November 2019 Southern African Flyfishing Magazine

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ISSN 1011-3681


Nov/Dec 2019 Vol. 33 No.175

Contents - Nov/Dec 2019

Editorial - Andrew Mather..............................................................................................................................................4 The usual editorial guff and a little more First Bite - Andrew Savs ..................................................................................................................................................6 A regular witty column on all things flyfishing and beyond The Art of Flyfishing - Brett van Rensburg.....................................................................................................................10 Myth v's Fact Heritage Flies : Part 5 - Peter Brigg...............................................................................................................................15 Historical series on South African Flies -The White death and the TVN Nymph GĂźnther Crous - Andrew Savides.................................................................................................................................19 An interview with an Artist The Orange River - Andrew Mather ............................................................................................................................26 Go Big or Go Home The Veniard Ant - Ed Herbst.........................................................................................................................................38 Anting the Hatch Get them wet, keep them wet - Alan Champkins....................................................................................................44 Watch them flourish Introducing the Savage Gear Hirider 170 Float Tube - Terry Babich.......................................................................55 A Review Slow and Easy does it! - Andrew Allman....................................................................................................................58 The 2019 Cape Piscatorial Society River Festival - Andrew Mather ........................................................................67 Women in Waders - Bianca Viljoen............................................................................................................................74 Going International Euro Nymphing as explained by some who can't - Ian Cox ..................................................................................84 Packing for a streamside emergency - Andrew Mather..........................................................................................91 Be prepared! What SANBI's National Biodiversity Assessment 2018 means for Angling and South Africa - Ian Cox...............93 Natal Fly Dressers Society - Jan Korrubel..................................................................................................................95 FOSAF News - Ilan Lax.................................................................................................................................................99

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!

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 (081 046 9107) CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS ISSUE: Andrew Allman, Terry Babich, Peter Brigg, Alan Champkins, Ian Cox, Ed Herbst, Jan Korrubel, Ilan Lax, Andrew Mather, Brett van Rensburg, Andrew Savs and Bianca Viljoen 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: Günther Crous

EDITORIAL What a week it has been for South Africa. The positive news on the sportfields has lifted the country. We have been badly in need of some positive energy. Over the last two months I’ve been exploring our beautiful country. The first trip was to the Richtersveld where the Orange River cuts a green swath through the arid landscape. This is a special place made even more special by the awesome fishery. As an urban dweller one realises in this environment how expansive the country is. No cell phone reception to interrupt ones fishing. Brute yellows to do battle with. It was a week that will live on in my mind. I’ve said this before and it bears repeating. We have worldclass fisheries right here in SA so before you blow your cash on exotic foreign destinations, do the local ones first. I also managed two weekends fishing the Cape streams. Well... one was washed out but that didn’t worry me, as it was great to meet and catch up with new and old friends at the Cape Piscatorial Society River festival. Oh the clarity of these streams! I love the challenge of getting a fly in the right place, land the fly gently and manage micro-drift. Getting it all right yields the reward in a stream where 12” fish are trophies! This month cover is rather different to the normal image we put up. It’s an image I and I guess many others can relate to. As a motorcycle rider/flyfisher and part time oil painter, it is just up my street. It bring up images of getting on my bike and just heading out into the country to ride and flyfish without a care. The only thing missing from the image is the owner’s art work. But that’s taken care of as we feature the bike’s owner later in the magazine. Finally as this will be the last edition before the holiday season, the editors would like to extend their sincere thanks to all the contributors whom have taken time to pen articles. The magazine has been richen by your contributions. To those thinking of writing or submitting an article, just do it. This is after all a non-profit community magazine. We have much to be thankful for. Tell us your story. Andrew Mather

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Telling Stories

Satisfaction Is Not Guaranteed Savs In another life I picture myself as what the papers would call a ‘roving correspondent’. I would travel the world with a single carry bag containing my notepad, camera and fly rod and submit to my editors Pulitzer-grade pieces from the banks of famous rivers, unexplored valleys or the edges of the most distant atolls. If you are picturing a sort of Lee Wulff cross Indiana Jones character you’re pretty much dead on target. As I take my seat it occurs to me that I’m nothing short of a pantomime of the globetrotting angler-slash-journalist. I’m dressed in a khaki SA Flyfishing Mag branded fishing shirt and my mandatory baseball cap has a fly pinned into it right next to a flyfishing mega-corporation logo. OK, granted, it’s not much of a fly, it’s not even one of those cool multicoloured articulated streamer with a PG16 name, it’s just a size 18 emerger on a light wire dry fly hook that I bit off my leader and was too lazy to put away the last time I was on a stream. The fly isn’t even visible in the obligatory preflight self-promotional selfie but screw airport security, I’m a hardcore flyfisher, bruh. What would really complete my look, and the object of my current adoration, is the oiled linen satchel that Doc has just placed in the locker above us. I’ll admit, I’m more than a little covetous of it; accessories are more important to us travelling hardcore flyfishing journalists than they are to teenage girls. Bruh. We’re airborne now and I’m alternately tapping these words into the screen of my iPhone or staring contemplatively out the window at what I think is the Eastern Cape screaming by some thirty thousand feet below us. Just to be clear, I was born in the metric age and have no workable concept of how far thirty thousand feet is. All I know


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is that when a trout breaches a foot in length it’s “decent” and the that sum of my knowledge of aeronautical facts has been entirely informed by watching Hollywood movies. While you may never take pause to think about it, movies are probably not the best source on the real nature or the reliability of air travel. In the mind of a screenwriter a plane is either at thirty thousand feet, falling quickly from thirty thousand feet or lying on the ground in a smoking heap of tangled metal and various scattered limbs after an uncontrolled descent from thirty thousand feet.

squeeze of an airplane ‘head’ - and there are no smoke detectors out there on the road either. In a truck you know exactly where you are and if you happen to become disorientated the countryside passes by slowly enough to work it out. In strong contrast to this, the highlights of this flight so far have been the two hour delay, the eyedropper volume can of warm coke (that is no longer free and which now costs exactly what a case of beer did back when I was a student) and the safety demonstration that climaxed in a demonstration of how to buckle and unbuckle a seat belt.

I force these thoughts from my mind and continue writing. I never planned to write up here, but Doc and I have exhausted all topics of conversation appropriate for a mode of transport where the stranger sitting next to you is nearer to you than some of your birthmarks.

I stare out again at the desiccated topography of what I’m sort of reasonably sure is the Eastern Cape. We occasionally pass through the most nebulous of clouds. I can’t help but wonder whether the population of the largely rural area below us are staring up at them in the hope that they carry the promise of rain. From where I’m sitting I can see that they don’t and that they are the meteorological equivalent of the tin foil stars that we would make as kids and suspended over our nativity scenes - a parody of the real thing.

Flying is horrible and I’m just not made for it. I’m a road-trip sort of guy. Garage shop pies, grey coffee and carbonated drinks in the right ambiance have a certain charm to them that even the best airline food fails to capture. Tapping the driver on the shoulder to pull over and peeing up against a tyre is an existential delight compared to the dank claustrophobic


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We’re thirty minutes in and I can’t sleep. In a few hours I’ll be thigh deep in a mountain stream and my mind is fixated on the various anxieties that this reality brings.

I mock, but I envy the guys who can sit at a vice and go through the same motions that I do, wind on the same feathers and twist on the same furs as I but whose flies are pieces of art and are nothing like my wanton butchery. Mine look for all the word as though they’ve suffered a savage blunt force trauma and are best suited to be photographed and used as warning labels on dubbing packets - Caution: Satisfaction Is Not Guaranteed.

Chief among these anxieties, and the source of my perennial angst, is the quality, number, effectiveness, durability and desirability of my flies. In a world where it’s easy from an airplane to write and upload one’s writing to a secure server located somewhere north of the arctic circle it’s no surprise that entire ‘online communities’ have proliferated around shared hobbies and interests. Fly tying is one of these and the number of websites and social media accounts dedicated to the art and mechanics of fly tying is astounding.

What some tiers are able to achieve is nothing short of astounding. As in the case of presentation salmon fly tying the hobby has split from the mainstream and operates parallel to, if not completely independently of actual angling.

This is an age where the approval of a trout is far less important than the affirmation from the ‘community’. The number of fish that rose to your pattern is inconsequential compared to the number of likes or shares or whatever the modern equivalent of a standing ovation is.

What is mind-blowing is that most of these patterns are one-offs. They have never and will never see water. That they may not float, sink or stay upright as designed and might explode on impact or after contact with a fish into a fog of their composite animal parts is not something that bothers the post-modern fly dresser. These are not fishing flies. Sure, their fish incredible slaying propensity will be affirmed in the comments section of the post, but they exist only to be tied, photographed, named and set aside to slip into obscurity.

It gets even more bizarre. Today you can be “pro staff” for a hook or a brand of glue. Think about that again. Take your time. Yo u c a n b e a n o f f i c i a l l y a p p o i n t e d endorser of what is, effectively, nail varnish. How exactly you go about being an official, appointed groupie for fancy nail varnish I’m not sure. Maybe you’re born with it?

Juxtapose all of this with the fact that one of the most effective flies around is an inch of red chenille bound to a medium wire hook and you start to get an idea of why new entrants to the sport battle to come to terms with it.

To be honest, the number of truly unique flies that have been contrived over the course of the last few decades is low. Most of what can be done has been done and everything else is a variation on an exiting theme. Occasionally a new ‘hot’ material or method will arrive and the clamour to incorporate it into an existing style or pattern and to pass it off as something new will reach fever pitch - but they all look just about the same to me. We all know that the new model of South Africa’s favourite bakkie is just the old one with a new grille and headlights.

Anyhow, we’re home now after a wonderful three days with good friends on some of the world’s most beautiful trout streams. I am restored, reinvogorated and it seems that my anxieties over the contents of my fly boxes was misplaced - some of my patterns caught fish and some didn’t. But this is how it is supposed to be. And life goes on.


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The Art of Flyfishing Myth vs Fact Brett van Rensburg To understand how to catch fish more consistently in both river and stillwater environments one must take into account all factors that affect the fish and how they feed. I have found over the years that being a consistent flyfisher is largely about your environmental awareness and your ability to adapt to these different conditions.

nymph hooks.

In this article we will explore and expose a number of “myths” or “facts” that I hear continuously when out on the water and, more importantly, I will use my years of competitive flyfishing experience to answer these questions and provide you with a few helpful tips that will improve your strike rate.

It doesn’t take much effort to debunk this myth either - just three weeks ago I found myself fighting and landing a 16lb largemouth yellowfish on a size 18 PTN nymph on 7X tippet.

While at some point many species of fish will have individuals that grow to the sort of size that they will become piscivorous and eat more fish than insects, lots of big ones continue to feed on bugs throughout their lives.

MYTH: The best time to fish is at sunrise. FACT: There is no single best time to fish. MYTH: Want to catch big trout? Use big flies. FACT: Well, kinda - maybe... This is always an interesting one for me as in competitive angling the number of fish caught are usually more important to us than the size of the fish caught. Having said that, there is nothing that anyone loves as much as catching big fish, me included. I can assure you however that you do not need big flies to do this - although I do concede that this myth is one that is perhaps mildly rooted in truth. For example, you probably aren’t going to catch a 12cm fish on a big, articulated streamer pattern. In this case, yes, your big fly will probably limit you to bigger fish and in some places where they are a problem you can upsize your fly to avoid catching very small fish. But you don’t have to use big flies if you want to catch big fish. Plenty of massive fish have been caught on size twenty


While for many fish species, and especially trout, this is somewhat true - but it is certainly not fact. Fish feed when food sources are available and plentiful. This occurs at different times of the day or night and can be affected by multiple factors. Personal experience has taught me that water temperature, weather, insect hatches, time of year, general insect availability, wind and sunlight all play their part in determining fish feeding times. I have caught many fish early in the morning, at midday when damsels and buzzers are moving and in the late afternoon in clouds of mayfly and caddis hatches. It’s all about watching the water and your surroundings, taking note of what’s happening and, importantly, fishing what the fish are looking to eat. Return to contents

MYTH: Fish have a five second memory. FACT: Fake news! I think not! Fish are smarter than we think and certainly remember a lot more than they are given credit for. Looking at the world of competitive flyfishing this could not be more apparent. You may drift a fly past a fish and get some interest, but as you do this over and over again the fish realises that he has no interest in that fly. This is why a change of fly will often bring a fish on the very first cast. Another example of this is how competitive anglers competing in World Championship events will change the colour of the indicator material on their Euro nymphing rig in the last session of a competition. This is because the fish have by then grown used to seeing the same colour indicator, have made an association and have become scared to feed when seeing it.

Myth: Fact:

Big flies catch big fish The author's 16lb largie on a size 16 PTN, a 3-weight and 7X tippet Verdict: Busted!

These two factors alone tell me that fish have the ability to remember and make decisions based on these memories. Boom! Myth Busted! MYTH: Trout change feeding habits based on air pressure changes. FACT: Well, it's not quite that simple. This one is actually true but not for the reasons that you expect. Many fishermen believe that barometric pressure changes have a physiological effect on the fish and this causes them to go off the bite. This is not the case at all! Pressure changes actually have an effect on the surrounding environment, weather and temperature which in turn cause insects to change their movements, hatch and general behaviour. We determined earlier in this article that fish feed more when there is more food around

to eat and we can logically determine that they will feed less when their food is hiding. Therefore we can call this one TRUE on the basis that pressure changes cause insect hatches and movements to slow down and in turn cause fish to feed less.

