Wednesday, 30 November 2011 04:42




I will be posting an Okavango photo essay later this week from Neil Hayes Hill, an architect in Durban who I last saw, or fished with, many years ago. I remember him as a fine taxidermist and artist as well as a good fly fisher. In addition I will feature examples of his art work.




It would be reasonable to say that Valentine Atkinson is today’s best known and most celebrated fly fishing photographer. This week I will be posting a bio on his life and some examples he has sent of his fine work from around the world.



‘A little rain fell on Sunday, enough to leave the earth looking wet the following morning. I doubt whether it was sufficient to affect the streams.

Fortunately we have the Kraai as a back up at times like these. All the Rhodes’ rivers end up in the Kraai, so it follows that there should be slightly more flow here. There is a slight algae build up, but the substrate is nicely scoured out and there is hardly any evidence of silt. Being a slightly larger river it also follows that there should be good availability of fish food, consequently the fish are still in very good condition. I fished a client from Colorado on the Kraai at Wildside on Saturday. Reid caught trout as well as his first Yellowfish and was very impressed with the local species. The fish were taken on nymphs. Trout responded to the dead drift where there was a strong channelled flow but needed an animated or a lifted Zak to elicit a take in the slower water. The Yellowfish wanted a twitched or retrieved fly which they chased. Reid was also very taken with the fighting qualities of the well conditioned rainbows and we came to the conclusion that he had experienced what would be reckoned to be a good day's fishing anywhere in the world.

We are lucky to have the Kraai on our doorstep and will make the most of it until rains cloud the waters. The Kraai has not fished this well for a long time and I'm sure that we will look back on these wonderful "Kraai days" in the future.’


The magnificent Kraai River


Author of ‘Man-eaters, Mambas and Marula Madness – A game ranger’s life in the Lowveld’, Mario Cesare is a great fly fishing friend of mine and one of this country’s most respected game rangers. Today his second book, ‘The Man with the Black Dog’, arrived in my post box. Again it is about Mario’s life in the bush, more particularly his adventures with Shilo, his treasured dog. I have yet to get into it, but if it is as compelling as his first book then stand by for an excellent read. I will be reviewing it on the site in the near future.


The book is available at Exclusive Books, Leisure books and Kalahari from around R185 to R199 and also as an ebook.



“Terrestrials” the second in the series, “A Fly Tying Journey with Ed Herbst and Friends” will be available from early next week.

The first in the series with Ed as narrator, interviewer and fly tyer and Andrew Ingram as camera operator and video editor was extremely well received both here and abroad. It was generally agreed that it significantly raised the bar for this type of DVD and this was hardly surprising given their decades of experience in the communication field and Ed’s acknowledged expertise as a fly tyer and fly fishing historian.


The DVD covers five innovative interpretations of land-bred insects important to fish; the grasshopper, the ant, the beetle, the inchworm and the crane fly. Ed ties the hopper and the beetle, Rhodes guide Fred Steynberg ties his ant imitation, Aliwal North rod builder, Mario Geldenhuys ties an ingenious detached-body, foam imitation of an inchworm and Cape Town fly shop owner and webmaster for the Flytalk website, Philip Meyer, ties the Parachute RAB which mimics a variety of diptera like the crane fly.

It will be available from Craig Thom at the Stream-X fly shop in Milnerton, Cape Town. His contact details are: 021 5514248/ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


This has to rate as one of the best books on the subject of small stream fly fishing I have read to date. For once the author is authoritative and comprehensive without becoming boringly didactic. He covers it all and yet the book is written in a way that pleases the ear and is simple to follow. One of my best reads on the subject. Again try Craig Thom of NetBooks for a copy.



The second soft cover edition of Hunting Trout by Tom Sutcliffe will be available on 10 December! Those of you who have kindly placed orders are on my list and will receive your books as soon as they arrive. Those who want a copy and are not on the list can contact me on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call me on 082 804 1352. The price on an opening offer will be R185 including packaging and postage in South Africa. 




(Roger was the proprietor of The Flyfisherman, South Africa’s first specialist fly fishing shop before settling recently with his wife Brigitte to live in Monflanquin in France. He has retained his interest in repairing fly rods where he is in a league of his own. Roger can be contacted on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

‘Just to help me prove I was no longer blind (Roger has just had a cataract repaired), my friend Jacques took me dry fly fishing on a beautiful pond stocked with browns, rainbows, brookies and leopard trout, of which we caught a fair few.  Funny thing, when visiting Orvis at Manchester Vermont many years ago I hooked my very first and only brook trout, but lost it at the net.  Had it not been for the trademark white edges of the fish's fins, I might not have known it was a brookie. This time I was to finally land  one....twenty years down the line.


