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SOUTHERN AFRICAN

AFRICA’S ORIGINAL FLYFISHING MAGAZINE

issn 1011-3681

officiaL Magazine of fosaf

September/OctOber 2018 VOl. 32 NO. 168


CONTENTS SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2018

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 issuu.com 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!

Editorial — Ian Cox . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 The usual editorial guff and a little bit more 5 Ws for Southern African Flyfishing magazine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Why we took on the magazine and what we want to do with it Publisher’s Farewell — Erwin Bursik . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Congratulatory handover message from Angler Publications First Bite — Andrew Savs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 A regular witty column on all things flyfishing and way beyond Small Stream Synchronicity — Marcel Terblanche . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 Fishing for hidden trout in the Southern Cape’s small streams Northern Grand Slam — Reghard du Toit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18 Flyfishing for trout and monster pike in Northern Saskatchewan Killing the Vaal — Chris Williams and Ian Cox . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28 We look at the other water crisis — pollution in the Vaal River War on Trout — Ian Cox . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .34 A brief update on the attempts to list trout as invasive Gold in KZN — Keegan Kennedy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36 Winter fishing for the Natal scaly The Passing Scene — Jake Alletson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .42 The first in a series on the function of rivers A Killer Put to Good Use — Robin Fick . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .44 An initiative to safely dispose of old nylon leaders Master Craftsman — Craig Thom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46 Behind the scenes with Stephen Boshoff My First Fly Part 3 — Peter Brigg . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .52 The next step in a five-part series


Contents page photo by Simon Hunter Bunn

2018 SA Fly-Tying Open — Gordon van der Spuy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .58 An indepth look at what judges wanted at the recent fly-tying competition Being a Woman in Waders — Bridgitte Stegen and Carmen Barends . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .62 A new club brings more women into flyfishing Club Directory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .67 Details of South African flyfishing clubs Mad Dogs and Welshmen — Ian Cox . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .68 Details of a recent egg collecting trip to Thrift Dam Community Fishing on the Bushman’s River — Bridgitte Stegen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .74 News about NFFC’s community initiative on the iconic Bushman’s River Mpumalanga Memories — Andrew Allman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .82 A reader enjoys a flyfishing trip to Trout Hideaway Bids, Boys and Bamboo Under the Blood Moon Sky — Andrew Mather . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .86 The roistering good time that was had at the 2018 Expo Destination: Dullstroom — Cheryl Heyns . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .90 The SAFFA president gives us the heads up on this upcoming event Prepping for Youth Nationals — Louis de Jager . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .93 Youngsters are working hard to make the Protea team The Feather Thief — Ian Cox . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .94 Review of the controversial best seller Get Yourself in Gear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .96 We showcase gear with a difference Club Profiles: Cape Piscatorial Society and Jacaranda Flyfishing Club . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .98 A closer look at two of South Africa’s most active flyfishing clubs FOSAF News — Ilan Lax . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .100 Regular feature highlighting activities at the national flyfishing body


WHO’S WHO SOUTHERN AFRICAN FLYFISHING: • Available free of charge online at www.issuu.com; • Published bi-monthly; • The official magazine of the Federation of Southern African Flyfishers (FOSAF); • Africa’s original flyfishing magazine. PUBLISHER: Southern African Flyfishing Magazine (Pty) Ltd Registration No. 2018/356867/07 www.saflyfishingmag.co.za editor@saflyfishing.co.za EDITORS: Ian Cox (082 574 3722) Andrew Mather (083 3090233) Andrew Savides (081 046 9107) CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS ISSUE: Jake Alletson, Andrew Allman, Peter Brigg, Ian Cox, Cheryl Heyns, Louis de Jager, Reghard Du Toit, Robin Fick, Keegan Kennedy, Andrew Mather, Andrew Savs, Bridgitte Stegen, Marcel Terblanche, Craig Thom, Chris Williams and Gordon van der Spuy. LAYOUT AND PRODUCTION: Angler Publications CC e-mail: sheena@mags.co.za 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.

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EDITORIAL OUTHERN African Flyfishing magazine is under new management. Andrew Mather and Andrew Savides (aka the two Andrews) and I took over the magazine from Erwin Bursik of Angler Publications just before it was about to

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close. I write about the hows and whys of that decision and our vision for the future on the opposite page under the heading “The 5 Ws — A reason for being”; check it out if you are interested. If you want to dig deeper you can also read more about the history of the magazine on the Southern African Flyfishing magazine web page. We are also on Facebook and Instagram. We hope you like the small change in name. The digital publication space is global, and we felt a change in name was necessary in order to explain who we are to the flyfishing community outside South Africa. We hope it will make the name less generic. We also hope you like the new look. The idea is to clean up the look of the magazine and make it easier to read electronically. You will note we make liberal use of hyperlinks to take you (virtually) to places both within and outside the magazine. The idea is that you can navigate around the magazine from the contents page and share content via e mail and on social media. Check out the contents page for further details on how to do this if you don’t already know how. Another feature which the digital space allows us is to hyperlink outside the magazine. We want to expand on this feature going forward, but feel free to explore what we’ve already got on offer. You will note that the magazine is adopting a very active role in the environmental space. This is not just about trout, it is about river health in general and ultimately the health and wellbeing of all South Africans. What is happening on the Vaal River at Sebokeng is just the tip of the turd (iceberg is the wrong metaphor). We will be exploring the clear and present danger that is the pollution of our waterways in forthcoming editions of the magazine. However, the articles are not all about gloomy stuff. There is a lot of flyfishing in these pages as well, flyfishing of all types, nogal. In this issue we have Marcel Terblanche’s beautiful prose and pictures of small streams running alongside an article on stillwaters (or what I call bwana fishing) at Trout Hideaway in Mpumalanga. There is also the tale of Reghard du Toit’s grand slam in Canada. If only I could be there! Taking a closer look at some of our local craftsmen, Craig Thom profiles his good mate and world class bamboo rod builder Stephen Boshoff. Elsewhere in the magazine we talk about exciting plans to improve access to the Bushmans and introduce our readers to the zany crew that are KZN’s women in waders. On the fly-tying side, continuing on from the last two issues of Flyfishing magazine, Peter Brigg gives us part three in his series on how to tie your first fly, while Gordon van der Spuy wonders why fly-tyers do not enter fly-tying competitions. Read your own article, Gordon — tying against South Africa’s best is intimidating, and I don’t intimidate easily. We hope you enjoy the new look magazine. Please, please share it widely, and email editor@saflyfishingmag.co.za to let us know what you think. Till next time Ian Cox www.saflyfishingmag.co.za


PHILOSOPHY



What, why, how, where and when of Southern African Flyfishing By Ian Cox WHAT? FLYFISHING magazine — now renamed Southern African Flyfishing — started as FOSAF's official journal in 1987. It was taken over by Angler Publications who rebranded it as Africa's Original Flyfishing Magazine in 1992. The present owners, Southern African Flyfishing Magazine (Pty) Ltd, took ownership of the magazine in July 2018 in order to prevent it from being closed down. The publication is still FOSAF's official magazine and remains Africa's original flyfishing magazine but has been rebranded as Southern African Flyfishing. WHY? That’s a very good question. Why take on a magazine that advertisers have walked away from especially when they show no signs of wanting to come back? Why take on something that, according to conventional wisdom, has failed? And why change a name that has been around for 30 years? The smart money would probably have walked away. So why are we stepping where others will not tread? In short we like the magazine and we think that Southern African flyfishers like it too. We believe it's an authentic voice that has spoken to and for Southern Africa's flyfishing community for over 30 years and we would like it to continue to do so. Authenticity is key for us. The three new owners are all serious flyfishers who are actively involved in the Southern African flyfishing community. This community needs a platform that is not crowded out by the noise one finds in the electronic media space and where Southern African flyfishers are given a voice. Southern African Flyfishing will provide a platform for that voice to be heard. With that in mind we plan to produce a content-driven publication where South African flyfishers can write on the issues they care about and which are of interest to fellow flyfishers. We want to be part of the conversations that ordinary fly anglers are having every day, sharing the passion, the knowledge and the fun we fly anglers have. It will be a place where the Join us on Facebook

beginners and the experts are brought together, making it easier for fly anglers to be who they want to be in this community of ours. Why change the name? We believe that the new title more clearly describes what the magazine is. You could get away with a generic title like Flyfishing back in the days of localised print media, but you can't in the global space that is electronic media. “Flyfishing, but where?” is the obvious question. Flyfishing became Southern African Flyfishing to answer that question. HOW AND WHERE? The previous owners explained that advertisers persuaded them to take the magazine digital and then dropped them when they went exclusively digital. We think the move to an exclusively digital publication was the right one. Research shows that flyfishers in Southern Africa mainly talk about fishing and interact with fellow flyfishers on social media. In total the Trout Talk, Yellow Talk, Tiger Talk and Salt Talk Facebook pages have about 13 000 members. This is far larger than even the combined circulation of Southern Africa's print media flyfishing magazines. Research on these social media platforms shows an age demographic that, while centred in the 35 to 45 year group, is remarkably diverse. This confirms our sense that enthusiastic fly anglers are communicating largely in the social media space and if that is where flyfishers are talking, then that’s where we want to be. The magazine will continue to be published on ISSUU and it will be distributed electronically by e-mail to those who subscribe (which is free) but otherwise to clubs, syndicates and into the flyfishing value chain and, most importantly, on social media platforms. It’s important to note that we will not be the only ones doing this; readers are encouraged to share links to the magazine as a whole or specific articles with all their contacts. WHEN? The magazine remains a bimonthly publication, but will henceforth be published in January, March, May, July, September and November of every year. Return to contents • 5


COMMENT

The end of one era and the start of another. Erwin Bursik (previous publisher), Jim Read (FOSAF KZN Chairman), Sheena Carnie (previous editor), Ian Cox, Andrew Savides, Andrew Mather and Ilan Lax (FOSAF National Chairman) celebrate the handover of Flyfishing magazine.

 

  By Erwin Bursik

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HERE comes a time in one’s life when change becomes inevitable, and an occasion such as that recently arrived in my own life and it had a dramatic effect on the continuation of Flyfishing magazine. Following the aquisition of the rights to publish Flyfishing from FOSAF in the early 1990s, the magazine, the sport itself and the very many flyfishers throughout South Africa have brought me rich rewards. Of these, financial rewards have been the very least, and being constantly exposed to many flyfishing destinations both here and outside our borders has been the most rewarding. This, together with the many wonderful flyfishers I have met and spent time with on the water has brought me joy and happiness that’s priceless. So it was with a very heavy heart that we at Flyfishing decided it was time to hand over the reins. Our great consolation, however, is that the reins are now held firmly in the grip of three of the most dedicated flyfishers I have ever met. 6 • Return to contents

They will continue to publish Flyfishing (now renamed Southern African Flyfishing) and, in so doing, will continue to promote this vibrant and exciting pastime. As I said to Ian Cox and Ilan Lax, Chairman of FOSAF, handing over the reins of Flyfishing was like giving away a daughter at her wedding — it’s a sad moment, yet in some ways it’s a relief to hand over the responsibility, secure in the knowledge that she will still be part of your life. This is exactly what has happened with Flyfishing. She’s no longer mine, but I will still be attached to her in her new format. My sincere thanks to all the advertisers and readers who supported us over the last 30 years; we really appreciate your loyalty. My hope is that you will continue to support the new owners in even greater measure. To Ian Cox, Andrew Mather and Andrew Savides, I have no doubt that you will make a success of Southern African Flyfishing, and will impart your immense knowledge and enthusiasm to all those who will read your digital version of Africa’s original flyfishing magazine.

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For further details on our rates and how to book space visit www.saflyfishingmag.co.za or email editor@saflyfishingmag.co.za


FIRST BITE

TELLING STORIES

Trying not to stuff it up By Andrew Savs

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O be fair, the day wasn’t exactly following my meticulously prepared script. It was supposed to have been an early coffee with a small group of anglers at a central meeting point, a quick introduction to a film crew and an easy drive to fish sections of a magnificently rehabilitated trout stream. Wanting to at least look the part for the camera, I had packed my best rod, a suitable vintage style reel and had recalled from its recent early retirement on the grounds of ill health my finest hat. I was determined to cut a dashing figure and to have my fly angling prowess and almost impossibly fluid grace recorded for all posterity. When interviewed on the success of the project I resolved to have myself captured reclining against a tree, my hat tipped low toward my stubbled chin and my pipe clenched firmly in the corner of my mouth. Questions would be answered in a clipped, gravelly tone and not before I’d squinted into the vacant middle distance and taken a suitably deep and thoughtful pause. I’d been practicing in the mirror a facial expression somewhere midway between Brad Pitt and Clint Eastwood, and I reckon that I had it nailed down. The bit of existential poetry that I’d written specially for the occasion was folded neatly into my breast pocket in the inevitable event that something extraordinarily meaningful was needed for the title sequence. How I came to start the morning lying in a self-loathing heap outside the coffee shop, my head resting gingerly on a kerbstone and my legs protruding into the car park is another matter entirely, but an impromptu dinner with friends preceded by crisp ales, punctuated by red wine and capped by several single malts and a bottle of port far too good for the likes of me may have had a small hand in it. This sorry state of affairs isn’t something habitual for me, but when I do something I like to do it properly. As a matter of personal pride (and despite

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having to stop en route to collect the perpetually tardy McGupta) we had arrived slightly earlier than arranged. The same could not be said for the film crew. They never pitched up at all, and while I shudder to think that my fine poetry or carefully practiced facial expressions had been wasted, I did feel a certain cooling sensation of relief. If nothing else I was now no longer in the full glare of everyone’s general discontent. Clutching my second double Americano in uncertain hands and dusting brake dust, glass chips and the common detritus of the average car park from my back and gripping the wheel with white knuckles, McGupta and I made our slow but steady way to the section of river allocated to us. It’s a beautiful stream for the most part, and it has bounced back in the most astounding way as a result of the programme aimed at its full rehabilitation. In the section that we were allocated to fish you would, however, be blind to the transformation in its curent condition. You can’t see the damned thing through the fortress wall of almost impenetrable head-high reeds that grow along it. To make a difficult assignment close to impossible, a blustery wind picked up just as we began stringing our rods. By the time we hit the river I could barely hear the throbbing in my head through the cacophony of a million reeds being battered in the gale. Dreams of graceful casts, perfect presentations and deeply bent rods were scattered like dust on a farm road. When I fish well I fish reasonably well, but on my off-days I’m atrocious. This was an off-day of biblical proportions. One in three casts made it to the water, and none of those settled within a rod’s length of where I aimed it. When the wind blew I snagged the reeds around me; when it didn’t I over-compensated and got caught up in the sticks on the far bank. In the lulls between gusts of wind all that could at first be heard was cursing and, later, as the day wore tediously on, wailing and sobbing. McGupta’s efforts, on the other hand, bore him a few brace of feisty 17-inch browns, making him the outstanding angler of the day. He would most certainly have caught more if I didn’t stop him as frequently as I did to ask for replacements for all of the tackle that I’d wrapped so permanently around every trap that I could find. My score at the end of the day was one fish dropped, two spools of tippet emptied, a few dozen flies lost and three tapered leaders destroyed. Like a fortune teller reading tea Join us on Facebook

leaves, I stared forlornly into the foam of my lunchtime pint in the hope that it would hold the prophecy of a brighter future. It didn’t, and we skipped the afternoon session. My season got progressively worse. I blanked here, I dropped good fish there, I broke gear, I broke body parts and I spent a lot of time off the water. By the time I had recovered enough to make an attempt at angling I was an anxious, self-conscious drooling and shaking mess, unable to believe that I’d ever net a fish again. On our first two or three outings after my break my friends gave me the bulk of the fishing. They didn’t say anything, they just shooed me ahead of them with a gentle “You take this one” (and a strongly implied “Try not to stuff1 it up”). Knowing that game time is the best way to recover good form, they could not have been more generous. The Supermodel, despite his advanced years, carried my gear and helped me up and down portions of a valley that, with my recent surgery not fully healed, I would otherwise not be able to pass. He and Doc gave me the first shot at all of the best pools on another river and, slowly, over some time, with a fish here and a fish there, my mojo, tentative as it is, returned. By mid-season I was back to my usual reasonable, although characteristically bumbling, form. For this I am grateful beyond measure There are not many people that I’ve fished with and I intentionally keep it that way. The circle of people with whom I do fish regularly is small and tight. They’re a complicated and talented bunch, each in their own way. They’re generous to a fault and will endure substantial personal sacrifice to come to one another’s aid. They’ll graciously give their partners the best pool, their last of a successful fly pattern or first shot a deadcert with a not-too-gentle reminder not to stuff it up. Rest assured, they will chastise you savagely and mercilessly when you do ruin the golden chance. Duffing a good fish is a cardinal sin and is met with equal measures of empathy and profanity. Earlier this year I was offered the privilege of wading into unfamiliar waters with two friends for whom I hold much love and respect. One day we were a group of garden-variety middleaged flyfishers and the next we were magazine publishers. Like standing on the bank of any unfamiliar water, it is as frightening as it is exciting. We’ll try not to stuff it up. 1

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FEATURE


     

A closer look at the Bosvark Stream brownies Article and photos by Marcel Terblanche driftflyfisher@gmail.com


