- Images of the month.
These delightful photographs were taken by my good friend Robin Douglas – along with a few decent trout – fishing Bluegum Dam on the Lourensford Estate.
Later Robin sent me this note on the nearby Lourens River:
Click in images to enlarge
Thought you might like to see our ‘wafer thin’ little river! My gosh, it is really thundering down. Picture below taken off the bridge at Vergelegen. I took a movie of what looks like part of a wooden barn churning down the river. That’s definitely going to do some serious damage if it hits something.
A thundering Lourens River
And here's the same river the week before on the Lourensford Estate Beat!
From Bill Latham, fly guide in the UK
A brief report on fishing the west of Ireland's loughs. I caught this fish last Wednesday at 5am on a size 18 caenis pattern.
From Andrew Apsey now working in the UK
Only two more months to go before your season opens. Hopefully with all the rain you are getting in the Cape it will make for improved fishing this year on local rivers. I'm pleased to report that I have been in touch with Stephen Dougmore and I look forward to taking ownership of my first bamboo rod early next year!
I thought I would send a few photographs from my day out on the Avon last week.
River Avon near the village of Upavon
The summer this year has been a rather mixed affair, with plenty indifferent weather about. Yesterday was no different, and as I drove down to the village of Upavon in Wiltshire I could sense the wind and clouds were gathering strength. Happily, the rain abated, but the wind continued to whip through the valley all day, which made casting interesting with my little 3-wt. After a long week in the office, I had stubbornly decided that I was only going to fish dries on the day, with my indicator/nymph rig firmly locked away in my bottom draw back at home. I was encouraged to see a few early rises as I geared up! Despite the blustery conditions the river was fishing well as I took several wild brownies and one rogue rainbow, all between 6 to 12 inches, before lunch.
River Avon brownie
River Avon rainbow
The afternoon brought on a small hatch of olives and the odd Danica mayfly; however, the fish decided to hunker down into the depths for the rest of the day. The beat I fished, holds some classic chalkstream stretches, with wavering bunches of ranunculus weed providing ample cover for the fish and the ever present cow's parsley proving lethal at interrupting your back cast!
All in all a lovely day out with all fish released.
I had a relaxing weekend. Yesterday, the English summer was in fine form, with conditions just perfect and when I took a lovely little brownie on the first drift I knew it was going to be one of those fishing days! I fished the Avon beat running though the Manningford Trout Fishery.
The fishing was fantastic, with the wild brownies showing some lovely colours and I even managed to entice a few ladies of the stream, the grayling. I am fascinated how they smell like lavender?
Quotes of the month
This month I have chosen pieces from the work of Nick Lyons, fly fisher, writer and publisher of books on angling, a man I have an immense respect for. They are from his celebrated book, The Seasonable Angler. He is now semi-retired from the publishing business, but through his son, Tony, still has connections to Skyhorse Publishing in New York, who produce many fly fishing and fly tying titles. Here are the quotes I selected from The Seasonable Angler:
On discovering fly fishing:
'... one spring day when a brisk Hendrickson hatch was on the water, I took my first trout on a fly, and I saw it was possible, and then I traded my spinning rod and all my lures and lost my heart to bamboo and a hat full of flies.'
On fishing the dry fly:
'I like the 'lawfulness' of the classic hatches, the technical problems of 'matching the hatch', accurate presentation, the avoidance of drag; but most, I think, I enjoy the incomparable rise, the abrupt opening of the stream, the dramatic splash, the electricity from stream, to eye, to hand.'
On small streams:
'I especially like to fish several small crystalline creeks in the summer, tramping them high into the hills. Often they are spring-fed and remain cold enough to keep the trout quick about their business, not burrowing under rocks during the dog days of summer. These little streams are like private beats for me and I rarely meet anyone along them, though they are heavily fished in spring.
The July 2016 Fly Fishing and Fly Tying Expo
The brainchild behind this Expo was Gordon Van der Spuy, assisted by Sharland Urquhart and Sunet Terblanche. Together they planned and ran the event with military precision.
I think the word festival better describes the occasion than 'Expo', because it was far more than just an 'expo'. It was a rich mulch of what fly fishing comprises in its broadest definition; from fly tying demos, to high-end casting tuition, to the latest in tackle, professionally tied flies and fly tying materials, plenty of fly-fishing art and sculpture, angling books and authors, rod making, wood crafts, fly-fishing lodges and outfitters providing exotic destination angling.
