ON THE LINE - EDITORIAL FROM THE FOSAF CHAIR
2014 could not have started in a better way - my family and I having the privilege of spending the first weekend on the year on the Bushman's River at Snowflake just downstream of the hatchery. I and many others rate this as one of SA's premier trout waters. In the past I have been lucky enough to spend many weekends there courtesy of the late Peter Brown. The river was pretty full but cleaning up with the slightest touch of milky blue providing a modicum of cover from the wary browns. The high water made fishing extremely difficult. There was almost no surface activity except at Puffadder Pool. This kind of full river requires either a sinking line with weighted flies or the patience to let an intermediate line (my preference) swing around into the slower eddies and then use the correct retrieve (depending on the fly being fished) up the slow deep water as close to the bank as possible, trying all the while to avoid roots, branches and other snaring entanglements below the surface.
I had exceptional success with Alan Hobson's now famous tadpole pattern and my own Bushman's Bivisible, tempting amongst others, two large browns of between 3 and four pounds. Closer to the hatchery on the top beat, some escaped rainbows also came to hand providing good fare.
Once again, we continue to be engaged with the saga around the NEM:BA Alien and Invasive Species Regulations (AIS Regs). At the risk of repetition, you will recall that FOSAF has engaged the DEA and others, over a five year period on prior versions of the AIS Regs. Submissions were made commenting on the problem aspects of these regulations. Nothing was heard in reply. In 2013 FOSAF got wind that a new version of the AIS Regs was to be published for implementation. Only after lengthy correspondence with the officials concerned and a letter to the Minister, did DEA's senior officials agree to meet with FOSAF. After the meeting DEA agreed to make the new draft AIS Regs available and to consider further comments. A further submission was made by FOSAF and others. Despite this it is clear AIS Regs and lists promulgated in July that the DEA largely ignored our and other parties' comments.
Since the publication we have again engaged the DEA and its senior officials. They have indicated that the regulations will only come into operation at a future date, i.e., the new financial year (after 1 April 2014). DEA are of the view that the listing of trout will only become operational when the regulations were finally in place. It is the view of FOSAF and other stakeholders that this is not in fact correct in law. Because trout were already listed as invasive in terms of NEM:BA and that being the law, the DEA should be enforcing this position.
It is clear that the regulations that were published along with the lists are likely to be withdrawn. We have been informed that new regulations are being drafted and will be published early in the New Year for public comment. It is likely that trout will again be listed as invasive but in a new category 2 which apparently will allow for the management of invasive species by demarcated area under a species management plan which the DEA argue would thus allow controlled commercial exploitation of trout under the NEM:BA.
We remain concerned because once a species is listed as an invasive it must be eradicated under NEM:BA. If eradication is not possible it must be controlled. Control is so restrictively defined that it can only be interpreted to mean doing everything possible to prevent the species from breeding or becoming established. This can hardly be consistent with sustainable use.
FOSAF facilitated together with trout producers and other interests, a meeting convened by Gerrie van der Merwe of Lunsklip. In our view this was a most useful and productive workshop that brought various stakeholder bodies together so that they could share information, ideas and experiences with a view to understanding the key risks we face and develop a unified strategy to engage the DEA.
We have again been contacted by a senior official from DEA. Despite earlier refusals to share information with FOSAF, the DEA has now agreed to provide the legal arguments and the scientific information they rely on to support the listing of trout as invasive. This is hopefully a positive step.
FOSAF also suggested an alternative formulation that in our view will make the task of the Department a great deal less onerous: Trout should only be listed as invasive in relation to those eco-systems (catchments or portions of catchments) where they pose a clear danger to other species/biodiversity. This would allow for a general exemption everywhere else and would also permit sustainable use of the species thereby recognising its economic, social and cultural significance. The listing will entail the balancing of competing interests and some sacrifices of existing rights.
It is clear that 2014 will be a very busy year in this ongoing struggle on behalf of trout and other interests. FOSAF will use its best endeavours to participate in all and any relevant public participation and/or consultation processes relating to the NEM:BA and the AIS Regs. We will do our utmost to ensure a simple and effective mechanism to achieve a workable win-win that balances the socio economic and cultural interests with the biodiversity interests.