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RECENTLY decided I should pen a story about a special little stream called Leopard’s Creek; I was planning on heading the story “Magic on Leopard’s Creek”. Leopard’s Creek is an icy cold, spring-fed tributary of a well-known but very seldom fished trout stream high in the mountains of the south western Cape. It runs about five degrees colder than the main branch of the kloof during the height of the Cape summer, making it a haven for the rainbows to take refuge in. One pool on this tributary is the favourite drinking spot of a resident leopard in the kloof and is the reason that I call it Leopard’s Creek. I hadn’t fished for nine months straight and 12 • Return to contents

was starting to feel a bit like a deer caught in the headlights, anxious and confused with delirious visions of wild trout never again rising to my fly. While pondering Leopard’s Creek I was driving on a road less travelled to the most treasured small stream I have ever come across, the Bosvark. My planned story on Leopard’s Creek still lingered in my mind, but I knew that would change as soon as I reached my destination. There I would immerse myself in the deep realms of a primordial forest to stalk and hunt the wild brown trout that have called this place home for over 120 years; there my mind would be still. For me, smallstream trout fishing is much like stalking a wily bushbuck on foot with a tradiwww.saflyfishingmag.co.za


An adipose fin from heaven. tional bow. You need to synchronise with nature’s pace and become part of the environment, blending in so to speak. I sat myself down on a moss covered boulder and just soaked up the life around me. The Afromontane forest is always a sensory feast and here the rich scent of geosmin from the forest floor and petrichor from the previous night’s drizzle permeated the cool air. The constant music of the stream was complimented by the song of solitary forest birds echoing across the lofty corridors of ancient yellowwoods. It’s like therapy, just a hundred times better. I threaded my finest furled line through the guides on the little sub one-ounce rod and tied Join us on Facebook

on the perfect tippet. The fly I chose was a tiny #18 soft hackle spider which seemed ideal for this water where spiders and other buggy insects abound on the streamside vegetation. Just upstream from me a small wild brownie was rising and occasionally leaping out after low flying damsels. My trout hunting withdrawal symptoms were quelled; it was going to be a perfect day. I set down my rod and lit a customary prehunt smoke before moving in to take the brownie. There’s just something magical about putting a fly down between the ferns and watching fluorescent red spots appearing from the shadows of the fronds to sip down your offering. Pure sorcery to say the least. Return to contents • 13


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The Bosvark Stream. Join us on Facebook

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The Bosvark is a unique trout stream that flows through dense Afromontane forest in a mountainous area criss-crossed by rolling valleys and steep gorges. What makes it even more unique is that it’s home to a strain of incredibly pretty brown trout not seen elsewhere in South Africa. This leaves more questions than answers as to when they were introduced, because according to our history books they shouldn’t be here. I would guess that they were introduced here by European construction workers in the late 1800s, but we’ll leave that debate for another day. These enchanting browns are characterised by fluorescent orange spots and fantastic Verdigris blues and gold not seen on the more popular English strains of Salmo Trutta that were introduced to KZN and the streams of the south western Cape. The brownies of Transylvanian forest streams come to mind. These browns are ever wary and very spooky; they contend with otters and other predators on a daily basis, so stealth and silence is the key to success here. I had a great day and never changed my fly once; that little soft hackle spider proved its mettle and I took a dozen browns on it before trekking back through the forest. Synchronicity is a funny thing, it catches you totally off guard and only after some introspection does it all seem to make sense in some bizarre coincidental way that actually doesn’t make any sense at all. On my way to the Bosvark that morning I couldn’t get the leopard of Leopard’s Creek out of my mind, but I eventually lost thought of it in the forest. All I could think of on my drive home were those gorgeous browns that so eagerly took my spider; I was no longer the deer caught in the headlights and my hunger pangs had been satisfied. Suddenly the reflection of an eye in my headlights brought me to a halt. A feline form stood before me on the road; a beautiful Cape leopard was now caught in my headlights! We stared at each other momentarily and then it swiftly moved across the verge and quietly disappeared into the forest. I pulled off the road for a minute and lit a smoke; my epic day had ended with a once in a lifetime sighting. The thing is, I had never seen the leopard of Leopard’s Creek, only its tracks at its regular drinking spot. Why on this day, when I spent the morning hours dreaming of Leopard’s Creek did I actually see a leopard 700km away? Some would say it’s just a coincidence, but I’d say it’s something deeper than that. I suppose that when you’ve spent 24 years hunting trout mostly on your own in long forgotten kloofs, all things are deeper than just superficial nonsense. 16 • Return to contents

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Leopard’s Creek.

Fin perfect brownie. Join us on Facebook

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INTERNATIONAL

By Reghard du Toit


Author with a big northern pike taken on the monkey fly.


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RECENTLY found myself again on a very bumpy floatplane ride to a remote piece of heaven at Careen Lake in Canada’s Northern Saskatchewan. Thanks to wisdom gained from previous experiences I had double dosed on the Gravol to prevent motion sickness. It was, however, a very stormy morning and the plane dipped and rocketed all over the place; I was desperately fighting the waves of nausea. With me were two South African friends who live in Canada, as well as Randy who was our host and is a part

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owner of the Grayling Lodge. There was also a Swiss student who we nicknamed Switzer and a few other Canadian faces. The pilot, to my relief, finally touched down on a rough lake. I worked in Saskatchewan in 2009 and 2010, during which time I twice had the privilege to visit this pristine piece of water. I also got to know the country when my wife and I spent a year in Calgary in 2016/2017, so I jumped at the opportunity when I was invited to join the spring trip to Grayling Lodge. The spring trip is scheduled just as the ice comes off and fishing is extremely good, with there being almost more water than land in Northern Saskatchewan at that time of the year.

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Careen Lake is not well known. There is only one other lodge on the lake and it is unusual to find any other boats on this vast expanse of water. It offers extremely good northern pike, lake trout and wall eye fishing as well as the opportunity to catch white fish and Arctic grayling. Having fished the lake previously with conventional gear, I was looking forward to trying my luck with the fly rod. I had never caught any of these species on fly and I tried to gather as much information as I could from the internet. I took along one 6-wt and two 8-wt rods with matching floating, intermediate and sinking lines. I had no space for my vice on the flight to

Canada, but had a few of my own and a variety of Canadian flies. Canadian flies don’t come cheap; an average nymph is around $3 with the big pike flies going up to $10 per fly. The first afternoon was spent unloading and setting up everything at Grayling Lodge which would be our home for the next nine days. We were the first people there after the winter and there was a lot of work to be done to get the lodge up and running. Everyone did his bit and within a few hours all the outboards were serviced and the boats in the water, ready for the next day’s fishing. After settling in our separate cabins we headed back to the main lodge for a quick dinner.

A late afternoon view of one of the rivers draining from the main lake. Join us on Facebook

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View of the main lodge. Over a drink or two we discussed the fishing possibilities. and someone suggested we should have a friendly competition to see who could catch the biggest fish; everyone put in $20 to make up the grand prize. I was the only one planning to use a fly and had to put up with some banter from the group as flyfishing is not very popular in Saskatchewan. I remember one day fishing at a smaller lake where an Irishman was flyfishing from a float tube. Two Canadians parked behind me and got out of their truck. I will never forget the comment from one of the guys: “What the f.... is that guy doing? I that a boat?” The South African team headed out early the next morning to one of our favourite spots nicknamed “Kugers”. The plan was to target northern pike in the hope of landing a few trophy 20pounders. After the 35 minute boat ride to roughly the opposite side of the lake we reached our destination — a large, shallow bay where a river enters the main lake. The river bed carves a deep canal through the shallow bay creating the perfect drop off for big post-spawn pike to ambush unsuspecting baitfish. It wasn’t long before Frikkie Spangenberg and Kobus Steenkamp each landed a decent fish or two. I was fishing an oversized red and black Zonker fly which many online sites claimed was the top pike producer. This was not so in my case, as I had no success. Within two hours Frikkie had landed the first big fish of 19 pounds. I was getting a bit frustrated as one after another of my expensive and supposedly “ultimate” pike flies failed to attract any fish. 22 • Return to contents

I had previously had a lot of success at Careen Lake using lures that incorporated orange and yellow, and I had a few flies in those colour combinations so I switched to a distasteful, fairly large orange, yellow and gold Zonker fly bought at Cabelas. If I remember correctly the name on the container was Hot Bud Monkey. I was quite sceptical and only bought one which was a pity because it produced a fish on the first cast and proved to be my top fly for the trip. An hour later I had landed quite a few fish, the biggest around 12 pounds. It occurred to me that we were not having as much success in the shallows as usual and I realised the bigger fish were obviously deeper due to the cold wind and waves. I switched to an S3 line and big orange and olive baitfish pattern. Luckily the boat was anchored perfectly at that stage and I made a long cast right down the length of a deep, narrow canal. I allowed the fly to get down deep and started the retrieve. On the third strip I had a massive hit; strip-strike, fish on! It took line and stayed deep and I immediately knew this was a better fish. These bigger fish usually put up an incredible fight in the first few minutes and then tire quickly. This one was no exception and after about five minutes I had my first good fish in the boat — 17 pounds. I repeated the same process at a different spot and was awarded with an 18-pound fish shortly after. We had a terrific morning in spite of the bad weather and by midday we had caught and released 35 to 45 fish between the www.saflyfishingmag.co.za


View of the river flowing to the grayling/white fish pool. Join us on Facebook

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Frikkie with a big wall eye. Note the similarities to kob. three of us. It was early afternoon and we found ourselves close to the inlet of the river, once again fishing a deep canal. The pike were getting less active and we were preparing to leave for a different part of the lake when I had a peculiar tap on my Monkey fly. I kept up a steady retrieve and felt a little tap again. When I lifted the rod I felt some headshakes and I thought it was a small pike, but to my surprise I found a decent wall eye salmon with the Monkey fly firmly clenched in its kob-like mouth. Usually at this time of year you only get these fish high up in the rivers feeding the main lake, where they migrate to spawn at the end of winter. Due to the long travel time required to get to these remote spots we usually set aside a day 24 • Return to contents

or two per trip for dedicated wall eye fishing. It is therefore common to catch all five species per trip, but quite difficult to do it on one day so early in the season. Before the trip I played around with the idea of trying our luck at achieving a grand slam later during our visit, but this unexpected catch opened up a half gap. I impulsively decided that we should take our chances and told the others about my plan. Frikkie agreed; he would also try to get a wall eye at the same spot. We would then head back to the lodge and, on our way, fish for lake trout around the islands in the middle of the lake. Back at the lodge we would hike down to the large pool in a river which drains from the main lake, to target white fish and Arctic grayling. www.saflyfishingmag.co.za


Frikkie with an average lake trout.

Frikkie with a good size white fish. Frikkie changed his technique and didn’t waste time catching his wall eye. After arriving at the first fishy-looking drop off, I switched to an S7 line and a black, orange and yellow Tiger Clouser. These lake trout are easy to catch on conventional gear with the average fish in this area ranging between 3and 6 pounds. After about five minutes of blind casting I had a proper take and soon afterwards had a lake trout in the net. Only later in the week did I realise how lucky I was to get a fish so easily; these fish seem to be very fly shy and often short strIke. At the end a large white Zonker fished deep, with a slow retrieve, proved to be the top producer. It wasn’t long before the other two also both had a lake trout in the net. Join us on Facebook

We arrived at the lodge shortly after 6pm, but luckily at that time of year it only gets dark around 10pm. We told Randy about our plan, but he was a bit sceptical. He said the white fish could be difficult to catch and that recent forest fires had destroyed much of the vegetation around the lodge; the trail down to the pool was therefore not so easy to find and he was not sure if we would make it in time. Frikkie and I decided to push ahead with our plan anyway. We quickly gathered all our equipment and started the 45 minute hike down to the pool. We got lost a few times in this bearinfested country, but luckily did not come across any of those grumpy creatures and reached the pool with enough daylight left to try our luck. Frikkie fished the white water where the river Return to contents • 25


Author with one of the greyling caught on the first afternoon. The peculiar head-wear is to keep black flies and mosquitoes out.

flows into the pool and I fished the slower deep glide water lower down. I was using my 6-wt outfit with a small strike indicator and a team of mayfly imitations. The grayling seemed to be holding deep and I eventually got three quick fish after lengthening the indicator dropper to about 2m. The colours of these fish always amaze me; they fight extremely hard on light tackle and don’t give up easily. It is also almost impossible to hold one of them for a photo because they wiggle all over the place. Meanwhile Frikkie landed a nice white fish. We both needed just one more species, with limited daylight left. Frikkie soon got another white fish and I realised that they must be feeding higher up in the water column. We switched spots and I tied on an orange-bead black mayfly imitation. I shortened the indicator dropper length to about 50cm and made my first 26 • Return to contents

cast towards the bubbly white foam. About ten casts later I was starting to lose faith, and then it happened. Cast, mend, mend, strike indicator gone, lift and fish on! It raced downstream and took line. I carefully fought the fish and, after a few anxious minutes, Frikkie lifted the white fish out of the water. I was ecstatic — grand slam on the first day and that on fly! Shortly afterwards Frikkie landed his grayling. What a first day, a grand slam for each of us. We walked back to the lodge exhausted but extremely satisfied. The rest of the trip was spent exploring and fishing the main and many adjacent lakes and rivers. There were two afternoons on these smaller lakes that we had some of the best pike fishing that I could possibly imagine. These spots were absolutely teeming with pike of all sizes and we were able to seek out and sight cast to the bigger fish. The top water action was insane www.saflyfishingmag.co.za


The strange looking sucker specimen. and it was amazing to see one fish after the other viciously throwing themselves at a black Flipper fly. We also had a dedicated wall eye salmon day and caught plenty of fish as usual. Of all the species usually targeted I found the wall eye to be the most difficult to catch on fly. They were very specific about fly choice and, using my 6-wt outfit and S6 line, I eventually managed to land about seven or eight fish for the day after finding a yellow, olive and gold minnow imitation that worked. Unfortunately I subsequently lost that fly to a snag. On that day I also had an interesting bycatch of a fish that looked like a combination between a carp and a mudfish — one of the sucker species that everyone knows is there, but which is almost never caught. It fell to a small orange and black Woolly Bugger. The other fishermen also had a good time, Join us on Facebook

especially at Kugers. Their day there was described by one of the more experienced guys as some of the best pike fishing he’d ever had. Eventually we decided to call the competition a draw with several people claiming to have caught 20 pound pike. The money went to Switzer to aid in his further travels through Canada. This trip was once again an unforgettable experience with new friendships made and incredible fishing in this unspoilt wilderness. I will always cherish the memories of the beautiful unfamiliar bird and animal sounds echoing through the still mornings. In places like this one finds a sense of peace that is difficult to describe. This is the type of trip that I wish every avid angler could experience at least once in his/her lifetime.

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ENVIRONMENT


By Chris Williams and Ian Cox


Chris Williams is the son of a British Army officer and was lucky enough to receive his early fishing lessons from the late Frank Sawyer. Nowadays he lives in South Africa and is part of the team that is trying to save the Vaal River from being killed off by pollution. It was serendipitous, therefore, that Ian Cox, writing about water in The Bobbin just over six years ago, began an article with this Frank Sawyer quote from Keeper of the Stream: “In rivers, as elsewhere, everything preys on another, forming a vast cycle in which one living creature is the food of something else. In rivers usually the smaller animals are the food of those which are larger. “So it was necessary (for the river keeper) to start at the beginning with the first living creatures and, putting the first life at the bottom of the ladder, work patiently towards the topmost rung. It is in the tiny things — the young — which need the most assistance, for life in every instance commences in a very humble way.” HIS is the background against which we consider this chilling synopsis in the 2010 South African National State of the Environment Report on Freshwater Systems and Resources: “Evidence provided here shows that a significant proportion of our useable water resources, including our river ecosystems, have been degraded, and that most of our exploitable water resources are being utilised at present. In many cases current levels of water-use make no allowance for the need to sustain the ecological viability of the resource. Furthermore, climate change is expected to alter hydrological systems and water supplies in southern Africa and reduce the availability of water.” The situation has got a lot worse since then. It has been a while since a status report like the one mentioned above has been published. The Green Drop and Blue Drop reports which should be produced annually have not been published for years. Data published on the Department of Water Affairs’ website as at end June this year shows a catastrophic decline in compliance. That data tells us that authorities are only testing water when they know the water will pass the necessary tests. This enables authorities to say that tests show about an 80% compliance. But that figure which is worrying enough in itself becomes truly terrifying when you realise that less than 50% of the tests are being done. Worse still is the fact that five of the nine provinces score less than 30% and only three make it over 50%. None meet normal compliance require-

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ments. So when government says that compliance is at 80% they are in fact cooking the books. The truth is that South Africans — and especially poor South Africans — are being poisoned by the municipal, provincial and national governments that we elect to protect us from this sort of harm. Province

Tests Required E. Cape 1 364 Free State 672 Gauteng 3 001 KZN 1 483 Limpopo 247 Mpum. 738 North West 461 N. Cape 284 W. Cape 1 315 Total 9 565

Tests Done 239 177 2 196 983 56 234 250 112 1 180 5 427

% 18% 26% 73% 66% 23% 32% 54% 39% 90% 57%

Tests Passed 162 161 1 928 748 41 207 159 53 978 4 437

% 12% 24% 64% 50% 17% 28% 34% 19% 74% 46%

One does not need to be a scientist to know that our government has us deep in the doodoo, but it is somehow comforting to know that government’s own statistics are proving this to be the case. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. If you live in those areas that bother to do tests the chances are you are safe, but there are not very many of them. Check out this page for more details: <www.dwa.gov.za/Dir_WS/GDS/ DefaultTopPerformers.aspx?ProvCode=SA> It is with this in mind that you must consider what is happening to the Vaal River, especially the Emfuleni section around the non-functioning Sebokeng waste water treatment plant. The Emfuleni Municipality announced back in 2012 that it had budgeted R1-billion to upgrade its waste treatment plant. This was because the plant was reportedly already overburdened back then. It seems like this R1-billion went AWOL. Perhaps it was reallocated to another project. In short, the waste water expansion project is no more and the Emfuleni Municipality is in a state of collapse. At the time of writing, over 155-million litres of raw sewage is flowing into the Vaal River system every day. As FOSAF and SAVE committee member Chris Williams told Carte Blanche in a recent interview, this state of collapse has been getting worse for years. FOSAF was reporting on it as far back as 2011. The crisis that we are seeing today has been coming for years, but local, provincial and national government have chosen to ignore it. Save the Vaal has gone to court and got www.saflyfishingmag.co.za


22 km downstream of Parys.