The clearer the river, the more chance you have spooking the fish by ‘lining’ the fish or by false casting over it. When fishing clear streams remember to fish smaller flies, longer leaders, natural colours and to wade carefully.

MYTH: If you fall in the river with your waders on you will sink. FACT: I’ve tried, but I can’t prove this.

Most river fish feed higher up towards the surface and when the sun is high and this allows them to watch out for predators that might want to eat them. This means they will easily pick up the flash of your line as it flies over their head.

I must say, I actually had to test this one out for myself to confirm it. Guess what? I am still here. It is, actually, a myth. As your waders become full you become neutrally buoyant in the water and don’t sink. The big problem is the weight of your kit and boots make it very difficult to swim. So, if you take a tumble remember this before you chuck your rod away in panic.

Try to minimise the number of false casts you require when throwing a fly and especially if you’re presenting a dry fly. If a longer cast is required try to cast away from the fish and turn to cast the line to the intended point at the last second. This simple trick will result in a lot more eats of your fly.

[Editors note: Safety first! Practice in a shallow pool and know your limitations when wading. Please don't try to prove Brett wrong!]

MYTH: Flyfishing means having to know a lot of knots FACT: Nah, not really.

MYTH: Flyfishing is just for men. FACT: Oh for heaven’s sake!

Myth! This simply not the case, unless of course you consider three a lot. For me fresh water flyfishing can be taken care of with three knots:

This myth gets reinforced every time we see a commercial that has been set on a pond or a stream because it’s always men who cast their lines. NO WAYS, this is just a stereotype.

✓ The quick penny knot to tie your flies to the tippet. ✓ A Duncan or double-uni knot to join mono-filament lines together. ✓ A surgeon’s knot to tie on droppers.

This sport is for all regardless of race, gender, weight and size. Catching fish is just fun and it is important that we get the youth involved early and even more important that we get the female youth fishing. There are plenty of women who enjoy fly fishing and who are excellent at it. Women of all ages represent the fastest growing demographic in the sport of fly fishing in both Europe and America.

It’s as simple as that. Instructions for the tying of all of these knots can be found on the internet and they are easy to learn to tie. Are there other knots that will help you become a better fisherman going forward? Certainly, however when starting out these will get you a long way. MYTH: You’ll catch more fish on lures or bait. FACT: Pffffffffft.

MYTH: False casting over a fish will spook it. FACT: False casting over a fish will spook it.

You must be kidding! Ok, so I am clearly a flyfisher through-and-through, but this is such

Ohhhhh yes, this is so true!


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a tired falsehood that I have quit arguing with or trying to convince the worm-drowner, spoon-chucker or crab-tosser otherwise. Whether salt or freshwater, flies systematically outperform other modes of fishing when fished by the average fly caster.

damage to your drift than is gained by an upstream approach. Downstream nymphing has its up and downsides too. By weighting your flies correctly you are able to systematically move your flies into a feeding fish’s view without spooking it. You can also hold the flies in one place providing the time it takes for the fish to move up and feed. Because there is no cast you will not ‘line’ a fish or scare the fish as the flies land. The largest advantage in my opinion is the fact that your line is pulled tight by the flow of the water and therefore your fly is tight against the reel. Often a strike is not required when a fish eats downstream because the tension on the fly and tippet causes the fish to hook itself. Conversely, you need to be cautious as if the fish bites hard you could easily be snapped off. Another negative that the strike is in an upstream direction and you could pull the fly out of the fish's mouth - this is obviously counterproductive

It’s simple, flyfishers use flies that look like the insects and bait fish patterns that fish like to eat. We can manipulate depth, movement, drift and size very easily. In doing so we are able to give the fish exactly what they want, how they want it. Quite frankly, our work rate is substantially higher than the average fisherman not holding a fly rod. One perfect example of this is the polite conversation with bank anglers when stepping off the Vaal after a mornings fishing. On a good day the average flyfisher will have anywhere between ten and fifty fish. When asking bank anglers how their morning has gone the typical response is substantially lower than this. MYTH: Nymphing upstream is more effective than downstream. FACT: Let's agree to disagree.

Unfortunately I am going to leave this one as unsolved noting that both techniques have their advantages. For me one should assess the situation and conditions and make the correct call based on all these factors. A small tip from my side: I will often make use of both techniques and alternate between the two of them regularly. Using this methodology the results have been good to me so far.

Now on this one I need to be careful because there is a massive difference in opinion when it comes to these schools of thought. Each has its own pros and cons. When Euro nymphing upstream you are able to control the drift better as you can manipulate your rod and line and obtain the most natural drift. We all know that the more natural the drift the better chance you have of getting the fish to feed. With simple changes in arm and rod positioning you can also very easily adjust the position of the flies in the column of water that they drift through, which means that you can keep your flies in the feeding zone in the column of water very easily and for long periods of time.

Good luck out there! Brett van Rensburg @flyfishing_sa

On the flip side, when catching smaller fish your strike needs to be near perfect as the fish’s mouth is small and the bite happens quickly. Also, wind can cause major havoc when fishing a high stick causing more


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Heritage Flies - Part 5 The White Death and the TVN Nymph. Peter Brigg The White Death -1981

have a look at Robin’s full and interesting story of how the White Death came about in Chapter 9 of South African Fishing Flies. An anthology of milestone patterns, (Struik Lifestyle 2017).

The White Death is a good example of an observant, thinking angler applying practical experience to creating a fly that will successfully fool fish when they were keyed onto a specific insect to the exclusion of almost all else. Robin Fick the creator of the White Death is just such an angler and accomplished fly tyer. The importance of observation while on the water, taking notice of the feeding behaviour of the fish and the life-cycle stages of the insects being imitated, cannot be over emphasised in applying what one has learnt to tying relevant patterns.

Robin added this anecdote about the White Death’s beginnings - “This fly will be the death of all trout in this dam,” said Jan de Jager his fishing companion and so the name was created for this all-white fly, the ‘White Death’. It became a standard for fishing the evening rise in Natal and as local anglers moved to other centres, so they spread the word. I left Natal in 1985, lived in Cape Town until 1990 and then moved to the Garden Route and only then did I see the White Death in Dean Riphagen’s Book, The

For further reading it is suggest that you


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South African Fly Fishing Handbook (New Holland Publishers (UK) Ltd 1998) and subsequent magazine articles, and realised that the fly had become so popular. I also

discovered much later that this fly had caught trout all over South Africa and Europe.

John Beams with Mark McKereth is from Tom Sutcliffe's photo archive.

Dressing Hook - Tiemco 2302 in sizes 8 to 18. Thread - 6/0 White. Body - White chenille. Underwing (optional) - Pearlescent Krystal Flash. Overwing - White marabou.


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TVN Nymph later version TVN Nymph – 1985

November 2003, fly fishing for Yellowfish was practised throughout the country and anglers sought to catch all six species found in South Africa on fly. The many effective patterns for Yellowfish have expanded exponentially with the rapidly developing interest of flyfishers in targeting the various species.

If the Walker’s Killer is South Africa’s most iconic fly then Theo van Niekerk’s TVN Nymph, which was tied to imitate a fresh water mussel, Corbicula fluminalis, found in the Vaal River, was the fly of the century. It was to have a profound impact throughout the country and its influence endures to this day – not because of its intrinsic qualities as a fly or because it possessed any specific powers of attraction, but because it changed a mindset.

In the 1980s there were not the range of materials that we have today and in many instances fly tyers made do with everyday items for their creations. Theo van Niekerk’s first TVN Nymphs were no exception, heavily weighted, body of embroidery thread, head of clipped deer hair and with the ribbing and tail of gold paper cut to shape it is said, from the wrapping of a Crunchie chocolate bar. Unable to find a perfect original, the flies in the picture were tied by Theo, but clearly have been used and eaten by a few Yellowfish. Subsequently, changes were made incorporating orange embroidery thread tail and tinsel ribbing. It was also scaled down in style to represent a typical nymph pattern to imitate mayfly nymphs and even caddis.

For sound reason the February 1985 issue o f T i g h t L i n e s / S t y w e Ly n e m a g a z i n e d e s c r i b e d Va n N i e k e r k ’ s p i o n e e r i n g experiments as the most important discovery of the previous half century. However, the point must be made that as early as the mid-1800s it was recorded that yellowish were being caught on a fly known as the Kom Gou, thought to be the oldest locally tied fly, circa 1855, creator unknown. A traditional British styled wet fly that Bertie Benion recorded was used for Yellowfish well before the 1920s until it became a popular trout fly after their introduction in the late 1800s. However, the TVN Nymph was certainly a standout, milestone pattern during the pioneering days and has been recognised as such.

A more detailed account of the TVN Nymph by Ed Herbst can be found at http://

By the time Van Niekerk died on 6


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original version Original RAB tiedTVN by Tony Biggs


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GüNTHER CROUS An Interview With An Artist Savs "Everything about fly fishing is art to me. I would frame anything flyfishing related and hang it on my wall." Picture the scene, a warm suburban midwinter Saturday morning a few months back. I should be cleaning the pool, going for a haircut or using my gym card for the first time but I’m halfway through my second cup of coffee and congratulating myself on how well the day is panning out. My phone beeps in my pocket and I idly fish it out and open the incoming message. It’s from a friend who understands and shares my interests. “Oh my word!”, or words to that effect, it says, “Check this guy out!” and I squint my middle-aged eyes at the screen to see a profile image of a guy standing next to a custom Harley Davidson. “Cool bike”, I think, flopping my phone back into my shorts and continuing to stare vacantly towards the horizon. It’s a full week later before I stalk his facebook profile and have a “Oh my word!” moment of my own. It’s not the bike that captures my attention, although it’s way cool, but his artwork. I go from stalker to screaming, arm-waving, drooling fan in a matter of seconds. The man’s work is incredible. I recently took the time to catch up with Günther and discovered, once again, just how much talent we have tucked into every corner of this country. Tell us something about yourself. Family, career, where you live, that sort of thing.


I was born in the small farming community of Bothaville in 1972. I have been living on the outskirts of Bethlehem since 2001 with my wife and two teenage children. I’ve been a teacher for the past 21 years. I think I was well on my way to becoming a hermit if good fortune did not introduce me to my now wife. I get you, most of the guys I fish with could easily slip into a hermit’s life, and some are well on their way already. You’re obviously an art teacher. No, I teach Special Education (LSEN) Skills training in welding and wood. Ok, I didn’t see that coming, but in a country with scarce skills I think that’s really cool. When did you begin fly fishing? I bought a fly rod during my varsity years but only got seriously hooked in 2013 when one of my fishing friends, Tiaan Labuschagne, loaned me a proper fly rod and under his guidance I was able to land my first fish at Sterkfontein. The rest is history. Like the rest of us did you come from a bait / papgooi / spin fishing background or did you go straight to the fly? My parents used to enjoy papgooi and we would camp next to the Vaal. They’re special memories but the papgooi never really became a keen interest of mine. Return to contents

Everything about fly fishing is art to me. I would frame anything flyfishing related and hang it on my wall.

work wet on wet – it’s a very forgiving medium to work in. I’ve loved doing figurative and landscape work but since my flyfishing addiction started there is no turning back. I take a lot of photos and use them as a reference for my paintings.

A kindred spirit. Where do you most often fish? I am in the privileged position to live in the Bethlehem / Clarens area with the beautiful Ash River, Liebenbergsvlei, local stocked farm dams and Sterkfonteindam close by (less than a 60 min drive.)

I have a very strong viewpoint against the idea of an artist copying work from the internet and selling it as their own. I completed one painting of a brook trout using an internet photo (a gift to a friend) but only after I received special permission from the American photographer.

Are you formally trained as an artist? No/Yes - I did elementary art (teaching) at Teachers College, but the rest is self-taught and result of short courses that I attended over the years.

Fish are like the mountains, their ever-changing colours are hypnotising

I started in primary school mostly with pencil drawings of figures, faces and cartoons. I only started with (oil) painting in 2006. I like to


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Respect! The internet has seen artists and creators being ripped off on an industrial scale. Brookies are insanely beautiful and with their colours and markings and must be challenging to capture. What is your favourite fish to paint?

I have no preference but it is always a welcome challenge to try and capture the emotions of the angler present. That’s something that you really get right. When you watch an angler working he has a very distinct body attitude and way of moving. It’s something that many other artists just can’t seem to capture and the angler looks wooden. In terms of medium what is your favourite or most common medium to capture this all in?

Fish are like the mountains, their everchanging colours are hypnotising. Any fish at a given time is beautiful but trout wins the race at the moment. I’ve made an enormous frame of 2.2mx1.2m that I would like to fill with paintings of all our indigenous fresh water fish.

Oil, oil and oil. I also enjoy mixed media – oil, charcoal and ink.

That’s a really cool idea and local is lekker. How do you actually select what to paint? Do you prefer painting the fish or the angler and the fish? How do you go about it?

Oil, oil and oil ? Every Harley owner’s driveway. You had a profile image with a fantastic Harley custom in it that first caught my eye? Do you ride?


