Sunday, March 27, 2011

Trip report from the Wild Trout Association festival

My Mate Jan Korrubel send me this excellent report on his trip to the Wild Trout Association festival in Rhodes, "The center of the Universe"

“Peter Brigg and I recently attended the WTA (Wild Trout Association) Festival held annually in Rhodes, Eastern Cape – this year festival was held over the long weekend 18-21 March.  After a period of good weather, the forecast didn’t look good for the Festival...unfortunately confirmed upon our arrival at Moshesh’s Ford to see the confluence of the Bell, Sterkspruit and Kraai very full and very brown.  The only positive sign was that it appeared that water levels had been very much higher…the trip in on the dirt road between Barkley-East and Rhodes took us some 2 hours, being very careful not to slip off the road into a ditch and have to call for a tow! (we had one good slippy slide but Peter kept the car on the road).

We arrived somewhat early and since fishing was not on the cards for the afternoon, Peter and I spent the afternoon strolling around Rhodes taking photo’s in the extremely photogenic village.  Not bad actually, as most fishing trips are usually in-and-out, leaving little time to take in the surroundings.  It actually looked like the weather might play ball and things looked brighter by late afternoon, however it was not all that it seemed.  That evening’s meet-and-greet went off well, with the usual apologies by the organisers (Dave Walker and Tony Kietzman) for the inclement weather…with the standard “You should have been here LAST week…!  And it started raining.

The following morning everybody was up and about and eager to get to it, and after a hearty breakfast at Walkerbout’s, we were all sent off to beats on the Bokspruit as it was deemed that was the only river that would be clean enough to fish.  Well, water colour not withstanding, we couldn’t get to our upper beat as the 2nd to last causeway was uncrossable.  Lower down was totally unfishable due to the run off.  We had to call it a day and various parties headed off to crowd the few stillwaters (with some degree of success) while Peter and I took another photographic survey of Rhodes.  This time it really looked like it was clearing in the afternoon, and the forecast was actually in agreement.

With prospects looking better for the following day, the usual shenanigan’s in the Walkerbouts Pub were avoided and we gathered the following morning under patches of blue sky.  Back to the upper Bokspruit it was – absolutely amazing it was to see how fast water levels drop in that part of the world: where we failed to cross the previous day had dropped by at least a foot, and although there was some trepidation, we went across.  The last causeway was however still gunning, so we abandoned the car there and waded across and walked the last section up to Gatehead.  The flow was still very strong up there, but clean – so it was time to throw some “spark plugs” (as Tony Kietzman called my tungsten bead creations)…and not only 1, but a tandem rig, was necessary in some places!  In that kind of flow, the fish were holding either very deep in protected slots, or right on the very shallow edges – the technique employed here was to throw the “plugs” into the white water at the head of the pool and simply feed line to get the flies down in the washing machine and then simply hang on and let the rig lift out in the tail end of the pool.  Followed by 1 or 2 strips and you usually enticed a take – many were blindingly fast as no doubt the fish couldn’t afford to hang about in the current, so many “on-off’s”.  But we got fish…and the day proceeded to clear even more, so held better promise for our final day in Rhodes.  With the better weather, that evening’s festivities took the form of a braai, with a Walkerbouts tradition: a starter of stokbrood and “Prairie Oysters”!...if you don’t know what this is, see here:

Day 3 dawned clear and with no rain for the 2nd, we were extremely hopeful.  Back to the Bokspruit it was, but onto a lower “dry fly” beat, but even though the water had dropped probably another foot or so overnight, the flow was still too deep and fast and the fish weren’t coming up for anything.  Back to spark plugs it was simply to break the ice and we took a few fish, and then we spent the day chopping back to dry whenever it seemed possible.  Tony picked up 2 fish on dry and Peter found a very nice fish in a small side stream that took a “Klippies and Gans” elk hair and CDC.  It wasn’t my day however.

Although the weather and the fish didn’t really play game, it was just simply great to be in Rhodes, and actually be afforded some time to have a peek around - Peter and I discussed this very fact and we now know why Tom Sutcliffe will take off 3 weeks for a trip to the area!  (although I wouldn’t really have complained about 3 days hard fishing  :-))). 

Hat’s off to the WTA for running the Festival without any major sponsorship for the 2nd year in a row (no “Well’s and Bhisthles”…), but that being said, thanks for the contributors who put some great kit that went on the final nights auction to raise funds for the WTA.

And of course, to the excellent crew (Dave Walker, chefs Bruce and Sue, and of course Pen behind the bar) – and a tip of my fishing peak to the guides (Tony Kietzman, Richard Viedge and Jason and Nick who I didn’t get a chance to fish with) who no doubt had the hardest time trying to find us fish.  I will be making every effort to be back for the Festival next year!”