Close to the hanging bridge near Parys. what is its fifth interdict against the municipality, but legal action has got the group nowhere. Politicians are passing the buck; they promise that things will get better, but in fact do nothing. The clock is ticking. If there are no positive steps in the right direction Save the Vaal will seek an order against the Gauteng Provincial MEC. However, while there is little choice but to go to court, there is almost no indication that this will be any more successful than previous attempts against the municipality. This is why SAVE is now looking at taking action against the MEC if urgent and meaningful steps are not taken to remedy the situation. E Coli levels are 500 times over the legal limit, fish are dying and people are getting sick, the health and the economic wellbeing of the Gauteng region are under threat. Join us on Facebook

This is bad enough on its own, but if you look at the data published by the Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation (DWS) one can only but wonder if this is the tip of a deep-sunk smelly turdberg. If Gauteng is experiencing this level of pollution, then how bad is the rest of the country? Is it a case of out of sight out of mind? Indications are that this is the case and that we are literally up to our necks in it. The Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation (DWS) has responded to the mounting public outrage by issuing a press release suggesting that there is no connection between the 155-million litres of raw sewerage that is being introduced into the Vaal daily as a result of the collapse of the Sebokeng Waste Treatment Works and the fish kills that are being reported. DWS wants the public to believe that the fish Return to contents â&#x20AC;˘ 31


and other life in the river can take this sort of abuse and they claim that scientific studies back up this claim. This statement is incongruous given the fuss the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) makes about alien fish, and especially trout. It is also misleading in and of itself. The 2010 study in fact confirmed that the increased nutrient levels that result from pollution such as that emanating from the Sebokeng Waste Treatment Works, constitute a trigger that results in reduced oxygen levels that caused a mass mortality of carp above the barrage just before the study commenced. It also concluded that this lowering in oxygen levels would make fish more vulnerable to infection which would also cause fish mortalities. The study nonetheless concluded: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Notwithstanding the evidence of sustained pol-

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lutant exposure and stress conditions experienced by the test species, the fish community assessment did indicate that the fish structures in RRA (Vaal River below the Barrage) and D (from the Suikerbosrand confluence into the Vaal Dam) were in a good condition. This clearly demonstrates the high degree of resilience of the fish communities to the stressors within this region. It therefore becomes a political and socio-economical decision as to what degree of environmental stress, with its ensuing consequences, will be allowed within the Vaal Barrage. The suite of biomarkers that were used during this risk assessment was not able to identify the causative agents for the periodic mass fish mortalities. However, based on the hypothesis that was formulated, future studies should address the identification of the presence of cooccuring viruses (e.g. SVCV), using appropriate

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histopathological and/or genetic marker techniques.” This statement is itself misleading as it avoids dealing with the problem areas where the fish kills are occurring that are RRB (Vaal Barrage and Loch Vaal upstream to above the confluence of the Vaal River and Taaibosspruit) and RRC (the Vaal River from the Taaibosspruit confluence to above the confluence with the Klip and Suikerbosrant Rivers). It also ignores the fact that the present levels of pollution are much higher than they were back in 2010. One may well ask what DEA is doing about it. The answer is nothing, or at least very little. DEA reported in its Tenth National Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Report for South Africa that: “Waste water treatment facilities will continue to be a focus of targeted compliance

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and enforcement operations.” However, if you look into the report DEA took no action against municipal waste water treatment plants during the 2016/17 year and, strangely, neither did they the year before. The 2010 study referred to above has correctly pointed out that this is a political issue rather than just a scientific one. However, it is not just about the fish. The political question is the extent to which government can get away with poisoning South Africans and our environment before the resultant stresses become too much to bear. The DWS response suggests that the fact that government is poisoning South Africa and South Africans with raw sewerage is not a political concern right now. DEA’s lack of action suggests that it only cares about pollution when it is caused by the private sector.

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ENVIRONMENT

War on Trout By Ian Cox

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HE cat is truly out of the bag. The DEA’s longstanding war on trout has nothing to do with the environment. Research funded by government to prove that trout are invasive is in fact proving that they are not. Environmental laws are not being put in place to protect human health and wellbeing, they are there to increase government control over our use of natural resources and our access to economic opportunity. The goal is a “rentmeester” (sic landlord) state where practising your trade or profession or using resources will become a crime unless government gives you a permit. The war on trout is part of this, but it is only the 34 • Return to contents

beginning. The latest draft amendments to the alien and invasive species lists and regulations will see important fodder grasses like kweek and rye grass being listed as invasive. It does not matter that kweek is indigenous or that catfish are also on the new list. They are economically useful and as such must be brought under government permitting control. This is why the Minister of Environmental Affairs is persisting in trying to make the draft 2018 AIS lists and regulations law; it is why she wants to treat trout as is if they are more dangerous than bass or carp. FOSAF is fighting back. At the time of writing I had just seen the draft application papers prepared by our legal team. The aim is to declare the 2018 Draft AIS lists and Regulations invalid www.saflyfishingmag.co.za


and to prevent the Minister from making them law while this case is being considered. They look like a set of papers that will bring the relief that FOSAF is seeking to win. This application will be filed in court by the time that this edition is published. A copy of the application papers will be published on our website and we will keep you updated in the magazine and on social media. It is important to note that this fight is not about whether trout are invasive or not, that is a fight for another day. The fight is about whether the Minister correctly followed the required procedures in trying to list trout as invasive. The aim is to stop the listing before it becomes law, rather than to try and challenge the law after this has happened because that will be too late. Government can do a great deal of damage implementing laws during the time it takes for a court to set them aside. That harm could destroy the environment the trout value chain requires in order to survive. I also think itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s time that flyfishers give credit where itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s due. The message that I am hearing from everyone who has anything to do with river health is that this is no time to be complacent. FOSAF has been active in this fight for decades and it relies on a handful of people to make it happen. The few might win the battle, but it takes a country to win the war and right now, though you may be unaware, it is not just trout that are under attack. If water is life, then it should be clear to everyone that the health and wellbeing of all South Africans is under attack.

Ilan Lax, FOSAF Chairman, shows the court papers aiming to prevent trout being declared invasive.

     

 By Ian Cox

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EGULAR readers may recall an article published in the February 2018 edition of Flyfishing magazine telling of the discovery of a population of the Maloti minnows in the Ingeli region of KwaZulu-Natal. Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife argued that this discovery proved there was an urgent need to protect native fish species in KZN from alien trout. This was despite this conclusion requiring obvious scientific facts to be confirmed through genetic analysis to establish if these minnows were indeed native to the Ingeli region. That research has been done, but the results are presently embargoed as an article dealing with them is currently undergoing a peer review process for an academic journal. As it stands, it still remains an open question whether the Maloti minnow is native to the Ingeli region as Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife has assumed, or whether they were introduced there. Hanging on the back of this is another question. If you are into conspiracy theories maybe you would ponder whether the Maloti minnows were introduced as part of the ongoing effort by government to bolster attempts to list trout as an invasive species...

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YELLOWFISH

   Article and photos by Keegan Kennedy


The picturesque Umkomaas River is one of many KZN waterways that scalies call home.

LYFISHING for KwaZulu-Natal yellowfish aka scalies takes you into some soul-filling places. The Labeobarbus natalensis, better known to flyfishers as the scaly, is a fantastic fighting fish that has been known to reach weights of 4kg. It is a robust species which, while not threatened, is under threat as a result of chronic pollution and to a lesser extent siltation and physical habitat change. The fish is still prolific throughout KZN. Scalies are omnivorous and feed on aquatic insects, soft vegetation, algae, crabs and other small creatures. They are a fantastic target species for flyfishers because, apart from being strong fighters, they are also very willing to engulf a large variety of fly patterns. Better still, one is not starved of choice when flyfishing for scalies in KZN. In the north you can find them in the Thukela (Tugela) River and its tributaries including the iconic Mooi and Bushmans rivers. In mid KZN, one finds them in the Umgeni River which rises in the trout country that is the Nhlozane before flowing down to into scaly spawning grounds just above Midmar Dam. You’ll also find them in the beautiful

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Umkomaas River which tumbles over the east facing cliffs of the the Drakensberg escarpment and then flows south-east, reaching the sea at the town that bears its name. And lastly in the south you’ll find them in the Umkomaas, Umzimkulu and Mtamvuna rivers. Unlike the Vaal-Orange river system, these rivers do not ever meet. KZN is blessed with six separate major river catchments, and this means that the scalies that you catch and release in each river system are unique to that system. Fishing in summer is difficult — the rivers are muddy torrents, the valleys are blistering hot, the mosquitoes are the size of budgies and in the south the deadly black mamba runs rampant. You do not want to be bitten by a black mamba. However the dry winter months produce excellent fishing conditions. At that time of year the rivers become exceptionally clear, thus allowing one to target sighted fish. Just like their smallmouth cousins, scalies are most active when they occupy the white rapid water, but in the cooler weather they tend to www.saflyfishingmag.co.za


prefer the heads of the pools where rapids fill a deeper section of the river. This means that one ought to concentrate on the deep pools in the winter months. Walk noisily along the banks to announce your presence to slithering reptiles, but make sure you quieten down as you get closer to the water’s edge. A scaly does not give its position away very easily, so you’ll need to spend some time watching the water with polarised sunglasses from a high vantage point to spot the fish before starting your approach. Be sure to move slowly as the scaly is an olive brown colour from above and can easily disappear against the river bed. A much more obvious tell-tale sign is the yellow flash as the fish briefly turns sideways, allowing you to locate them more easily. Fishing with a high level of accuracy will present you with some golden opportunities as there is no better feeling than knowing where the fish are before you cast in their direction. Pay close attention to the bottom of the river to identify all the potential spots where fish may hold. Scalies likes to hang around large underJoin us on Facebook

water boulders and against the steeper rock faces that create a deep wall in the water. Take note that this species does not really “strike”. A Scalie’s “bite” can be extremely subtle and I found myself catching more fish when the focus was on the smaller and less obvious movements on what is more the bite than a strike indicator. Scalies don’t seem to swim alone, and when you see one there is a high chance that you have already walked past several others. Although these are great fighting fish you can get away with fishing 4x to 5x tippet and only scaling up (pun intended!) if you are fishing a heavily structured area. Keep your rod tip high when you are fighting a fish in the rocky shallows to avoid your line catching on any sharp edges. Carrying two rods with you will make your day’s fishing considerably more efficient. One of them should be a dedicated 3/4-wt nymphing rod which will keep you entertained as you move from pool to pool. The second set up will be your casting set up — a 4/5-wt rod prepared with a floating line, a control fly and a nymph, ready to test the deeper water. Take along a Return to contents • 39


The author with a fat-lipped Umgeni River Natal yellowfish (scaly) which fell victim to a #16 black flashback nymph.

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A typical yellowfish snackbox.

handful of size 16 to 10 Flashback, PTN and GRHE nymph patterns weighted correctly for casting and the faster rapids should you choose to fish them. Your control patterns should include some tungsten bead size 12 to 8 caddis patterns in olive, mustard and copper. The rest of your scaly fly-box should be filled up with some Elk Hair Caddis, Klinkhammers, San Juan Worms and terrestrial patterns.

KZNâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s rivers are waiting for you and the scaly should be high up on your list as a species to tick off this season. To keep up to date with the latest trends and to seek local advice or guides, be sure to join the Facebook group Fly Fishing KZN <www.facebook.com/groups/ 1687971401499679/> and like the Species on Fly Facebook page <www.facebook.com/ speciesonfly/?ref=br_rs>. An Umkomaas scaly sight-fished in shin-deep water on a tan GRHE.

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RIVERS

 

A stretch of the crystal clear Bushman’s River in KwaZulu-Natal. Photo by Andrew Mather. 42 • Return to contents

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By Jake Alletson

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UST a few days ago, while the rest of the household was still sound asleep, I was perusing the offerings of one of my favourite photographic sites over my early mor ning cup of coffee and a rusk. Nature Photographers Network is one of two overseas sites for which I pay good money — but not too much of it — to look at outdoor pictures. With most contributors being from the USA and, I might, add in strong disapproval of their president, the pictures tend to be posted while I am asleep. Likewise, they get to see my offerings over their early morning cup of joe if they so wish. I see lots of pictures of bears, elk, squirrels, Yellowstone and the Tetons. In exchange, they get lions, leopards, zebras, elephants, Kalahari, and Table Mountain. However, on that morning the image that caught my eye was a scene of some brightly coloured pebbles on the bottom of a clear stream. The caption read: “And under the rock are the Words.” The quote comes from the last paragraph of Norman Maclean’s classic story of a family’s turbulent relationships in A River Runs Through It. This time though, the words were not about family members, now passed on, but about the strength and beauty of the river itself. Deeply powerful for the simplicity of the truth they include, we might take them as a point of departure for some future articles on rivers. Like Maclean, I am haunted by waters and so have spent many hours of my allotted time next to them, in them, whether by accident or design, and under them. I have been fascinated to watch tiny flows creeping shyly from some deep underground place, for the first time into the light of day, and I have watched them bucking and rearing in raging flood. I have cursed at them for casually snapping my new canoe into pieces. I have admired the beautiful creatures that live in them and have wondered at the wonderful links and connections of the aquatic ecosystem. But most of all, I am fortunate to have been able to study rivers and to see them for the vital part of our planet that they are. And so, in the course of a series of articles in this magazine, I hope to be able to share some of them with you. Together perhaps we can explore rivers piece by piece. We can see where they come from, what drives them, what shapes them and what they give us. Perhaps we will be able to roll a few stones — real and metaphoric — to see what hides below. I want to tell some horror stories too, as was recently done for the Vaal River. Maybe we could even take an armchair trip down a river from source to sea. However, before we do any of those things I would like to put a gentle challenge in front of you. The next time that you visit a river, or even just a little stream, take a good look at it and ask yourself what is going on there. Why is it just so? Was it like this the last time I was here? Who is at home? It could be fun. Return to contents • 43


ENVIRONMENT

A KILLER PUT Robin Fick writes about an initiative that he is involved in on the coastline of the southern Cape. Following Robin’s social media posts on this matter we have heard talk of similar initiatives being discussed and implemented in KwaZulu-Natal. Get involved and tell us what you’ve done to be the change that you want in your world. Robin’s call-to-action should not fall on deaf ears. Text and Photo’s by Robin Fick

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YLON was invented by Wallace Carothers in 1935, but it was only in 1938 that Du Pont exposed the world to nylon stockings at the World Trade Fair. Carothers did not live to see his invention become a useful material as he took his own life in 1937 as a result of acute depression. A year after Du Pont showed off nylon stockings to the world, they started developing nylon as a fishing line, but it took Stren to commercially produce a product acceptable to anglers. That hit the shelves in 1959. European manufacturers were also developing their own lines and soon names like Perlon and Atlas hit the shelves of fishing tackle shops in South Africa. Since then many improvements have been made by many manufacturers all over the world.