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Yes, I’m passionate about motorcycles. At first it was old BMW Boxers but now love my customised HD Shovelhead (1975 Shovelhead, 1942 (10/12) Rigged frame). I also have two smaller Japanese (mid 70’) motorcycles.

way. I also do framing (synthetic or wood) so I can provide the whole package.

Do you take commissions for work? I know a lot of people who are avid fans and collectors of flyfishing art. Yes, I do take commissions if they come my

I wish I could fish all of the small streams and stillwaters near Rhodes and Maclear and I’ve made a start by booking for December 2019 at Vrederus,

What is on your fishing and painting bucket list and if you could fish with one person who would it be?


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The ultimate experience for me would be the Limay River in Patagonia, Argentina. I want to paint wild trout from remote areas in Chile or Argentina that I photographed myself.

I’ve seen the photo that I think is your reference for the trout eye and I can’t wait to see the finished piece. Favourite artist or one that inspires you? If Rembrandt and Van Gogh could just be one person…

I’d love to fish with Yvon Chouinard or Douglas Tompkins (sadly no longer with us) – I think our conversation would have started with religion and moved over to conservation.

Can you imagine Van Gogh’s take on a brookie! Who is your favourite fish / outdoors artist?

What are you working on at the moment?

Marcel Terblanche locally and David Miller internationally.

I’m busy preparing a canvas to capture the intricate detail of the trout eye. I’m also busy experimenting with soldering iron on wood.

Thanks Günther, this has been an absolute pleasure. Send us a pic of a wild Patagonian fish one day - we’d give anything to see it.


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The Orange River go big or go home Andrew Mather

The Orange going for broke Andrew Mather

We awoke to a scene of a thin ribbon of green vegetation and turquoise water threaded through a backdrop of bare twisted rock mountains, glowing in the early morning sunlight. Stark, hot and unforgiving anywhere away from the water. Lurking in the turquoise water are the quarry we have come to find. Labobarbus kimberyensis or Large Mouth Yellowfish is the apex predator in these waters. Amongst these Largies are Small Mouth Yellowfish as well as Barbel, Kuiper, Mudfish and a few barbs. The put-in point is one of the few roads in the area and was created by diamond miner actively mining the river deposits along the floodplain. From here down the next 27kms there was no road access or cell phone reception. You can only come out downstream.

Camps were set up by the advance party and consisted of individual tents with stretchers that sleep two and a lounge/ kitchen tent for meals and somewhere to sit out the sun. The first morning we were all introduced to the GOLDEN SPADE. An essential piece of kit. It was placed in a prime spot with an accompanying roll of toilet paper that left you with no doubt as to its purpose. Clear instructions were given about its use including the stick to mark the scene of the crime! All went well for the first two days then disaster struck. The camp’s supplies of toilet rolls got wet! Well of course the joke about using only one square of toilet paper was told. Fortunately several of us had brought along a spare roll packed in our dry bags like good Boy Scouts and the day was saved.

Since I’m on the subject, bathing had its own hazards. Our trip did not have a special shower cubicle, nor did we have hot water. The river provided for both. It was a common sight after a day’s trip to see one of the guys stripped off and lathering himself in the river. To rinse off one had to submerge one’s self in the river. This is when you are the most vulnerable. Small tilapia or yellows nibble your feet and once submerged proceed to nibble the softer extremities dangling in the water. Well you pretty much finish rinsing

as quickly as possible. The Orange is a special river. Sometimes is wide and riffled and other times its narrow and raging through rocky gorges. The water flow is fast and water depth is deep, exactly where we were to find the biggest largies. The challenge is to get down, impact a natural action to the fly and swing it across the current.

Evenings can be cold, pack a warm jacket Photo: Stelios Comninos

Mike with his 95 cms largie Photo: Stelios Comninos

Stelios with his 84 cms largie

A cast across the river followed by mends while keeping in touch became the adopted technique. An erratic retrieval and hopefully you feel weight…dead weight… just before the line goes screeching out again. Let it run. Then start bringing line in again. Don’t expect a short fight. One of the lads took 40mins to land his 95cm largie. Not bad for his first Largie! It’s going be a long time before he breaks that…well unless he goes back on the Orange again. Rumours abound of over 100cms Largies. I heard the shouting before I saw it. At first it was not clear what was going on. I had just gone to refresh my Gin and Tonic when it happened. Rushing outside drink in hand, the scene that greeted me in the dying light of day was a surprise. The drone that had been launched to capture footage of the

Nick with a trophy largie Photo: Stelios Comninos

camp was on the far side of the Orange and in the water. Repeated attempts to lift out the water failed until the drone disappeared below the water. Quick as a flash the guide stripped off all his clothes and ran down to the river to swim downstream of the crash site. The others quickly launched an Arc to get across. Searching downstream of the crash site didn’t yield anything…and it was not from a lack of trying. By this stage the Arc had made it over the river and there in the depths the drone’s lights continued to flash underwater. The owner threw himself over board and grasped the drone. Frantic stripping of the battery and drying out began but we didn’t hold out much hope of it working ever again. These are just some of the antics on the mighty Orange.

Sometimes things can go wrong once the Largie figures out the hook pain. Invariably they take off like an express train. Two things to have done before this happens…one ensure you have enough backing and two that the backing is not rotten. Names have been withheld to protect the individuals concerned. Angler 1 had only 100m of backing on his reel. He started screaming when he started to see the inner spool of his reel. Quick as a flash the guide picked him up and ran in the direction of the fish shouting ”reel… reel…reel”. Thirty metres downstream, with at least some backing the angler could fight the fish and successfully landed a

beautiful 84 cm Largie. Not bad for his first Largie! Angler 2 wasn’t so lucky. The fish set off at pace taking his fly line and then a substantial amount of backing before the backing snapped. He lost the Largie in the blink of an eye. The line was subsequently recovered the following day about 1 km downstream sans the Largie! Moral of the story in both cases is make sure you have enough backing and that it is in tip top condition. (Editors note: names have been withheld to save the anglers from any further embassasment!)

Photo: Stelios Comninos

Bycatch…. often a problem if you are targeting specific species with a particular rod set up. I fished a 7 weight for largies and while dragging a streamer pattern, I’d get Smallies as bycatch. Look I’m not complaining. The biggest Smallie was 70cm long.

see last edition of this magazine) about tactics as he had recently returned from the Orange. He was quick to point out that he struggled with his three weight and it’s another lesson to remember for next time. Pack a 4 or 5 weight for nymphing. You just don’t know when a Largie or a record Smallie will test you.

The problem becomes apparent when one is nymphing with a 3 weight. Smaliies are manageable but Largies are just unplayable. Well maybe my angling skills aren’t the best and a better angler might have been more successful or not. Before the trip I had a chat to Richard Gorlei (current World Master Flyfishing Champion –

There are about eight operators running trips along the Orange from near Augrabies down to the coast and each of these operators has structured slightly different packages to suit both budget and degree of luxury wanted. One is spoilt for choice. Take it from me…you won’t regret an experience like this!

Stelios in action

Clit mountain...a local landmark Photo: Stelios Comninos

Packing for the Orange You need to pack only essentials as boat space on a drift is minimal. I suggest two bags, a dry bag for camp every night and a day bag for the river. Bag 1 - A boat bag (or a dry bag) with the stuff you need on the river. I used a dry bag this trip but these suffer one major issue. The very thing you need is always at the bottom of the bag! Everything has to come out as you mine the contents. The suggestion made to me by a seasoned drifter is to use a boat bag. This can be zipped open and contents accessed much easier. Tippet, tippet rings and leaders Spare Reels Rain jacket Sunscreen Spare cap and buff. Medicine and a small waterproof first aid kit. Spare toilet paper in a waterproof bag. Flies Bag 2 – Camp bag (a good dry bag of approximately 50 liters) Sleeping bag Pillow (inflatable or feather - personal preference) Toiletries Washing line cord and clothes pegs Biodegradable soap (use to wash yourself and clothes) Thermals/tracksuit/kikoy and T-shirt for wearing around camp and sleeping Warm jacket Crocs or similar footwear for around the camp Optional extras A second set of quick dry longs and shirt. This is not essential as each day it’s easy to wash and dry your fishing clothes overnight. This is a fishing trip after all!


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The ideal mode of transport on the Orange Photo: Stelios Comninos

The author on the Holsloot stream with a Steve Boshoff rod and a trout which took an ant pattern. Photo: Tom Sutcliffe

Tying the Veniard Ant Anting the Hatch

Ed Herbst “He cast the small ant pa-ern onto fast water in the neck above the deep Willow Pool and found himself fast to a good fish of about a kilogram which took the li-le fly ravenously. The trout was duly landed and when cleaned was found to contain a fully grown field mouse – and yet could not resist that Any ant.” Tony Ritchie, Dry Fly-Fishing for Trout. Kangaroo Press, 1994. When I started fly fishing in the late 1970s, Fly Fisherman magazine was a valued source of information and everything I read, at the time and subsequently, led me to believe that if trout in streams was your quarry, then the ant was an indispensable pattern. It was an article, “Anting the Hatch” by Ken Miyata in the July /October, 1982 issue of Fly Fisherman that alerted fly fishers to the fact that trout that are locked onto a hatch of mayflies or caddis will abandon this selective feeding if an ant – or an imitation thereof – becomes available. Miyata who had had a Phd. in zoology and was a fellow of the Smithsonian Institute,

drowned while fishing the Big Horn River in Montana on October 14, 1983 but his phrase, “Anting the Hatch” not only endures but testifies to the efficacy of ant imitations at all times. Other anglers added to the consensus and #16 ants of folded deerhair as used by anglers like Chauncey Lively, George Harvey and Dave Whitlock became the favourite pattern on demanding streams such as the LeTort Spring Run in Pennsylvania. The next breakthrough was the McMurray Ant and it was so effective that Art Lee called it ‘the deadliest fly to shake hands with a leader.'

“McMurray flies are the brainchild of Ed Sutryn of McMurray, Pennsylvania. They're aquatic and terrestrial imitations characterised by small beads of painted balsa wood strung on monofilament and lashed to the hook shank for bodies, and more conventional hackle for other parts. The McMurray Ant was the prototype for the series and is the centre of cult worship in some quarters.” Chuck and Sharon Tryon, Figuring Out Flies – A Practical Guide. “When I tried the fly out on several streams I knew I had a winner. On limestone streams where I had been habitually skunked, the trout took the ant so deliberately and innocently that my conscience even bothered me.” Ed Sutryn, inventor of the McMurray Ant, quoted in Gerald Almy’s Tying and Fishing the Terrestrials.


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“During public appearances I'm often asked what dry fly I'd choose if I only had one to fish with. I've always answered less than enthusiastically, the Adams. Now, however, I've changed that tune, and my answer is born of confidence. If I had only one fly - wet or dry - to fish from ice-out to the first freeze of the following winter, make it the McMurray Ant, the deadliest pattern, I believe, ever to shake hands with a leader.” Art Lee, Fishing Dry Flies for Trout on Rivers and Streams.

Orvis, ever-quick to embrace market trends, brought out a black foam cylinder with a white tip called the Quick-Sight Ant. I ordered a dozen and a popped them into a bottle of Loon Hydrostop to waterproof them before I started tying. What I did not realise was that the white tips were glued to the black section and the Hydrostop dissolved the glue ….

Later, I started using a sinking #18 ant made with flattened copper wire covered in Sally Hansen’s nail polish. Fished with a strike indicator, it proved extremely effective.

Tootsie Roll

In a recent book Nymph Masters, a dozen of the most prominent nymph anglers in the USA are asked to select their favourite sunken patterns and Lefty Kreh chooses a sunken epoxy ant among his favourites.

A derivative of this pattern called the Tootsie Roll is a favourite of American guides and a Google search will reveal several videos on the tying process

In Lesotho, angler like Edward Truter and Gordon van der Spuy fish their foam rubber ‘Balbyter’ pattern with legs of micro-crystal flash.

Tim Flagler has a brilliant video on the Orvis website showing a simple and effective way to use the Quick Sight body.

Ingenious ant body

Some 30 years ago when I was fishing the Holsloot stream near Worcester with Tony Biggs, he asked me to keep a few trout for his father-in-law who made a delicious pâté. On cleaning the first trout I caught, I found a tiny ant in its mouth and one in its gullet and I realised that each ant had been individually targeted and captured in swift currents.

Now Veniard has come up with an ingenious ant body of foam rubber which greatly facilitates the tying of this pattern. Ant bodies tied on light-wire hooks tend to land on their sides and my favourite hook is the medium-wire # 16 Dohiku 303 which I get from Upstream in Claremont, Cape Town

There is a comprehensive array of articles on ant patterns on the Cape Piscatorial Society website. Because of a conflict between WordPress and Google Chrome you have to go to a little red cross at the top of the page and click on ‘load unsafe scripts’. That takes you back to the starter page and, thereafter, the articles load normally when you click on them.


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The Uni-Caenis thread keeps the ‘waist’ of the ant paFern narrow despite mulHple wraps.

