No matter how much planning you put into any fishing mission, you can’t always control everything. The most uncontrollable element is always the weather. Ryan from www.vintagefishingtackle.co.za and myself unfortunately suffered through this reality on our recent afternoon trip to Brandvlei dam.
We both had been hell bend to get some smallmouth bass action on fly. As usual the research began, scouting venues, choosing flies, endless social media prowling and then picking an afternoon. Ryan knows Brandvlei quite well and was confident that with the forecast we had, it was going to be golden.
The vibe was good, it was sunny and warm even though the wind was thumping on the Paarl side of the mountains. After our police escort through the Huguenot tunnel we saw a different story altogether. Doubts quickly crept into our conversation as we exited the tunnel into patches of rain, dark clouds and a solid puff of wind.
Undeterred we charged on, determined our Friday afternoon wasn’t going to be wasted. On arrival it actually didn’t seem that bad. We clutched to positive thoughts as we geared up and took a walk to our launch site.
Stepping onto the bank we got slammed by an icy gale and the view wasn’t pretty thats for sure. White horses that I previously thought only belonged to the ocean were capping and smashing all over. This wasn’t what we expected at all. We quickly realised that another front had pushed through sooner than the forecast had predicted and we were smack bang in the middle of a decent low pressure front.
Still pretty eager to make the most of it we negotiated the waves smashing the rocky bank and we both managed to launch quite uneventfully.
Once on the water it was little different, within minutes we both had waves drenching us. Water washing over our laps and the wind driving spray onto our backs meant that try as hard as we did, throwing a fly in these conditions wasn’t going to work.
After an hour or so of trying our best to get a bite on fly we reluctantly swopped over to conventional tackle. For me it was literally my first cast, I’m pretty sure my plastic hadn’t even hit the rocky bottom when the wind bow in my line tightened and I felt the tension of a solid bite. I got a decent smallie, my first at this location. I liked the difference in colouration from other venues, they come out of the water with a milky colour. It shows how adaptable these fish are to suit their environments.
Two throws later and I was onto the biggest smallmouth of my life, which turned out to be a barbel. And I fought it so well. Even by-catch is still a catch and it gave me a good stretch.
Ryan wasn’t faring too badly himself with a good fish on his grinder rod. The oxygenated water meant these fish were giving us great tussles before coming to hand. By now we were almost starting to forget about the nasty conditions. Although whenever you seemed to dry out and feel slightly warm again you’d get caught side on and treated to another rinse with dam water.
We were determined to make the most of it. We persisted and were regularly rewarded with a fish every now and again. Conditions were far from ideal but it’s amazing what you can put up with when a solid bite is on offer. My day was topped off well into “my last cast” (which is actually the last twenty casts) when I got connected to a very chubby little largemouth. I really wasn’t expecting that but it was a welcome treat after all the elements had put us through.
Eventually the weather did get the better of us and we called it. We loaded up the tubes and literally got blown back to the car. It wasn’t the success we were hoping for with the fly but our end result with conventional tackle definitely beats a kick in the pants. We’ll keep the whip sticks nearby and have another crack soon.
Thanks for reading.
Tight lines guys.