We are November 25 to-day and, surprise, our roedeer are back.  It is the most dismal of foggy winter days but there was no mistaking them ; our doe and her two much grown out fawns plus a newcomer, a young buck with tiny antlers which he will be shedding any day now.  The misty picture I took of the foursome is evidence.


Finally, at this time of the year all the French people stock up on the season's long awaited first bottles of that very delightful, light red wine from our eastern winelands, the Beaujolais Nouveau.  Here's wishing you guys a wonderful summer while we dig out our balaclavas and beanies to ward off the winter chill with glasses raised and wishes merry.  Bonne Santé et Joyeux Noël!’


Roger in festive spirit


‘I dare say that I might have one pleased client today...

While Notties has seen some rain recently (now sitting on 115mm for the last week), it seems that there has been less than half that higher up.  The Bushman’s is still low, with a little colour, but fishable.  Threw a thermometer into a riffle section and it came out at 23 deg. C.... a tad on the warm side.  Only managed to raise 1 other fish, and spooked another two by walking too close on the edge of a high bank overlooking the river.  Fished so many likely looking runs and nothing.  We were on the river till after 4pm, and didn’t even see a rise.


Didn’t go up into Giant’s today, suspect that it will be pretty low up there going by what I saw lower down today.  Maybe the same as when Darryl and I were up there 6 weeks ago now.


It started rumbling and spitting as we packed up and we drove back out through a mother of a storm (bucketing rain, howling wind, hail) so hopefully it went up the valley and dropped some water up there.’


This was a really large work on a full-sized piece of Arches 300 gm hot pressed water colour paper – used so it would not crease in any way.  The pen and ink collage includes four studies of trout and a scene of the village of Rhodes.




‘At last some good news from “Wild fly fishing in the Karoo”!

It is crazy to think that there is definitely a shift in the seasons. Firstly, we have now finally come out of the drought thought to be the worst in living memory; it is raining as I write this. What is fascinating is that I have been living in Somerset east for seven years now, the first two years the seasons were great ...and then there was the drought. Well 2011 the Glen Avon dams filled up in February, but the surface water temperature was 30 degrees! So we delayed stocking until April. We had not stocked for the past two years as the water levels were at 15% at best, otherwise the dams were empty. We took a gamble and in April and stocked the Glen Avon waters, Vlei, Grand Fathers and Mill dam. We have subsequently turned Grand Fathers into a “put and take” water as we collected some of the old brood stock from the Rhodes University hatchery and have put them to pasture in Grand Fathers dam and are feeding them. Our thinking to have a beginners stew pond with fish from 750 grams to 2,5kg, not to say that the fish understand the meaning of being fisher friendly. We also stocked Mountain dam with 1500 healthy yearlings. The Gods smiled on us as we had rain albeit intermittently and very localised.


Little Fish River Karoo

Secondly, the changes in the seasons are exemplified by the fact that now in what should be our proper summer, we get this nasty ice cold south east wind in the evening bringing with it temperatures below 10 degrees in the evenings. Day time temperatures should be well into the thirties but are hovering in the mid to late twenties. After some great but unusual winter rain, as we are a summer rainfall area, all of our waters pretty much filled up except for Mountain dam. Again, we gambled and stocked the Little Fish river pools, which had stopped running for a few months, with good  60 gram 16 cm yearlings and the Buffelshoek dam. To say these waters are a phenomenon is an understatement! The Buffelshoek dam grows fish at an average of 200 grams per month! That is not a figment of my sun baked Karoo imagination as we are now five months later catching fish up to 43cm tipping the scales at just over a kilogram. Those same yearlings are now a respectable 600 -700 grams in the Little Fish river, co-habiting with some hardy survivors who out witted the drought and are over 60cm in excess of six pounds in the same pools. Mountain dam which is now finally over flowing is consistently producing Rainbows over 2 kg and those yearlings are now up to half a kilo. We will be stocking the Naude’s river and the Glen Avon falls in the next two weeks with fingerlings and topping up Mountain dam.


1.8 kg rainbow from the Little Fish River

The most significant development for the Bankberg Trout Fisher’s Club is that we have secured waters in the Cradock area, where we have stocked the Paul’s River, one of the fountain fed tributary sources of the Great Fish River with rainbow trout. This means we now have proper river fishing. There are two dams and four weirs that have also been stocked. We will report on those developments with interest.’






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