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Enough of the history lesson. What I was trying to bring home is that fishing lines (and other nylon products) have been around for many years. As nylon has an estimated lifespan of 500 to 600 years, just think how many kilometres of nylon you have used over your fishing lifetime and where all of your discarded nylon has ended up — in the sea, stillwaters, rivers, veld, landfills and rubbish bins. Now factor in how many fishermen — both professional and sport anglers — are out there fishing at the moment and have been fishing since 1959. The amount of nylon that has been discarded could probably wrap around the world numerous times. If it has not been burnt, it is still somewhere out there and will remain out there for another five centuries! That’s one hell of a scary thought if you ask me. With the almost invisible properties of nylon, it is a documented fact that nylon left lying around is a killer or potential killer for wildlife. We have all seen the horrific photos of animals, birds, fish and even plants that have been strangled by discarded nylon, not to mention plastic bags and bottles. It leads to a long period of suffering and a painful death. Berkley, who manufacture the Trilene brand, started encouraging anglers to recycle their fish-

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TO GOOD USE ing line in 1990 and have put out 17 000 recycling bins (pipes) throughout the USA. About nine million miles of nylon (thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s neatly 15 million kilometres) has been collected and recycled by them. There are many conservancies around the world which have now started doing the same. In South Africa the Dyer Island Conservation Trust started with a similar programme in 2010, along with with DPI Plastics who originally donated 150 pipes to be placed along the coast. Anglers are encouraged to place their discarded nylon into the pipes, and when the contents are collected the recycled nylon goes to manufacturers like PlasticsSA who turn it into weed-eater nylon. In KZN I found that some of the discarded nylon is turned into benches and tables. As a member of the Midbrak Conservancy and Little Brak River Forum I became involved in placing pipes along the coastline and on the Rheebok, Terniet and Little Brak rivers. Val Thomson of the Great Brak Conservancy put me onto John Kieser of PlasticsSA who provides the pipes and collects the discarded nylon that I collect from the 12 pipes placed at the popular fishing venues along our section of the coast. Val and her crew do the same along the Great Brak side. Our conservancy has also encouraged

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beach goers to pick up any nylon they see on the beach and to place it in these pipes. Unfortunately these receptacles are often subject to vandalism and misuse and have to be repaired or replaced periodically. However, from the photos one can see that they are of a very clever and simple design with the main pipe being just an offcut. The fittings are the expensive parts. It would be very easy to erect these receptacles at popular freshwater venues too. Another idea would be for fishing tackle dealers to have these pipes in their shops so that anglers can deposit their old spools and offcuts of line to be collected for recycling. I am sure that donors could be found in the form of builders and plumbers or their suppliers. Please try to implement this in the areas where you go fishing. Our beautiful country and its wildlife are worth saving. For more information on other similar projects see <www.thegreentimes.co.za/fishing-linebins-initiative-rolled-out/> and <fishingsfuture. org/sites/default/files/monofilament_ collection_tube_design_ver_9_2018_any_state_4 .pdf>. For details on how to make a pipe see <www.dbw.parks.ca.gov/pages/28702/ files/Construction_of_Recycling_Containers.pdf>

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PEOPLE

aser  By Crai


rafsman

g Thom


W

HEN one meets Stephen Boshoff for the first time one gets the impression of an absent-minded professor or an eccentric millionaire. His hair is usually tousled and in public he wears a jacket as well as a faraway look if he’s not engaged with anyone. But this belies his intellect which is as sharp as sword. When you get onto a subject that interests him his bushy eyebrows go up as his face opens up and his eyes light up like stars. If you make him laugh those eyes brim with tears. Stephen is essentially a creative, questioning person, whether working as a planner/urban designer or creating something with his hands. A craftsman of the old school, he does not limit himself to one area in craft; he uses his hands successfully and can thoughtfully apply his mind to any project, coming up with a proportioned work with great lines. “Working with my hands, I think of myself as exploring craft mostly, not as a rod maker. My medium of choice is wood — which I grew up with — and bamboo, although it is a ‘grass’ rather than wood,” he says. Stephen has little time for poor workmanship, especially sloppy workmanship caused by being hasty. As a mentor to me, I often heard him say, “Slow down Mr Thom.” He believes that “a good rod exhibits excellence in different dimensions —material, matching to purpose, careful lay-out and planning, and excellent fitting of

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components and finish.” Copying is anathema to him. “We should study and practice the technique and ways of work of others, not to copy, but rather to improve,” Stephen comments. He also admires anyone who perseveres in making a bamboo rod from a raw culm. The influence of Stephen’s father can be seen in his work, his neat habits and his work ethic. From the elder Boshoff Stephen learned many things related to work, fishing and life. His father also instilled in him a deep respect for nature and all living things, past and present. Stephen says, “His priority for me was to play, firmly believing that I would find something worthwhile in work after days of boyhood.” Importantly, from an early age he was trusted with unfettered access to everything in the workshop, including the lathe. Spending time fiddling with tackle and refurbishing rods — even those that did not need it — stood him in good stead for the time when he discovered some bamboo culms in a local furniture factory and built his first rod. Stephen’s influences and inspiration come from many sources — from people he knows and has worked with, to people he knows through their books. James Krenov is his wood muse and Tom Moran, bamboo. He especially values Tom’s attention to detail. Locally he’s inspired by Jay Smit (the “elder” of SA flyfishing www.saflyfishingmag.co.za


craft), Stephen Dugmore (the function and form of his rods) and Derek Smith (best rod finishes). “I have seen enough bamboo rods and handmade nets and reels to know that Nicholas Hughes and Shaun Futter rate among the best in the world, even though they’re relatively young,” says Stephen. “What you buy from a South African maker — specifically in bamboo and wood — is truly comparable to the work of revered makers from elsewhere, at a fraction of the price.” At the moment Stephen is taken with the idea of the TAG (Touch and Go) Hook, which was manufactured by Partridge some years ago. The pointed hook is replaced by a curled end, so you can “hook” a fish, but as soon as you give it slack it can release itself. This brings a new dimension to catch and release, ensuring no injury to the fish, and obviating the need for handling. Sadly these are no longer available. When I asked Stephen what appeals most to him about craft, he replied that in bamboo rod making he’s fascinated by the history of the craft, the people involved — past and present — and the journey of transformation of each culm from its growing, through many hands, to his work bench and the user. “My rod making also provides a ‘private’ space away from my work as urbanist,” he explained. “As a rod maker I can create without interference, and the process is largely within my control. In my urban planning work the Join us on Facebook

context is inherently political, and the client or beneficiary base extremely diverse. The associated compromise required in work necessitates engaging in some private, controllable creative activity. “Satisfied users make me happy. At the recent expo it was very special to see casters like Korrie Broos and Gareth Jones laying out a full line with ease on my new 6-wt.” Stephen started rock and surf fishing with his father in the George area around the age of seven, using a one piece 12ft bamboo “dipstok”. Later he honed his skills on the Gouritz estuary, becoming proficient at fishing a drifting prawn to steenbras and grunter, using a little Mitchell 308 and base model ABU solid glass spinning rod. It is likely he still has these with his collection of fishing reels which he is gradually reducing in line with his gentle policy of Döstädning (Swedish Death Cleaning) — it’s worth looking up! After moving to Somerset West, he heard about trout in the Lourens and started pursuing them in the area from Radloff Park upwards. Without a mentor it took him a season or so to land his first trout on a fly (a Coch-Y-Bondhu). Later at university, he fished the Eerste River and the Steenbras dams. By that stage he had an old seven foot bamboo English rod with a bad set bought from Mr Harrison at the CPS for R5.00, matched with a used Hardy Perfect. This was topped with a used tweed jacket, emulating Return to contents • 49


50 â&#x20AC;¢ Return to contents

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On the Jan du Toit River with a homemade backpack.

Trying out a Morgan hand mill. He wasn’t enamored with it, preferring the normal method of shaping culm sections.

BIO Stephen was born in Montagu but his family moved to Blanco before he started school; they spent most weekends on the family farm near Calitzdorp. After matriculating in Somerset West, he completed a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning at Stellenbosch University. Later, he studied at Rutgers University on a Fellowship. Half of his working life was with the City of Cape Town, and he became the Executive Director of Strategy and Development while quite young. He currently works as a consultant urbanist, “assisting the young owners of our practice to build a consultancy focused on increasing life opportunity for ordinary citizens.” Neil Patterson’s style. The first decent rod he bought was a R99.00 Sage 8’6” 6-wt in glass, but he regrets not having bought a shorter 4-wt. The most revered rod in Stephen’s collection is a 6’9” 3-wt graphite and glass rod made for Ed Herbst by Henry Haneda some 30 years ago. According to Stephen, Haneda “revolutionised rod making in composites, developed unique tapers and used different materials in various sections of a rod to achieve the desired actions.” To this day, Stephen believes that his rod finish is unsurpassed. Nowadays you will find Stephen fishing a selection of rods, including some made by him. On the smaller streams he will be wielding a tenkara rod which suits his minimalist style. He is never without his kettle and his latest stove, stopping regularly along the river to make tea. This aspect alone makes him a pleasure to fish with! Stephen likes hiking up into the mountains, particularly to a tiny little stream where he overnights once or twice a year, but which he regards as too special to fish. Careful planning goes into his over night trips; everything is weighed, weight is reduced, and anything superfluous is left behind. He is a study in ultra light backpacking. Join us on Facebook

Besides Cape streams, he loves to fish the Gariep. “Its larger pools must have given rise to much myth and story-telling. Last year, the section we fished was chalk stream-like and I really enjoyed sight fishing to smallmouth yellows lining up in channels between the weeds,” he told me. As for stillwaters, he particularly likes Lakenvlei, “probably more for the company of friends than the fishing. I have never cared much for stripping back sunk flies, but absolutely love casting a DDD to cruising fish.” Stephen’s dream retirement includes reasonable health, a quiet fully “unplugged” workshop, and an occasional meal and glass of red with friends. He would also enjoy more frequent overnight hiking and fishing trips, “making three to five rods of the highest standard in function and for m per year, along with occasional teaching or consulting on planning and urban design that serves the public interest.” This message I received from Stephen a while ago sums him up per fectly: “If I meander towards wanting more than my friends, a little trip to the Orange, simple food, working meaningfully with my head and hands, a glass of red, to be heard at times, three books a month, and warmth, remind me please.” Return to contents • 51


FLY-TYING

By Peter Brigg


I

N the first two parts of this series I dealt with the basic techniques for laying the foundation of most fly dressings. Now it is time to deal with various aspects of the fly that will give it the distinguishable features found in the natural insect. These features are important triggers for the fish; they don’t need to be perfect imitations, they just need to be representative of shape, form and movement. They are the parts of the fly that will convince the fish to have a closer look — it then becomes recognisable and familiar and will hopefully trigger the fish’s predatory instinct to feed on something it has eaten and enjoyed before. THE WINGCASE

The wingcase is something you will use mainly when tying nymph patterns. It is an identifiable feature intended to imitate the portion over the thorax where the nymph carries its delicate wings that eventually emerge as it changes into its adult form as a flying insect. It is positioned over the front third of the body and lies directly on top of the thorax. A wingcase can be made of a small bunch of feather fibres such as pheasant tail or peacock herl, or it can be a whole partridge breast or similar feather. There’s also a variety of synthetic materials available which make very good wingcases. Raffia can be used for this purpose in certain applications, although I find this material tends to break up quite easily after a strike or two. The procedure requires that, after the first stages of preparation, you complete the body and rib it to about two-thirds of the way back to the eye. At this point you add the chosen wingcase material and firmly tie it down directly on top of the shank using the pinch loop method. (See FLYFISHING June/July 2018.)

Now complete the thorax part of the body, leaving the material for the wingcase out of the way to the left. Tie off the thorax material a few millimetres behind the eye and then stretch the wingcase over the top of the thorax and tie off at the same point behind the eye. Make sure this is well secured before you trim off the excess. If this is not tied tightly the wingcase could pull loose. (See Diagram 1.) The alternative wingcase is the one I prefer. For this you need a small partridge breast feather or similar. First strip off the soft fibres at the lower part of the quill, leaving a short section exposed. Now, at the same point as described above for the tie in point of the wingcase, tie in the quill with a couple of pinch loops on top of the shank. The quill of the feather must be facing back towards the bend with the concave side of the feather facing up. (See Diagram 2.) The next step is the tricky part, so do it slowly and carefully. Using the hackle pliers to grip the butt end of the quill, gently pull the feather back towards the bend, allowing it to slip through the turns of thread until there is only a short section of the tip of the feather remaining on the eye side of the wraps of thread. Now you can secure the feather with a few tight turns of thread. Be careful though, if you pull too far you will pull the feather right through the wraps of thread and the whole process will have to be repeated. Now complete the thorax and then pull the wingcase forward over the thorax and tie off behind the eye. (See Diagram 3.) This method is particularly useful when tying a beetle pattern. In this case you secure the feather in the same way, but close to the bend of the hook. Then bring the feather over the full length of the beetle’s back. (See Diagram 4.)

Pull back gently

Diagram 1

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Diagram 2

Dia

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THE HACKLE

Hackles are used in a variety of ways, either for the traditional dry fly or for nymphs and wet flies using a palmered hackle along the length of the shank. However, what you need to know is how to tie in the hackle so that it can be used in any one of the ways required for different types of fly. I have chosen to describe the dry fly hackle because it will show you all you need to know for tying a variety of hackles. First dress the hook with tying thread and return to a point about two-thirds back towards the eye. Let’s assume you have already added the tail and formed the body. Measure the length of the hackle fibres against the hook as shown in Diagram 5. In order to balance the proportions of the fly the length of the fibres should be approximately the width of the gape of the hook or slightly longer. Remember, with dry flies it is better to use a style of hook that has a wide gape. Once you have selected a suitable hackle feather, strip the flue (soft fluffy fibres at the base) from the quill, exposing the quill and leaving just the stiff fibres which will eventually form the hackle. (See Diagram 5.) You are now ready to tie the feather onto the shank at a point about a third of the shank length back from the eye. Place the feather along the shank with the concave side away from you and the butt end of the quill towards the eye. Tie this tightly against the side of the shank at the point where the fibres begin. Trap a short length of quill under the turns of thread and trim off the excess. (See Diagram 6.) I find it useful to “crack” the quill by pushing my thumbnail against it at the tie in point. This forces it into a right angle position to the shank, making it easier to start the first turn around the shank. It also makes for a neater hackle.

The next step is to grip the tip of the feather with the hackle pliers, making sure they are secured onto the end of the quill, the strongest section of the feather. You can now carefully — making sure not to exert too much tension — take the feather in touching turns around the shank, moving towards the eye to form the hackle as required in the recipe you are following. It helps to gently stroke the hackle back slightly before making each turn. This prevents fibres from previous turns from being trapped by subsequent turns and allows the fibres to stand upright, as they should. (See Diagram 7.) Once you have completed this, hold the hackle pliers — still gripped to the feather — in your right hand and, keeping it above the shank, secure the feather by making a few tight turns of thread at this point. Remember to always hold the portion to be trimmed above the shank so you don’t cut the tying thread by mistake as it hangs in the bobbin below the fly. Also make sure you leave a space behind the eye to form a head. In some applications other than the dry fly which generally calls for a full hackle, the top and bottom of the for med hackle can be trimmed off to give the appearance of legs and feelers. Another way is to use a hackle palmered through the thorax of a nymph and then to trap the fibres down when you pull the wingcase over. This usually gives the fly a good buggy appearance. This same method can be used when tying beetle patterns. The series of sketches in Diagram 8 show the types of hackles you can apply to the different types of flies.

Strip off the flue

Measure the fibre length

agram 3

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Diagram 4: Beetle imitation.

Diagram 5

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Hack Trim excess Full dry fly hackle

Wind hackle forward Diagram 6

Diagram 7

TYING AN UPRIGHT-WINGED FLY

Notwithstanding the fact that uprightwinged flies are not that popular these days, I have included the traditional method of tying because the technique is useful to know. Dress the hook using — as with most dry flies — a light wire hook with a wide gape. Add the tail, body and ribbing up to the point where the wings are to be added. The wings are cut from matching left and right wing feathers. (See Diagram 9.) Balance the wings by cutting off an equal number of fibres (wing slips) from more or less the same point of each feather. Handle the cut sections carefully as the fibres have a tendency to separate. If this happens it may be necessary to cut a fresh pair. Grip the butt ends of the

Palmere over t

Diagram 8

wing slips firmly together between forefinger and thumb and try to avoid any sliding motion, as this will cause the fibres to separate. The wing slips must be held together with the concave bias facing outward. (See Diagram 10.) Now hold the wing slips on top of the shank at the point where they need to be tied in. The tip of the wings must be facing forward over the eye of the hook. Using the pinch loop method, tie in with about three turns of thread. (See Diagram 11.) As you release your hold, make sure that the wings are positioned directly on top of the shank. At this stage you must lift the wings into an upright position and take another two turns of thread tight up against the front of the base

Hold upright Using the pinch loop method, tie in with about three turns of thread. Diagram 11

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Diagram 12

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kle trimmed across the top

ed hackle trapped top with wing case

Diagram 9

Diagram 10

of the wings. This is to hold them in an upright position. Now you can take a turn of thread around the base of the wings as shown in the sketch and trim off the excess butt ends. (See Diagram 12.) To separate the wings, make a figure-of-eight turn of thread between the two wings and finish behind the wings at a point where you can tie in a prepared hackle feather. (See Diagram 13.) The hackle is wound forward, firstly behind the wings and then in front. Now tie off, trim excess and finish with a neat head before giving it a coat of varnish. A variation of this method is to tie the wings in exactly as

already described, but do not bring the tying thread in front to bring them into the upright position. In this case the hackle is tied in only at the rear of the wings. Finish as usual. This style has the wings leaning forward over the eye of the hook. (See Diagram 14.) Remember that in this series I am simply attempting to help those making a start with flytying and to hopefully provide some understanding of the basic techniques. These tips should also stand tyers in good stead as they progress onto more complex patterns. The theory is one thing, but there is no substitute for practice, better still if it is under the guidance of an experienced fly-tyer.

