line or a sinking poly-leader in combination with a floating line.

Allan Bells is one of the local anglers who fishes during the day. He starts fishing around 5 o’clock in the morning and continues for three or four hours.


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I asked Allan how his strategies differ from those that apply when fishing at night:

These can be tempted by a fly provided you don’t spook them.”

“First of all, I use a sinking line, sink rate 3, in order to present the fly temptingly close to the sea trout,” Allan explains and continues:

Allan will usually call it a day around 9 or 10 o’clock in the morning but not always: “Some days fish are active until 12 midday, and under those favourable circumstances, I will keep fishing for another couple of hours,”

“The fish I target are the morning fish that haven’t yet returned to their daytime shelter in the deepest holes and under the banks.

Many anglers wonder why the River Karup is home to so many and such big fish. The answer lies in the fishes’ genes. In this river, a larger percentage than normal have a genetic predisposition for staying longer at sea before returning to spawn. In any sea trout fishery, a code in the genes determines when the fish will become sexually mature. In most rivers, fish return to spawn after only 1 or 2 years at sea. Such fish will measure anything between 30 and 60 centimetres and weigh up to about 2.5 kilos (5.5 lb). In the River Karup, a large percentage of the sea trout are genetically programmed to stay 3 or 4 years at sea before their spawning run. The ocean can be compared to a vast pantry, and it is the extra year or two spent here that makes the big difference. A sea trout returning after four years in the ocean will measure anything from 60 to 110 centimetres. It is in this group you’ll find the ones that exceed that magic 10 kilo (22 lb) limit. Book a fishing guide Remember that on the River Karup most fishing is done in pitch darkness. Having a guide by your side, you will not only learn where and how to cast your fly. You will also avoid stumbling into that water-filled ditch you weren’t aware of! You can book your local angling guide at the Riverfisher website. Here you will also find plenty of interesting fishing tips and info on buying day tickets and how to become a member of one of the local angler’s associations. All the information is presented in both Danish, English and German:


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Fishing license and rules Local angler’s associations sell fishing licences for most stretches on the River Karup. A day ticket costs DKK 150-200 (EUR 20-27) and can be purchased at the grocery store in the town of Hagebro. Or buy your ticket on the internet at: If you plan to fish for several days, you can save money by joining one of the local angler’s associations. Find a list of the angler’s associations here: In addition to day tickets, anglers must purchase a national fishing licence: Accommodation The following suggested accommodations are accustomed to welcoming anglers and their owners possess considerable knowledge of the river and its fishing: Camping • Hessellund Camping Bed & Breakfast • Torp Annexe • Højbo Pension Self catering

Hendrik Potgieter LBS – Vlieghengeluitdaging Lizé-Mari Halgryn I’ve gone fishing thousands of times in my life, and I have never once felt unlucky or poorly paid for those hours on the water- William Tapply

Photo: Jopie Fourie

Vlieghengel is ‘n sportsoort wat gesien word as ‘n kuns. Dit is ‘n kombinasie van liefde vir die natuur en opwinding van ‘n groot vangs. As Suid-Afrikaners is ons ongelooflik bevoorreg om ‘n natuurlike oorvloed van vlieghengelbestemmings in ons land te hê. Wat is nou meer ontspannend as om gister se probleme agter te los en jou liefde vir Return to contents

vlieghengel saam met goeie vriende te geniet. Christi Swarts, Jacques Botha en stigters het hierdie geleentheid 9 jaar gelede raakgesien. In ‘n behoeftige gemeenskap soos Reddersburg het Hendrik Potgieter LBS die geleentheid geskep om ‘n verskil te maak. 86

Met medewerking van medestigters is ‘n droom gebore waar vriendskapsbande gebou word en finansiĂŤle hulp in die gemeenskap teruggeploeg kan word.

Hendrik Potgieter Landbouskool plaasgevind. Met groot verwagting en opwinding het vele deelnemers by Waschbank River Lodge naby Gariepdam bymekaargekom. Met Waschbank se flinke en profesionele diens het elkeen sommer vinnig tuis gevoel.

