September is always a time of great excitement for the stream anglers, as the 1st heralds the official opening of the river season after a long wait of three months when our season closes for winter spawning, although I suppose that a three month wait is better than the four months it used to be! Can anyone else remember the 'Rule of R' for open season on rivers, when they were only fishable in the months that had an 'r' in the name (September through to April), and closed in the months that had no 'r' in their name (May through to August).
Click in images to enlarge
Of course, I was nowhere to be found on Opening Day. I took along a colleague for my annual opening day inspection, and while levels were low as expected coming out of a dry Midlands winter, I am happy to report that conditions were not nearly as low as previous seasons. I suspect that the half-decent conditions came about as a result of the 47.5mm of rainfall I recorded for July – 40mm in the last week alone – unheard of in my nine years here in Nottingham Road. The river must have had a good flush, as there was also no sign of the end-on-winter carpets of bright green slime algae on the river bottom.
We threw a quick 'ceremonial' line on the upper Bushman's River inside Giant's Castle Reserve and although we raised a few fish to the dry fly, didn't manage to bring any to hand...
The upper Bushman's River. Image by Jan Korrubel
The upper Bushman's River on 1 September and the perfect small stream setup: Redington glass fibre 7ft 3wt 'Butter Stick' with the 'Zero' click reel equipped with Rio's 'Light Line' specially suited for slower action rods like glass and grass.
We also paid a visit to the Thendela Community Conservation Project on the Mooi River just outside Kamberg Nature Reserve. While the flow was also low and slow, we spotted some really good fish running 16 to 18" (40-45cm) with Richard Khumalo, who heads up the project...but the fish were very skittish in the crystal clear water.
The Thendela Conservation Project
Pic3b: Richard Kumalo and Graham McCall spotting some good Thendela browns on the Mooi River. (image by Jan Korrubel)
There was a final wag in Winter's Tail that first week in September. While less than 10mm of rainfall was recorded here in Nottingham Road, there were reports of snow higher up...the temperatures down here in Nottingham Road sure had a freezer-feel to them!
Every little bit helps, and while river levels are still low, there is some fishing to be had. Peter Brigg and Steve Hughes made the trip up from Durban on the Heritage Day public holiday and reported some good fish up to 12” / 30cm found in the riffles, but in the same breath said that another 6” / 15cm would be well served...for more info, read Peter’s report “Picking Pockets” on his blog site at https://callofthestream.wordpress.com/
Steve Hughes on the upper Bushman's River (image by Peter Brigg)
Why we do what we do on the Bushman's River (image by Peter Brigg)
While my gauge sat just shy of 50mm for the month of September, I had a report of that some 40mm was received in the upper Kamberg Valley mid-last week, so that should bode well for the Mooi River.
With last weekend’s high temperatures – it was 30+ here in and around Nottingham Road (and I received a report of 38 deg. C up at Cathedral Peak!). Summer seems to have arrived with a bang.
The gauge showing 38 deg.C up at Cathedral Peak! (Image by Nina Bunn)
This heat does not bode well for the stillwaters that are being used for irrigation purposes, and we need a lot more rain fall to fill the dams that are sitting low. Soon it will be crunch time and before they close some of the dams until they receive some input. Those anglers who have persevered, were met with some success.
Below in order Eben van Zyl, Grant Harris, and Lourens Mulder with some fine fish from Midlands waters (images supplied respectively)
In the news recently is well known local river fly angler, Andrew Fowler, released his first book – Stippled Beauties – Seasons, Landscapes and Trout. Described as 'Trout, and changing countryside, a celebration of all things dappled and beautiful. Images and stories of a fly-fisherman', it is sure to be a good read for the avid fly angler. I am looking forward to my copy! For more info, and to order a copy, visit Andrews's blog site at http://truttablog.com/book-launch/
The cover of Andrew’s book.