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Monday, 05 December 2016 09:34

With an afternoon free recently I fished a small Cape stream alone. In the first 100 metres it seemed the trout had disappeared, but eventually a few fish made a timid and tentative appearance. I was relieved to see them, given the drought we've had here in the Cape. One fish rose and drifted so slowly and for so long under my dry fly that by the time I lifted the rod to set the hook she was close enough to net. In the play she disturbed a nice-sized trout that arrowed across the pool. I released her and rested the pool for 10 minutes. Then I dropped the CDC midge where I thought the second fish might now be holding. I was in luck. The trout rose to the same fly I'd caught her neighbour on. In hand she was a lovely fish that somehow managed to appear aloof, as if unconcerned about her fate. I released her gently into the brightly pebbled run.

476 trout over bright pebbles

Click in images to enlarge them

Later, when the wind turned coldly downstream I left, seven fish to the good after a brief but delightful interlude.


Quote of the month

In a technical sense, the cast is the soul of fly-fishing. When you have it down, you're there. In a non-technical sense, you can then begin to figure out where "there" is.

John Gierach. Death, Taxes and Leaky Waders.


From Clem Booth in London...

Says Clem:

These days, I seem to be more fascinated by matters piscatorial than the state of the global economy and apart from the odd creaking joint, I can seriously commend semi-retirement to anyone contemplating exchanging pin stripes for Simms waders.

Keeping one's eyes open and actually seeing as opposed to just looking seems to be one of the main benefits of a less cluttered mind. It's easy to see a mayfly or caddisfly on top when nothing beats fooling a fish with a dry fly. Yet, what happens on the riverbed is at least as important and interesting, if not more so. It's always been intriguing to me to consider why some fish attain great weights while others remain more modestly proportioned and the common denominator seems to be "get into the pantry and stay there" when it comes to the leviathans.

Understanding currents is half the battle if you're targeting big fish, whether sighted or not. Getting familiar with food sources is another critical element. The caddisfly, whether in the larval, pupal or hatched form, is a big part of the diet of fish in my neck of the woods.

Clem booth caddis 1

Over the past 15 odd years I've been experimenting with cased caddis patterns fished right down on the riverbed, and to great effect. Now, the caddis larva which makes a portable case out of all available, mostly not edible, materials might not be considered a tasty morsel by us humans, but the trout and other species seem to relish them!

Clem Booth caddis 2

Let me acknowledge Hans van Klinken for having devised the Peeping Caddis, a fly which thoughtfully fished produces great results.

Clem Booth chub


Clem Booth chub2

Here are a couple of big Chub, the top picture being a 6½ pounder which ate a Cased Caddis during the summer of 2015. The one below it is into the 4's. Likewise, trout also love this fly; it's the equivalent of a nice piece of spicy Nando's!

The Protea fly-fishing team in Vale Colorado

Just to let you know that at the 36th Fipps Mouche World Fly Fishing Championship the South African team did really well, coming a commendable 9th overall. Daniel Factor ended in 23 place.

Protea fishing team

Daniel Factor, Matt Gorlei, Matt Rich, Christiaan Pretoruis, Ronald Smith, MC Coetzer (Coach), Gerrit Redpath (Manager), Nic van Rensburg.

Many thanks to the generous sponsors of the team!

From Robin Douglas...

Says Robin:

Really missed you on the river the other day as it was truly lovely. Slight upstream breeze and a river seemingly packed with dry-fly-hungry trout. I battled initially using a Para-RAB and an Adams, then switched to a yellow-bodied mayfly that I tie (sort of like a Pale Morning Dun). The trout loved it, but not enough to eat it. After many last minute refusals, I remembered something you once said about this stream and the Elk Hair Caddis. Needless to say, that was the magic password.


Best fish of the day. Photograph per Robin Douglas

Once I had caught a number, I tried switching back to other patterns – nothing! I put the Elk Hair back on and was in business again! Truly an amazing few hours. I was using an Elk and CDC pattern. Best fish was probably 12” with a few around 10” and many at 8”-9 “.