Ed Herbst demonstrated his famous ant patterns. Tony Kietzman (left) with Clive Prior looking on
And the people responsible for each were personally present to answer questions, demonstrate skills, explain nuances, sometimes, no doubt, for the ninth or tenth time in as many hours, and the venue, with its large, well-lit hall, its sweeping views to distant mountains over vast, smooth-mown fields, was ideal in countless ways.
Views to distant mountains over vast, smooth-mown fields
Personally, I was delighted to meeting people I kind of 'knew' but had never actually met, like Jay Smit, Herman Botes and Annabelle and Alan Hobson.
Herman Botes tying his 300th Papa Roach!
Equally important, I could shake hands again with great friends I had long last seen, like Dave Walker of the WTA and Walkerbouts Inn in Rhodes, Sheena Carnie, editor of the Fly Fishing magazine, Fred Steynberg and his wife Jill,
Fred Steynberg of Rhodes and Linecasters
John Geils of Jandi Trading, Ruhan Neethling, the traditional salmon fly king,
A critical eye from Ruhan Neethling
Gavin Schneider, owner of Welgemoed Lodge on the Bokspruit River, Andrew Fowler, fly-fishing poet and wordsmith, Tim Rolston, author and casting instructor par excellence, Tony Kietzman and Pete Brigg (no intro needed for either), celebrated sculptor Chris Bladen and landscape artists Paddy Starling and Sharland East Urquhart.
Paddy Starling (above) and Sharland East Urquhart landscapes
Arno Laubscher (Scientific Fly and Grip Hooks) was on hand, as were Cheryl Heyns of SAFFA, Gerhard Compion, fisheries manager of Lourensford Estate, Ian Cox, editor of The Bobbin, Ilan Lax, Chairperson of FOSAF, MC Coetzer, internationally recognised fly tier, Marcel Terblanche, artist and professional fly tier, Steve Boshoff consummate bamboo rod and net maker, Craig Thom in his role as a craftsman and Sean and Tanya Futter of Trutta with their landing nets from heaven.
Sean and Tanya Futter just visible behind their splendid hand-crafted nets
This list is by no means complete, but at least serves to give some idea of the scale of this operation. And if I missed meeting and greeting some folk – and I did – it was because I had a attend to a table and tie flies and because the day just sped away like a well-hooked, fresh-run Kispiox River steelhead.
There was a raffle with prizes including a J-Vice, a Derek Smith custom-built fly rod, a weekend at Welgemoed Lodge, a trip to Lesotho from Tourette Fishing, books, DVDs and more.
Gordon Van der Spuy in full song at the auction
The highlight of the late afternoon was the auction of a beautifully framed set of flies tied by the top tiers in South Africa, arguably currently the most valuable and unique artefact of its sort in South African fly fishing. Steve Boshoff framed the flies to his usual standard of perfection. The winning bidder was my good friend Piet Beyers who on receiving the item amid tumultuous applause, then kindly announced, much to my surprise, that it would be fitting if I owned it rather than him and promptly handed it to me with some ceremony.
Piet Beyers, Self and Gordon with the framed flies
It was a wonderfully generous gesture, but I felt that I could not be the sole owner of an piece as important to our fishing history as this, and in later emails between us, Piet and I agreed that I would be the interim custodian of this wonderful collection, until such time as I pass it on to someone else who, as the next interim custodian, I'm sure will treasure it as much as I will. Frankly, had we the equivalent of The Catskill Fly Fishing Centre and Museum in South Africa, that's where it would rightly belong.
I had to wrap up the day's proceedings with a speech, and I did, but only after studiously attempting to dodge a camera interview with Panton Trakoshis and his team. I had managed this all day, but I eventually had to give up – as did a heap of other reluctant, camera-shy participants he cornered and interviewed. I must say that I did enjoy answering the questions Gordon put to me, but at the same time, I also enjoyed the relief of seeing that big black camera and the long pole that held the hovering, fluff-covered mike finally lift and disappear from sight.
My endnote address was no more or less than expected. A thank you to all and an expression of my marvel and my appreciation at what had unfolded so successfully on the day. Some had been sceptical of Gordon's ambitions for this Expo, but fortune favours the prepared and determined mind.
