According to Jan from The Kingfisher at PMB, last week I mentioned that Facebook was reminding me of the impending snow, it looks like those reminders could have been a week earlier as there is currently a massive front end system going up the country and which seems ready to dump snow on top.
Although the weather is uncertain as I type this, the forecast for the weekend still looks correct with a smiling sun, but that just means overnight temperatures will be below zero after the clouds clear, which will mean for a cold morning starts!
The flatwater trout season gathered momentum with the TOPS Corporate Challenge taking place on Midlands waters around Nottingham Road last weekend.
The TCC, as the Kamberg Trout Festival reported last week, is also in its twenties, this is the 21st year.
TCC is said to be not about catching fish, so arriving on the opening night of TCC Stage 1 at the start of a new series for the year, coupled with maximum enthusiasm to tackle the trophy trout the Midlands has to offer requires some restraint so as not to bulk up on the first night.
Good luck with that as they say, but ’nuff said, I think we’ll leave it at that for this report!
320 Stellar Captures
The advantage of not fishing is that one can simply laze by the waters soaking up the winter sun and enjoying some of the richly provided liquids.
But the reality is much simpler: if you don’t fish and catch, you have no chance of reaching the final and coming back and starting all over again!
So fish we did! Overall, a total of 320 fish hit the tape measure over the four sessions, with a few absolute crackers in between.
The standard for a good sized trout is 50cm and the number of heads on the last evening had any anglers who caught a fish over 50cm on their feet.
At a conservative estimate, all but 10 of the 60 anglers on this leg were up!
If you’re lucky enough to cross the 55cm mark, you move into the 3kg category, which for most casual anglers is a memorable catch.
But if you’re lucky enough to land a whale that eclipses the 60cm mark, you’re in trophy territory proper. We had to sit down as the measurement went up, and when it got to 60cm there were still three anglers standing who had caught 60cm, 61cm and the winning fish 62cm.
In summary, I am happy to report that the team of four with yours truly managed to catch 10% of the 320 fish separating us, taking an honorable third place and missing second place by one point!
As the top five teams advance to the TCC Finals, it earned us a spot to do it all over again in the first week of August.
This weekend, the Boston Fly Fishing Festival unfolds on the waters of the Upper Dargle Valley and around Boston – hoping the weather system rolls over and away and the fish are ready to play.
Before anyone asks which models have been the most successful in the events so far, let me say that while it’s pretty much open and across the whole range, there’s a lean towards brighter colors as we expect for winter trout. Many anglers have their “trust” patterns, and if the fly is in the water, it has a chance… if it’s out of the water, no chance!
Personally, I tend to favor the more natural patterns, and they produced me: the Papa Roach Dragonfly pattern in olive or black livery, and an olive “Crystal Minnow” which is fast becoming my best fly.
For the riggers reading this, the “Crystal Minnow” was one of two designs expertly demonstrated by local fly fisherman Scott Brown at last night’s meeting of the Natal Fly Dressers Society. Meetings are held every second Tuesday of the month.
Calm waters providing
The calm waters of the Natal Fly Fishers Club also produced good quality fish – good numbers in the 40-49cm range, then also in the 50-59 range. It’s the season to fish as they say.
With the waters rapidly cooling now, bass fishing is calming down somewhat, although there are still some big ones.
Fish are found where there is moving water, as well as on piles of stones.
The currently preferred method is a Senko worm, slow on the bottom. And don’t neglect your equipment and finesse methods, including Shaky Head, drop shot, underpin – slow roll and jigs
Reports from Midmar indicate that there are losses of “dinks” (i.e. small fish) along the edges, but hey, a fish is a fish as they say and if you’re not not there, you do not catch!
Dirty, high water was a big setback for the start of the Natal Yellowfish (aka Scaly) winter season, but as the rains have stopped, some areas are finally getting clean.
Local angler Ewan Kyle reported that he fished the Tugela River at Zingela River and Safari Company (beyond Weenen) last week – he reports visibility of 50cm and although fishing is still a bit slow, “bites to be taken with a little effort”.
Lots of small fish, which is somewhat surprising as they normally die out in cold water, but he did manage a few fish over 50cm. Playing his cards close to his chest, he reports that they were taking a “variety of flies”.
Now that winter is well underway, the good news is that dam levels are still rising, with nearly all dams in the Umngeni system still at 100% and above. Midmar is still breaking the wall, although it has slowed down to essentially a wet wall which I think will stop by the next report.