|Date of Report: Wednesday, 26th July 2017|
|Name: Andrew Fowler
Phone: 082 574 4262
Here in the KZN midlands we are having a milder winter than we would like. That is to say, you can leave a Stillwater at 6pm, and see 6 degrees C on the thermometer instead of minus 1. That translates to water temperatures hovering around 8 degrees instead of say, 6.
The upshot is that the Trout seem to be marginally more active. That is one massive generalization: ask anyone who has had a blank day recently and they will shoot me down for the aforementioned comment. Add to that that the poor bugger is shivering and his ears ache from the cold, but hear me out: The fishing has been rather good!
On a recent foray to a dam in the Elands River catchment we sat for a few hours watching big trout paired up and cruising, and of course ignoring everything that we offered them. Then some of the team caught fish on dries, cast out into the periphery of where all the sexy stuff was happening. There may be a lesson in that: Trout which take a break from the patrolling of the redd, and hover in the zone a full cast’s length from the fish you can see, are more inclined to feed, and maybe where your efforts are better spent. Enough fish were caught on that day that my theory on the fish being more active than an average year, received a shot in the arm. Added to that we had one of those evening rises that you dream of. Fish were going ballistic everywhere. If I use the riseforms as my guide, half were taking caddis (splashy rises) and the other half midges (head and tail). I placed my money on the black. The black midge that is. A midge in the form of a DHE (Deer Hair Emerger…Google it). The investment paid dividends, albeit more in the pleasure of seeing fish fooled than in actually landing them. My success was sufficient however that it illicited the comment “Stop being a pig Fowler”, which only served to elevate my smugness.
Another fisherman who can afford to be smug is George Harris, who caught yet another big trout on an NFFC water. I was away on business, but I witnessed its release on the NFFC’s new Instagram account where a short clip shows the beast swimming off from the shallows upon its release. I can’t remember what size George claimed it at, but as I watched the clip I exclaimed “8 pounds!”, which confused the guy sitting next to me in the business meeting I was attending. George is not the only fisherman who is smug right now. There has been a pleasing trickle of five pound plus fish coming from both club dams and some private dams I know of. In between, there are of course blank days, and it has to be said that 1, 2 and 3 fish days are the norm rather than the summer days when some guys were nearing a dozen fish in an outing.
Be it slightly warmer (or not) that is the way of winter fishing. Glorious sunshine to bask in; crystal clear water; the odd sighted fish; and fewer fish in the net, but big ones in the tally.
We might not have had a decent cold front and snow since we got those 2 inches in May, but it is winter, it’s not over, and there remains a possibility that the bug killing cold is merely late, not absent. Either way, all the while it is a tad warmer, I recommend you get out there on a winter Stillwater in the Midlands.
And my recommendations for those who do find a gap to get out: I would be tying on a small red midge in the point position, and letting it sink deep below a floating line. On the dropper I might use an egg pattern, or a slow fished dragonfly nymph, or a GRHE. I would be casting as little as possible, retrieving as slow as thick custard flows, and concealing myself in drab clothes amongst the rocks and dead grass on the bank…either sitting or crouching, and with my primary concealment technique being an absence of movement.
Give it a try.
Wayne Stegen braving the cold