I ended my speech by making a selection – after first clearing it with Gordon – of the participant I thought had made the greatest contribution to freshwater fly fishing in South Africa over the past five years. I gave it to Alan and Annabelle Hobson of the Angler & Antelope along with a modest tinted, pen and ink sketch of a leaping brown trout. It was a popular choice judging from the accolades the announcement received, and they deserve it, but it could have gone to many other worthy souls such is the sweep of creativity and untrammelled talent that currently runs like a river in full spate through the fly-fishing community of this vibrant country of ours.
And as if to see us off, at around 6 o'clock that afternoon the setting sun lit the surrounding mountains a soft pink and for a few moments the place looked like a slice of heaven.
The place looked like a slice of heaven
If you didn't get to the Expo, my commiserations. But be sure such events will happen again in years to come, very likely under the selfsame guiding hands and minds.
(From Gordon Van der Spuy – We made over R80 000 and just under 600 people walked through the doors on the day if one includes non-paying children. Profits will go to Boland Fly Fishing, Western Province Fly Fishing and Trout SA. More corporate sponsors are needed for future Expos. FOSAF was the main sponsor.)
Clem Booth's reports from his recent fishing trips south of London
Sometimes when one fishes, one is blessed with a moment of perfection. Today was such a day. Fishing on the Avon – such a magnificent river – I spotted a chunky fish. I covered it maybe 20 times with the normal dry flies for this time of year...some interest shown, but the fish turned back every time.
So, I went down a tippet size from 5X to 6X and attached a minute size 20 Cape dry fly...a little black parachute with a red post for guys like me who otherwise wouldn't see it! I covered the fish maybe five times; on the sixth, I hooked the big 3 pound brown trout in the very pink of condition. It put up a great scrap but the tiny fly held well and it was soon back on its way.
I had one of my dry flies picked up by a bird today! That was a first!
And we spotted a trout of about 28 inches...would have gone 7/8 pounds! Showed no interest in our offerings whatsoever.
A perfect moment in a pretty damn perfect day!
Lovely morning on the Loddon with some rainbows pushing 4 pounds...great condition and spectacular fights on a little 3-weight Maurer rod.
The cows came along to take a look too! Really fine fish for a small stream.
18 months before semi resting at the end of 2014, I commissioned Edward Barder to build me a totally unique rod. Yesterday, he put it in my hand. A most beautiful 7 foot 9 inch 5-weight in a three piece format.
The Edward Barder7 foot 9 inch 5-weight
It is stunning; no other word for it.
After a nice chat and a cuppa, I popped in for an hour to the Loddon and was able to persuade a beautiful 2 pounder to attach itself! Well and truly christened.
A beautiful 2 pounder attached itself!
Edward and his partner Colin, have reached a level of perfection that is hard to describe.
Had a few hours in the stream today; some pretty fish on the new Barder rod. Experimenting a bit with the fish poses! Just the little Olympus, but hell, it is a pretty fine camera for a compact!
Catching fish in Rotterdam harbour
Dany Grosemans writes via Chris Williams, from Holland:
Last Thursday I managed to wet a line with my friends and IFFA members Jos Gijbels and Sepp Fuchs.
We fished for a very special fish species. In Dutch it is called fint, in English shad.
The shad is a sea fish and only comes into the river to spawn. In Rotterdam they come in the harbour in the summer months. Thanks to the advice of Sepp, who lives close to the fishing places and who fishes about every day since his retirement a few years ago, we managed to catch a lot.
In fact we were so successful that several other fishermen left the place because they could not catch a fish, and we were catching them one after the other. Jos caught more than 50, I caught more than 35, and Sepp, well, he catches them sometimes two at a time.
We all had a great day out. The fishing spot is in the harbour of Rotterdam. About every half an hour a large boat passes by and makes big waves which makes fishing and wading quite dangerous and not easy.
The fly patterns are created by Sepp. Fluorescent-green streamers do best, but it is not the fly that makes the difference. It is the presentation and movement of fly. The fly has to be presented close to the bottom and fished fast at a varying speed.
And then you have to know the place. It is a large canal with ocean-going ships passing by. They produce big waves. Sometimes, even 10 minutes after the ship has reached the horizon, the waves can be that strong that they lift you off the ground. Already a few people got killed while they were trying to catch fish.
