Date of Report: Thursday, 25th May 2017
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Name: Tim Rolston
Phone: 083 626 0467

Sadly, the hoped -for rain is really yet to materialise down here in the south. Doubly frustrating given that there have been good rains up north and snow on the high ground, but in the Cape it has been a case of balmy days and clear skies. The temperatures, at least overnight are beginning to fall but sunny days are still producing “T” shirt weather during most afternoons.

The streams have thus not received anything like a refreshing flush of new water and the lower beats are still suffering. A recent exploratory trip to the lower Smalblaar revealed low water, although it was a tad cooler, and as best we could tell this section was almost devoid of fish, or at least devoid of feeding trout. Disturbingly the water is still not crystal clear and the long terms effects of pollution are still apparent, particularly in deeper sections where silt darkens the rocks and makes sight fishing almost impossible. The combination of high temperatures, low water and pollution has undoubtedly severely stressed the system and how many fish have survived is in doubt. Unfortunately, it seems likely that the populations have been damaged, perhaps severely.

Higher up on the Elandspad the water remains clear and now with cooler conditions more fish are showing in feeding lies, they are also feeding more on egg laying spinners in the larger pools. Tricky to temp as the fish have been throwing themselves out of the water and imitating flying bugs is near impossible. Skating high floating dries has proven effective at least some of the time.

Actually, as the fish are becoming more active again the river can produce some memorably interesting fishing, presentation is, as always, at the forefront and many times a single cast will prove to be the difference between success and failure. An injudicious stumble, a wayward cast or even the line in the air is enough to see the fish bolting for cover.

On the plus side it looks as though the season will run right through to the closing date at the end of May, if we get a little bit of rain it could even switch on and produce a red letter day, but I suspect that will only be true of the upper beats. The lower ones have probably been too stressed over the summer to be able to recover to any degree before season’s end.

Usually thoughts turn to Stillwater in winter and hereabouts that means Lakenvlei, again of late the fishing has been tragically disappointing. The jury is still out as to whether that is the result of the increasing numbers of bass in the system, a lack of stocking or simply weather and temperature issues which may resolve themselves as winter takes hold. The recent National Championships, which saw numbers of quality anglers fish hard failed to really produce anything like the catch rate that might normally be expected. Hopefully the colder weather will reveal the true situation as the dam has never been a good warm summer venue.

All in all, the fishing in the Western Cape is under severe pressure, waters that were world class a few years ago are showing signs of strain and our fervent hope is that some rain over winter and some cooler conditions may see something of a return to better times. With the weather forecasts as they stand though this may be little more than a pipe dream. For now, options are limited and there isn’t too much sign that things are improving.


The Molenaars section of the Smalblaar with a good flow