Take turn around base and trim excess

Upright wing

Forward wing variation Diagram 13

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Diagram 14

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FLY-TYING

Tying for TOP HONOURS Article and photos by Gordon van der Spuy

F

LY-TYING comps have never really taken off in this country, and I don’t know why. I’ve now run three over the last five years and can tell you with great certainty that the result is pretty much always the same. One typically gets a handful of entries, mostly bad, with the odd great tyer thrown in for good measure. The great tyer normally walks it; with no real competition in sight it becomes a prize fest. This year, however, that all changed. Sure, in the 2018 Fly-Tying Open we only got five entries for the senior section, none from the juniors and only one from a lady, but we were not fazed in the least because the flies we did receive were so good it made the whole exercise worthwhile. The judges this year were MC Coetzer, Murray Peddar and myself. Murray and MC have both played a massive role in my own development as a tyer over the years. Murray actually sold me my first fly-tying kit when I was still at school and eventually introduced me to tying salmon flies. MC taught me about the importance of keeping things simple and economical, simple detail I like to call it. What I most respect about these guys is their selfless attitude towards the sport; they have been ploughing the good stuff into this pastime for years. MC is a world class tyer, having won the saltwater section of the International Mustad Scandanavian Tying Open twice, and Murray is possibly one of the best all round tyers in the world today. There are few tyers I know who are as versatile as him; I like to think of him as the Pat Symcox of tying. 58 • Return to contents

This year entrants had to tie five different flies (three of each) — a hopper fly, a Para Rab, a largie fly, a grunter fly and a traditional quill winged wet. The idea behind getting people to tie this variety of flies was to test their versatility as tyers and also to stretch them by getting them to tie flies that they might not ordinarily be tying. We decided to judge entrants independently; each judge would score a fly out of ten points with a total of 50 points for the five flies required. We never spoke to each other or influenced each other in any way. Scores were then sent through to me and I would tally them up, giving each tyer a score out of 150. The tyer with the highest score overall would get the title. Individual flies could also win prizes, regardless of the tyer’s overall score. The idea behind this was to encourage people to enter; you didn’t have to win the comp to win some awesome prizes, you just had to win a category. Philip Meyer has always dominated the tying comps, but this year Philip had competition in the form of Leroy Botha. It was refreshing to see this guy come out of nowhere to make his mark. Leroy is a boytjie from the Eastern Cape who is fishing and tying bedonnerd. He ties some really interesting flies; his approach, like Philip’s, is unconventional. Both these tyers are good because they are not bound or hindered by convention but instead adapt their methods to serve the purpose of the fly they intend to tie. Ultimately the fly must catch fish and they tie their flies to do just that. As a tyer you must have confidence in the fly you tie so you need to incorporate elewww.saflyfishingmag.co.za


ments which give you confidence in that pattern. Inexperienced tyers tend to stick to the “script” because they have to; they don’t have the knowledge or experience to change it up so they tend to stick to convention which is safe. Philip tied the best looking grunter fly any of the judges had ever seen. It was, simply put, exceptional. The pattern is not overly complicated but is well thought out, looks very good and will be a very effective catcher of fish. Philip has obviously spent a lot of time looking at mud prawns because this thing looks like it came straight from the estuary bed. MC and I gave him nine out of ten and Murray gave him ten out of ten. Leroy’s fly was also great. He incorporated deer hair and SF blend which he stacked, and that was quite unique. For the thorax section he formed legs out of foam. I liked the idea, but MC had questions. His final take on the fly was, “It’ll sit well in the water, I love the SF and deerhair stacking, really interesting, but I’m not sure about the legs; don’t think they’ll last too long in a fishing situation. “Philip’s fly is simply exceptional, but that’s his thing, don’t think there are many tyers who can tie a grunter fly like he does.” Leroy got a nine from Murray, an eight from MC and an eight from me. The hopper caused a bit of consternation because the judge’s opinions differed drastically. Stefan von den Heyden got a nine from MC, a six from Murray and a seven from me. This is where subjectivity comes into play. A judge’s opinion of a fly is based on what the judge likes in a fly. The fly Stefan tied was MC’s Join us on Facebook

hopper that he uses on the Cape streams. The fly was extremely well tied; technically it can’t be faulted, but I gave it a seven because I felt it was rather ordinary. Murray felt the same way with his score of six. Ordinary flies do catch fish and catch loads of them, but this fly I felt was not the kind of fly one would want to tie for a tying competition. Creativity is important in a tying comp; entrants need to show the judges they can think. In a comp you’re not merely tying neat, perfectly technical flies, you’re going beyond that. The wet fly category tripped everyone up initially. There wasn’t a single wet fly we actually liked, so we asked people to redo them. In the end we asked the three leading tyers to resubmit wet flies. The main problems with the initial flies were poor proportions and technical ability. To be fair, traditional wet flies are not part of the repertoire of your average tyer nowadays. We told the three top tyers why we didn’t like the flies they’d submitted, gave them pointers on nailing them, then asked them to tie new entries for this category. They all resubmitted the wets and told us that they’d developed a new-found respect for them, wanting to explore them more. The new flies were far better. In the end Philip got a total of 39 out of 50 from Murray, he got 35 out of 50 from MC and 36 out of 50 from me. Leroy got 40 out of 50 from Murray, 34 out of 50 from MC and 36 out of 50 from me. That gave both tyers an equal score of 110 points each. We were faced with a perfect tie! In the end we decided to have a tie off. Our two tyers had to tie three patterns — a CDC Return to contents • 59


Dun, a Zak Nymph and a stillwater pattern of the tyer’s own choosing. We also decided to bring in a panel of mystery judges. CDC magician Marc Petitjean judged the CDC Dun and Leroy won that category. Marc’s words were simply, “Both are good, but this one wins because the positioning of the tails will make it sit nicely on the water.” Tom Sutcliffe judged the Zak Nymph and Philip took that category. I can’t quite recall what Tom’s comments were, but I do know he had some intense formula for working it out. Tom judged the flies out of 50 points with five categories counting 10 points each. I didn’t realise Zak Nymphs were that intense, but it looks like they are. Philip won with 13 points more than Leroy. When it came to the stillwater flies the tyers had one hour to tie them — at the expo. International Welsh stillwater champion and Airflo Fishing sales director Gareth Jones judged the stillwater pattern. He liked both of the men’s flies, but in the end Philip won because his fly was better rounded off from a technical perspective. Leroy’s fly lost out due to his booby eyes not being round; squared off eyes cause the fly to twist in the water. Gareth told us that he punches his foam eyes out round and then bakes them in the oven to get rid of rough edges. Although Gareth preferred the idea behind Leroy’s fly from a fish catching perspective, he also liked Philip’s fly, saying that it would catch

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fish. He liked the soft body of Philip’s fly and loved the fact that it was simple yet still creative, interesting and very much a fishable pattern. The pattern was technically better as well, Gareth said. In the end Philip took the overall title and deservedly so. He looked relieved when I broke the new, saying he didn’t know what to expect as Leroy kept him on his toes. “He had me guessing the whole time,” Philip remarked. “Die ou kan bind; he is a great tyer.” There were no junior entries this year. Stefan von den Heyden opted to enter the senior category and I’m glad he did because he can tie with the big boys. Stefan tied some really good flies and his final score was 95 out of 150, a mere 15 points away from Philip and Leroy. He won a R2 000 Dr Slick voucher from Stealth for the best Para Rab. Leroy won a guided trip for two to Gkhui Gkhui River Lodge for best largie fly as well as a R1 500 tying material voucher sponsored by Stream X for the best wet fly. Philip won a guided trip to the Karoolskraal Fly Fishing Camp on the Breede River for the best grunter fly as well as a Solarez hamper valued at R1 000 from Flyz Inc for the best hopper. Leigh Anne Wessels took the prize for the best lady tyer. Someone gave me grief at one stage about this, calling me sexist and I don’t know what else when I first announced the format of this year’s competition and the fact that there would be a ladies’ category. Funny thing is, I

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had received a few requests from the ladies themselves for a ladies’ category and that’s why we added it. Sadly we only got one entry. Leigh Anne had only been tying for five weeks when she decided to enter this comp and her entries were really good. She surprised all three judges who thought her level of skill was very advanced for the amount of time she’d actually been tying. Sadly she didn’t have any competition. We have a complete national flyfishing structure for ladies in this country with about 30 ladies who compete, and the one lady who entered the tying comp isn’t even part of those structures. It doesn’t add up. As for the juniors, there was not one entry, barring Stefan von den Heyden, who had the gumption to throw himself into the deep end and tie against people far more experienced than himself. Did he learn something in the process? Watch this space is all I’m going to say for now! I spoke to him on the day of the expo and told him that he’s a very talented young man, that his technical ability is very good and that he has the ability to win this comp in future. The reason he couldn’t top the other guys this year was that he didn’t come up with anything new or interesting; he played it safe and tied what we’ve all seen before. “You need to bring something to the table; put your own ideas in the patterns you tie, tie beyond the book,” I said. He listened intently.

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I still battle to believe that out of the approximately 10 000 seriously active flyfishers in this country we ended up with six entries in total. The point of competitions like these is to encourage people to tie beyond their current abilities by challenging them to develop through tying patterns or exploring tying styles that they’re not necessarily comfortable with. Competitions like this also provide a great opportunity for tyers to engage with one another and cross pollinate. In essence the comp is there to make the proverbial circle bigger. If we want to grow and develop this sport we need to get involved. There are no losers in a comp like this because everyone who enters gains something. We give feedback to people who request it and we don’t sugar coat it either, we’re open, fair and honest. The goal is to get people tying beyond their respective abilities through providing new challenges and enjoying learning in the process. We provide the platform for people to do just that. The comp will continue next year. We believe it’s a good thing so we’ll soldier on, and hopefully we’ll get more support in terms of entries. I’d like to thank the sponsors of this year’s comp who graciously invested in the vision we have. A big thank you goes out to Stealth Fishing, Xplorer, J Vice, Flyz Inc, Stream X, The Karoolskraal Fly Fishing Camp, FlyDotfish, The Fly Guides, Gkhui Gkhui River Lodge, Peter Brigg and Ed Herbst. Thank you for seeing the need to invest in the future of flyfishing.

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FEATURE


By Bridgitte Stegen Photos: Women in Waders


Carmen Barends living life to the full as a woman in waders.

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OALD Dahl spoke of leading a life of enthusiasm and passion: â&#x20AC;&#x153;If you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it.â&#x20AC;? Being a woman in waders means sharing a love and understanding for a sport that not only brings us joy but also enriches us with teachings on patience, resilience, etiquette, conservancy, common ground, understanding and, the most special of all, passion. We all have our story of how we transitioned from being a mere person to a committed flyfisher. For some it started as a child, watching gramps or dad false casting away until eventu-

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ally you got to hold the fish and smile at the camera. For others it was an escape from the hustle and bustle of the real world, grounding themselves in nature with their feet on natural soil (or is it water). In some families it is even a rite of passage, bearing as much importance as the family name. Team Women in Waders started as the ambitious idea of four women and friends, who decided to propel their casual love of flyfishing from the odd weekend trip to something more deep-rooted. At the time entering a major competitive flyfishing event was the catalyst to embracing Women in Waders, and not long after that the occasional weekend cast turned

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into planned weekend sessions in an effort to prepare and hone our skills. As first-timers to the competition as an allwomen team, looking back, the pressure and competitiveness brought a different weight to every cast which wasn’t previously there in this beautiful sport. However, we certainly grew from the experience of competitive flyfishing. While being an official Woman in Waders — and self-proclaimed Team Communications Manager — has its many perks, there are indeed a few challenges when it comes to flyfishing. For starters, I’m five foot two and everything related to flyfishing is just that little bit more frustrating when you’re this short. Add a pair of gumboots three sizes too big for you (to account for wading booties) and you have a midget-Bridgitte-bigfoot who, with eyesight practically at water level, misses many a cruising fish and with each last haul has to try stretch her tiny body as far as humanly possible to land the fly line most elegantly on the surface of the water. As for those waders we so proudly boast, I’m sure you can use your imagination with this one. Mastering the art of bush lavatories, layers and camouflaging yourself all at the same time is, in our opinion, an underrated feat and achievement in the art of women’s flyfishing. These challenges, amongst others, are unique to women in flyfishing and we feel they add an element of excitement and intrigue to stories that need to be shared. We decided that women flyfishers in South Africa needed an open, honest and entertaining platform to exchange such stories, pictures,

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fishy tales and knowledge as well as to really have the opportunity to grow and develop their interest and love for the sport. And so Women in Waders was born. Whether you are yet to cast out a line or have 20-plus years’ experience, this space is yours to grow the passion, embrace a hobby and to engage with like-minded women. As a group we also aim to host several community gatherings for women. We recently held our very first all-women’s river flyfishing fireside chat, supported by the formidable Peter Brigg. Carmen Barends is a passionate flyfisher who has fully understood and embraced the Women in Waders concept, and she wrote the short report back on this evening. If you would like to know when these gettogethers are happening, see what the Women in Waders are up to and keep up to date on the latest news, follow the group on Instagram (www.instagram.com/?hl=en) or join the closed Facebook group (www.facebook.com/groups/ 1753078128317970/). I honestly think I am going to add this collective noun on Wikipedia: Women in Waders — a crew of women who love being outdoors and flyfishing with about as much camaraderie as you can pack into a day. Beverages included. On the horizon the Women in Waders team is heading to Dullstroom in September and we are delighted to have been invited to fish the Dullstroom Ladies Flyfishing Festival. Furthermore, we are humbled by the opportunity to share our experiences in each edition of the newly launched Southern African Flyfishing magazine, and wish Ian, Andrew and Savs much success ahead.

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By Carmen Barends O what’s the collective noun for a group of women who enjoy flyfishing? I think Peter Brigg coined the term which has now merged into a brand of determined, focused and lively women: Women in Waders! I jumped at the recent opportunity to join a fireside flyfishing get together to chat about all things river-fishing related with a group of ladies. This doubled as the official launch of the “Women in Waders” brand created by Roxanne Stegen, Alison Smith, Bridgitte Stegen and SindiLeigh McBain. Most of the ladies that gathered had “met” online, but were glad to have a chance to put a face to the names and personas we have grown acquainted with on the web. The evening was ably hosted at Hilton Safari Lodge under a sky full of stars and included a roaring fire, wine, sherry, fruit juice and dinner. All of these ingredients contributed to a successful flyfishing meeting. The first thing that became clear was that this group of ladies has a passion for connecting women within the sport and helping one another grow their skills, thereby enabling each one to enjoy flyfishing even more.

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It can sometimes be intimidating learning in a group, but realising that we are all at different skill levels with different skills to offer and that we all having common feminine challenges, soon had us in hysterics and completely at ease with one another. We were then introduced to our speaker for the evening, the humble and engaging Peter Brigg. Peter had been asked to share his knowledge and experiences on river fishing with us, including a photographic presentation. He conveyed a wealth of information regarding river flyfishing that engaged with us all — rookies to the sport and old-timers. Peter continued to regale and entertain us well into the evening and we were also fortunate to see some of his beautiful photography from various trips, including those of our own Berg rivers and creatures. Together with the camaraderie and questions there was also a lucky draw for prizes which had us ladies on the edge of our seats. Who doesn’t love getting a gift that you are not expecting? Future meetings were discussed, including but not limited to a trip to the river later this year to put into practice some of these river fishing skills Peter had so keenly spoken about. www.saflyfishingmag.co.za


CLUB DIRECTORY Club Name Bankberg

Location Contact E. Cape Alan Hobson alan@anglerandantelope.com http://www.wildflyfishinginthekaroo.co.za/pages/bankberg-troutfishers-club/ Queenstown Fly Fishing Club E. Cape Reg Morgan beehive66@vodamail.co.za http://www.qffc.co.za/ Amamatola Fly Fishing Club E. Cape Edward Truter truter.edward@gmail.com http://www.amatolaflyfishingclub.co.za/ EP Freshwater Fishing Conservancy E. Cape Brian Clark brianclark@spforge.co.za Maclear FFC E. Cape Colin Moolman mayfly@telkomsa.net Transkei Piscatorial Society E. Cape Shaun Horsfield bernihollyhorsfield@gmail.com http://www.transkeipiscatorial.co.za Barkly East FFC E. Cape Christo Buys bigtimeliquers@gmail.com; clarkbonita@gmail.com Sneeuberg Aquatic Conservancy E. Cape Hein Grebe hein.grebe@yahoo.com http://www.sneeubergac.co.za/ Bigmac Moshesh’s Ford Angling Club Eastern Cape Lucien Theron elty007@gmail.com http://rhodesvillage.co.za/moshesh/ Jacaranda Fly Fishing Club Gauteng Roy Lubbe jacarandaflyfishers@gmail.com http://www.jffc.co.za/ St Stithians Fly Fishing Club Gauteng Chris Williams chris@williamsandwilliams.co.za Transvaal Fly Fishing Club (TFFC) Gauteng Hugh Dean hughdean@mweb.co.za http://www.tffc.co.za/home/ Transvaal Fly Tyers Guild Gauteng Roger Upton rogeru@mweb.co.za http://flytyersguild.co.za/ Amberglen Fly Fishing Club KZN scotty01@telkomsa.net Durban Fly Tyers (DFT) KZN Andrew Mather andrewmather@telkomsa.net http://www.durbanflytyers.co.za/ Fly Fishing Association (FFA) KZN Vaughan Rimbault Laurence.Davies@durban.gov.za Kokstad Fly Fishing Club KZN Marius Jonker mariusjonker@telkomsa.net https://web.facebook.com/Kokstad-Fly-Fishing-Club-200971903281357/?_rdc=1&_rd Natal Fly Fishing Club (NFFC) KZN Andrew Fowler truttablog@gmail.com http://www.nffc.co.za/ South Coast Line Casters KZN Arthur Cary caryaj@xsinet.co.za Underberg-Himeville Trout Fishing Club KZN Bruce Taylor uhtfc.office@gmail.com brucetaylor32@hotmail.com http://www.uhtfc.co.za/ Upper South Coast Fly Club KZN Roger Gurr allclean@mweb.co.za Haenertsburg Trout Association Limpopo Zamps Zamparini delzamps@gmail.com http://www.htatrout.co.za/ Dullstroom Fly Fishers Association Mpumalanga Neil Nicholas neil@wre-eng.com https://web.facebook.com/Dullstroom-Fly-Fishers-Association-138906942857409/?_rdc=1&_rdr Sabie Fly Fishing Club Mpumalanga Andrew Kanaris bigskyout@mweb.co.za Cape Fly Fishers W. Cape Andrew Cockroft AndrewC@daff.gov.za Cape Piscatorial Society (CPS) W. Cape Herman Potgieter cpsoc@telkomsa.net https://www.piscator.co.za/CPS2/ Hermanus Flyfishing Club W. Cape Brian Bain tbrianbain@gmail.com http://hermanusflyfishing.com/ Join us on Facebook

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FEATURE


By Ian Cox

Fat Thrift trout. Photo by Darryl Lampert


The Fyke nets Martin Davies uses to trap fish. COME to Thrift Dam with me,” said Martin Davies, “I need to harvest eggs. Alan Hobson will be joining us. You’ll find it interesting and you’ll get to do some fishing as well.” Only an idiot says no to fishing Thrift Dam with Martin Davies; if anyone epitomises Eastern Cape trout fishing, it’s him. Alan Hobson is South Africa’s most innovative fly designer and a flyfishing guide and hotelier, and fishing with both of them is like winning the Lotto on Christmas day. Thrift Dam is situated at an altitude of about 1 700m in the Eastern Cape’s Winterberg mountains; it is one of South Africa’s premier trophy

trout dams. Unusually, it is also publically accessible as a pay-to-fish venue. Calling it a dam really mis-states the true nature of the place, though; it is more appropriately compared to a Scottish loch than a dam as it is huge, remote and wild. The fishing is awesome, with 2kg fish being the norm and it is not unusual to hook into fish running north of 4kg. I said hook into because landing one of those hogs is another matter entirely. However, there is a downside — the dam is situated on top of a mountain and the weather is unpredictable. Fishing is weatherdependant and the weather is fickle.