Monday, March 21, 2011

Soft hackle dry

This is another highly visible dry fly that works quite well for me. I normally fish this in little streams that is tightly overgrown where you have to bow and arrow cast under bushes or into tiny little pockets between branches. I think the wider hen hackle adds an extra trigger for the fish as it creates lots of movement and creates a nice profile on the water. I have had a few fish take it when my leader gets hanged up on a branch and the fly just barely touches the water. It probably mimicked a spider hanging of a branch or something similar in those situations though it certainly wasn't tied to imitate one.

This fly floats quite well mainly due to the additional stiff grizzly dry fly hackle that is first tied in parachute style before the soft hackle gets winded though it.


HOOK: Grip 11011BL #16 or #18
TAIL: Micro fibbets
BODY: Stripped Peacock quill
HACKLE: Grizzle saddle and hen soft hackle feather
THORAX: Spikey hair's ear
POST: Fluorescent orange antron

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Parachute Adams and a Pheasant tail nymph

You would think with the beautiful weather we had here in Cape Town lately that I would be fishing every weekend. Sadly I have had very little free time of late and just haven't had to energy or even the will to tie any flies during the spare time I get.

The reports from our local streams are not to good anyway with low water levels and only having a small window for some fishing early mornings  before the water temperatures gets to hot. Thankfully it seems that things are starting to turn a bit with longer nights and cooler mornings.

Even my favorite dam that we stock has been of limits during these hot months. The dam has always been my go to place when I have a short hour or so free as it is only 5 minutes from my house. Normally the fish would not survive the summer months as the water levels dropped considerably and the water temperatures rise. This past summer though we decided to keep the dam full during summer by topping it up thanks to the farmers new water allocation. It seemed to have kept the water temperatures lower and from all accounts it looks like quite a number of fish has survived the summer, so I am looking forward to catching a few monsters soon.

I did sit down and tie a few bread and butter flies a while back. These are nothing spectacular and are pretty much just the standard High Vis Parachute Adam's and Pheasant tail nymphs that always in my fly box.

Gray, Black and Olive

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The latest specialised hackle shop.

By now most of you tying your own flies know that there is a serious shortage of quality hackle. Unless your wife or girlfriend has been buying into the new craze where our precious hackles are turned into hair extensions or earrings, you will have have to make do with the cheaper Chinese feathers from a while.

I have had to resort to putting my capes and saddle under lock and key ever since I have found my wife has started to stop going "eeeww" when she sees my dead chicken skins. I dont trust her at all when she now gingerly strokes my feathers and I certainly wont leave her alone with them when I am not home.

Anyway, I would like to introduce you to the newest craze in hackle shopping. This is a great little store where models in skimpy cloths parade in front of you showing the latest colours of hackle.We all know that sex sells, and what is better than looking at pretty girls and sexy feathers( or do I have that the wrong way around?).

The shop is called Owlita and they have a variety of hackle earrings packs to choose from. I suspect that the name has no connection to the other famous Owl (unless it is part of his evil plan of fly fishing world domination).

At $100.00 a pop they certainly aint cheap though, but you can sit there for a few hours and  stroke the girls feathers to get your money's worth.

Now why didn't I think of that first?

AFA signing off to go stroke some feathers.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Zak Nymph

Things have been very slow lately on the fishing and blogging front with me. Work has kept me away from home and when I am home I don't want to spend the time in front of the computer or tying bench.I have also been busy getting my little online shop more functional and ordering tungsten beads by the thousands and then having to sort them out into packets of 20 takes a long long time, never mind cutting and packaging zonker strips.

Anyway, below is a version of the famous Zak Nymph designed by Tom Sutcliffe that I tie. The hackle on the below fly is not as spares as I normally like it, otherwise the only difference on my fly is that I use Hends Body Quill on my versions body. It is still a magic little fly and has accounted for more fish than I can remember. Check out Tom's Step by Step and tie yourself a few. You wont be disappointed.

A small stream Brown that was seduced by a Zak Nymph

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Catch Magazine

Check out issue 16 of Catch Magazine for an photo essay by Peter Brigg on fly fishing the Natal Drakensberg area in South Africa.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Thank you

I wrote a Oscar style speech thanking my mother, my wife, friends and all of you while showing a picture with a nice round 5000 visitors since July 2010, but unfortunately work has kept me out of town for the last week or so and also away from the computer.

Instead I came back to see that I have passed the 5000 visitors mark and my speach has been eaten by my dog Spud.

So short and sweet (before I get beeped of stage) I would like to thank all the loyal readers that visits my blog and leave comments.Without you there would only be a blank black space on the above picture so thank you for filling the black space with shiny white numbers.

Hopefully things will calm down and I would be able to post some more useless information soon.

And for those of you who is still complaining about the cold, please spare a though to us here in Cape Town where it is a warm 104F today with absolutely no wind.