Tydens die naweek van 6-8 November 2020 het die jaarlikse Vlieghengelkompetisie van

Photo: Christi Swarts

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Lukie Beukes (Biologie-onderwyser) en Janus Fourie (Wiskunde-onderwyser) het gesorg vir etes, hantering van toerusting en punte-ontleding. Die kompetisie is volgens ‘n punteskaal, wat deur Dionne Craffort opgestel is en deur die jare ontwikkel het. Elke visspesie tel ‘n aantal punte volgens beskikbaarheid in die streek. Pierre Nel, ‘n veearts by die Departement Omgewingsake v a n d i e Vr y s t a a t e n v e r d e d i g e n d e kampioen, is met ‘n totaal van 111 punte as wenner bekroon. Gerrit Hattingh het ‘n

tweede plek behaal met ‘n totaal van 52 punte en ‘n derde plek is toegeken aan Jacques Botha met ‘n totaal van 42 punte. Deelnemers het ‘n totaal van 217 Kleinbekgeelvisse, 8 Onderbek, en 1 Grootbekgeelvisse gevang. Dr. Pierre Nel, Sielkundige van Bloemcare in Bloemfontein, het hierdie jaar vir die eerste keer deelgeneem en die kompetisie as ‘n naweek van positiewe belewenisse beskryf. Hy sê dat veral die pryse sy aandag getrek het en dat hy beslis volgende jaar weer sal inskryf.

Christi Swarts Photo:Pierre Nel

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Riaan Crowter was die deelnemer wat in slegs 30 sekondes die eerste vis gevang het. Hy is beloon met die gesogde eerste vis wissel trofee wat hy met trots bo sy braaier gehang het. Hy het verlede jaar ook die eerste vis gevang en hy sê dat dit volgende jaar ook syne is. Riaan is ook een van die hoofborge (Sleewijk Blouster Finansiële Adviesdienste) wat die hemde vanaf 2017 verskaf het en hierdie jaar ‘n bydrae gelewer het. Nashua Bloemfontein en Senforce tree

ook jaarliks as Hoofborge op. Die kompetisie het oor die jare bewys dat dit ‘n geleentheid is vir mense met ‘n passie vir Vlieghengel om bymekaar te kom en so hul passie met vriende uit te leef. Die 10de LBS Vlieghengeluitdaging word beplan vir die 12de en 13de November 2021. Om plek te bespreek, om as borg betrokke te raak of vir meer inligting kan Christi Swarts by 083 406 9187 gekontak word.

Wenner Pierre Nel Photo: Jopie Fourie Return to contents


Skaapsterjies Photo: Christi Swarts

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Eerste vis wisseltrofee Riaan Crowther Photo: Jopie Fourie Jacques Botha Photo: Christi Swarts

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Gerrie van der Merwe – A real mensch!

Gerrit Stephanus van der Merwe of Lunsklip Fisheries passed away unexpectedly on 31 October 2020. Born on 25 April 1946 in Germiston, “Oom Gerrie” as he was fondly and respectfully known to so many people, was a true gentleman who selflessly led the trout value chain and aquaculture.


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He matriculated in 1963 at Grey College in Bloemfontein and thereafter joined the South African Air Force in 1964 and completed his pilot’s training at Dunnottar. He flew Harvards as a member of 4 Squadron.

times, Stephan and Reinier were encouraged to take up the reins of the various aspects of the business that has become a leading trout producer in South Africa.

