Date of Report: Monday, 23rd October 2017
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Name: Tim Rolston
Phone: 083 626 0467

Despite the drought problems in the Cape and low dam levels still well beyond critical, there has been a good amount of late season rainfall over that last week or so. It may or may not have greatly improved municipal supply but it certainly has had influence on the flows in the trout streams, perhaps even late snow on the high ground will have further contributed to better water levels in the rivers.

This all evidenced by much higher flows than expected today on the Elandspad River, with a number of waterfalls visible along the periphery of the river valley. Water levels at a point where perhaps many of the narrower sections of pocket water were really too fast to fish other than with constant tension nymphing styles.

That said, the more laminar sections, frequently impossible to fish in summer were flowing well enough to offer reasonable sport with fish coming to the dry throughout the day, although for the most part in the shallower sections and off the main current.  Certainly the dry or soft hackle patterns were effective on all the fish we saw rising and some which had remained undetected in the still tan stained but clear water.

The fishing has been dire up to this point and despite the imminent arrival of yet another cold front, the cloud formations of which were clearly encroaching on Cape Town as we drove home, at least some of the fish seemed in feeding mode throughout the day.

As things stand I am trusting that the very poor fishing of the previous few weeks was the result of the jumping YoY o effect those late season cold fronts had on the barometric pressure and it would seem that there is hope for further improvement in the fishing as things settle down and the water levels drop off.  

Many but not all of the fish taken were small but again, whilst frustrating in one respect, that is generally an indication of a healthy river, or at least a healthy breeding population of fish, which in turn, one hopes, bodes well for the future. So at the present the despondency of poor fishing has at least been overcome in part by some signs of hope and positivity with respect to some great angling as the weather stabilizes and water levels fall to near perfect fishing levels. Perfect levels are likely to happen within the next week or so unless we see more unexpected, although welcome, late season precipitation.
The recent rains and current high water will possibly be enough to carry the good fishing through at least to December before things get to be super technical again.

On the fly front there were numerous micro tan caddis on the rocks and a good smattering of net winged midges in evidence throughout the day on the water, so there was food about. It is likely that a nymphing approach might have yielded more fish, or perhaps better fish, but then again, the joy of watching a fish rise to the dry in the tan water was enough do dissuade us from crossing to the dark side on this trip.

Without personal knowledge of the other streams one can only surmise that similar things are happening on those, although the Smalblaar, even from the elevated viewing position of the road, suggests a lot more silt and discolouration that the Elandspad. How much of that is from the aquaculture facilities that continue to pollute the river and how much from the run off from a badly burned upper section is difficult to determine, but certainly the water and the river bottom were noticeably less clean than the Elandspad.

My best recommendation? The next time there is a window of four days or high pressure, some stability in the weather and access to the family car, get out there and fish your favourite beat. Right now the suggestion that the best, or at least the easiest fishing on the Western Cape Streams occurs in November is likely to prove true.

The fishing isn’t great, but certainly it is improving and some stable weather and slightly moderated flows are more than likely to give us an indication as to the true health of the fish populations on any of the beats.

Tim Rolston