Martin setting a Fyke net. 70 • Return to contents

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Resetting nets in the teeth of a gale. Weather conditions did not permit much fishing on this trip. A cold front blew in putting the fish off the feed and the wind howled, at times in excess of 60km per hour. It also rained, apparently for the first time in months, then there was snow, but I missed that. Sane humanbeings would have holed up in the dam-side cottages and drunk a lot of whiskey while telling tall stories about the fish that got away, and boy did Alan and I try, but Martin would have none of it. He was there to harvest eggs and that meant catching a lot of fish. That in turn meant wading chest deep into freezing cold water and laying and clearing

nets, sometimes in the dark. Martin uses fyke nets to do this. These comprise of two funnel nets connected by a net barrier; the idea is that cruising fish come up against the barrier and swim into one of the funnels. The funnels are in turn made up of one way compartments that are designed to trap fish deeper and deeper in the net. This net system catches a lot of fish when deployed by an expert and, more importantly, they do not stress the fish. Martin is just such an expert. He actually started the Rhodes University trout farm which he ran until his retirement a couple of years ago. The remarkable thing about this is that you

Transferring fish to a large holding net. Join us on Facebook

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should not be able to grow trout in Grahamstown. The water, even municipal water, is poisonous to trout. But Martin found a way. The Eastern Cape trout fishery should have died when government closed its Pirie hatchery, but Martin forged relationships with the Eastern Cape Environmental and Tourism departments and found a way to keep the fishery alive. No one can claim to be indispensable, but Martin comes close as far as Eastern Cape trout fishing is concerned. Martin does not believe in private fishing; he is a Welshman and his tribal roots are strong. He also does not take kindly to the notion that something can’t be done; he likes to do things his way and has become skilful over the years at getting his own way. In short, Martin is a passionate advocate of publically accessible trout fishing. According to Martin, anyone who is prepared to pay the rod fee should be allowed to fish and he has managed Thrift Dam on this basis for years. It should come as no surprise that Martin knows exactly where to deploy his nets. He may have driven his colleagues mad with his failure to publish like a “true” academic, but that does not mean that the knowledge is not there. Martin is a bit of a trout whisperer and he knows how to beguile trout into his nets. As a result, he catches a huge number of fish and this expedition was no exception despite the awful weather and the non-existent fishing. While we were there Martin stripped over 200 hens of their eggs, producing some 200 000 eggs.

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It should have been discouraging to see hundreds of 2kg plus fish pouring out of the nets given how bad the fishing was, especially as we had been fishing exactly where the nets were later placed. Strangely, this was not the case; it was good to know that an abundance of big fish were there to be caught if the conditions were right. It was also good to know that we were successful in our main goal which was to harvest eggs. However, it could have easily ended in disaster. Those big winds I was telling you about resulted in some pretty big wave action. The waves were not quite big enough to surf, but you did not want to wade too deep lest you got knocked off your feet. It was thus a double disaster when we found, late one afternoon, that three of the nets had broken loose and were somewhere in the middle of the dam. Worse still, they were full of fish. Martin waded out as deep as he dared and threw an anchor in the hope of snaring the nets, but he only succeeded in getting thoroughly dunked. No one else wanted to follow his example. It was then I remembered that I had a fishfinder and Alan had brought a boat. Could I use the fishfinder to locate the fish in the nets and thus the nets themselves, I wondered? “You’re not using my boat,” said Alan, “not in that,” he said, pointing to the wave-swept dam. “You’ll go round in circles and burn out the trolling motor — if you don’t sink first.” So it was that I found myself paddling my kick

Martin hard at work. www.saflyfishingmag.co.za


boat into the storm. And surprisingly sea-worthy it proved to be. Its low profile meant I was able to make headway despite the wind and the waves. The fishfinder idea also worked; it took a surprisingly short time to locate and retrieve the three missing nets. But that was not the end of it. The nets needed to be untangled, emptied of fish and reset. The fact that it was now dark and more than a little cold did not deter Martin in the least; despite being drenched to the bone he waded in once again. The work needed to be done. Spurred on by his example, we joined him and undertook the arduous task of untangling the nets, transferring fish to keep nets and then resetting the nets. It was exhausting, bone chilling work. The wind had dropped the following morning but it was raining with the promise of snow. Despite that the nets had to be emptied once again as a surprisingly large number of fish had been caught overnight. Then the fish needed to be separated into males and females, sorted for suitability and then stripped of eggs and sperm. The latter is a delicate task that must be done entirely in the dry. The introduction of any water, even the tiniest droplet, sets off the egg maturation process which will kill them in minutes if they are not placed in the hatchery, and the hatchery was a 90 minute drive away on the farm Ventnor. Stripping fish is different to catch and release. The fish are not stressed when they are netted

and are thus considerably less fragile than when hooked, but speed is still of the essence. In this case this involved us running fish some 100m to the cottage in the rain and sleet to be stripped and then returned to the dam. I say “us” but I actually mean “everyone else”; it’s been a while since I ran anywhere and I was thankfully relegated to weighing and measuring fish. This was, after all, meant to be a scientific exercise. I was not able to witness the completion of this work as Alan Shepherd and I had to start the 9.5 hour journey back to Durban, but I am happy to report that the expedition was successfully concluded. Martin’s eggs were fertilised and successfully relocated to his hatchery at Ventnor and, with a bit of luck and a lot of careful husbandry, they will grow into fish, whereupon they will contribute to the stocking of the Eastern Cape trout fishery. I can tell you that fish farming is not for the faint-hearted; it’s bloody hard work and that work has to be carried out to exacting standards in what are often very tough conditions. There were six of us helping Martin and we were barely able to make it happen. The truly extraordinary part of this tale is that Martin who is now in his late 60s often does all of this alone and unaided. Tough does not come close to describing the man. It’s a long drive, but Thrift is well worth the trip. Remember to book in advance by contacting Martin Davies on 082 398 1088 or email <flyfish.davies@gmail.com>. In good weather the fishing is awesome.

Martin Davies and Alan Hobson celebrate a job well done. Join us on Facebook

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FEATURE


By Bridgitte Stegen

Paul de Wet fishing the Thandabantu beat.


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F you have ever had the good fortune of visiting and fishing the waters of the KwazuluNatal Midlands and Drakensberg areas you would have come to appreciate the abundant wildlife, birdlife, flora and fauna, and of course the odd scaly or rainbow. If you’re really lucky you might find the elusive brown trout and the enthusiasm and passion of the flyfishers and fishing bodies which maintain the integrity of these pristine waters. The Natal Fly Fishers Club (NFFC), a non-profit flyfishing club founded in 1972, is one such passion-driven fishing body that recognises the notion that in order to preserve the purity of these unspoilt waters they cannot do it alone. It has become increasingly important to engage with local communities whilst seeking to expand the avid anglers’ water reach. The Bushman’s River, an east-flowing tributary of the Tugela River in KZN, has for many years been a pristine body of water that fishermen from the area and beyond have had the pleasure of fishing. Rising in the Drakensberg mountain range, with its upper catchment in the Giant’s Castle Game Reserve, the Bushman’s

River is nestled in the heart of the tribal land of the amaHlube people. In the past, in order to fish the tribal stretch of the Bushman’s and the Ncibidwana River, you would merely park your car alongside the river and fish for free without an invitation or even per mission from the landowners. Recognising the picture that this must portray to the traditional landowners, the NFFC set about changing this scenario. Having seen the opportunity to embark on a project that would benefit both the angler and the local people whose land we fish on, the club committee has worked hard over the last year or so in dedicating their time and resources to an exciting new endeavour — the amaHlube/NFFC Community Project on the Bushman’s River. The club’s chairman, Andrew Fowler, and his team at NFFC have, over many meals and cool drinks, met with the amaHlube people and their leader, King Langalibalele II, in order to get the green light on their idea and also to secure the support of the community living along the Bushman’s River. The outcome of their meetings has been the establishment and launch of the

Michael Mtshali, Welcome Nchonco and Thulani Ngubane of the amaHlube community. 76 • Return to contents

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community project, signed by the king himself, which brought to pass the new Bushman’s River fishing protocol as well as the promise of prosperity for both parties and, importantly, the protection of precious fishing waters. The agreement is that the local amaHlube people will sell day tickets for a reasonable R150 in addition to a R30 car guard fee. These fees are payable in cash for the day, or part thereof, by eager anglers looking to fish a beat on these top-class stretches of water. The NFFC have, for the benefit of its members and the community, bought half of the annual rod tickets. This guarantees that the community has a minimum number of rod tickets sold per year and ensures a fair and even booking system for both NFFC registered and non-club anglers. In support of this initiative, the NFCC have also done or are doing the following: • Printed day ticket (receipt) books for use by the community; • Erected signs advertising the fishery, as well as parking and beat markers; • Provided branded headgear and bibs for car guards and river bailiffs;

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• Compiled maps of each beat; • Provided an advertised cellphone number to facilitate bookings; • Met with councillors to provide business management advice and guidance on the running and policing of the fishery; • Provided chemicals and training for the eradication of bankside wattles and other damaging, invasive plant species; • Set up a framework for dealing with poachers in collaboration with the SAPS. In terms of the project agreement, the NFFC plans to include an annual river clean-up day involving the children and members of the local community in an effort to raise and encourage environmental awareness and appreciation in a time when it is most needed. Furthermore, the NFFC will use the project as a means to continue supporting the community by providing business skills, job opportunities and assisting the community with alien plant removal as well as other impactful environmentally sustainable tasks involved in maintaining a well-managed fishery. So, for you, the avid and environmentally responsible flyfishermen/women, looking to

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explore a piece of the 10km stretch of the Bushman’s and an 8km stretch of the Ncibidwane Rivers, where to from here? There are five river beats available to fish in the terms of the fishing agreement — four beats of approximately 2.5km each can be found on the Bushman’s River stretch and a fifth beat of about 8km on the Ncibidwane River. In an effort to manage rod pressure, each beat is limited to two rods on any one day and interested anglers are limited to booking only one beat to fish per day. The beats are as follows: From the top boundary down: Ezibukweni Kwaundaba:2.4km 2 rods

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Thandabantu: 2.0km 2 rods Bhungane: 2.4km 2 rods eClnic: 2.5km 2 rods On the tributary that enters the Bushman’s at the clinic: Ncibidwana River: 8.6km 2 rods Here are links to the maps of each beat: Bushmans Bhungane Beat map Bushmans eClinic Beat map Bushmans Ezibukweni Kwaundaba Beat map Bushmans Thandabantu Beat map Ncibidwana River Beat map

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Anton Smith at the lower boundary of the Thandabantu beat.

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A beautiful brown caught in the Ezibukweni Kwaundaba beat.

The booking procedure has been kept simple yet thorough. If you are a member of the NFFC (click here to join www.nffc.co.za/join-the-club-1) you simply follow the regular booking system on the NFFC website without any extra cost to you. Thereafter the booking is confirmed by SMS with Mrs Sylia Mbata, and changed on the club booking system if someone beat you to your chosen section. If you are not a member of the NFFC then you need to phone the king’s secretary, Mrs Mbata, on the club issued cellphone (072 220 1403), select an available beat and book your spot. The system is centred on a first-come-firstserved basis and anglers can book any available beat up to a week in advance. Once the fishing gear is all accounted for, cooler box is packed, cash in pocket and road

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trip underway you can arrange with Mrs Mbata to meet her at the signposted ticket office (the community courthouse) to pay for and receive your day ticket (aka receipt, so keep it safe). As per the community fishing project agreement, and in an effort to save you from wasting valuable fishing time, signs have already been erected in the valley for you to follow. Maps of the rivers are also available at the ticket office, on the NFFC website under the “Day Tickets” tab (publicly available) or, if you are a member, on the NFFC websitel. These maps will guide you to your pre-booked beat and its parking spot where a pre-arranged carguard (to be paid in cash) will be awaiting your arrival. The rest is simply up to you to enjoy and appreciate what the amaHlube people are willing to share with us.

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PLACES

pumalanga emories

M By Andrew Allman


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RECENTLY enjoyed a few days in the “Slow Low” with my wife, Sharron, and some friends, staying outside Kruger Park in Sabie River Bungalows which are nicely situated for daily jaunts into the wilds and yet far enough away to be virtually malaria free. Early morning drives into Kruger with afternoons spent lazing around the pool, either bird watching (the feathered variety) or catching up on some sleep was a hard habit to break. We thus decided that we weren’t ready to face the hectic pace of Gauteng and so opted to extend our stay in Mpumalanga with a few days at Trout Hideaway. Situated in the Mount Anderson Conservancy and lying between Origstad and Mount Sheba Nature Reserves, Trout Hideaway is one of my favourite flyfishing spots. Over a period of more than five years I have come to know the owner, Gary, as someone who prides himself on offering good fishing and accommodation. This time I wanted to share the experience with our travel companions, Iain and Denise Johnston. The relatively short trip of an hour from Hazyview was an absolute pleasure as it incorporated the panoramic views around Graskop and Pilgrims Rest with little or no road works to speak of and with an acceptable number of pot holes. However, what made the journey more arduous was the relatively short stretch of goat track when we left the tar for the gravel road. It took us a further hour just to travel the 17km down to Trout Hideaway from the turn off on the R540. One has to feel that Mount Sheba Forever Resort which is 10km down the track and Trout Hideaway a further seven clicks on, would definitely both benefit with an increase in business volume as a direct result of an improved road

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surface. That being said, I would not encourage a visit, particularly to the latter, under present road conditions without the necessary fourwheel drive vehicle. That is, unless you are the adventurous type and do not mind extending your stay if weather conditions cause the road to become impassable. With all that under the bonnet, I can assure you that the trip is well worth it, whether you are a flyfishing aficionado or one who just enjoys peace and tranquillity amongst the solitude of the Drakensberg mountains. The dirt road runs through pine plantations and there was a fair bit of lumbering activity going on to distract us from the many humps and dips that straddle the road, so be aware, especially if you’re in a low clearance vehicle. The last two kilometres are especially rough going, with jagged shale a real danger to your precious tyres. The run off from recent heavy rains had not helped the situation either. As a precaution our holiday companions opted to travel in their own vehicle, but I rather suspect Iain was more interested in testing his off-road skills than acting as our back-up. The area is beautiful and the view is akin to kaleidoscopic surround sound; it is just everywhere you look and more than compensates for the uneven road surface. There were high-fives all round when we made it safely down the pass to the valley floor where the crystal blue waters awaited and our war m and friendly host, Charles, showed us to our assigned lodgings, aptly named Taddy Lodge. An era of by-gone opulence and designer decor greeted us in the more-than-comfortable log cabin perched on the slopes surrounding a very large dam. The cottage has a large lounge with fireplace and combined dining

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area as well as a breakfast bar counter, whilethe two bedrooms each have an en-suite bathroom. There is adequate provision of kitchen appliances, cutlery and crockery. The deck features folding glass doors providing an enclosed seating and braai area with floor to roof glass panels that were to die for. The wind really gusts here in the afternoons and the enclosed patio with panoramic view is splendid when one tires of the main attraction and wants to simply admire the scenery. That brings me to the real reason for our visit — to cast a fly. The trout are of a decent size, most around 1.5kg with some much larger fish of 2.5kg upwards. I never consider fishing success based purely on the numbers and weight but, let’s be honest, size does count when it comes to fishing. When pushed for a fly preference, Charles suggested that the trout would attack any fly justly presented and, whilst this may be true, I experienced this phenomenon only once and that was around midday after four hours of casting into the wind. During the windy morning only two trout had been caught and released. Suddenly it was as though someone flicked a switch and monster trout swam to the surface to gobble wet flies as they hit the water, before they even had a chance to sink. Some trout even jumped at flies in the air and it was like a race amongst them all to see which fish could snaffle the fly first. I have never had such total enjoyment with monster trout on a feeding frenzy, and if I ever need to find a reason to return to this venue then I have only to rekindle in my mind those takes in an hour of pure bliss. The frantic experience was, however, short lived and in the late afternoon an entirely differ-

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ent tactic was required to entice a few more trout onto the fly. The wind had dropped by then and the moon soon rose, illuminating the waters for some early evening sight casting. A deadly slow retrieve and then an abrupt cessation of all activity resulted in an ever so delicate suck, observed through a slight movement in the line. Again this was flyfishing at its best and another equal test between the quarry and fisherman. Trout Hideaway has four sizable dams, but we only tried two and had no inclination to venture to the river or weirs. Acacia provided the largest fish whilst Willow won hands down in terms of the number of trout caught and released. During our stay I took a hike up towards the source of the natural spring waters which cascade down into the weirs, dams, waterfalls and river below. It was as natural as you could ever hope to find it. There are also a few ponds in a fenced off area which might appeal to the novice angler. In short, there is fishing to cater for every whim, and even if you don’t partake in this activity there are lovely walks that abound and it’s a beautiful place in which to spend quality time with family, read or just be. Sadly, the time to depart arrived all too soon and we bade farewell to Trout Hideaway. The return trip was somehow a lot easier on both the vehicle and our kidneys. We all felt rested and grateful for the relaxing time in relative solitude. As we reached the smooth tar road I yearned for another pull of the fighting trout and recalled the vision of the really big one that had tired my forearm and snapped my line, along with the others which had just spat out the barbless hooks. I smiled contentedly and concluded that it had been a fair contest. Will I return? Do fish swim?

