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??Rivers of a lost coast??

Sitting here the sun is shining, the light is forming glorious dapples on the patio and all is good with the world. That holocaust of a downpour last week has faded from memory and I am tempted to be out on the streams because they should be firing. Trouble is that there is another cold front lurking to the south and that is about to wash over the peninsula shortly. Still the rivers didn???t look too high as we passed them over the weekend and it would seem from Korrie???s posts that the fishing has shown something of an improvement if not exactly a consistent one. You have less than a month left and if the cold fronts are kind you could still be in for a bumper time of things out there on the streams. The lower beats should be in fine fettle and with a little good fortune there is every chance that you might catch the best fish of the season in the coming weeks.

Simply amazing: 24 fish in eighteen casts.

I was however not entirely convinced that we were going to get the Indian Summer that we enjoyed over the past few days and as a result Mike and I headed for Lakensvlei on Saturday past. There was a good hatch of float tubers out on the water when we arrived and a stiff breeze which lead us to believe that we might have some good fishing. The breeze was certainly chilly enough but there was promise of warming sunshine within the hour and pumping up the boat is a sure way to warm up.

The first drift as always was about getting settled, we gave it about half an hour, drifting into the small bay on the left of the hut without a touch and decided to move operations. The next drift produced a hit and then we found the fish, it was one of those dangerously overconfident moments when you know that the fishing Gods are going to deal you a karmic whallop at some point in the near future though. I had a fish and then another and then something that has never happened to me before in my life, I hooked up a double of a brown and a rainbow on the same cast. One more fish and I was five fish to one up on Mike and he was considering making a change.

We rarely both fish the same lines or flies until we have something to work with and it was looking as though Mike perhaps was a tad too shallow. Then he staged one of the most remarkable comebacks in angling history. He hooked a double of two rainbows on the same cast and then repeated the process with another double two or three casts later. Four fish in two casts and he has brought the scores back to level and proceeded then to hook yet another rainbow double and then yet another. That is eight fish in four casts, simply remarkable.

Then with us buoyed with confidence and probably no small measure of self importance to boot the wind changed and we couldn???t repeat the same drift, we tried from one angle or another over and over and got the odd fish but the mother load eluded us.

Eventually we headed for pastures, or in this case waters, new and fished on the other side of the dam, picking up the odd fish here and there but never quite cracking the code again. By day???s end we had landed exactly twelve fish each but of those nine of mine came in the morning session and eleven of Mike???s leaving us with three fish and one for the afternoon respectively.

I am not sure what that proves, it does however show that the most important thing in stillwater fishing is finding the fish and more so that when you do there won???t be any doubt about it.

Mind you if you figure a cast every three minutes for an eight hour day that is 180 casts , Mike caught his twelve fish with only eight casts which means that 172 throws were unsuccessful and I didn???t do a whole lot better. When you get right down to it, even the most successful trips require a lot of effort and I suppose it behooves one to remember that the last five throws of the day could change things from slow to pretty good in short order.

For all the fussing about flies there is no doubt that the mantra of ??First find the fish, then find the depth and then find the flies?? is a good one. For the record we both never really changed flies much and each of us caught fish on every fly that we used, ranging from small muddlers to tiny Dawl Bachs and soft hackles, not one of them bigger than a standard size 10.

So before you worry too much about the fly box I would strongly recommend that you focus on mobility and a range of different fly lines. Personally I carry Airflo lines including: Floating, Slow intermediate, Fast Intermediate, Di3, Di5 and Di7 although I must admit I rarely use the last one. Sticking to one brand and one type allows you to at least gauge if you are going to be fishing shallower or deeper and over the course of the day changing lines and drifts should allow you to find the fish at least once. Then it is time to make hay whilst the sun shines. If you want some advice on suitable fly lines please feel free to e mail me on

Video Evening:

The clubrooms will host another DVD evening tonight: Rivers of a lost coast, an apparently brilliant movie about the rise and fall of famous steelhead rivers in California. Not necessarily what you may expect. Link:

One gets used to the fact that you can book a beat on the river and have it all to yourself. Not in California in the 40’s. Thousands of fishermen stood shoulder to shoulder back then on rivers like the Russian and the Eel as the steelhead came in. It’s a foreign notion to us, but that’s how it was.
It was also bound to lead to conflict and rivalry among anglers and it did, even resulting in one very infamous feud. Rivers of a Lost Coast documents the rise and fall of these fisheries from the early 20’s until the 60’s when there were hardly any fish left. Their demise was due to unfortunate events, starting with a big flood in the 50’s largely as a result of indiscriminate tree felling in upstream forests. With the arrival of wine farms there was a proliferation of dams and serious water abstraction and with the help of the loggers farmers destroyed feeder streams. A long drought then pushed the fisheries over the edge.
The steelhead had been larger than life and so were the characters who hunted them, especially Bill Schaadt, a junk scrounging bachelor who never bought tippet material only useing what others had thrown away. He was described as the best angler in the world, and had chosen to eschew, in Lani Waller’s words, “The narcotics of civilized routine”. He lived the life everyone dreamed, but not everyone liked him and it wasn’t long before fishermen were divided into two camps; those for Bill and those against.
Bill was not conventional by any means, best illustrated by his “dirty pool” fly, a large hook with a razor blade designed to cut other peoples lines.
This well presented documentary covers an historically important period in fly fishing, filled with colourful characters and huge 50lb fish.
It’s well worth watching. – Craig Thom