While the weather is awful as I write this, the weekend forecast still looks good with the smiling face of the sun, but that only means nighttime temperatures will be below zero after the clouds have cleared, meaning for some cool mornings starting!
The stagnant aquatic salmon season gained gear with the TOPS Corporate Challenge held on the Midlands waters around Nottingham Road last weekend.
The TCC, like the Kamberg Trout Festival reported last week, is also in its 20s, and this is next year’s 21st.
That said, TCC isn’t all about fishing, so arriving on TCC Phase 1 opening night at the start of this year’s new series, along with the peak enthusiasm for trophy handling offered by the Midlands, requires some restraint not to swell on the first night.
Good luck with that as they say, but Nouf said, I think we’ll just leave it there for this report!
320 astral hunt
The plus side of not fishing is that one can simply relax by the water soaking in the winter sun and partake in some rich fluids.
But the reality is much simpler: if you don’t hunt and fish, you won’t have a chance to make it to the finals and come back and do it again!
Even the fish we did! Overall, a total of 320 fish hit the measuring tape over the four sessions, with some absolute biscuits in between.
Good sized trout scale of 50cm and the number of heads on the last evening made all the fishermen who caught 50cm+ standing up.
In a conservative guess, all but 10 of the 60 Hunters on this leg were victors!
If you are lucky enough to knock the 55 cm mark, you will pass into the 3 kg category, which for most ordinary fishermen is a truly unforgettable catch.
But if you’re lucky enough to drop a whale beyond the 60cm mark, you’re in the right trophy territory. We had to sit down when the scale rose, and when it reached 60 cm, there were three fishermen still standing and they caught a 60 cm, 61 cm fish and the winning fish 62 cm long.
In short, I’m happy to report that a team of four with yours really managed to catch 10% of the 320 fish among us, take the trustworthy third place and lose second place by one point!
With the top five teams making it to the TCC Finals, this gave us a place to do it again in the first week of August.
This weekend sees the Boston Fly Fishing Festival take place on the waters at the top of Dargill Valley and around Boston—there’s hope the weather system will fly away, and these fish are ready to play.
Before anyone asks which patterns have been more successful during events thus far, let me just say that while they are pretty open and right across the range, there is a tendency towards some of the brighter colors as we’ve come to expect for winter trout. Many anglers have their own “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 prefer the more natural patterns, and they have produced for me: the Papa Roach Dragonfly pattern in olive or black, and the Olive “Crystal Minnow” which is fast becoming the top fly.
For posts reading this – “Crystal Town” was one of two patterns ably demonstrated by local flycatcher Scott Brown at last night’s meeting of the Natal Fly Dressers Association. Meetings are held every second Tuesday of the month.
Save still water
The still waters of the Natal Fly Fishers Club also produce some very high quality fish – good numbers in the 40-49 cm range, then also in the 50-59 range. It’s hunting season, they say.
With the waters cooling rapidly now, bass fishing has subsided somewhat, although there are still some big fish around.
Fish can be found where there is moving water, as well as on rock piles.
Currently the preferred method is the cinko worm, slow to the bottom. And don’t neglect your awesome gear and techniques including Shaky Head, drop shot and underpain – slow rolling and dancing
Reports from Midmar say there are “dinkats” (i.e. small fish) missing along the edges, but hey, a fish is a fish as they say and if you’re not there you won’t fish!
The filthy, high water was a huge setback for the start of the Natal Yellowfish (also known as Scaly) season, but with the rains approaching, some areas are finally clean.
Local fisherman Ewan Kyle reported that he caught the Tugela River at Zingela River and Safari Company (outside Weinen) last week – he reported seeing 50cm, and although fishing was still a bit slow, “the bites should be eaten with a little effort”.
Lots of small fish that are somewhat surprising because they usually slough off in cold water, but he manages to manage two fish over 50 cm. Playing his cards close to his chest, he mentioned that they were taking “a variety of flies.”
Now that we are well into winter, the good news is that dam levels are still high, with nearly all dams in the Umgeni system still holding steady at 100%+. Devastat still got close to the wall, although that slowed to a basically wet wall which I suspect will stop at the next report.