|Date of Report: Sunday, 24th February 2019|
|Name: Roger Gurr
Phone: 082 464 6350
Since the beginning of the year I have not seen a single person casting a fly in the salt, even our group of about 8 to 10 fly fishermen, who up until half way through last year, used to fish regularly, have been absent from our beaches and rocky outcrops, due mainly to changes in the way the world does business and a slow-down in the economic climate. It’s a sad reality that when finances are tight we tend to withdraw from going anywhere, rather we spend time at home doing things around the home or spending time with our families, when it would probably lighten our hearts to stroll along a golden beach casting a fly in the hope of catching a fish.
So, my hope is that 2019 may bring us all a little good fortune (excuse the pun) lift our spirits and get us out onto the water’s edge again to spend time together, catch a fish or two, and maybe end the day with a braai and a glass of our favourite tipple.
Ok having got that off my chest I want to look back at salt water fly fishing in the upper South Coast area as I remember it. (these are my thoughts and other’s may and will have many other memories). In 1993 I heard that a few local fishermen from the Kingsborough area were going to start a club for anyone interested in fly fishing in the sea. I had never done any fly fishing but the idea excited me and I went to the first meeting at which a simple hand written guideline was put together outlining the aims and ideas for a salt water fly fishing club. A date was set for the first meeting, an article put in the local news paper and the Upper South Coast Club was born.
This lead to our very first outing at Illovo River mouth for a casting lesson, our instructor was Richard Schuman, who at that time owned a fly fishing shop in Durban.
The wind was a howling south wester, we didn’t care, we were a bunch of enthusiastic starters aged from about nine to perhaps forty plus and we waved our fly rods around in the gale force winds with gay abandon, and so it all began.
The club grew and we fished all up and down the KZN coast, with day outings and weekends away to everywhere we could think of or talk our way into. It didn’t matter if it was in the sea, rivers, lakes or dams. We just wanted to cast a fly and feel the line go tight, it was soo exciting and the fishing was very good too.
After all the excitement of the elections of 1994, and a peaceful change to a new democracy, things started to change, very slowly at first and then gradually we started noticing that the fishing was not as good, with fewer and fewer fish being caught. The entire coastline was now open to everyone to fish, as it should be, but not everyone practiced catch and release, which I suppose is understandable. People could now feed their families, so rules were ignored and the fisheries suffered. Adding to the problem was that I don’t think the number of persons tasked with looking after our fisheries were increased enough to cope with the vast number of new fishermen along our coast. The end result is that today fly fishermen can spend days fishing along the more accessible and popular beaches without catching many fish. Today we need to travel further, to more isolated places where it’s not as easy to get to and not often thought about.
Twenty years ago we could go down to a local beach and catch and release 20 to 30 Shad in an hour or two, exciting fishing. I used to fly fish local beaches and river mouths about seven times a week, either mornings or evenings, together with other fly fishermen and we caught fish everyday. Sadly, it’s just not what it used to be, and that brings me finally to today’s fishing report.
During the past month almost everyone seems to have been at work or busy with anything and everything other that fly fishing. The only one in our group who has fished in the sea is Martin Smuts, who has fished Durban harbour catching King fish, Mullet and Sand Gurnard and also off the beaches catching Shad and Wave Garrick.
Bait fishermen at Winkelspruit have been getting Shad in the early morning and I hear that offshore the paddle ski guys are catching quite a few Dorado, and I have been told that Yellow Fin Tuna are abundant this year so for those of you who have access to offshore fishing now is the time to get out there and have some fun.
Thank you for taking the time to read this report, I am sorry it is not so positive, however our group are off to the Orange River, below the Gariep Dam to fish for yellowfish (I’m after a largemouth yellow so wish me luck) I’m going to need it but I am sure we are going to have a wonderful time and I hope to post a few great photographs of big yellow fish.
If you have suggestions of flies we should use or some wise advice, please don’t hesitate to call me, I will share your ideas and advice with the group.
Till next time, be safe and have fun.