The ideal is to keep the waist as thin as possible and I use the thinnest thread on the market, Uni-Caenis in a T iemco Adjustable Arm bobbin. I grease the holes in the bobbin and the bobbin arm with mucilin or petroleum jelly to lower friction. You can’t pull on the bobbin to lengthen the thread – you use or your thumb to spin the bobbin. You will break this thread from time to time but it does not unravel like an uncoiling spring and you just attach it again and continue tying. For legs you can use ultra-fine rubber but I prefer black micro krystal flash which gives the impression of movement, I tie each leg on singly on top of the hook shank in an ‘X’ shape. I lock the legs in place with a tiny drop of superglue dispensed from Zap-a-Gap medium superglue bottle equipped with Zap Flexy Tips which I buy from CMC Hobbies in Hilton, KZN.

I coat the bottom of the fly with Loon Fluorescing UV Clear Fly Finish mixed with black glitter dust which is available in a variety of colours from art shops for R7.50. Under ultra-violet light the specks of black glitter dust can be seen.

As a sighter I use Solarez Copper Shimmer but you can replicate this effect by adding glitter dust to your favourite UV light- cured resin. It is available in craft shops. The Solarez Copper shimmer resin adds both sparkle and a bright colour to act as a sighter on the Veniard Ant.


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Get them Wet, Keep them Wet - and Watch them Flourish Alan champkins It’s been a long winter season and the anticipation of that first day back on the streams, stalking a speckled beauty, is getting too much to bear. Everything’s ready, tackle checked, rechecked and checked again. Fly boxes sorted, flies tied and the mind is alive with questions over what fly will work.

Of course, this is just a hypothetical situation, but those of us who have kids can all imagine it and perhaps some have experienced it.

The first day on the stream of the new season arrives, cars have been packed the night before for a quick getaway, you’re up before the alarm clock and there’s a slight pinkish hue in the sky as first light dawns across the neighbourhood. A quick cup of coffee, a snack on the road and in thirty minutes you’ll be at the waters edge.

Carp fishing with kids: - Ok

Bass fishing with kids: - Challenging

It’s over the last mouthful of coffee when you hear a muffled voice from the bedroom; “Darling, I promised the boys you would take them with you. They’re really excited about going fishing with their dad for the first time. Won’t you wake them up and get them ready? They’ll be so disappointed if they don’t go. Remember your promise when I agreed to you spending all that money on a new rod.” Visions of fighting kids, of endless bird nest knots, of hooks stuck in fingers, of bodies complaining because it’s cold or too hot or bored, of stones being thrown in the perfect fish holding eddy and thoughts of needing to go to the doctor to increase the blood pressure meds shatter the imagined perfection of the first fishing day of the new season. Suddenly, just like the morning sun vanishes the mists in the valley, so the anticipation of the day is gone. Or has it?


• Fishing off the harbour wall or estuary bank for batfish with kids? - Easy

• Fishing off coastal rocks with kids: Dangerous • Flyfishing with kids: - Dangerously impossible for the parent concerned I mean, really, fly fishing is an art. It’s not a case of throw and wait, or cast and reel in. So is it worth the effort and the risk to your sanity? Shortly after my first son was born a wise lady said to me “Don't worry about all the nappy changing, sleepless nights and crying sessions - it’s all just preparing you for the teenage years”. It’s the same with fly fishing. The effort you put in during the early years pays off in the teenage years. Sure, it requires effort and patience and the humbleness to sacrifice your own fishing for a season or three. As the father of a son who loves fly fishing, I’ll be the first to say “It's worth it” and it is worth it in more ways than we can imagine. For many of us, ‘worth it’ equates to the number of fish caught, or the value of the experience.

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Fly fishing is definitely a great day out, even on a bad day, but the value goes beyond the experience and the tales of fish lost and landed.

Nationals but an incredible group of people believed in him (even with his inexperience), saw his passion and took him under their wing to help, mentor and give him the chance.

My son recently had the honour of attending the South African Fly Fishing Nationals in Barkley East as part of the Boland C Team. He only joined the Boland squad at the beginning of this year and we never expected him to participate in

It’s a big decision to let a fourteen yearold drive away on a bus with people he did not really know to a small town over a thousand kilometres away for eight days of very intensive fishing and competing. It’s even tougher on the soul when he says in the evenings during the competition: “Dad I blanked”; “Dad, my rod broke”; “Dad, a team mate and I are not getting on”; and all you can reply is “Sam, give it your best. Don’t get discouraged. Remember it is your character that counts too.”, knowing that he will have to take responsibility for and sort out his issues himself. In the end, Sam got one fish! He came back exhausted but beaming from ear-toear. Not so much because of the fishing, but because of what he experienced. I asked him to put it into writing and this is what he said: “In Barkley I experienced the once in a lifetime chance to see how flyfishing positively benefitted young and older teens. Flyfishing is a great way for teens to bond, become one as a whole and to help to accept advice, constructive criticism and accept people for who they are. It also teaches them many creative skills, techniques and sportsmanship” Wow! I asked other parents for feedback on the changes they have seen in their kids lives as a result of fly fishing. Here are their stories: "Last year Paul* was diagnosed with severe OCD. I am not sure if you know anything about this disorder… I didn't at the time (although I could write a book about it now)… but that is a story for another day.


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In hindsight, I now realise the signs were there a long time ago, but the catalyst was when he started high school as a boarderwhich he was very keen to do… his older brother went there - and flourished there. A few weeks into the first term, the wheels fell off… I won't go into the details of his OCD but, in a nutshell, after a few sessions with a psychologist, it was decided it was necessary for him to go onto medication. Under the care of a psychiatrist, he was put onto meds to help him - he still had weekly sessions with a psychologist.

He would go fishing with his mates, and also by himself. He would come home after walking up the river in Lourensford for 5 hours - and be like my 'old Paul'… It was better than any medication. And then there is the fly tying - that too is so therapeutic for him… when he has a rough day, he sits down and ties flies. It is all he needs to quieten his mind. It has now been one-and-a-half years since his diagnosis - his medication has literally halved, and in February next year, it is going to be reduced even further if all goes well. He himself is adamant that he will be med-free by the end of next year. OCD is something he will always live with, but he is very much in control of it now (mostly). Alan - I know there are many factors that went into his healing, but I can promise you that flyfishing was his saving grace. I will be forever grateful for that - and for us finding the amazing Boland team.”

Obviously we took him out of boarding school - and he started attending a local day school. And that is when he started flyfishing… it was the BEST THING EVER… The calmness, the total immersion into nature coupled with the focus, the discipline and the art/skill that goes with fly fishing was what his mind needed.


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“It's given Peter* a goal to work towards plus something to focus on. He tried many other sports but didn’t stick with much.” “It's made a massive difference in David*. He has blossomed. He loves fly fishing and is leaning to becoming a professional fly fishing guide in the Seychelles.” “Simon* definitely is a happier child! He loves nature and it releases his stress to be able to go do what he loves in a wonderful environment. He loves being part of the bigger picture, team, conservation etc! And we use it as a motivator to get him through school.” “I think for Eric* the biggest thing is he can be a boy and be outside and feel safe. Fly fishing has given him the opportunity to be outside in a safe environment. He has a permit at Lourensford and spends hours with his friends fishing. He is always so happy when he comes back. The fly tying itself is very good for his focus and arty side, which I never knew he had.”

“My kids grew up with flyfishing and regular camping. My wife took them to the river Saturday mornings and read them stories. As they got old enough I taught them to fish. Today I can see how much they respect nature and enjoy fly fishing.”

“I've been involved with teaching kids fly fishing for the last twenty five years. The positives that I’ve seen is that they do not sit in front of a TV for too much time. They will tie flies, fellow flyfishers will come over and can take over a complete dinning table with 3 or 4 or 5 boys tying flies , exchanging ideas etc. I have seen kids with learning difficulties, get more focus when the fishing bug bites. Kids that struggle to concentrate become good anglers if coached properly on how to 'hunt and outwit the fish’ where their concentration improves. Burning up lots of energy when spending a day in the mountains, or on a dam.

“I teach a lot of kids how to fly fish. Probably around twenty - thirty a summer. Some kids love it. Some kids just need parents that pull the plug on everything so they can actually get it. It changes them to kids who love the outdoors.” “I have seen a huge change in my nine year old since he started fly fishing in January. We have gone nearly every weekend since. All his behavioural issues have disappeared because of fly fishing and soccer.”

What I love is the creative energy and juices that flow when a bunch of young kids are together talking fly tying and fishing. Add to this the excitement from the days leading up to the fishing trip, the preparations, the planning etc done by the kids to get the perfect trip and the energy that flows during the trip. I just love it.”

“I can’t deny the smiles. Any amount of time a kid spends fishing will benefit them in life. Some of our best conversations and quiet teaching moments happen on the water.” “I think the biggest difference I see in our kids is that they don’t really care that they aren’t on their devices. They are able to


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occupy themselves with whatever is around them. BUT back home and they are bored and want screen time all the time.”

“We had a break in one afternoon and John* was home alone. Luckily he was unharmed but he was very traumatised. The flyfishing and fly tying has taken his mind off of that. When the psychologist asked him to try and think about a happy thought in the future, the first thing he said was to catch a big fish a Nationals. Flyfishing is much more to these boys than it seems.”

“Patience. Learning to sort out problems on his own - hang ups, knots etc.” “I notice an increased appreciation towards nature, compassion and a love for animals.”

The list of feedback keeps growing.


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A friend of mine recently organised a flyfishing day out at a local venue for youngsters with autism. He wanted to see if his daughter and others would benefit from it and it turned out to be such a success that he wants to run another one. I know of another person who organises fly fishing days for people in wheelchairs. Flyfishing took a young man from rural KZN with little hope for a future to being an international fly fishing guide and his dedication to the sport helped conserve the river that flows through their community by turning it into a fishing venue that benefited the people in the area. One person’s passion created a value chain that affects hundreds of other lives, and who’s story impacts and inspires many. There are organisations across the globe that use fly fishing as a tool for recovery and healing from post traumatic stress disorders, cancer survivors, and youth development. It’s

a phenomenal tool for improving lives. Sure, every sport has the ability to change a person’s life, but fly fishing in particular is unique in that it offers physical, mental, social and psychological advantages to those who participate. It’s a therapeutic prescription with no side effects (except for time and money) and lots of benefits. Consider these points: ✓

It provides “Outdoor Therapy” - Getting outside is vitally important for our minds. Time in nature clears the mind and enhances our thinking. It gives inspiration to creativity, restores mental energy, enhances our attention span and concentration and improves our short term memory. Nature in itself has numerous healing properties including improved eye sight, improved mental health, improved levels of activity, lower stress and fun, all of which leads to an improved quality of life.

It’s mostly a low impact "Physical Activity” - Flyfishing offers venues that are suitable for every body type and even those with low mobility from hiking in to remote mountain streams to fishing in a wheelchair. It may involve walking, wading, rowing or tubing all of which build core muscle strength and get the blood flowing. Casting improves circulation and gives the upper body a low strain work out. It improves dexterity and balance and regular exercise lowers obesity.

Flyfishing provides “Stress Relief” - Have you ever heard it said that flyfishing is a form of meditation? Think about it. The rhythm of casting and the focus on the aspects of flyfishing enables one to let go of the world, its worries and its attachments by becoming focussed on the present. Flyfishing normally occurs in the most stunning natural settings and exposure to the beauty around us lowers our stress hormones and raises our mood elevating hormones in our body. Aren’t you a happy person when you come back from fishing?

It creates the opportunities to "Meet new people and create new community”Flyfishing takes you away from the TV and gaming world and places you on a stream or dam with like-minded friends and family. It creates family time and special moments for parents to interact with their children. Generally the flyfishing community is made up of people who are kind, generous and want to see others grow in the sport and as such are often willing to invest above and beyond in the lives of youngsters who have a passion for the sport. It’s fantastic to see flyfishers mentoring and investing time and resources in to youngsters. And of course there are the friends that share a common interest and passion and legend stories. It’s an incredible community.

“Exposure to nature” enables us to see the natural world as being interconnected with everything around us and therefore

of importance. We learn to respect the wilderness and treat it with care. It creates a value chain to look after the wild places and everything that is left in them so they may be both preserved for wilderness’ sake and for our children's benefit. Exposure to the wilderness creates opportunities for us to learn by experience about eco systems and habitats and environmental education and the importance of conservation. It also teaches us to be responsible for our environment.


Flyfishing gives us the opportunity to “Help others”. When we share our knowledge and passions and skills with others by hosting flyfishing and fly tying workshops, volunteering on river cleanups, mentoring youngsters, running healing and recovery programs and even running Regional and National competitions it enables others to find a way out of their own situations and at the same time raise up the next generation who are willing to selflessly invest in others.

It is “Character Building” - Flyfishing is a new experience almost every time you’re out on the water and teaches us to adapt and learn new skills. It humbly teaches us that no matter how much we know or how skilled we are that there is always something new to learn, so it promotes a culture of life long learning. Time on the water teaches us to focus, to have patience and self-discipline, to learn to problem solve and face challenges (and difficult circumstances) with the right attitudes. Flyfishing teaches us to be responsible for our safety, for ourselves, others, our equipment, the environment and the fish. It also is a teacher of consequences when a rod, or worse, breaks. It promotes independence, critical thinking, goal setting, personal achievement, a sense of progress and confidence through the development and realisation of potential. It teaches us to be still and appreciate what’s around us. These are all vital life skills.

