Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Drakensberg and the Tenkara Part 1

The last couple of months have been chaos upon chaos with regards to work.
It was the one deadline after the other and I am certainly not complaining but it does take it's toll if you don't get a bit of a break. December saw us working right through to finish deadlines.

Well in between orders and things working out and things not going as planned I decided to book two venues in the Drakensberg. I have never been in the Berg this late in the season, but I hoped that rather late than never would count in my favor. Well lets just say I almost didn't go, but I just pushed hard and managed to sneak away on Friday the 24th of April.

Needless to say I only left Pretoria after about 14:00 and I knew that I would not make the last stretch in daylight, so I phoned the staff at Kamberg Reserve and pleaded with them to not lock me out after 18:00. I actually wanted something more central, but couldn't get something within my budget so I opted for Kamberg. I got in probably around 20:30 or thereabout. The road from Rosetta to Kamberg is not really worth being called a road as I have driven on gravel roads thats better than this road, but we made it in one piece.

Saturday morning I got up and my Father-in-law was really not feeling well, so I decided to rather fish the Mooi instead of going to Injusuthi as I have planned. Well heaven help me as this place really doesn't like me at all. I just don't know why, but this place always makes me doubt my angling skills. In 2012 I hooked up with a Brown deep in the Mountains only to be broken off, well this time round I fished from the gate to the weir. This did not help either as the water was really thin and super clear. If you spotted a fish it has already spotted you. I tried fishing the pocket water, etc. hiding behind rocks, grass, etc. without any luck.

In this pic there are two fish round about the middle of the pic. I took this pic just to show how clear the water is and kept in the shade and when I made my cast the fish just moved off.

I got off the water early and just couldn't believe my bad luck with this place. I kept on saying to myself, you should have gone to Injusuthi.

Sunday morning we decided to go and get some supplies in Mooi River and when we returned at around 13:00 I decided that I should get ready and head on out to Giants Castle. I have a huge soft spot for this place and it has always treated me well. Well it was definitely worth the drive.

I decided on fishing the Tenkara and used an EHC as Dry and it wasn't long before I hooked into this little bugger...

Usually I don't really take pics of the surrounds but this time I decided to take some snaps for the memory bank...

Those that frequent this water will know that this is the section from the gate of the reserve to the first confluence I think it's close to Crystal Pools or something like that.

The dry worked on a couple of fish but I wasn't convinced so I switched to a Nymph leader complete with In-line Strike Indicator and this option yielded some really good fish in quick succession. I fished a Zak Variant with a Chartreuse bead as my point fly. They just couldn't resist this little fly. This technique was absolutely sublime in the deeper runs and I believe that Korrie Broos made a fortune last week with all the luck as I thanked him over and over on the water for his help in perfecting a nymphing leader for the Tenkara. That little Curly-Q works a charm. I fished a Czech leader with two flies only.

Hooked into this lovely little Bow....

And later this handsome little Brown...

Look closely and you will see my dropper fly in the left of the picture.

At some stage I changed back to the Dry. In little than 2 hours I managed 2 on Dry and 6 fish came to the Nymph. I am now really confident in saying that water dependent one could easily switch between a dry leader to a nymph leader and up your catch rate tremendously. I am all for the dry on Berg Streams but in this session the nymph proved invaluable.

Monday morning I got up before sunrise and headed out onto the Mooi again.
This time I started fishing above the weir past the Old Hatchery/ Research Centre.

The water was darn cold and my leaking wader made me regret not having worn my quick dry pants.

I fished for about and hour and half without any luck. Saw one fish and that was it.

It was really cold on the water so I decided to get off and go and pack up for Lotheni.

At the Old Hatchery I bumped into a guy that told me that his mate managed 4 fish over a weeks time but about 3-4km into the Mountains. Reckons the fish are very shy but they do take  the dry high up. One fish one cast per pool scenario. I agreed somehow, but still reckons this place despises me as I am yet to crack the code. Look I saw loads of fish on the section from the gate to about the bend at the stillwaters, but they were extremely skittish. I made numerous casts in pools only to have fish dart in all directions.

We packed up and left Kamberg around 9am and headed for Notties.
Here we had a fantastic breakfast and then we hit the road out to Lotheni.

Luckily we were on holiday because this dirt road needs time, you just can't get onto this road and think you will travel this 40km of gravel the same time or slightly more than what you would do on a tar road.....You need to bring plenty of time as this road will take 1,5 - 2,5 hours easily out of your day. I was a bit worried about the condition of the river as they had plenty of rain in early April and the river was running high.

When we got there the river certainly looked lower than what I have fished it in the past. But I was hopeful. We unpacked our stuff in Mountain View Hut and settled in nicely. Later this afternoon I decided that I would go down the Lotheni all the way past the Confluence of the Lotheni/Elandshoek and go down to the Hang Bridge. Well I made it down about 500 meters from the Bridge and started fishing an EHC on the Tenkara. Spooked a few fish here and there and quickly figured out where they were hanging around and this give me 15 fish in a very short time. Oh, I was pleasantly surprised as this venue can be as tough as nails and anything from 4-21 fish over a weekend is considered a good weekend and here I was on 15 in no time at all.

Now those that know Lotheni will know that in a weekend you will hook into plenty of small fish and catch the odd decent fish every now and then. Well this time round 95% of the fish were between 20-40cm and the rest 10-20cm.

I fished back up to the confluence and decided to head up the Lotheni all the way to the Mountain View Hut and I was pleasantly surprised to see the size of the fish that came out of this section. This section has never produced any fish for me in recent years. That night I sat at the Braai and just couldn't believe the amount of good fishing I just experienced.

Tuesday morning I was up real early, but only went fishing around 11am.

This time I decided to fish all the way up from Cool Pools and this was seriously a brilliant session.
I think I came off the water with 25 fish if I remember correctly.

This fish was quite interesting as I hooked its mate above to the left of the pool and this one to the right.
I made a terrible cast almost right to the side and then this fish just came out of nowhere and followed the fly downstream and hit it so hard that it jumped clean out of the water. I was shaking like a Border Collie trying to pass a Soup bone..... I had some serious Viskoors.

Below this section the river splits in two and here I had some really good fun with fish rising to the dry frequently.

Think I landed something like 10 fish in less than 50 meter.

To be continued....

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