From ace fly tier Ruhan Neethling

Says Ruhan:

I recently spent a lovely and much needed day fishing with Gordon Van der Spuy, which inspired me to finish The African King I had started.

African King

The African King

(Beat that tying if you can! TS.)

Earlier this month from Nick Taransky leading Australian bamboo rod maker...

Nick who lives in the Monaro Region of New South Wales writes:

I cracked and went fishing today when I should have probably been making rods, but life is too short. I went to a small farmland creek, about two hours drive from here.  

Nick stream 1

The small farmland creek 

A little embarrassingly, it’s the first time I’ve actually fished it!   A mix of trout cruised in the pools with some sort of on station, others mooching around.  A few small and large black spinners were around. My fly box was bare so I used mostly a parachute Iron Blue Dun.  

I got maybe seven to eight, including four between 16-20 inches - all wild browns.  Fought like champions in the small water and weed.  Lost a couple, missed a couple on the strike, and popped one on the strike too - whoops!  

Nick trout 2

Wild brownie. They 'fought like champions'.

Nick meadow stream 3

You can see a fish rising in front of the little bush on the left bank in the picture above. There were fish moving everywhere when I got there (10:30 am) but it shut down totally around 1:30 pm. A fun day nonetheless.  I saw an Echidna (native monotreme anteater), platypus, and a big fat wombat.  

Back on the rods tomorrow!

Later in the month Nick wrote to me on a day's fishing with his wife Miri saying...

I’m just back in the door from fishing with Miri.  She hasn’t been fishing a lot lately so it was lovely to spend a day on the water with her.  We went to one of our fertile lowland streams, renowned for its selective browns.  She started the day with a lovely brown that sipped down her little black spinner, and she hooked another nice fish later in the day too.  In the middle the wind blew twice as hard as forecast, but we did find a sensational brown cruising through weed in the tail of a large pool.(after an 8 kilometre walk), and Miri literally fell asleep while I fished to it for an hour!  

Nick Taransky stalking

In the end I somehow hooked it and had to call out to wake her up, when she went into overdrive with the camera.

Nick Taransky striking

I landed it so it was a wonderful day for both of us!  Even better as I caught my brown on our new Jeff Wagner rod and reel.  

Nick rod

Jeff Wagner rod and reel

The only thing better still would have been if Miri had caught it!  I just compared a photo of this fish with one my mate Paul sent me just over two years ago.  From the spots you can tell that it’s the same fish!

Nick Taransky brown trout

Same fish caught two years ago!

(American bamboo rod maker Jeff Wagner, Nick Taransky's mentor, has just visited Australia where he was the guest of 'Cressy Cane' (http://www.peterhayesflyfishing.com/page13274354.aspx) at a three day bamboo rod making conclave and workshop held at Peter Hayes' Lodge on Brumbies Creek in Tasmania. Jeff stayed on for a few days, fishing with Nick in Tasmania and on the mainland.)

Images on the month...

These lovely images of trout caught recently on Western Cape streams were taken by local anglerTim Leppan.

IMG 1271

IMG 1979

IMG 1285

Final quote of the month; this one is from Nick Taransky on quality versus quantity...

I do think more and more these days about quality over quantity.  The other day when I went to that little creek on the farm, I caught a lovely fish at maybe 1:30 pm.  It was a gem of a fish, around 20 inches, from a narrow, weed lined glide.  At the time, I paused for a few moments, and nearly, nearly turned around and headed for home with my cup already brimming full.  But I continued on.  I caught another smaller fish or two, then missed another solid fish on the strike. And then I said to myself “OK, just one more”.  Two hours later I was still stumbling my way up the stream, with the wind now blowing hard and nothing much on the water.  So I turned back. Still a wonderful day, but I’d had the opportunity earlier to end on a memorable high note!

From an email he sent me dated 18 November 2016. They clearly have some delightful stream fishing in many parts of Australia and, of course, Tasmania is a world class fishery.

To subscribe to the my monthly Spirit of Fly Fishing newsletter click on the 'Subscribe to my Newsletter ' icon on the right side of the masthead on the home page of my website, http://www.tomsutcliffe.co.za .

Tom Sutcliffe 

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