Boston Fly Fishing Festival ready for big bites

According to Jan at The Kingfisher in PMB, last week I mentioned that Facebook was reminding me of impending snow, seems like those reminders might just have been a week early, as there is a massive frontal system moving up the country at the present that looks set to dump some snow up on high.

While the weather is iffy as I type this, the forecast for the weekend still looks OK with a smiling sun face, but that just means that night time temperatures will be sub-zero after the clouds clear, so that will mean for some cold morning starts!

The stillwater trout season picked up a gear with the TOPS Corporate Challenge taking place on the waters of the Midlands surrounding Nottingham Road last weekend.

The TCC, like the Kamberg Trout Festival reported on last week, is also in its 20s, this being the coming of age 21st year.

It is said that the TCC is not about catching fish, so arriving on opening night of Leg 1 of the TCC at the start of a new series for the year, coupled with peaked enthusiasm to tackle the trophy trout that the Midlands has to offer, requires some restraint so as not to go too large on the first night.

Good Luck with that as they say, but ’nuff said, I think we’ll just leave it there for this report!

320 stellar catches

The upside of not fishing is that one could all simply laze beside the waters soaking in the winter sun and partaking in some of the richly supplied liquids.

But the reality is far simpler: if you don’t fish and catch, you have no chance to reach the finals and come back and do it all over again!

So fish we did! Overall, a total of 320 fish made it to the tape measure over the four sessions, with some absolute crackers in between.

The yardstick for a good-sized trout sits at 50 cm and head count on the final evening had all angles that caught a 50cm+ fish stand up.

At a conservative guess, all but 10 of the 60 angles on this leg were upstanding!

If you are lucky enough to broach the 55cm mark, you move into that 3 kg category, which for most casual angles is indeed a memorable catch.

But if you’re lucky enough to land a whale that eclipses the 60 cm mark, you’re in trophy territory proper. We had to sit down as the measure went up, and when it reached the 60 cm, there were three angles still standing who had caught fish of 60 cm, 61 cm and the winning fish of 62 cm.

In summary, I am happy to report that the team of four with yours truly managed to catch 10% of the 320 fish between us, taking a creditable third place and missing second place by a mere point!

As the top five teams go through to the TCC Finals, this earned us a place to do it all over again in the first week in August.

Color suggestions

This weekend sees the Boston Fly Fishing Festival taking place on the waters on the upper Dargle Valley and around Boston — here’s hoping that the weather system flies over and away, and that fish are up to play.

Before anyone asks what patterns were most successful over the events so far, let me just say that while it’s pretty much wide open and right across the range, there is an expectation a leaning towards some brighter colors as we have come to for winter trout. Many angles have their “confidence” patterns, and if the fly is in the water, it has a chance … if it is out of the water, no chance!

Personally, I tend to favor the more natural patterns, and they produced for me: Papa Roach Dragonfly pattern in olive or black livery, and an olive “Crystal Minnow” that is fast becoming my top fly.

For the flytiers reading this — the “Crystal Minnow” was one of two patterns ably demonstrated by local fly angler Scott Brown at last night’s meeting of the Natal Fly Dressers Society. Meetings take place every second Tuesday of the month.

Stillwaters providing

The stillwaters of the Natal Fly Fishers Club have also been producing some good quality fish — good numbers in the 40-49cm range, and then also in the 50-59 range. ‘Tis the season to be fishing as they say.

With the waters cooling rapidly now, the bass fishing is quietening down somewhat, although there are still some big ones around.

Fish are to be found where there is moving water, and also on rockpiles.

Preferred method currently is a Senko worm, slow on the bottom. And don’t neglect your finesse gear and methods including Shaky Head, drop shot, underpin — slow rolled and jigs

Reports from Midmar are that there are lost of “dinks” (ie small fish) along the edges, but hey, a fish is a fish as they say and if you ain’t out there you ain’t catching!

The dirty, high water has been a big setback for the start of the winter Natal Yellowfish (aka Scaly) season, but as the rains have tapped off, some areas are coming clean at last.

Local angler Ewan Kyle reported that he fished the Tugela River at Zingela River and Safari Company (out beyond Weenen) last week — he reports 50 cm visibility and although the fishing is still a bit slow, “bites to be had with a bit of effort “.

Lots of small fish which is somewhat surprising as they normally switch off in cold water, but he managed a couple of 50cm+ fish. Playing his cards close to his chest, he reports that they were taking a “variety of flies”.

Now that we are well into winter, good news is that dam levels are still up, with almost all the dams in the Umgeni system still sitting at 100%+. Midmar is still coming over the wall, although that has slowed to basically a wet wall which I suspect will stop by next report.

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