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Flyfishing enables “Professional Development” For most the sport is a hobby, but it is also recognised as a Provincial, National, International and Olympic sport. Flyfishing has produced many people who have gone on to become professional guides, professional fly tiers, outfitters and specialist retailers. Great books and movies have been written and produced about the sport. Fisherman have taken their knowledge of the outdoors and become top conservationists and environmental lobbyists. Some spend their time helping others because the sport has given them compassion, purpose and a tool to heal the broken. Some have used it as a means to benefit local communities through tourism projects. The days of fly fishing being a dead-end hobby are long gone. Today your skills can take you as far as your passion is able and for many it has been the answer to life that they needed.

caught his first trout when he was three years old. Yes, I cast and hooked it but I handed the rod to him and he 'walked it’ up the bank. Eleven years later and he’s caught more species of fish than I have, he’s caught a bigger fish than I have and he’s the only Champkins to ever get provincial colours for anything. Start by connecting - with others. There are amazing flyfishing communities on social media with people willing to share knowledge and resources, but probably not their secret venues. Join a Flyfishing Club there are a number in every province and not every one is focussed just on trout. Being part of Boland Flyfishing has been a tremendous blessing for Sam and it’s been an absolute privilege to see how people invest in others.

Add these together and it is not hard to see why it makes such a positive impact on so many people lives! But for these amazing testimonies of changed lives and the list of benefits to happen one has to start somewhere. Start - by getting the misconception out of your head that taking the kids fishing is a waste of your fishing time. See it as an investment in their future, in their character and in health and in the environment. Start small - my boys would spent hours fishing for klipvis, small bass and tilapia while I went after the big fish. Kids want numbers and to be kept busy, so find venues that offer just that. Taking them dry fly fishing on a Cape stream while they are young you will ruin it for them. Taking them to a local bass dam where you can cast for a bucket mouth while they nail the small fish in the reeds is the perfect way to start. Don’t despise small beginnings. Keep the enthusiasm going and the rest will take care of itself. Start them young - and give them time to grow. Bend the rules if you have to. My son


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Don't think that because you don’t know what you’re doing it will not work. All you need is the time, effort and willingness to ask for help.

(* names changed)

About the author: Start simple - you can still catch fish on basic equipment and there is no need to start with designer rods and reels. Work within your budget and keep an eye open on social media for second hand (and even free) equipment. It’s a sport that does require some financial investment but it also does not need to break the bank.

Alan Champkins is an Outdoor Experiential Learning Professional. He has a passion for seeing young people gain the personal and communal soft skills they need to develop their characters in order to overcome the challenges they may face. It has been his fulltime job for the last sixteen years.

Start safe - go where others recommend. Some rivers are no longer clean so don’t put yourself at unnecessary health risks. Likewise, be aware of your circumstances, surroundings and the people around you. Don’t fish alone, especially if you’re in the mountains. Wear a lifejacket if there is a risk of drowning.

He is currently working as the Program Manager for a school and church camp venue outside Stellenbosch where he is able to both fulfill his passion for people and throw the odd dry fly on a Cape stream.

Start inspiring - watch movies and read books on flyfishing with your kids. Let them help you with your own equipment and when you are tying flies let them tie with you. But above all else - start! So the next time you’re heading out the door and you hear a mumble from the room “Darling, I promised the kids that you would take them” realise that it’s not a dangerously impossible task, but rather you’re creating the opportunity of a life time and that opportunity could lead to an amazing testimony of a changed life, of incalculable health benefits, of a better world for others and an opportunity to connect at a deeper level. All because you took the opportunity. Get them wet, keep them wet and watch them flourish. "Many men go fishing all their lives without knowing it is not fish they are after.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

Carpe Diem! It is worth it. Thank you to all those who have invested and continue to invest in others. The fly fishing community and the world as a whole is better because of people like you.

May you find what you’re looking for on the waters edge.


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INTRODUCING THE SAVAGE GEAR HIGHRIDER 170 FLOAT TUBE A Review Terry Babich I was recently shopping for new float tubes and I’ve taken it upon myself to review an item that I purchased and have been impressed with. I needed to find a float tube each for my wife and I. My wife’s criteria was simple - that the colours shouldn’t clash. Well, that immediately ruled out all the big players in the market. Obviously, the bright colours used in float tube manufacture are for safety and clearly this aspect was not a high priority for her. Being unable to find a bright pink float tube I looked around and stumbled onto a brand I hadn’t seen before. I had a glimpse at HighRider 170 by Savage Gear at an outdoor show. It looked robust and durable and as an added bonus it had paddles; this is something that I know that Gerty really likes. The price was comparable with similar items, but those didn’t have the paddles. I ordered two. Being ‘that guy’ who buys stuff without paying attention to the small print and who is too impatient to look at it properly before purchase I was ever-sceptical of what I might have bought until I finally had the chance to unpack them. On opening the heavy 17kgs box I was surprised. A foot pump and floating repair kit were included in the package and didn’t need to be bought separately - that’s a good start. I then pulled a myriad of loose parts out of the box and slapped the whole assembly all together in under five minutes (of course, without looking at the instructions who does anyway!). The pumped worked surprising well with very little effort…wow! It was very apparent that all the requirements of the tube had been properly


thought through. It features a very durable material similar to my inflatable boat. It consists of two bladderless pontoons with an inflatable bottom and an adjustable inflatable seat. I thought the inflatable seat would be a bust but was surprised that, although not perfect, it was very functional and performed above expectation, surprisingly better than any other I had previously used. The paddles looked solid and their connections to the boat look strong. They are easily fitted onto a screw that fastens them securely in position. The fastening nut cleverly has a tag string attached to it so that is doesn’t get lost. Even the fastening nut looked robust and strong. The boat is fairly heavy at 14kg but the makers have included onto it straps that can be used to carry it - or it can be dragged. It’s more than strong enough for that, in my opinion. In the water the HighRider 170 is quick, very manoeuvrable and there is no uneasy feeling that it may tip over. As the name suggests, you sit very high in the water and I didn’t even get my ass wet. I had a little friend who stands at 6’10” sit in it. He was impressed when none of the usual problems arose and the two pontoons didn’t even squeeze closer together when he sat in it. The bar holding the pontoons apart is easy to use and to insert. The paddles are easy to use and pack away nicely when not in use. I fished in strong winds with big waves on a huge catfish pond and at no time did I feel like I needed to evacuate due to unsafe conditions. Return to contents

My wife is a newbie and a rare user of float tubes. She gave all of her tests in this tube a big thumbs up.

would be a bag to keep all the bits together when in storage. If you need more info or would like to chat about the High Rider 170 flagship send me a message

In my final analysis I’d say that, all in all, the Savage Gear High Rider 170 is a good buy. A requirement that is not part of the package


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Savage Gear HighRider 170 Specs:

apron with measuring print. 0.9mm armored PVC sheet, heat sealed and reinforced seams. Protech airvalves. Adjustable footrest.

4-chamber construction for extra security. Unique Rigid U-frame with Drop stich air chamber floor for extra high seating, comfort and stability. Air chamber custom seat for extra comfort. Rod holders. Easy detachable crossbar with stripping

• • •

Want to have your product reviewed? and let’s make this a regular insert in the magazine!

I have been asking suppliers to the flyfishing market for tackle or fishing related items for review. No-one seems to have anything they want me to check out! Maybe they’re afraid I will break it - fair enough, point taken. Hahahaha. If you have something that you think needs to be shown to the public and you are brave enough for an honest review about it then contact me at

Net weight 14kg 170cm total length Max Load 180kg

Let's see what you have to offer and how it stands up to the BABICH destruction test . The SA market is a tough one and needs good quality products tested under local conditions. This is a good platform to use to present your goods to the market or make them aware of an already existing product.


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Slow and easy does it! Andrew Allman

I have often watched the majestic SA Golfer Ernie Els, otherwise known as the ’Big Ease’, as he approached the final green, smiling gentlemanly and acknowledging the supporting crowd with a relaxed hand salute. He was colossal and seemed to stand out, both literally and metaphorically. Win or lose, Ernie was the same and a credit to the game.

and a belief in himself; to simply know! Sadly, those special moments have slowed but Ernie still has a passion for the game and all that it stands for. The same can be said for trout fishing where we enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery in the world as we follow our passion. Timing is all important in casting and retrieving where often the slow and easy trumps the frequent and determined. Most gratefully and differing, in fly fishing there is another party to the conundrum and that is the Trophy Trout which moves and feeds on it’s own reconnaissance and does not necessarily share the same ultimate goal as we, it’s predator.

His game was built around his effortless long drives where his timing was impeccable, allowing for low scores and giving him a small buffer over the chasing field. If his short game was on, then he was virtually unstoppable! Most of all, Ernie had the right attitude. Slow and Easy. The whole treat was helped through his long hours of devoted practise


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Sometimes we all just need to appreciate the experience as it is, knowing that we are worthy fly- fishers and indeed blessed to have had the opportunity.

practice; which outcomes could then be escalated and tackled by an appropriate authority. Communication and education are vital with the call for greater understanding and support from both government and our corporate leaders. But, ‘You’, reading this experiential, fishing our waters or advertising in this magazine have as much a part to play in the conservation and preservation of all that we have come to love.

I have caught many trout in the past and bragged about them through happy pics. Even this trip, I managed to entice a few smallish trout to my fly, where I saw others may have been less fortunate. They say that catching and releasing trout that no-one sees may be akin to the falling tree in the forest. Does it make a noise if no one saw it? Did it really happen?

During the month of April, I visited Walkersons Hotel and Spa just 10km outside Dullstroom on the road leading to Lydenburg or Mashishing. I was treated to some fine fishing and lodging. At the outset let me say that catching and releasing trout is a lot of fun and doing this in safe and pleasant surroundings is just so much more enjoyable. But doing so, in bucket loads can be pure Heaven! One has to create balance in life though, finding the measure of the man, to take it slow and easy and enjoy the experience no matter the take. Walkersons Hotel and Spa seem to have the slow and easy down pat…

What is the measure of the fly fisherman and of his concern for his quarry? I often try and put myself into the head of Trout and if I were one, to consider what I would do next? If the trout has a brain no less than the size of a pea, then surely, they are at a disadvantage to the human fly fisherman? Not so, you say and that for many good reasons, is why we return to the waters time and again, laden with different tactics and an array of the latest equipment, all geared to bring about a greater balance. If we, as fly fishers, deceive as part of an ongoing process to create and conserve the ultimate ‘life‘ through sustainable trout fishing practices, then we are aligned. If we can show caring throughout, for our quarry so that it may live a longer life whilst creating more of the same and offering some pleasure to others, whilst aiding in the creation of a livelihood for a whole lot more, then that can’t be all bad?

As one enters the gates of the Walkersons Private Estate, named so by developer Howard Walker, you are greeted by the professionalism and friendliness of the Gate security, the overall tidiness to the structured layout, the efficiency and effectiveness of their water management system, the striking beauty of the surrounds and the opulence of the homes as only we in SA, know it! Walkersons Private Estate exemplifies the extremes found in South Africa and with the high- end being typified.

Going back into my musings and considering if I indeed were a Trout and swimming in South African waters, whilst also being identified as an unwanted species under threat, then where would I rather be?

The estate is owned by the Home Owners Association and is 850 hectares in size consisting of 125 private stands of which the Hotel and Spa own 7. There are 14 dams and lakes, 11 that are used for trout fishing and under the management of Estate Manager, Tobie van Niekerk, being fed by 4 km of the Lunsklip river and 1km of the Gemsbokspruit.

The answer to this question may be served through a series of visits and reviews around the country where we plan to experience what is on offer and attempt to highlight the successes achieved whilst identifying common problems to sustainable trout fishing

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One would need a SAN Parks license to fish the rivers and the Lunsklip is stocked by a hatchery on site. A fishing license for the still waters can be obtained from Hotel reception and restocking is via a local supplier every 3rd week. Twice a year dams

nutritious pellet which I am told passes through their body within 4 hours and does not affect their natural hunting instincts. There is a predominance of Rainbows but some Browns also abound the estate waters. There are published fishing rules and regulations for Walkersons Private Estate, which in essence is about fly fishing of barbless hooks and using knotless nets with an appeal not to remove fish from the water or to over exhaust the trout. Sadly, some break the rules and these are mostly the ‘weekend warrior’ or the ‘doting’ father who just wants his little one to land a fish. Remembering, that this is all that we have and we All need to play our part in preserving, so that others who follow, may enjoy.

are stocked with 2.5 -3.5kg trophies from growing- out dams. There is an Environmental Management Plan for the estate that takes into account amongst others the flora and fauna; includes an annual eradication programme to prevent the spread of alien trees and a fish restocking programme. Catch and Release (C & R) is actively encouraged with 5 of the 11 dams being strictly C & R. Barbless hooks are also promoted and the hotel de- barbs commercially manufactured flies that are bought for re- resale to hotel guests. Those guests are handed a fishing return form at the Gate and at Reception, if staying in the Hotel. Unfortunately, conformance to those particular requirements is not always respected and thus entails a spot count to rising trout for re stocking purposes. This is facilitated through trout being fed a

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Commonly, the highest trout mortality experienced is through people not fishing correctly and their inattention to C & R practices which are made all the more difficult through the use of the deadly barbed hook. Additionally, there is poor knowledge of when to resuscitate and when to euthanise.