As the son of an ophthalmologist, he initially wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and study medicine. After his first year and some observation time in surgery, he realised that this was not to be his path. Gerrie studied BSc Agriculture at the University of Pretoria. There he met the love of his life Hannetjie (neé Bothma) in 1967. Gerrie graduated and they were married in 1970. In 1972, they moved to the Dullstroom area, where Gerrie managed a plantation for his uncle, Dr Jan Lion-Cachet on the top of the mountain on the Lunsklip river. They later acquired the property at the foot of the iconic waterfall. In 1978 he and Hannetjie moved down the mountain with their young children, Hannerie, Stephan and Reinier, to start the Lunsklip trout hatchery. The Land Bank would not grant a loan for a trout farm as this was not regarded as a proper “industry” at that time. He was thus forced to farm cattle, which he subsequently sold to fund the building of the the initial infrastructure and importation of trout ova. Gerrie was a pioneer who designed and built the farm from scratch. There was very little frame of reference or support at that time and he worked closely with the Department of Agriculture and Nature Conservation, which included the state trout hatchery in Lydenburg. They slowly grew and develped the farm, doing most things themselves, assisted by a loyal and committed staff team.

Gerrie van der Merwe was a real mensch – a Yiddish word that according to the Meriam Webster dictionary means "a person of integrity and honor". Another source “the Joys of Yiddish” explains it as "someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character. The key to being 'a real mensch' is nothing less than character, rectitude, dignity, a sense of what is right, responsible, decorous." and implies the rarity and value of that person's qualities - what the Romans called a vir bonus – “a good man” or in the more contemporary and less sexist context “a good person”.

They started by selling live trout for stocking the many flyfishing destinations that had become popular in Dullstroom and other surrounding areas by the 1980’s. Gerrie and Hannetjie attended many food shows and exhibitions to promote trout and build a market after which they started to process table fish and other products. In recent


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In 1987, Gerrie was awarded the “Farmer of the Year Award” by the Agricultural Writer’s Organisation of then Transvaal. He always emphasised that he practised mixed farming (aquaculture and other farming) in order for the farm to be sustainable. FOSAF awarded him its Exemplary Service Award.

Gerrie was guided throughout his life by his Christian faith which defined him. In so doing he was someone who “walked the walk” and set a genuine example in a quiet but determined way that let all who interacted with him understand clearly and unequivocally what values he stood for. In the words of Ian Cox: “His great ability was not only his innate decency, high intelligence, absolute integrity and shining love of for his wife and family, it was also that he was able somehow to hold the mirror of his qualities to those who prefer to do harm rather than good, without making enemies or becoming arrogant. Gerrie made good people better and bad people less so.”

Gerrie was a “big picture” person. He understood the need to organise and motivate people. He loved South Africa and firmly believed that her citizens could make things work together. With this in mind he drew people together, building alliances and friendships across the length and breadth of our fair land. Many people throughout the trout value chain consulted him for help and advice, which he always offered freely. He had a passion for aquaculture, but also for helping people succeed in various areas of their lives, on both professional and personal levels.

Gerrie was a family man who was very proud of his children, their spouses and his eight grandchildren. He’d often share their achievements with pride and warmth. He lived a life of love, with a mission to serve others. He was respected by everyone he came into contact with.

Gerrie was a natural leader who led by example. He served as chairman of various organisations throughout his life, including Mpumalanga Land Reform committee, the Badfontein Land Owner’s Association and Trout SA – to name but a few. He was instrumental in establishing the Mpumalanga Trout Association and Trout SA and served as commodity group’s representative on Aquaculture SA.

Gerrie lived his values and shared his passion for aquaculture and many other aspects of life in a way that enriched everyone who entered his orbit. His passing leaves a vacuum and all of us poorer. The best we can do, is try to follow the wise, committed and caring example he set. Go well good friend, rest in peace.


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Late November and early December has been storm-ridden in our part of world. Hectic lightning and thunder and huge hail (some as big as tennis balls) have wrought havoc with homes and vehicles. Being caught out in the open during one of these tempests could have seriously tragic consequences. A few years ago, one such storm damaged our roof (then made of Marseilles tiles) so badly it had to be completely replaced. I was most grateful to have paid my home insurance. I remain so aware of the loss so many worse off than us suffer at these times.

