|Date of Report: Thursday, 14th February 2019|
|Name: David Weaver
Phone: 083 303 4230
The rains have finally come to the Eastern Free state. The rivers run brown, the farmers are smiling as they drive around town in their mud splattered bakkies and we are also smiling, because with the rains come the flying ants.
The last two weekends on the dam have been challenging, to say the least, but tough conditions make us better, because we have to get smarter and fish cleverer(if there even is such a word). Slapping down a Purple Beetle on 3x tippet doesn’t produce the goods, and we must sharpen our skills, soften our hands and scale down on everything except our enthusiasm. Small dry flies, thinner tippets and delicate strikes have become the only way to ensure that you don’t blank.
And then, when you’ve sat out the lunchtime thunderstorm in a baboon-faeces-scented cave, you are faced with an even more frustrating afternoon session. Yes, the termite alates have started. Picture the scene of vibrating termites stuck in the surface film and every fish, coot, Amur Falcon, Cisticola, frog, lizard, in fact every living creature is feasting on all the protein, carb rich offerings that pour forth from the numerous termite mounds around the dam. It’s a spectacle to witness and an adrenaline filled session as you make cast after cast at freely feeding fish. At the start of the rise they will take any dry fly off the surface but as the feast progresses, they become so selective that you are left with a fly patch filled with discarded patterns and an empty fly box. The Barbel swim with their whiskers on the surface, feeling for the vibrating ants, the Yellows porpoise purposefully, as they delicately sip in as many termites as their guts will allow. They become so desensitized to their surrounds that they will take a termite mere meters from the boat. All the while the skies are filled with Amur Falcons, Swifts, Swallows and Martins it looks a bit like a modern-day Battle of Britain, with the jet-like silhouettes of the swifts replacing the straight wing profiles of Spitfires, Focke-Wulfs and Messerschmitts.
Stay in bed, sleep late, because after these feasts in the late afternoon, early evening, the fish are so bloated that they don’t eat till late again on the next day….unless of course you are cleverer, and present small dries on light tippets with soft hands. Even if you do this you will still see more refusals than eats. Sterkies keeps us humble, that’s why it is the greatest Stillwater, dry-fly venue in the world and that is why you were only a professor yesterday.
Important Notice. For non-permit holders, i.e… Day visitors, the gate only opens at 6am….another reason to sleep late 😉
Vibrating termite in the water