A few suggestions come to mind that could assist Trout conservation programmes:Why not ban all barbed hook fishing and create legislation to prohibit the manufacture and sale of barbed hooks through Retail outlets? This could be done on a phased basis with FOSAF members and Regional Trout Associations, being the guinea pigs to test and show the way forward through effective and efficient measurement. Secondly, the Mpumalanga region is a busy one for fly fishing so why not introduce more activities for the youth which will promote sustainable fly fishing as they have in other Provinces such as KZN? Introduce volunteer Fishing Bailiffs and create a National Register of Bailiff Accreditation as they do in other Wild Life Conservation areas where qualified volunteer Field Rangers help spread the load and the message ?I know that I would put my hand up to offer my services and I am sure many others, would do likewise. Why not share what works and doesn’t in trout conservation, so that we have more people doing the right things, most of the time? Finally, consider banning photographs where trout are removed from the water? If they are removed, they are damaged ‘goods’ and so considered as sold!


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The Home Owners Association of Walkersons is a member of the Escarpment Bird Club and Mpumalanga Trout Association. There is no stipulated time period to develop all sites on the estate, although building must be completed within 12 months once a decision is made to build. There are a few building operations in progress, viewed during this visit and all are suitably cordoned off and regulated to limit impacts to other owners.

of me, clad in the latest kit and adorning a wrap- around smile as I posed with my trophy trout of 3 kgs or more. Sadly, that pic has gone missing in the aspirational cyber space! I did however catch a few small rainbows around the dam peripheries, which did not justify a photo let alone being reproduced in mass media. My wife comfortingly suggested that I was far too tense on this trip and that ‘Big Fish’ only succumb to the ‘slow and easy’. Wise lady, and if only I had heeded this tip much earlier in my life, then I may have been a totally different person today. Tobie, was as sensitive to my needs, saying that Dullstroom was suffering a ‘dead’ period as far as catching trout were concerned, but he did point me towards ‘Raws Water’ and so that is exactly where I went...

The water quality has not been adversely impacted by building operations and in fact testing results over 2/3 month intervals at 20 positions on the estate, indicate that estate waters have been well within the recreational standard for the last two years. This has in part been due to the introduction of a Vertical Reed Bed system about 4 years ago which has been very effective in trapping undesirous material.

Dullstroom without wind is like whisky is without ice. The two go together and Walkersons Private Estate is no exception. So, after very little to show for my efforts, I decided to tough it out in the cold and wind and try and entice a really big one.

So, what of the fishing you say? Estate Manager, Tobie informs me that for the past 2 years , Walkersons Private Estate has been adjudged the best trout waters in the Dullstroom Fly Fishing Bonanza. He goes on to say that fishing on the estate is designed to suit both the novice and the seasoned fly fisher. Tobie, further expounds that the clarity of water, especially in winter months causes the fishing to be a little technical and I can personally support that contention.

The best spot at Raws Water is on the wall, mid -way along where the water is really deep but then you are casting directly into the full force of the wind. I had tried the floating line with a long leader but in this wind it just ended up in a mess of tangles. So, it was to be the intermediate line, which was hard to see in the fading light but did the job in a manner of speech.

From my side, I tried only catch and release dams since it was my intention to provide the magazine readers with a two- pager spread

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It was darkening early evening sky and I was fishing on a barbless hook with a feathered imitation of a small trout, tied on very fine tippet with a loop around the hook eye so that it swam freely. I was stripping my line like there was no tomorrow and I was late. For some reason, I stopped all retrieving to do what male- flyfishers do when they are bored or excited or both; and as my hand dropped to my nether regions, my fly (in the water) was hit by something savage and large. I reacted on instinct, with a strike that was a little wild and a line that was far too loose. The fish responded with a massive tug of it’s own and broke the tippet. That was it, in an instant the trout of my dreams had come and gone and I felt very slow and uneasy, indeed!

gastronomical delight with the menu changing daily but could include such delicacies as Roasted Quail, Stuffed Rainbow Trout, and perfectly Seared Fillet of Beef. If budget dictates, and you are on the cheaper option, then why not forgo one or other meal during the day and just be spoilt for one night of fine dining. It is something that you are not likely to regret nor forget! Families with young children have been considered in a separate dining experience as they have in other hotel activities such as the fishing, cycling, hiking, walking, horse riding and picnicking, whilst use of Golf carts must be by persons with a valid driver’s license. The Terrace is a casual affair which can be used for breakfasts overlooking the dam and for lunches where the theme is still going along with the slow and easy with offers of light meals that range from midday to close.

After some quiet introspection, I realised just how blessed we in fact were. To have had the opportunity to enjoy the tranquillity of the grounds and the hospitality of the hotel, with a Scottish country manor feel, with it’s natural stone and wood, it’s plush and comfortable furnishings and original paintings all preserved in excellence for our appraisement and enjoyment. To have been waited on by most caring attendants and served the finest four course dinners in the Flying Scotsman was a treat to behold. And to be pampered like the idle rich made me feel slightly guilty but then I reasoned that someone had to do it and why not let it be me?

Parents of youngsters do however have a responsibility over their own to ensure respect for Hotel guests and conformance to rules so that the shared bliss is not disturbed by overzealous screams or through unruly behaviour. There are also 6 selfcatering cottages for families or large parties who wish to stay together. That being said, I was fortunate enough to visit the hotel in a less busy period, although I saw mention of facilities for conferences, weddings and team building events, where it may be advisable to check in advance as to their magnitude and extent.

Walkersons Hotel and Spa have perfected the slow and easy. The discerning FLYFISHER staying at the Hotel, would find nothing left to chance with every detail being considered to make your stay a most enjoyable experience. You name it, they have it and if they don’t, then it probably can’t be had!

There is a dam on the estate, known as Childs Play, which is anything but that and is strictly C& R. The trout are mostly holding up in the middle of a very deep expanse of water and it requires a more than decent cast to get out there. The trout are wizened up from years of frequent fishing. You can however catch there on a weekend woolly bugger and from very close in. I saw a young girl, not yet a teenager, doing exactly that! So there you have it, fish do swim and can take a fancy to any fly no matter the presentation or retrieve!

Nothing is rushed and communication is through hushed mono tones, taking care to preserve the moment for those who may not wish to overhear your conversation nor disturb their peace and serenity. The dinners of the Flying Scotsman are a Return to contents


You can drive to the estate which is around 2.5 hours from Sandton Johannesburg and with the current fuel prices is not so far as to tempt one to break into the milk money jar. There is an Airstrip and Heli Pad for the more adventurous and budget free. There are also various accommodation offers where bed and breakfast packages give you freedom to either make use of the Hotel restaurants or to take the short trip into Dullstroom. On the final day of our brief stay, we were having breakfast on the Terrace and from no-where a Fish Eagle appeared. It glided over Childs Play dam directly in front of the hotel and then came back over again for another glimpse before it moved on out of sight altogether. It was the birthday of my late mother and I was in a contemplative moment as I looked up and was speechless to what unfolded before my eyes. For the record 5 trout were caught and released and none were killed. The flies used most were the orange- beaded Black Woolly and the Red- eyed damsel with the Walker’s Killer, the Flying Ant and a tiny trout imitation. They were all in the region of 500 to 750g.

In summary, the fishing was fair. The estate waters and grounds appear well managed with very little surface weed on the dams. I never felt over- crowded at any time. I felt totally safe and secure with 24hour gate access control and guard patrolling. The hotel rooms are luxurious, the food is exquisite, and the only draw back was the lack of Wifi in the room. The tip I learned was to savour the moment for there may not be another quite like it! I did not land the big one, but there was enough evidence on hand to suggest that they are there and ONE does not need the right fly, the right depth, the right retrieve, the right weather conditions etc. etc.; just the right attitude! Slow and Easy should do it! I do now have an idea of where trout might thrive, and also have some unfinished business of my own to attend to at some future date‌

Will, I return? Do fish swim?

The 2019 Cape Piscatorial Society River festival Andrew Mather

The view from my room was spectacular. The mountains were shrouded in mist and adorned with white water rushing down the slopes creating the most amazing waterfalls. As the wind blew up the mountainside the waterfalls disappeared back into the air atomised before they had the ground.

consumed! The sun broke out on the Saturday morning and most took advantage of this reprieve. Tim Rolston got busy with casting demonstrations and advice.

This is the sight that greeted all the aspirant attendees at the Cape Piscatorial Society annual festival. The rain kept coming. Jonkershoek recorded 186.4mm in 18 hrs. The rivers started rising rapidly in response. By the Friday evening it was clear that the conditions were almost impossible to fish, even for experienced flyfishers let alone less experienced anglers that might be fishing a river for the first time. So the CPs organising committee set about arranging the Saturday around mainly indoor activities. The rugby at midday helped break the day into two distict halves....not that we saw many flyfishers going to fish after the rugby. I think too many lemonades had been


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Shaun Dickson into a scalie Photo: Tony Sharples

Gareth and Matt set up their vices and tied some of their favourite stream patterns

On a good day you can expect these little beauties...the fly isn't half bad either Mr Brigg

Photo: Tony Sharples

Saturday night dinner and prize giving went off very well with every entrant receiving a prize. Many items were lovingly handbuilt and donated to the festival. The major fly fishing shops were also very generous in donating prizes to the CPS. To all the people that did donate I can say on behalf of the entrants that they are most appreciated. Oh lastly the guides decided that since we didn't actually get our feet wet...well in the river I mean... they are prepared to take each entrant onto a steam when conditions improve. Great gesture...great bunch of guys!

Leader set ups...not how big the fish were!

Savs net on route to festival

WOMEN IN WADERS going international Bianca Viljoen

Photo: Bow River Outfitters

March 2018. An unexpected and last minute invitation for dinner at a hotel near OR International Airport brought family together for the first time in twelve years; a part of the family that took up residence in Canada as far back as 1987. Not fully prepared for this belated invitation a good “not- picked everyday” bottle of red wine was purchased for the occasion. The wine was handed over within minutes of sitting down at the table in the hotel dining room. Without much ceremony the intended flight envisaged for the bottle of wine was cancelled. Naturally, before the first glasses were consumed, the question “when are you guys coming to visit us in Canada “came up. Well, as quick as the question came up, the answer followed. “Next year”. It suddenly became a very expensive bottle of wine.

We, however, chose the “country” option. Drifting for 23 kilometres on the river from the North towards the city. I was referred to a guiding outfit, The Bowriver Troutfitters in Calgary, who I contacted via email to secure our bookings. The date of departure from Johannesburg, 8 August 2019, was eagerly awaited. We arrived in Calgary Sunday afternoon, 11 August 2019, after a hit-and-run visit to Ancaster, Ontario. I was itching to hit the water and experience The Bow River. Monday, 12th August 2019. 7am our guide, Lawrence, picked us up from our Airbnb accommodation with his Ford F150 Truck and trailer and his boat in tow. We drove out about 30 kilometres north of the city to “the Middle Bow River”, the point at which we started our drift down river from McKinnons to Carseland.. We geared up at the departure point with James and his daughter, Izzy, who joined us from Tasmania, supplied with waders by our guiding outfit, whilst a light drizzle predicted a cold and wet day ahead. After a very welcome and professional briefing session, we got into two boats and off we were to hunt the wild rainbows frequenting this section of the river. Needless to say, the scenery was stunningly picturesque. The water was clean and breathtakingly clear.

In the following weeks hard planning, the finalisation of dates, itinerary and, with much closer consideration, fly fishing opportunities were considered. A few days for me to fly fish was not negotiable and for those days all family gatherings were arranged around the spoil. After various options were considered, the decision was made. The Bow River, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The Bow River flows into and through the city from the North. It is possible to fish the river “in town” surrounded by buildings and the highway. Brown trout the main attraction.

The Bow River that runs through the city


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The guides, Jeff in the one boat and Lawrence with me in the other, were tremendously skilled in their handling of the boats. Able to row you closer to fishing spots, they left no stone unturned, rowing back up stream if necessary to visit possible hiding places for fish. Not only were they very competent in their craft, but also good company with a great sense of humour. I had the opportunity to land decent trout using dry dropper, long line nymphing and streamers. My first fish on was a jumper of note, almost landed inside the boat, I could not strip in line fast enough to keep tight line. What a way to start the day and a fantastic ice breaker. Midday we went ashore for a light lunch. Stretching legs and stalking fish close to the river bank. Here we stalked fish doing the “zombie walk”. Much fun was had. After this

My guide and I

welcome break we tackled the river again. This time I was targeting specific rising fish. At one bend I spent almost a half an hour playing an arrogant fish that was feeding hard but just would not take my fly. It was time to re-think the tactics. After a change of fly, approaching from a different angle and almost a giving up I managed to hook him with a what felt like a 4 minute strong fight! Turns out, after all that, this fish would be the one that got away; but that I had the privilege to experience for a few minutes….it would be the one that will haunt my thoughts for days to come. Don’t we all have these experiences. We got to the bottom of the run…our day came to an end. We hitched the boat up and returned to the city with a chuffed guide that was amazed that a woman landed several trout using 3 different disciplines. Big deal for a guide to accomplish the need of his client.