FOSAF’s court application relating to the then incumbent Minister’s failure to provide sufficient information to allow for meaningful representations and objections to the 2018 draft NEMBA AIS regulations and lists has still to be heard in court. Although we secured a court date for October the legal teams requested that the case be adjourned to new dates. These will be confirmed early in 2021. Your continued support for our efforts is highly appreciated and we will let you know once dates are confirmed. Since our last Tippet, the new Minister has published new NEMBA AIS lists and regulations. Trout are listed as invasive and various restricted activities essential to the value chain now require permits. Not only were we taken by surprise at this step by the Minister but the publication of these notices takes place against the backdrop that our other case is soon to be heard in court and if the consultation process is found wanting, the product of that process must surely be tainted. The notices have a serious flaw in that they make no provision for transitional arrangements. In addition, the notices do not give effect to the Phakisa principles agreed in 2014 and which informed the costly and time-consuming mapping process that we and other stakeholders engaged in with the Department.

In my previous Tippet editorial, I spoke about the important bond we as flyfishers have with aquaculture. It with a heavy heart that I must tell you about the passing of a true gentleman who selflessly led the trout value chain and aquaculture. Gerrie van der Merwe was a real mensch – a Yiddish word that implies the rarity and value of that person's qualities; what Ian Cox calls a vir bonus – the Roman concept of “a good man” or in the more contemporary and less sexist context “person” – he managed to build alliances and friendships across the length and breadth of our fair land. He was respected by everyone he came into contact with. His passing leaves all of us poorer and the best we can do, is try to follow the wise, committed and caring example he set.


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As a consequence, an urgent court interdict was brought against the Minister. H o w e v e r, a f t e r i n t e r v e n t i o n s f r o m Aquaculture SA, the case was settled on the basis that FOSAF would withdraw the interdict, but that the Minister would extend the coming into effect of the 2020 notices so that discussions could take place on how best to give effect to the 2014 agreed Phakisa principles and mapping process.

we have requested additional inputs from our supporters in order to make a further submission. Please contact the regional committees (see the website) if you’d like to contribute to this process. Turning to internal matters, for some years now we have been trying to find ways to make it easier for you to support FOSAF. With this in mind we have recently discussed and agreed to add a stop order option for contributions and membership. Details will be circulated shortly on how this simple and practical option can be used to facilitate your support of our many ceases and activities. If you do encounter any hiccoughs in using the new options please don’t hesitate to contact our secretariate Bronwyn Konigkramer at Some Club members did not receive prior correspondence because Bronwyn’s laptop was stolen and not all details had been backed up. We apologise for this and will endeavour to ensure we do better.

The Minister has set up a task team to engage in the the discussion process. This is proceeding well. Some possible options have been put forward for consideration by the parties and we hope to be able to report progress as soon as possible. One of the positive outcomes brought about by these precipitous developments has been the support we have received for our position in wanting to get the case heard and the Phakisa agreements implemented. We are grateful to SACRAA for its support of the principles and the fact that it agrees that the 2020 NEMBA AIS lists and regulations should remain suspended, pending the outcome of the case on the key content of what constitutes informed consultation. This is an extremely important development of solidarity for FOSAF’s approach and commitment to holding government to good governance principles.

One good consequence of the summer storms is that they provide much needed rain for the drought affected areas. South Africa is a drought prone country. This is something we tend to forget. Some areas have still to receive sufficient rains to break the drought conditions and regenerate their waters. This is essential to all the people living under these difficult conditions who rely on this for their livelihoods and survival. We hope that the cycle turns and that the Summer fishing is something to remember positively.

The draft: “National Freshwater (Inland) Wild Capture Fisheries Policy has been tabled before NEDLAC for discussion in that forum. We have received notice of a further discussion session on the draft policy. The revised draft version submitted to NEDLAC has been made available for public scrutiny. FOSAF has made provisional comment and

Yours on the line. Ilan Lax National Chairman FOSAF


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