Sitting around the camp fire on an abnormally warm winters evening the discussion turned to “how long have we been packing our warmest clothes and heading out to Ceres to flyfish the epic waters of Lakenvlei?” The old hats racked their dormant grey matter and sucked on their red wine, finally they agreed on 7 years. That didn’t apply to all of us, for myself it was my 4th consecutive year. One thing we could all agree on was that we don’t ever want to miss a year. There is definitely something about this place and the incredible privilege it allows us to sleep on the doorstep of such great fishing waters with a view no man could ever recreate.
The conversation probably ended up here because the fishing had been pretty slow. With a few years under our belts we knew we weren’t always going to catch the weather/pressure/post cold front/wind/rain/snow perfectly. Myself and Ryan had arrived early on the Thursday morning to hear tales of woe from the gent currently in the hut. “No fish in 3 days,” he told us. With our spirits as flat as our kick boat pontoons we began setting up quietly hoping we had better flies than he did.
Once on the water the air was warm and my toes weren’t numb after a few minutes which worried me a little. After a hour or so without a bite I was still worried. But I thought to myself, I’d still rather be here than at work. With a fish each, Ryan and I decided it was time for a lunch braai and time to unpack the car now the hut was free. The rest of our group joined us over the next afternoon and through Friday.
The conditions stayed quite similar. It was warm and pleasant which is quite different to most years. We made the most of this, getting onto the water early and staying out late we managed to find some fish. Taking in the scenery the time seem to stop for a while out on the water. The highlight of my weekend happened when I found a spot I presumed to be a common area to stalk a bit of brown trout action. We try so hard every year to target these guys. Their amazing colouration and dogged fighting skills make them such a treat from the almost generic rainbow trout experience. I changed my fly, found my depth and started working an area, within two casts I had interest, a bump bump on the slack of my retrieve. Next cast there it was again. On my third cast into the exact range, mid retrieve, my dragonfly nymph got crushed! With the line tight and my rod buckled half under the water I held on and waited for the usual “swim back at you” tactics of most of the rainbows here, but this was different staying down and dirty. This fish wasn’t interested in doing flick-flacks. Heading in towards the bank probably looking for some cover or structure to cut me off, she was determined but a little underpowered. After a lekka struggle with some real guts I netted a very epic little brown trout. Exactly what I was after and I was well chuffed.
Saturday afternoon things started to change as heavy thick white clouds rolled in and an icy breeze started cutting through our layers of fishing gear. The cold front we were expecting was here. The bite became even slower and we had the displeasure of packing up in the rain.
Overall a very different experience this year at Lakenvlei. But definitely not a terrible one, each year may be different but no year is ever a disappointment.
A massive thank you to CPS and all involved with the upgrades and repairs done to the hut this year. We really love that place and appreciate everything done to ensure we get to go back every year.