Tuesday the 13th August 2019, my aim for the day was hopefully to add another species to my list of fish landed on fly. We chose The Old Man River to try and accomplish this. Lawrence and I walked and waded, specifically in the “Gap”, which is a section of the Oldman River that runs between two huge mountains. We worked the water once again aiming for specific rising fish, first in slow flowing water and then in the faster flow. Once again we had the opportunity to experience true Canadian wilderness and natural beauty even more breath taking than the day before. Rocky mountains and cobblestones everywhere with gin clear water. After several takes and losing many a fish, we again tried dry dropper using a beetle pattern. Little did I know that after all

My evening celebrations after my cutthroat moment

that hard work my day was about to become even more special…and then it happened… my first cutthroat on fly! What a privilege to have landed such a beautiful fish. To some it would be a fish like any other…to me it would once again be a part of my journey…a teaching in life… mother nature allowing you to experience life in another dimension. We all had a very memorable holiday in Canada that continued from there on…what I was reminded of again through this experience was to drink that “not-drunkeveryday” bottle of red wine because you are worth it. Make things happen for yourself...keep going…keep doing what feeds your soul. I celebrated my 43rd birthday on that day, in my 6th year of flyfishing. My journey continues! #iamalive

Euro Nymphing as explained by someone who can't Ian Cox

If I am perfectly honest, I think, one could Czech nymph with a surf rod, a half ounce sinker and a Penn 49 reel!

I first encountered Euro nymphing just over 9 years ago. That was at a clinic that was run by Xplorer and Bells at Nyala pans. It wasn’t called Euro nymphing back then. The Czechs were cleaning up the combination scene back there with something called Czech nymphing. What I said in an article I wrote for the Bobbin back then bears repeating:

"The connection between Czech nymphing and fly fishing is that while both use flies, with Czech nymphing two of the flies (one fishes 3 up) are really disguised sinkers. One does not even need a fly line. In fact aficionados of the style eschew these for ordinary fishing line (mono for the cognoscenti) topped off with a length of very light dacron. (Explorer supply it in various weights as Rio Extreme) The reason for this is that one does not cast. One instead flicks the sinker assisted fly a short distance upstream and follows the drift down with the rod tip taking care to ensure that it is always in direct contact with the line." The fly line seldom gets more than a meter from out of the rod tip. The trick is to be ready for the take as the scaly, which is a

much more diffident feeder than its Free State cousin, gently mouths the fly rather than tears your arm out of its socket. Dacron and mono apparently give one a much better feel for what is happening that a fly line. Back then any reasonably soft rod would do. That is no longer the case. The nymph stick has now entered the scene. This is a 10ft 3 wt rod with a very flexible tip. I am told this is very important. So much so that my much-loved stealth Infiniti 3wt was judged to be no good by my fellow editors. I was sternly told that I could not be seen in public representing the magazine so improperly dressed. So it was that I arrived at the recent Natal Fly Fishers Club Euro Nymphing clinic decked out with a Sage Nymph stick and the proper nymph line to boot. Now why you need a special line escapes me. You will see from what I wrote above that very little line leaves your rod. So why does having a special nymph line wrapped on your reel help you catch fish? Apparently, it does. You see Euro nymphers (or is it nymphets) do occasionally allow more line out of the reel than Czech nymphers do. This is apparently one of the niceties that distinguishes the one from the other. Sometimes you may get beyond the 30 ft leader this technique requires and on those rare occasion it is terribly important that the fly line be very thin so as to minimize drag. 84

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Shaun ShaunDickson Dicksoninto intoaascalie scalie Photo: Photo:Tony TonySharples Sharples

Shaun Dickson into a scalie Photo: Tony Sharples

My suggestion that one simply turn your line around was not well received by my coeditors. The well-dressed angler must drop a grand to buy this specialist line, though apparently one could compromise and buy a 20ft extension nymph tip for your line for about half that price.

rapid in as many casts. Easy everyone thought but I was worried. You see the last time I felt anything bouncing along the bottom was when I dragged an anchor when fishing at sea, and even then, the boat had moved a while before I realise anything was happening. I don’t notice subtle takes. The fish has to be gaging for it for me to notice.

It does not end there. You also need tippet rings. Did I have tippet rings? Happily, I did and mine were supplied by Roman Moser so I thought that made them very special. Pity my editors did not know who he was.

And so it turned out to be. The Euro rig is simpler that the Czech nymph rig in that only two flies are involved. But if fish were taking my flies, I was not noticing. And then there is the awful monotony of the flick and drift technique which apparently people use to catch scalies and yellows. Its damn boring especially when you are not catching fish.

Hot tip - Tippet rings are pretty cool especially if you are constantly replacing your tippet. The ring separated the leader from the tippet and provides a handy sacrificial point where the one can be separated from the other. They are handy in all types of flyfishing other than fishing dry.

Yup, I blanked the first day despite being one of the best equipped anglers on the river. “But Coxie”, said Rob Hibbert, “you have to fish to catch fish”. “I did” said I, “but a couple of hours of fishless flicking and drifting in 35 deg C heat was all I could take”. I should mention that Nkonka Lodge which is just downstream from Nyala pans is very comfortable and that the catering that Tony Sharples had laid on courtesy of the NFFC was superb. There was thus a certain draw homewards given my lack of success on theriver.

So it was that I arrived well equipped at Nkonka Lodge on the Umkomaas in KZN to hear Shaun Dixon explain Euro Nymphing to what a fairly large assembly of eager acolytes. Sean knows his stuff and came equipped with a hand brochure he had prepared giving tips on leader design and how to Euro Nymph.

Needless to say, my lack of success did not go unremarked, especially given the fact that most present, including absolute beginners, had caught heaps. Thoughts of doing better tomorrow began to grow, especially after the early birds, on that next morning, returned with tails of a dozen or more fish for half an hour or so of fishing.

The trick he said was to always remain in contact with your fly. You should be able to feel it bouncing along the bottom. One had to be alert for the subtle difference between a bottom bounce and a fish picking up your fly. This is where that soft rod tip was so important. The rod must not mask the take. He put action to his words by pulling three scalie out of the tail of a

Needless to say, my lack of success did not go unremarked, especially given the fact that most present, including absolute


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beginners, had caught heaps. Thoughts of doing better tomorrow began to grow, especially after the early birds, on that next morning, returned with tails of a dozen or more fish for half an hour or so of fishing.

bother too much about fly selection on either day. I thought getting the fly onto the bottom was more important than what it looked like. So, I had been fishing a fairly gaudy GUN and Zak rig up until then. Turns out that neither was working. The fish were going for drab brown and green nymphs. And that delicate take that Shaun had told us about turned out to be nothing of the sort. All three takes were on the strong side of positive.

That I was not an early bird can be laid at the door of the excellent breakfast that was provided as well as a certain reluctance at making an idiot of myself again. People would be going home in the course of the morning so my failure would not be quite so public.

Euro nymphing works if you work at it. The catch returns of my Zipper Mouth buddies is proof of this. But if you are not catching fish it is as boring as hell.

I got about two hours in that second morning and but for one riffle where I pulled out three it would have been another blank day. What changed was my fly. I did not

Photo: Tony Sharples


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Photo: Tony Sharples

Photo: Tony Sharples

Photo: Tony Sharples

Packing for an streamside emergency ANDREW MATHER

I willing to wager a bet that most of us don’t think about the hazards of setting out for a day on the river or dam. Most will check that they have a hat and or buff and possible some sunscreen…but that’s where it often ends.

this route will of course depend on your personal risk levels and factors such as age, medical conditions and extent of support will play a part in this decision. If you enjoy solo fishing into the mountains for days you might also fit into this category regardless of age!

So what should you take. Well that depends on how long you are going to be away. A day trip lends itself to a smaller compact medical kit. If you are overnighting or going for a longer multi-night trip then one needs to cover more options.

The two options then are the Personal Locator Beacons (PLB) and a satellite phone. All PLB’s require you to register the device. Some PLB’s require a subscription. There are now several on the market and really the choice depends on what you are prepared to pay. For a great review on current PLB see here (

Communication Before I get into the nitty gritty of what to pack perhaps the most important piece of kit is your cellphone. Make sure its fully charged before you set out. Cell coverage is sometimes limited but as I have come to find out there is often cell coverage if one moves to higher ground. Before one goes its worth finding out about cell coverage.

The next level is a satellite phone. Some satellite phones cannot transmit an SOS so you would need to call. Remember, a communication device is only as good as the coverage and reliability of the network behind it. See a review of 2019 satellite phones here. (

If there is no cell coverage in the area then one needs to go the satellite route. This is obviously more expensive. The need to go


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Medicial kit recommendations One day kit

Five day kit built off the One day kit

Adhesive/Duct tape CPR mouth to mouth device Elastic wrap bandages Bandage strips and "butterfly" bandages in assorted sizes Emergency blanket Whistle Snake gaiters Nonstick sterile bandages and roller gauze in assorted sizes Large triangular bandage (may be used as a sling) Disposable nonlatex examination gloves Petroleum jelly or other lubricant Penknife Hand sanitiser Disinfectant/Antiseptic gel Painkillers (Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Gen-Payne) Aspirin (Life-saving in an adult with chest pain. If patient shows signs of new or unexplained chest pain he may be having a heart attack. Give him a regular strength aspirin and call for emergency medical help immediately) Rehydrate sachets Energy drink (Bioplus) Anti-diarrhea medication (Lomotil) Antihistamine (Allergex) Anti-nausea (Valoid) Splints (2 pieces 1” by 12” (that’s 25mm by 300mm for your metric folk) Small card printed with emergency contact and any important personal medical information. Card should also have the cell number of your local snake expert to call for identification of snake species that has just bitten you BEFORE you launch into emergency mode.

Antiseptic or alcohol wipes (3) for cleaning wounds. Antacids Butterfly closure strips (3) Dressing/Gauze, aSterile non-stick absorbent; for larger wounds. Super glue Plastic bags, assorted sizes Safety pins in assorted sizes Scissors and tweezers Sterile saline for irrigation, flushing eyes and wounds Syringes Hydrocortisone cream Aloe vera gel Sewing needle – Use dental floss or 4x tippet for thread. Emergency fire starter – Normally a small ziploc bag of clothes dryer lint or a couple of vaseline-coated cotton balls and a box of matches or a flint fire starter. Prescription medicines. Useful to carry Penicillin and Cortisone. See your Doctor before the trip and stock up.

Personal medications that don't need refrigeration


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What SANBI’s National Biodiversity Assessment 2018 means for angling Title and South Africa written by First Second Name Photos: other Ian Cox name Southern African Flyfishing Magazine was invited to the launch of SANBI’s National Biodiversity Assessment 2018 (“NBA 2018”)on 3 October 2019. This took place in Pretoria so we could not attend but the synthesis report is available online. It is bad news for recreational angling in South Africa, for environmental management under the Constitution and the rule of law. It is another milestone in South Africa’s journey towards an increasingly racialised autocratic and corrupt South Africa. It is another milestone in the destruction South Africa’s constitutional dream by the capture of state institutions that are opposed to a human right based system of government under the rule of law.

and South African invasion biologists says that an alien species is invasive if it is capable of establishing and spreading in the wild. This is not the legal definition of invasive. It is also incompatible with the environmental right set out in section 24 of the Constitution. But these legal norms or what DEFF’s Dr Guy Preston calls “legalise” are ignored by invasion biologists and government when implementing South Africa’s laws. Hence my reference to state capture earlier in this article. This is why DEFF regards all alien fish as invasive and is calling for their eradication wherever this is possible. This is in line with NEMBA and our international treaty obligations which requires government to rollout extensive invasive species control and eradication plans and for land owners to take steps to control and eradicate invasive species on their property. However, no country in the world has an anti-alien law such as NEMBA and no country defines invasive species as SANBI wants South Africa to do.

SANBI is described as the “scientific authority” in government circles. Its statutory role is to advise government on biodiversity management. It is thus a powerful influencer embedded within the structures of government. SANBI perspective is not constitutionally aligned. The Constitution and NEMA require a reasonable and principled people first approach to environmental management. But SANBI along with DEFF adopts a fundamentally conservationist approach to biodiversity management that regards human beings and human activity as foreign or alien to nature.

The importance of eradication of alien fishes is emphasised in NBA 2018 which notes the success of such eradication measures and recommends that these initiatives be continued and expanded. This is why DEFF is trying to list trout as invasive and why trophy bass in internationally renowned fishing venues such as Loskop Dam are being specifically targeted for eradication.

Recreational anglers largely target what invasive biologists call “alien fish” A species is considered alien according to invasion biology thinking if it is introduced into an area where it did not previously occur at any time as a result of human activity. Invasion biologists believe that these human introductions are unnatural and thus foreign and something that is essentially hostile and thus to be feared. Hence the use of the term “alien”.

SANBI and DEFF justify these actions claiming that one third of native fish are threatened with extinction. MPTA’s Andre Hoffman justifies spearfishing for trophy bass in Loskop dam on the basis it is also home to 23 native species. However, closer examination of the data backing these claim shows that 40% of the native fish species SANBI claim to be threatened with extinction are not listed on the IUCN Red Data List as such. This is because SANBI has its own list of

There are many definitions of what invasive species means. The definition preferred by SANBI


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threatened species. Unlike the IUCN, no rules exist for determining how a species is listed and there is no process in terms of which these findings can be challenged. SANBI is the scientific authority and its opinions must be regarded as law.

participation in law making. FOSAF’s application was brought against the DEFF minister but is being opposed by DEFF’s Dr Preston who claims that it is impractical to expect the minister to explain why she wants to list a species as invasive. The fact that a scientific authority such as SANBI thinks this should be done or that SANBI’s definition of what is invasive is very different to the legal one, are all irrelevant in his opinion. So, it seems is the participation of the DEFF minister who has still not filed an affidavit in the matter despite being the only respondent.