We were lucky Sepp has 38 years of experience under his belt with this type of fishing.
Fishing at home
With little by way of streams fishing available, I again visited the ponds at Lourensford with Robin Douglas last week and found them discoloured after the rain. They fished modestly well despite the colour, trout moving to the fly sometimes with brief, deep-turning, silver-lit flashes.
Polly, my Jack Russell, was intrigued in the flustered way that dogs used to the routine of plain suburban walks get confused when they suddenly find a new dimension to life. A number of times her raw excitement took her straight in after the trout.
Raw excitement took her straight in
A Jack Russell paying homage to the Irish? What next?
We weren't exactly fishing for tarpon off Cuba, or for steelhead on the Babine, or for wild browns on the Itchen, but we were fishing nevertheless, and in our casting and in our drifts and in the explosions of the takes there was enough to make a worthy substitute on this modest day for the experiences other fly fishers were no doubt enjoying in more exotic destinations elsewhere around the world.
I used my Dugmore bamboo rod and it somehow made the experience more authentic. What a glorious rod, with its butt stippled in red, like the spots on a brown trout.
The rod butt of the Dugmore stippled like the spots on a brown trout
In the end we cleaned two tidy fish for the table and swilled out the remains of the coffee. Polly was wet and shivering and I dried her with an old towel.
Polly was wet and shivering
For the full hour's drive home she slept on the front seat like a dead dog.
Brent Flack-Davison sends this important call on the Breede River Estuary from Conrad Botes
Anton Bredell, Minister for Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning in the Western Cape, has given notice of the submission of the Breede River Estuarine Management Plan (EMP) to the National Minister of Environmental Affairs for final approval. You can read the proposal here:
It is a lengthy document, and I suggest you take a look at it; it proposes among other things, a thorough plan for restoration and rehabilitation.
But for me, the most important proposal is to establish the Breede River estuary as a catch and release zone for dusky kob. Concerned individuals are invited to submit to the Minister their comments or inputs. I implore every angler that cares about the future of the Breede River to submit a letter to the minister supporting the management system and, in particular, to call for the catch and release of dusky kob in the Breede River. I am also asking you to please call for the daily catch limit of 5 spotted grunter per person per day, to be reduced to 2 spotted grunter per person per day.
You can submit your letter to both the following email addresses:
If you don't have time for a long letter, please just copy and paste the following paragraph and send it to the email addresses above:
'I strongly support the proposal to establish the Breede River Estuary as a catch and release zone for dusky kob, argyrosomus japonicus.'
Where I would like to settle
I featured a pretty cottage on a chalkstream in my last newsletter and said I could move in and live out my days there. But then I came across the Fulling Mill, a house on the River Test, and readers will understand my attraction to it, the more so as it comes with 500 metres of double-bank fishing and ample accommodation, all for only a shade under £3 m! But there's no price on dreaming, right?
There's no price on dreaming
Owned by Gavin Schneider and featured at this month's Expo, Welgemoed is a place I have known a long while, in fact long before I was a guest of Gavin's at the place for the day back in 2009 when he was still busy doing up the house. It's set smack bang on the banks of the Bokspruit River only a short ride from Rhodes, is fully equipped for self-catering stays and the interior is sumptuous and copious.
I recall we had some pleasant fishing the day I drove across to visit Gavin, higher up the Bokspruit River at Gateshead, but only after we had repaired a hole that had washed out in a concrete drift. I'm not exactly sure anymore, but I think I just sat in my truck listening to music with the engine running and the heater on while Schneider filled the hole with rocks. If so, then, as they say, the modern youth have got to earn their colours.
Gavin at his Expo stand
The Bokspruit River at the Welgemoed Lodge Bridge
Welgemoed Lodge interior, even back in 2009, luxurious by any standards
Gavin repairing the drift while I listen to the radio with the engine running and the heater on
Note on Hunting Trout
I took what I believed were the last copies of the final print of Hunting Trout to the Expo and sold the last of them. I indicated as much to the buyer of the final copy, Wayne Cowie! But on unpacking when I got home I came across one remaining box of 25 copies of Hunting Trout that I never knew I had. So my apologies to Wayne because there are still a few remaining and he didn't buy the last one!