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ff aug 12 kamberg fest dr

7/16/12

11:27 AM

festivals

I

HAVE often thought back on the days when the fishing bug first bit and left me infected for the rest of my life. The thrill of catching my first carp on one of those all-in-one combo plastic rod sets with a plastic reel and just enough line to cast some 15 metres has never left me. The rod had shattered under the strain of the 2kg carp on the other end, and the plastic coffee grinder seized two minutes into the fight. The only option left was for me to walk backwards until the fish flopped onto the bank. It wasn’t a textbook fight by any means, but to an eight-year-old they were absolutely sublime moments in which I’d beaten the odds. That was over three decades ago and it still brings a smile to my face ... On the evening of 10th May, Erwin Bursik and I found ourselves at the registration and dam draw for the 2012 Kamberg Trout Festival. As is custom due to the nature of our participation as media sponsors to the festival, we are usually allocated team members to make up a full complement of four or six anglers. This year we were pleasantly surprised when two very well groomed young gentlemen approached us and introduced themselves as our team mates for the duration of the festival. One of these young men, Kieran Siney, is already an accomplished junior Protea angler who embodies all the enthusiasm and good manners in our sport which bodes well for the future of flyfishing in South Africa. For the uninitiated, the Kamberg Trout Festival takes place in the beautiful surroundings of the Kamberg Valley in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. Local riparian owners make their dams available to the anglers, and this year an impressive 180 flyfishers descended on these waters. It is a bona fide flyfishing festival allowing participants the use of kickboats and floattubes to target trout on the allocated dams. This year 28 dams had been stocked under the watchful eye of Wildfly in anticipation of the festival, with one tagged fish being released in each of the dams. The first angler able to identify the fly situated in the adipose fin of a caught tagged fish would win an-all-expenses-paid fishing trip filmed by Wildfly. Each team fishes five sessions over the three-day event. This year our team, “The Nine Inch Emergers”, managed to draw an impressive list of dams to fish — Big Dam, Longclaw, Sourveld Top,African Shell Duck and Belina Bottom. The organising committee had set a minimum length of 55cm for trout that would be accepted at weigh-in. This drastically reduced fish mortality with only the real contenders, those that had a chance of winning some of the incredible prizes on offer, being brought in. Huge incentives are also offered to encourage anglers to return 36 • FLYFISHING August 2012

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by Mark Wilson

2012 Kamberg Trout Festival

FLYFISHING August 2012 • 37


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The trout — and anglers —had a multitude of flies to choose from, but they were very picky this year.

their completed catch cards after each session, and this enables the committee to accurately monitor the effectiveness of stocking exercises and how these stocks are progressing/growing each year. The 2012 Kamberg Trout Festival produced the hardest fishing that I have experienced in many years of attending the event. For a change it wasn’t as cold as it usually is at this time of year.

Frost only started settling on the final morning’s session, and the locals sported short-sleeved shirts which was a clear indication that the bitter cold hadn’t settled in yet. However, it seemed that the trout had gone deep and were lazy on the feed. Only dedication and perseverance would get them to even consider taking a fly because, in addition to their apathy, water snails and natural insects

were abundant due to the “warmer” weather. Indeed, flies didn’t feature high on the trout’s preferred menu. On the second session our team fished the waters of the renowned Longclaw Dam which has previously accounted for a number of good trout that have placed well at this festival. Erwin and I employed slow retrieves in deep water and managed some good takes and lost a few healthy

Just three of the weighty fish which came out at this year’s festival.


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Graham Armstrong and Gareth George presented Derek Cuthbert (centre), Bell’s Whisky representative, with a special gift in appreciation for all his support of the Kamberg Festival over the years.

Kieran Siney was the overall winner of the 2012 Kamberg Festival and proudly displayed the floating trophy.

specimens. Meanwhile, Kieran was busy working places he had identified as possible holding areas for a bus of a trout. He soon hooked into a really good fish that worked him into his backing in no time at all, forcing him to kick after it at a frantic pace. This tugof-war persisted for ages, with Kieran gaining on the trout and then losing line just as quickly. Kieran eventually netted the trout and suggested Erwin might want to take a photograph as this was a definite keeper. Not only was the rainbow a keeper, but it weighed in at 3.01kg, a full 500 grams clear of any trout that was weighed from that point onwards, thus securing him top honours at this year’s festival. Quite honestly, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy who I am sure is going to be a great ambassador, both locally and abroad.

Finally, Kieran, congratulations on managing to outfish all the old salts, and to Alwyn Nel, the winner of the tagged fish category. We look forward to you being featured on an upcoming Wildfly Series on TV.

40 • FLYFISHING August 2012

It seemed fitting that a representative of the new generation of flyfishers won this year’s festival, and it almost appeared to have been orchestrated by the founding member, Mike Poplett, who sadly passed away prior to the event. Perhaps he was making a statement that the festival’s appeal will endure for many generations to come, ensuring the Kamberg Trout Festival’s longevity. Congratulations to Graham Armstrong and his committee for yet another unforgettable experience. To the premier sponsors — fishtube.tv, Wildfly, Spar and Xplorer Fly Fishing — thank you for making the festival a reality. Last but not least, to all those involved in the catering for all the flyfishers in the evenings, you did an impeccable job — my tastebuds are still savouring the memories of the spit braai deluxe!

• A sincere thank you to Graham and Sue Armstrong for hosting Erwin and I during this year’s festival. They kindly put us up at Sandstone Cottage and, to put it mildly, the place is out of this world. It more than caters for the discerning visitor, and trust me, once you’ve visited you’ll regret having to leave. Graham and Sue have graciously made this little slice of heaven available to the public. Should you wish to make a booking, contact Sue on 082 854 2338 or Graham on 082 854 5746. I can personally guarantee you won’t regret it.


Kamberg comp