The fact that alien fish species often cohabit with native ones and have become naturalised is also ignored as are other factors that threaten both native and alien fish species. Thus, trout are still regarded as invasive even when they have not become established in the wild and despite the fact that the distribution range of trout is reducing. The fact that they are alien and have established in the wild is sufficient for scientist at SANBI and SAIAB to condemn them as invasive.

This is the future that awaits South Africa if nothing is done to stop this state sponsored attack on the Constitution and the rule of law. Reports such as NBA 2018 will take on the force of law through the application of a discretionary permitting regime that makes it a criminal offence to use biological resources without a permit. I am not making this up. The laws that enable this regime are already written into NEMBA. Moreover, DEFF has spent the last 10 or so years building a network of extra legal planning tools that were not adopted in terms of any public participation process that it can apply and change at will when considering whether to grant or withdraw a permit.

SANBI goes on to claim that a total of 81% of South Africa’s freshwater fishes of “conservation concern” are threatened by non-native invasive fishes. These fish include the ubiquitous Barbus anoplus or chubbyhead barb which exist in abundance in many of Kwa Zulu Natal’s trout dams. This claim also ignores the major threats of pollution, water abstraction and habitat loss which are significantly downplayed throughout NBA 2018. For example, the word "invasive" is used 145 times in NBA 2018 whereas “pollution” is only used 5 times. “Habitat loss” is used 61 times and “abstraction” 29 times. The speaks to an obvious and gross mischaracterisation of the true nature of the environmental har m that we are experiencing.

The extensive reference to critical biodiversity areas and important or fish sanctuary areas in NBA 2018 is one example of this. There is no legal basis for these areas. Public participation rules apply to the functionally similar system of protected ecosystems prescribed in NEMA. DEFF has avoided complying with these rules by simply changing its name. SANBI is complicit in this illegitimate endeavour.

The fanciful nature of the alien threat which underpins the thinking behind NBA 2018 is one of the main reasons why DEFF cannot comply with the public participation requirements prescribed in the Constitution and other laws. The harsh reality is that its anti-alien approach is essentially a xenophobic or, one can even say an apartheid inspired, one that does not survive constitutional scrutiny.

This is the true face of environmental management in South Africa . DEFF and SANBI is getting away with it because it advances the radical economic transformation strategies that the ANC adopted in the run up to the Zuma years. Environmental authorities and state science institutions like SANBI like to portray themselves as the good guys but when you shine the light of the Constitution on what they are doing a very different picture emerges. It is easy to show that their actions place them firmly in the camp of state capture and the resultant corruption xenophobia, oppression and economic decay

This is why SANBI and DEFF’s efforts are directed at creating an extra legal permit driven system of government that can operates outside the realm of constitutional and legal oversight. The trout case which is slowly making its way through the legal process is FOSAF’s attempt to defend the constitutionally ordained process of public


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NATAL FLY DRESSERS SOCIETY Jan Korrûbel “…a series of fly tying classes presented in the early eighties at the Imperial Hotel in ‘Maritzburg. These were the heydays of fly fishing. Africa’s first, and at that stage, only, fly-shop had just opened in town, and there was a buzz. Classes were put together first in 1981 under the banner of the Natal Fly Fishers Club (founded 1972) and then in 1982 under the banner of the Natal Fly Dressers Society. “ (Andrew Fowler; )

The inaugural meeting of the Pietermaritzburg Fly Dressers Society was held at the Imperial Hotel, Pietermaritzburg, on Wednesday 23rd September, 1981, at 6pm. In the Welcome address by Sean Larkan, mention was made that the idea for the Society had originated from Jack Blackman about a year previously, and that idea had resulted in the evening’s meeting.

Dr. Neil Hodges was nominated, and duly elected, as Chairman of the first Committee; with other committee members Dr Tom Sutcliffe (President), Barry Lewitt (Secretary), Kevin Culverwell (Treasurer), Neil Maxwell (Editor), and Win Whitear, Hugh Huntley, John Robinson, Sean Larkan, Hamish Gerrard, Jack Blackman, Bill Duckworth and Chris Bateman filling General Committee Member positions.

Natal Fly Dressers Society Early Fly Tying Meeting at the Imperial Hotel, Pietermartizburg


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A Constitution had been drafted by Sean Larkan, and after lengthy discussion, the name of the Society (proposed by Dr. Sutcliffe) was changed to the NATAL FLY DRESSERS SOCIETY, and duly accepted by the meeting. After a further brief discussion, it was proposed that the membership fee (for the first year) would be R10-00 (p.a.) – accepted as cash, postal order or cheque! It was also decided at this meeting that membership of the Society be open to all race groups.

some time or another. Jack Blackman (30 years - 13/10/81) H.A. (Tony) Biggs (various – 22/10/81) Bill Sonnenberg (3 years – 02/11/81) Roger Baert (10 years – 22/01/82) James (Jim) Read (10 months – 10/11/82) Barry Leonard Kent (20 years – 07/12/81) Mark Glen Yelland (26/09/88) Ilan Lax (4 months – 05/02/90) Jeremy Paul Rochester (nil – 15/04/91) Dean Riphagen (13 years – 02/06/92) Terry Andrews (1 year – 02/06/92) Shaun Jon Futter (nil – 08/02/93)

Eleven applications for membership were received on the night (fly dressing experience as requested) : Hugh Bailey Huntley (35 years), Thomas James Sutcliffe (20 years), Neil Hodges (5 years), William Calvert Duckworth (3 years), Sean Hector Wallace Larkan (9 months), Christopher John Hadley-Grave (1 year), Robert Mark Henderson Wilson (15 years), Winston Edward Whitear (1 year), Neil Edgar Maxwell (2 years), Hamish Innes Gerrard (12 years), and Philip Digby Braithwaite (3 years).

Pre-dating the inception of the Natal Fly Dressers Society, there was only sporadic mention of flies and fly tying in “The Creel”, the official publication of the Natal Fly Fishers Club. There were articles of a scientific nature; for example, describing the life cycle of insects that trout live on. “The Artificial Nymph (Part I)” in issue #7 of Summer 1973/1974, followed by Part II in issue #8 of Autumn 1974, had Tom Sutcliffe singing the praises of nymphing (as opposed to the old-school approach of large matukastyle flies on a fast-sinking line fished downstream … oh the horror! )

The following few years saw the membership ranks swell, some of whom are still members to this day, with a number of South African fly fishing and fly tying cognoscenti passing through the ranks at


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Of interest, is Bill Duckworth’s article “Dry Fly in The Dargle” of Autumn 1979 (vol.5, issue #5) – no points for guessing which fly he was writing about … yes, the “Dry Dargle Deerhair” … never heard of it? … neither have I, but it was of course the now (in)famous D.D.D. that Tom Sutcliffe had tied for Bill using klipspringer hair, and later renamed as “Duckworth’s Dargle Delight”.

“Flytying is more than a hobby. It is an experience. So put R10,00 in your pocket, and come and join us at the Imp!“ - Tom Sutcliffe

Tom Sutcliffe’s article “FlyTying and You” (Vol.5 #8, November 1982) makes

mention of the early fly tying lessons given by Hugh Huntley and himself helped by Don Robertshaw, which were held under the banner of the NFFC, and goes on to introduce the new body NFDS as taking over as the patron of the course. Based in Pietermaritzburg, Society members came from around the greater Midlands, but also from Pinetown, Hillcrest and Durban, prompting the development of a Durban Branch of the NFDS. The minutes of the Committee meeting of April 1983 record Jack Blackman as standing down from the Committee because of the distance that he had to travel to attend the monthly meetings. From this, the seed for the Durban Branch of the NFDS was born, the inaugural meeting of which was held on 24 November 1983.

the agenda), which run the range of salt water to fresh, small streams to dams, and everything else in between!

At a Committee meeting of the NFDS on 21 July 1993, it was proposed by the committee of the Durban Chapter that the Durban Branch run as an independent club.

The monthly fly tying meets are generally tuned to the fishing season, with prevalent fly / flies for that period.

Members were sent a form letter on 23 July 1993 on which they could indicate which club they wished to be a member of. By year end, the Durban Fly Tyers (DFT), as we know it today, was formalised with Kevin Cole as Chairman.

Each month the demonstration fly / flies will be notified to members, along with the recipe(s) so that members can prepare for the meeting. On the day, it’s a case of bring your own vice, tools and thread, and materials where possible ‌ harder to find materials are either provided by the Club or shared from other members.

In summary, the NFDS is a group of likeminded enthusiasts with a passion for fly tying (and of course flyfishing). Meetings are held on the 2nd Tuesday of every month at the Victoria Country Club in Pietermaritzburg, and we invite anyone with even so much as a passing interest in fly tying to attend, regardless of skill level or experience.

For more information, please contact NFDS Chair, Jan Korrubel

Junior members, the very future of our sport, are especially welcome. Guest tyers are invited to showcase their specialist patterns (Peter Brigg is a well-known face on

Direct Message via the NFDS Facebook page at natalflydressers/ 083 99 33 870


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FOSAF NEWS Ilan Lax Late October, and the rains should have been here by now. Things up country are very very dry. Our usually green lawn is still struggling to find its verdant summer groove. All told, it looks like we may well be heading into another drought-induced rain sparse summer.

from our long experience of some of her key officials. Our legal team are finalising the heads of argument to be used in the case. Once these have been filed at court, the department will have to do likewise. Thereafter, the case can be set down for a hearing. These preparations have been time consuming and onerous. I am indebted to our legal team and to Ian Cox in particular, for making sure that our case is well framed and will be well argued.

Despite this, the fishing reports have not been half bad. This morning at a seminar I bumped into a well-known Durban fly-fisher and dresser. He intimated that despite the lack of rain and the unusually warm spring he and his fishing friends had enjoyed a good couple of outings on our Midlands still waters.

FOSAF recently lodged a submission on some aspects of the second draft of the National Freshwater (Inland) Wild Capture Fisheries Policy. I am indebted to Dr Leonard Flemming who undertook some useful research and drafted the bulk of the submission.

While we are in the throes of some peculiar weather (severe drought and damaging floods) we tend to forget that South Africa is a water scarce country and that droughts cycl es a re more the nor m than the exception. Some of what we are experiencing appears to be compounded by climate change.

This policy will inform how recreational anglers and other user groups will be allowed to make use of South Africa’s public freshwater fisheries resources. It is vital for the future sustainability of this important national natural resource that all user groups work together to find equitable solutions to some of the problems we are experiencing. South Africa remains one of the most unequal countries in the world. Bearing in mind this inequality and the enormous needs of ordinary people, it is not surprising that our freshwater fisheries is seen as a possible source of livelihood and subsistence by those in need.

One thing is for certain, is unlikely that our weather patterns will return to the “past normalcy” our parents and grandparents took for granted. Turning to other matters, you must be wondering what has happened to our court case against DEFF. I recently had reason to meet the new Minister in an unrelated context. It was notable how open and receptive the Minister was. This was a far cry


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The difficulty we face is that this resource is vulnerable and subject to a variety of pressures which include, pollution from mining, industry, sewerage and solid waste, habitat destruction, water abstraction and many others. The lack of proper and accountable governance and compliance implementation have exacerbated this toxic mix. I have been increasingly alarmed by the levels of antagonism and lack of cooperation that exists in the sector. This is not helpful to finding workable solutions and alternatives or equitable outcomes.

This in the face of officials who appear unable or unwilling to accept the practical, workable and cost-effective alternatives being proposed instead of the unwelcome and misnamed Aquaculture Development Bill that is being forced upon the sector. Aquaculture is is a vital component of the trout value chain. This is what has motivated FOSAF to participate in Trout SA’s efforts to ensure our future supply of fish and through this, our flyfishing opportunities. As you can see these are just a few of the many activities FOSAF is involved in, among the many different aspects affecting our flyfishing. If there are other areas you believe we should be helping with please let us know. We would really like to support you where possible.

These issues and the differing needs and interests require a very careful balancing act to ensure the sustainability of this resource. I would suggest that FOSAF collaborates with other stakeholders to ensure that these resources remain viable for future generations. We thus invite all anglers and other stakeholders to work together to achieve this end.

Our membership renewals will be going out soon and we look forward to hearing from you.

In a similar vein, the Aquaculture sector has experienced a difficult and arduous journey in its efforts to ensure a sustainable industry.

I wish you a great summer season’s fishing. Yours on the line

WINNERS The winner of the Member’s Draw in August 2019 is Mr Timothy Elliott (HE0001) from St Francis Bay in the Eastern Cape whose prize is a 3-night self-catering stay for 4 people, inclusive of the rod fee at The Highland Lodge.

The winner of the Member's Draw for November 2019 is Mr Craig Ebersohn (EE0001) from Howick in KZN who has won a gift voucher for Rochester Tackle to the value of R250,00.


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