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FEATURE

Bids, Boys a UNDER THE BLO By Andrew Mather

THREE thousand,” he bellowed as he swung around from the bar nearly pouring his tiddle on the guy next to him and interrupting the loud discussion he had been busy with. “Three thousand,” he bellowed again at Gordon Van Der Spuy in his role as auctioneer at the 2018 Fly Fishing and Fly Tying Expo. With a satisfied grin after Gordon’s acknowledgment, the man in question fell back into a loud debate with a few of his mates at the bar. This display repeated itself several times over as Gordon, having cottoned on to this, only had to shout his name in order to secure a higher bid. It was the night of a blood moon. It wasn’t just any blood moon either, it was the longest total lunar eclipse this century. Blood moons are eerie things; according to the book of Joel “the sun will turn into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes.” The scientist in me says that this is Expo site at Lourensford Estate.

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all nonsense, but it has to be said that this auction was a little crazier than others I have attended. You see it wasn’t only the fellow at the bar. Another character, well known in our community, seeing the First Accent puffer jacket that was on auction, felt it necessary to model the thing. We were doubly entertained as he proceeded to strut up and down like a peacock; it was not clear if this was an effort to encourage more bids or to the impress the peahens. However, whatever his motivation, it worked and bidding rapidly rose above the retail price. It was won, you’ve guessed it, by the guy at the bar. There must have been a few relieved people in the room as this display of grog-driven generosity reduced the pressure on everyone else in the room to do the right thing. There is never a dull moment when flyfishers meet in circumstances where alcohol is available. Throw in an auction and there will always be one of us sufficiently lubricated to strut his Tom Sutcliffe sketching.

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and Bamboo OOD MOON SKY stuff for the benefit and entertainment of everyone else. Add a blood moon to the mix and it gets hectic. And it is true that the more caring among us did wonder how this fellow was going to feel like the next day, but I’m getting ahead of myself. The highlight of the evening was seeing Tony Biggs and Tom Sutcliffe together once again. It is easy to forget that these two stalwarts who are now well into their 70s were once the tigers who revolutionised South African flyfishing. The highlight of the auction was custommade kit produced by local artisans. The Boshoff/Dugmore combo grass rod was magnificent, as were the nets and boxes made by our KZN lads Futter and Savs. Flies were also amongst the top ten, with local fly-tyers donating Oliver Kite and Catskillstyled flies as well as some salmon flies. There were even a few salt-water flies for the salty dogs amongst those present. Big money was spent on flies tied by Dr Tom Sutcliffe and JP

Gouws. (Watch out for his interview in the November edition of this magazine.) I had to feed my silk line fetish and succumbed to bidding on a beautiful Terenzio silk line donated by my friend Italian bamboo rod maker Moreno Borriero. He asked, “Do you know why you like silk lines?” Before I could reply he told me: “Because the sound of the silk line running through the eyes of your rod reminds you of a beautiful lady, clad in silk stockings, uncrossing her legs.” Who am I to argue! This year there were some fantastic items on offer. Many of our local craftsmen donated items that were unique and really a piece of history, all given in the community spirit of the sport of flyfishing. They are the true pillars of our flyfishing community, giving generously of their talents and, in doing so, forgoing a not inconsiderable income opportunity. We salute all those who donated auction items.

Gordon van der Spuy tying a salmon fly.

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Return to contents • 87


Marc Petitjean

Moreno Borriero

THE EXPO At last year’s Expo I learned that you must get there early if you want the good stuff. Cold dark Cape mornings aren’t my favourite; mind you, most morning aren’t except when there some fishing involved. We stumbled in around 7:30am on Saturday — a respectable time considering the excesses of the night before and that the official opening time was 9am — and had to kick our heels till the coffee came on offer. First stop was Petitjean. His tools and CDC were sold out last year, so it was not surprising that his stand was well stocked this year. There was an added bonus — Marc has written a book on tying flies with CDC. Simply called CDC, it is a stunner. (Watch out for the review in the November edition of this magazine.) Cash was quickly outlaid and Marc graciously signed the book into the bargain. On the artistic front time was well spent admiring Chris Bladen’s superbly detailed bronzes, Sharland Urquhart’s magnificent oil paintings and Stu Hartley’s distinctive sketches and pen and ink drawings. Local crafters of flyfishing equipment were represented by Shaun Futter and Stephen Boshoff. Two ex-South Africans were also there — Moreno Borriero had ten beautifully made cane rods flamed in a 88 • Return to contents

unique tortoiseshell pattern on sale and Nick Hughes, an accomplished grass rod maker, brought along his newly handmade reels. (More on his reels in the November edition.) Flyfishing guides were represented by Tourette Fishing, Alan and Annabelle Hobson of Angler and Antelope fame, as well Jacques Marais from HunterFisher. The normal crew of tackle dealers were also in attendance. Oh, I guess you want to know about the big spender from the auction. He pitched up looking decidedly liverish, no doubt with a pounding headache, but on time and ready to do his bit. Gordon, he’s one man you definitely want at the next auction! WORKSHOPS I had to get home, so unfortunately I missed the workshops that took place on the Sunday, but by all accounts these workshops were well attended. Some brushed up their Cape stream tactics while others discovered new things about the fly-line that is such an important part of the flyfishing outfit. Euro nymphing and tying with CDC were also on the menu. For a brief video overview of the 2018 Expo visit <www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpPJT3qBqw>.

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The next edition will focus on yellowfish Sterkies yellows and birds David Weaver shares some secrets Stalking yellows on the mighty Orange, Vaal and Riet rivers with Jacques Marais The flies of Thendela Simon Graham talks about this exciting venture The amaHlube clan and the NFFC An unusual marriage Women in Waders â&#x20AC;&#x201D; pushing the barriers Gordon van der Spuy talks to us about flies JP Gouws â&#x20AC;&#x201D; a humble fly-tying wizard A closer look at rivers with Jake Alletson Not your typical book review Marc Petitjean talks to us about CDC ... and loads more.


COMPETITIVE FISHING


By Cheryl Heyns, SAFFA President

W

ITH the Masters Fly Fishing World Championships on the horizon, the team putting the tour nament together is frantically trying to fit in all the requisite planning between full-time jobs, family commitments, local tournaments and festivals, vast distances and very limited resources. The approaching elections and economic pressures on our society make the efforts all the more challenging. Challenges, however, are things that flyfishers thrive on and the enthusiasm and dedication of the team is empowering and infectious. And then there is Dullstroom… what a great town and what a fantastic place to host such a prestigious event! When Dullstroom was first considered as the host town for the event there was much scepticism from many seasoned anglers. Why not use the ‘Berg? What about the Vaal? What about the Western Cape? “Surely there are better places in South Africa to showcase our flyfishing,” the purists cried. But then, as with most things in life, once one starts unpacking the details and weighing up the full magnitude of the task, things crystallise and now even the most sceptical are in agreement — Dullies is the place! Not only does Dullstroom offer us the accommodation and tourist infrastructure to host the event, but it is also within easy travel distance of Johannesburg where the Fishing World Games opening ceremony will be held. In addition to that, it has flyfishing shops, it is a very pretty town, it is 90 minutes away from the Kruger National Park and the wonders of the Blyde Canyon, and it will offer some good fishing to the internationals visiting our shores.

More than that, though, Dullstroom offers us a community of people who are willing to host this event. From the mayor and his ward councillors to the ordinary members of the community, we have been met with enthusiasm and a willingness to assist in whatever way is possible. Dullstroom has a core of folks well versed in festival and tournament organisation, and it shows. They have a grasp of the complexities involved in organising big events and have sound local knowledge and community support. It is a winwin for us as SAFFA and gives a great deal of peace of mind that things are being done well at local level. The Masters World Fly Fishing Championship is owned by FIPS Mouche, which is the international controlling body of all world championship flyfishing. There are four annual championships, one for Youth under 18; a World Championship; and a Masters division for anglers who are 50 and older. South Africa is not permitted to fish in the European Championship. Every four years there is the “Olympics” of angling sports — the Fishing World Games. When those are held all angling and casting disciplines converge on a single country to participate in world championships in various facets. In February 2019 they are all coming to South Africa. The masters flyfishing championship sits within this greater basket of angling activities which will be dotted across South Africa from Richards Bay to Langebaan, through the interior to Lydenburg in Mpumalanga. Unfortunately in South Africa we do not have the waters to accommodate a full World Championship of 40-plus teams of five anglers per team. We have a maximum capacity, depending on where we have it, for around 12 teams, given the requirements of beat lengths and boat distances.


There were a number of strict requirements we had to make sure we could meet if we hosted the event. To start with, for the World Championship we have to close waters to competitors and their “agents” for 30 days prior to a tournament. We also have to provide practice waters for them for the 10 to 14 days of pre-fishing that teams come to do before a championship, and we have to provide official practice waters for them to rotate through on the official practice day. Each angler needs to have a minimum of 100m of river. All the waters need to be stocked in preparation, and given that the tournament will take place in February, the heat will certainly impact heavily on the fish. Finally we have the added concern about those terrifying heavy thunderstorms that the Highveld is so well known for. The event itself is fished over four three-hour sessions on two days.

The venues All participants will be housed at the Dunkeld Equestrian Estate cottages; each team will have their own chalet and the Equestrian Centre will be used for meals and meetings. The Dullstroom Town Dam: This sector will be fished off boats with electric motors. This is an ideal spectator venue because there are view and vantage points all around the dam and it is in town. The Lochs, Belfast: The Lochs has a private syndicate dam that lies on the outskirts of Belfast on the Stofberg road. Well-stocked with brownies to try to keep the bass population under control, the Lochs is a good sized stillwater with some prize specimens. This will be fished off boats. Nooitgedacht, Lydenburg: Nooitgedacht lies in a wild and untamed valley just past Rivendell; it is situated on the Spekboom River. This is another boating sector which offers browns and rainbows as well as the beautiful Spekboom Reds — a variant that has been grown in the Nooitgedacht hatchery. Rivendell, Lydenburg: Rivendell is the only river sector in the tour nament, and lies below Nooitgedacht on the Spekboom River. There is plenty of river and the new owner, Angus Brown, has done an amazing job of getting this venue up to standard.

The Program Anglers will be in Dullstoom for at least a week before the tournament starts on Saturday 9 February with the official opening in Sandton. Participants will gather in the Nelson Mandela Square at 9.00am and there will be a street parade through Sandton to the Convention Centre which will host the ceremony. 92 • Return to contents

Competitors will check into the Dullstroom Equestrian Centre on Sunday 10 February and will be taken into town in their National Colours. There will be a street parade down the Main Road of Dullstroom from the area near Wild About Whiskey to the open area next to the Coachman. The Mayor of Emakhazeni will be hosting a reception to welcome the visitors to the area. The parade starts at 11am and we would like to invite any visitors to Dullstroom to come and cheer for our anglers. On Monday 11 February all the anglers will be transported to the official practice venues for last minute fine-tuning and the tournament starts on the Tuesday at 7am. Two sessions are fished per competition day. On the Wednesday we have a rest/weather day, and then Thursday will see the last two sessions being fished. At this stage the planning includes a medal ceremony in the Kruger National Park on Friday at lunch time with a closing dinner at Dunkeld Equestrian that evening. Teams depart on Saturday morning, and hopefully they will go on to do some guided yellowfishing at Sterkfontein or on the Vaal and Orange systems, or return to the Kruger for some Big Five adventures. We would love to hear from sponsors or contributors who wish to assist us in delivering a world class tournament. We will be having a Conservation Symposium for about two hours on Wednesday 13 February specifically focussing on South Africa’s yellowfish, and anyone who can assist us with that should contact Patrick O Brien directly on 082 559 8978 or email patrick.obrien@sulzer.com. www.saflyfishingmag.co.za


Scene from the Czech Nationals in 2017.

SAFFA Youth Nationals 2018 By Louis de Jager

The SASACC team which went to the Czech Republic in 2017. Join us on Facebook

F

ROM 3 to 7 October 2018 youth teams from the Wester n Province, Boland, Gauteng North, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga will be competings at the Du Kloof Lodge for the title of national champ. This year we will also be hosting a visiting youth team from the Czech Republic under the management of Jiri Pechjar. This is the second year in a row that a Czech youth team will be visiting South Africa. For a few years now we have had an exchange program between the two countries based on a reciprocity agreement. The SASACC Youth Team and their manager Aubrey Ferreira recently returned from the Czech Republic. Having top international competitors here is obviously a huge bonus for our anglers as it exposes them to new techniques and methods. Seventy youth anglers are expected to compete in the Youth Nationals 2018; we are ecstatic about these numbers as they show growth amongst the youth in the sport. Boland is hosting this year’s nationals, and river sessions will be fished on the Cape Piscatorial Society’s Smalblaar River and boat sessions on Lakenvlei Dam. An additional bank angling stillwater will be La Ferme just outside Franschhoek. Anglers will fish five three-hour sessions during the national tournament. After the Nationals SAFFA invites the top 16 anglers (based on a two-year ranking system) to the Protea Youth Trials to compete for spots in the six-man Youth Protea Team which will fish Youth Worlds, and another six-man Youth SASACC Team which will tour to the Czech Republic. The 2018 Youth World Championship was hosted by Poland from 6 to 12 August 2018. Our 2018 Youth Protea Team is Evert Minnaar (Manager), MC Coetzer (Coach), Bradley Cottle, Dylan Elliot, Erik Roos, Roo Bechard , William Gilbert) and Guido Brentot. Any youth angler wishing to get involved with youth flyfishing in South Africa can contact Louis de Jager <louisdejager.acs@gmail.com> or Tim Tindall <timtindall@gmail.com> . Provincial structures and contacts are also on the website www.flyfishsouthafrica.co.za. Unfortunately youth angling and development does not come without a price tag and we cater for youngsters from all walks of life; some simply cannot afford the costs but we always try to make a plan for them to compete. Good Samaritans who wish to donate to a good cause — our Youth and tomorrow’s anglers — can contact me, Louis de Jager, or SAFFA Treasurer Tim Tindall. Return to contents • 93


BOOK REVIEW

by Ian Cox

T

YING flies is an artisanal skill that brings great joy to many flyfishers. It also drives a large international trade in flyfishing materials. Some expert fly tyers transcend the artisanal nature of the craft and become artists; this is especially true of those who tie Kelson-type salmon flies, especially when these are tied only for decorative or artistic purposes. (See the December 2017 cover of Flyfishing magazine.) This style of fly-tying is a hotly contested field. Sadly this contest is increasingly being driven by the tyers access to and use of rare feathers that are sometimes sourced from skins of birds that are listed under the CITES convention and the IUCN. The result is a very costly and sometimes illegal trade in rare and colourful feathers. The dark side of this art and the feather trade that sustains it were recently highlighted in Kirk Wallace Johnson’s book The Feather Thief. Johnson tells the story of Edwin Rist who, aged 20, broke into the British Natural History Museum at Tring and stole a sizeable chunk of the museum’s collection of colourful stuffed birds. These included specimens collected in Papua New Guinea over 150 years ago, including species such as birds of paradise, bowerbirds and cotingas. Rist is an interesting character. He is a home-schooled musical prodigy who also took up the highly competitive game of tying decorative salmon flies as a hobby. He was studying the flute at the Royal College of Music at the 94 • Return to contents



time of the theft and was already acknowledged as one of the finest salmon fly-tyers in the world. There is not much to tell about the theft itself. Rist executed his theft in the most ordinary way — he first cased the museum and devised a plan of how to burgle it; this was no spur of the moment crime. He then executed the burglary and made off with 299 skins from 16 species and subspecies. It was weeks before the theft was discovered. He was caught as a result of a tipoff from a fellow fly-tyer who recognised the skins for what they were after Rist started selling them. But this is not a story of an incompetent thief, it is far more intriguing than that. Although Rist was convicted of theft and money laundering he did not go to jail. This is extraordinary in and of itself. Apart from the theft itself and the consequent destruction of scientifically irreplaceable specimens, he lied about why he did it as well as what he did with the skins that he no longer had. He somehow managed to persuade a leading psychologist and a judge that he did not steal the skins for commercial gain. This is despite setting up a feather trading business on the internet and telling everyone he was going to use the money to buy an expensive flute. They concluded that he was suffering from Asperger Syndrome and should get off lightly. Even Rist found it difficult to accept this diagnosis, but the judge bought it and so Rist got off with a fine and a suspended sentence. Nor is this just a story of a

morally deviant, manipulative and highly intelligent thief who got away with it. The author, Kirk Wallace Johnson, is a flyfisher and is also a highly intelligent child prodigy possessed with his own www.saflyfishingmag.co.za


   

strong, even obsessive, sense of justice. What was an unusual theft becomes a fascinating tale between Rist and Johnson as antagonist and protagonist with their competing ambitions Join us on Facebook

and conflicting values. There is also a third leg of the story — the feather trade and the decorative salmon fly-tying community that it supplies. Sadly Johnson never really gets to grips with this third leg. The fact that bird skins of some species are hard to come by does not make the species endangered. Johnson fails to make this point clearly enough, nor does he adequately address the contradictions that this creates. He does not, for example, adequately address the fact that the red ruffed fruit crow (Indian crow) and spangled cotinga (blue chatter) are not listed under CITES. This means that one can legally trade in these species without a CITES permit. He writes a lot about his search for missing Indian crow and blue chatter skins without really telling the reader that these can be legally bought and sold. He hardly deals with the trade in CITES listed species, leaving one wondering if much of this took place at all. He also does not seem to understand that the purchase of stolen property is only illegal if you know or ought reasonably to know that the property was stolen. The result of this is that legal and ethical judgements become confused and his narrative becomes judgemental. Johnson therefore never really gets to grips with the complex legal and ethical issues that the decorative salmon fly-tying community deal with in their quest for rare feathers. This is a pity because this is a story that begs the question: When does fly-tying cross the line and become

unethical or even illegal? When is it legally and ethically permissible to use materials sourced from wild animals and when is it not? The right thing to do is what many fly-tyers have done and return those skins and feathers sourced as a result of Rist’s burglary to the British Natural History Museum as their rightful owner. This is notwithstanding the fact that these feathers are no longer of any use to the museum. Sadly some fly-tyers have chosen not to do this, with some justifying this by claiming that the feathers are worthless to the museum and that fly-tyers will put the feathers to better use than the museum would. These excuses speak of an unhealthy obsession to tie flies using original or exotic materials. This, in turn, begs the obvious question of whether this market is sustainable and whether it should exist at all. After all, Kelson was a fraud. The feather trade which made his flies possible was unsustainable and resulted in some species being threatened with extinction. Should fly-tyers be perpetuating the demand for these feathers given the above? Are substitutes not preferable? These flies may be art, but doesn’t art lose its lustre when it becomes dishonest or destructive? It is time that the fly-tying community starts to address these questions and perhaps it’s timely that FOSAF will also look at fly-tying when updating its policies. The updated policy is busy being prepared and will be made available in draft for public comment before being formally adopted. Return to contents • 95


MARKETPLACE

GET YOURSELF

IN GEAR

NICK HUGHES REELS How do you beat a reel built with all the accuracy and technology that is available to industry these days? Bamboo rod maker and craftsman Nick Hughes does, and he does so operating from his flat using hand tools and a lathe. Remember Chris Lythe in the Hardy video? Well Nick Hughes does something similar. His handmade pillar-styled reels in aluminium and nickel silver are all limited editions and extraordinarily well priced. The first batch of reels exhibited at the SA Flyfishing and Fly-tying Expo sold out. Three models covering 1-wt to 5-wt lines are available on order. Contact: Nick Hughes nickhughes@hotmail.co.uk

HANDMADE FURLED LEADERS Custom-made furled leaders make it easier to delicately present dry flies; this is because they are so soft. You can get these purpose built for South African conditions from Marcel Terblanche. He has been fishing dry flies since he was a sprog, so if anyone knows what is required he does. He makes them from furling a number of strands of fly-tying thread into a single tapered leader. They are surprisingly robust considering the delicacy of the material used and the task they perform. A single leader easily lasts a season, meaning theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re cost effective. They come in sizes from 000-wt to 6-wt in a range of colours, with or without a strike indicator built in. Contact: Marcel Terblanche on 073 193 0830 driftflyfisher@gmail.com www.driftflyfishing.co.za 96 â&#x20AC;˘ Return to contents

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BESPOKE WOODEN FLY-BOXES Shaun Futter of Trutta Angling Accessories cares deeply about wood grain. He has been known to tear apart pallets of timber in search of the one perfect plank. Wood merchants have become used to planning planks so Sean can check the grain; he won’t buy unless he is sure. The result is the range of unique wooden fly-boxes that Trutta Angling Accessories produces. Wanting something different to display your fly collection or a fly-box to use every day and be the envy of your mates? You won’t be alone. Shaun has made boxes for the biggest names in the industry both in this country and abroad. These fly-boxes come with rare earth magnets which hold them securely closed, brass hinges and C&F inserts, and can be personalised to order. The boxes were recently reengineered with a new wooded hinge. Contact: Shaun Futter of Trutta Angling Accessories on 082 654 0212.

HARDWOOD LANDING NETS

A net is a damn nuisance until you need it, and then it must be ready and able to do the job. Trutta nets not only do both, they are robust works of exquisite craftsmanship that will take a lot of the nuisance out of carrying the thing. Crafted in exotic hardwoods to the most exacting standards, these nets are heirloom quality. They come in several sizes from a small stream net to a dam net. Shown here is the popular steam net with cloth bag that suits KZN and Cape steams; if you are targeting yellows then go up a size. Contact: Shaun Futter of Trutta Angling Accessories on 082 654 0212.

BRASS HAIR STACKERS Are you battling to find a hair stacker that can do smaller hairs for those smaller flies? Look no further. The J-Vice hair stacker has been doing this job for over a decade. Turned in brass, these stackers are 40mm tall and have an internal diameter of 5mm which makes them perfect for those small stacking jobs. Contact: Jay Smit on 083 250 8211 jayjvice@gmail.com www.jvice.com

WOODEN HAIR STACKERS This is for the tyer who is looking for something a bit different from a hair stacker. Turned from uniquely grained pieces of indigenous wood in varying sizes, these hair stacker sets will add class to any fly-tyer’s bench. Ranging in size from an internal diameter of 9mm to 5mm these will cover all your options. Contact Robin Joffey on 083 601 4706 robinandmerle@telkomsa.net. Join us on Facebook

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CLUB PROFILE

CPS member Korrie Broos fishing the Molenaars.

   

 

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HE Cape Piscatorial Society is synonymous with flyfishing in the Western Cape. Its credo reads: Founded in November 1931 in succession to the Western Districts Game and Trout Protection Association constituted in September 1902, to be the foremost angling club in Southern Africa, promoting all aspects of salt and freshwater flyfishing wherever the sport may be practised. Its offices on the 4th floor of the Mercantile Building, 63 Hout Street in Cape Townâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s CBD are testament to an involvement in flyfishing from its earliest origins in this country. Among the streams over which the CPS has administrative control â&#x20AC;&#x201D; thanks to an agreement with Cape Nature â&#x20AC;&#x201D; are the Witte, a brown trout stream, and the Elandspad/ Smalblaar and the Holsloot, the latter two holding rainbows.

CARING FOR THE ENVIRONMENT The Society has a long history of caring for the environment in which its members fish. In the early 1980s it successfully linked with the Botanical Society and farmers in the Breede River Valley to combat a proposed resort on the banks of the Smalblaar stream near the exit from the Huguenot Tunnel on the N1 national road. A decade later it co-funded a doctoral thesis by Cate Brown of UCT which provided guidelines for trout hatcheries and, more recently, it funded a study on pollution from hatcheries on the Smalblaar and its tributaries. 98 â&#x20AC;˘ Return to contents

Further information is provided in the article Trout and the Farmer and in the â&#x20AC;&#x153;Trout Warsâ&#x20AC;? folder on the CPS website. One of the Capeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s best trout streams, the Smalblaar, runs alongside the busy N1 highway and, particularly in the vicinity of the Huguenot Tunnel, there is a build-up of litter. Each year, the CPS organises a working party to clear away this litter as a social responsibility endeavour.

FLY-TYING AND SLIDE NIGHTS Every month the club hosts either a â&#x20AC;&#x153;Vice Squadâ&#x20AC;? fly-tying evening or a â&#x20AC;&#x153;Slide Nightâ&#x20AC;? presentation. Vice Squad typically sees four flytyers demonstrate a pattern from tiny dry flies and nymphs suitable to the Cape streams, right up to carp and bass flies, local saltwater patterns and giant tarpon flies. Slide Night can be anything from feedback on someoneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s recent trip to New Zealand, Colorado or the Seychelles â&#x20AC;&#x201D; anything goes. The clubhouse packs out, the bar hums (1990s prices help) and new and old members get to connect. These evenings are also open to non-members in order to encourage those who might be considering joining the CPS to get a closer look at what the club is about. If you live in Cape Town or are visiting as a tourist, then the CPS, through its secretary, Louis de Jager, can answer your flyfishing queries. Contact him on 021 424 7725, email <cpsoc@telkomsa.net> or visit their website <www.piscator.co.za/CPS2>. www.saflyfishingmag.co.za


   

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TARTING a sport can be daunting when one is faced with the multiple disciplines and variations of a particular sport, and flyfishing is no different. Do you start to fish for trout or yellows? Should you buy a 5-wt or a 3-wt? This is where joining a club can help to clear up some doubts and answer quite a few questions. A SNAPSHOT OF NEW BEGINNINGS

The Jacaranda Fly Fishing Club was established to provide an environment whereby members can develop, enhance and practice flyfishing skills to improve their success rate but still have serious fun! It was relaunched in February 2012 and given new impetus by six members who agreed that the club needed to continue and not be allowed to die. A new strategic growth path was set, business and financial plans were compiled and to date the club is 100 members strong. The club members enjoy â&#x20AC;&#x153;serious funâ&#x20AC;? through an exciting program of activities which has been planned for monthly meetings and a series of outings to flyfishing venues where they can practice skills and techniques or merely enjoy a day of fishing. Club meetings are held on the first, second and third Tuesday of the month at Zwartkop Country Club, Old Johannesburg Road, Pretoria, for technical and fly-tying sessions.

CARPE DIEM A fishing club without any waters to call its own would seem counterproductive but that is in fact exactly where the strengths are shown. Join us on Facebook

With no specific piece of water and fish species to target, members of the Jacaranda Club are blessed with a wide pool of knowledge from trout to yellows and everything in between, including less targeted species such as catfish and carp. What makes the learning process of the club so effective is the neatly organised structure of the indoor, outdoor and fly-tying programs. The first Tuesday evening of every month usually sees a presentation by one of South Africaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s foremost flyfishing personalities. During these presentations valuable tips and techniques are shared with club members, information which might otherwise take individuals years to learn on their own. The second and third Tuesday evening every month is devoted to tying patterns which relate to the tips and techniques session. The proof of the pudding is in the eating at monthly outdoor events where club members can apply theoretical knowledge on the water. On occasions the experts accompany members to these events to assist with the practical application of the various flyfishing techniques. Through all this transfer of knowledge the â&#x20AC;&#x153;funâ&#x20AC;? of flyfishing is encouraged by ensuring that techniques are easy to learn in a non-competitive environment, hence the clubâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s slogan of having â&#x20AC;&#x153;serious funâ&#x20AC;?. Regardless of your current skill level, if you are looking for a club to dramatically increase your knowledge and skills whilst meeting like-minded flyfishing folk, do not hesitate to email <jacarandaflyfishers@gmail.com>, visit the website <www.jffc.co.za> or the Facebook page www.facebook.com/jacarandaflyfishers. Return to contents â&#x20AC;˘ 99


FOSAF NEWS

    By Ilan Lax

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OMETIMES I feel like a stuck record or, to put it in more modern terms, like a stuttering and buffering audio stream. So Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m not going to tell you again about what FOSAF is and what it has done since it was formed in 1986. I will instead share with you some of the important things that FOSAF is doing for flyfishers right now and what it will be doing in the future. FOSAFâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s message, however, remains the same. You need to join FOSAF in order to help FOSAF do these things. FOSAF is a community organisation and, unsurprisingly, it needs the support of its community â&#x20AC;&#x201D; flyfishers â&#x20AC;&#x201D; in order to function effectively. If you are reading this, then chances are you are part of the flyfishing community, but are you a member of FOSAF? Quite possibly not. You need to consider how long your community will last if you do not support it. This is not a sales pitch; the two main issues that FOSAF is currently engaged with go to the heart of why we flyfish and whether we will be able to continue to do so. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m referring to FOSAFâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s defence of trout and its fight against the pollution that is killing our rivers and the fish in them. There have been horrifying stories in the press, on social media and in this magazine about the failure of municipal wastewater treatment plants and the consequent pollution of the Vaal River. This is nothing new, but the fact that the problem is so old means that it has now reached a crisis point. FOSAF has been part of this fight for decades, but it has been a case of a few warn100 â&#x20AC;˘ Return to contents

ing the many of what is coming. Well, that day has come and FOSAF is at the coal face working hard to try and protect our yellowfish. As I write this, FOSAFâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Northern Region under Chris Williamsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; energetic leadership, together with their partners like SAVE, CER and others, are working round the clock to try and stop the current flow of some 150-million litres of sewerage spilling into the Vaal daily. You have probably seen Chris Williamsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; interview on Carte Blanche on television recently; that is FOSAF at work trying to protect your interests. The municipalities involved have got to the point where they do not care anymore; they even ignore court orders that have been issued against them. The Green Scorpions who should protect us from this sort of thing are doing nothing, while the Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation denies that there is a problem. Hence their fake news press release claiming that the situation is â&#x20AC;&#x153;normalâ&#x20AC;?. Sadly it is far from normal, but it is only the community-based action of organisations like FOSAF and SAVE that are speaking the truth to this reality. If FOSAF was not there anglers would not have a voice. This work is finally showing signs of progress â&#x20AC;&#x201D; DWS may be in denial but the Gauteng government has acknowledged that there is a problem. The next step is to either persuade or compel them to do something about it. Then there are the trout wars. Since 1986 FOSAF has defended trout from those who want to eradicate them. FOSAF secured a great victory in 2014 when government promised that trout would not be listed as invasive where they www.saflyfishingmag.co.za


 

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HIS issue’s winner of the FOSAF members’ draw is Mario Lionello (membership number AL0007) of Cramerview, who won a voucher for R2 500 worth of Xplorer goods.

occur outside certain protected areas. However the Department of Environmental Affairs reneged on that promise last year; it is now trying to amend the alien and invasive species lists and regulations to make trout invasive throughout South Africa. Many of you will have submitted objections to this proposal and FOSAF thanks you for your support. Happily you are not fighting alone. Other interest groups unconnected with the trout value chain are waking up to what FOSAF has being saying for years. It is not just trout anglers who lose if trout are declared invasive — everyone loses, including the environment. With this in mind FOSAF did not object alone; we werejoined in our objection by a consortium of over 16 organisations representing a broad range of interests across South Africa. FOSAF and the work it has done over many years have been pivotal in bringing this consortium together. The consortium wrote to the Minister of Environmental Affairs asking that she withdraw the proposed law, but the Minister has declined this request. Sadly it seems that DEA and the Minister are intent on listing trout as invasive regardless of the consequences or the legality of their actions. The trout wars have reached a crucial tipping point; the survival of trout fishing and the trout value chain is at stake. And yet again it is FOSAF who has stepped up to do what is necessary to protect trout, trout fishing and the value chain they support. FOSAF has recruited a team of lawyers including a senior advocate to represent FOSAF in an appli-

cation for an order declaring the process of making this law unlawful. This application will be filed in court by the time this magazine is published. FOSAF could not have done this had its legal team not been prepared to work on a pro amico basis. While huge thanks must go to the legal team for stepping up this way, that would not have happened if FOSAF had not built a reputation over years for supporting the flyfishing community. FOSAF is not an organisation that rushes off to court. In fact, this will be the first time FOSAF has done so. Over the years FOSAF has demonstrated that it prefers to find inclusive solutions through cooperative and positive engagement. Litigation is only resorted to as a last resort. Sadly, DEA’s failure to abide by the promise that trout would not be listed as invasive and its insistence that trout must be listed as invasive, leaves FOSAF with no alternative but to go to court to stop this. These are just two examples of how FOSAF is actively involved in protecting the interest of the flyfishing community. FOSAF cannot do this without the active support of the flyfishing community. Flyfishers like to see themselves as part of a community that cares, and FOSAF is a public demonstration of that care. So come and join FOSAF if you care about these things and you think you can help make a difference. Join FOSAF to help protect South Africa’s fisheries and be part of helping in our little way to build a country we will be proud to hand to our children and grandchildren.

   

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ECOME a member and make a contribution to FOSAF’s most important projects, thus assuring the future of flyfishing in South Africa. For further information refer to the FOSAF website. In addition, members may purchase our FOSAF Guide to Flyfishing and the Favoured Flies books at extremely low prices. These items make ideal gifts for a friend or a newcomer to the sport. To join and for more details visit <www.fosaf.co.za> or contact Liz on (011) 467-5992 or email <fosaf@icon.co.za>. Join us on Facebook

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Southern African Flyfishing September 2018  

Southern African Flyfishing September 2018