KNOWLEDGE, EXPERIENCE & PROFICIENCY by Gordon van der Spuy
I am always surprised when I go to tying workshops and work with guys who are so called experienced tyers. Some of the guys won't even be able to tie a decent #18 parachute Adams yet they lable themselves as being experienced. The problem lies in the fact that guys tend to equate experience in relation to the time they've spent doing it. And therin lies the rub as good ol Will would say. Tying flies for many years doesn't necessarily mean you're good at it. Sure you'll tie flies that catch fish but will you be a good tyer? No, the reality is you'll just be an average tyer who has been tying for a longtime. That said , is it really that important to tie perfect flies? I don't think so, but tying well tied flies, I feel is important, and that can only be achieved if you are technically proficient. Technical proficiency is something which can be learnt. The idea is to understand why things work the way they do because when you understand the mechanics behind it then it becomes simple.
There is nothing complicated about tying a decent fly or making a decent cast provided you understand the mechanics behind it. And this is where a good teacher comes in handy.
A good teacher will make things simple for you . Anyone who attended one of Peter Hayes' casting clinics last year will attest to this. The guy breaks it down so nicely for one that you kinda stand there thinking " thats so obvious, why didn't I think of that".
As South Africans we tend to be reluctant to enlist help as we'll rather struggle on and blame the rod, the line, the vice and our materials.
I once met a chap in a flyshop who wanted to buy a 9 weight rod for his general trout fishing. When I asked him why he'd want to do that he informed me that he had a very aggressive casting action and lighter rods simply broke in his powerful hands. "What you need is a casting lesson, not a heavier rod", I said. The chap was not very impressed with me but its the truth. Why waste cash on a rod you don't need when a simple hour or two with a professional can change your flyfishing life forever? The majority of fly fishers could do a lot better by simply learning to improve casting. There are guys who have been fishing for over 20 years who still can't cast properly. Talk to any professional guide about this and they'll confirm it.
They will tell you that most of their clients would do a whole lot better if they rocked up on the trip with their casting in check. I have met guys who have fished all over the world and caught anything from tarpon to taimen who still can't cast properly. Imagine how much more they could have got out of it if they could cast better. Now if you happen to be in the fortunate position to spend the big bucks on the trip of a lifetime then shouldn't one rock up with the necessary skills to make the dream a reality. It reminds me of the guy who prayed to God for over 20 years to win the lottery, one day the chap screams at God, " I've been praying for 20 years now to win this blimming lottery, is that too much to ask?, " God gently replied, " It would help if you buy a lottery ticket, meet me half way here". One needs to put in the effort, albeit be it a few minutes casting to dinner plates on the lawn once a week.
That said, as a simple exercise, take a dinner plate, go and put it on the grass in your garden, not far away, ten meter's should be fine, tie a fly on the end of your tippet and see how often you land the fly on the plate. If you're doing it less than 7 times for every 10 casts you're making then I think one needs to re assess how proficient your casting really is. The first cast you make on a section of river is after all your best chance of success and if you're wasting time getting the fly on the right spot you're not being as efficient as you can be. I'm being blunt about it but the truth is that one will get a lot more out of this pastime of ours if we put a little more into it. Golfers are no strangers to getting lessons from a professional so what makes us different. The problem is that very often we have a false sense of proficiency. There are some really good teachers in this country who can help you out and really make a huge difference to your fishing and tying.
Spending a day with someone like Tim Rolston or Fred Steynberg on a stream is worth every penny provided you actually listen to them. Sure , the R2000 it is going to cost you might sound steep but when you consider that you are paying for years of experience that will change your fishing life forever then you realise its actually a bargain.
Joining a club or guild of sorts can help a lot too but the problem I have with guilds in particular is that they very often lack individual attention. I taught at a guild a year or two ago where one of members was battling to dub; after 10 seconds of instruction the guy was dubbing perfectly. What worried me about that scenario was that some of the best anglers and tyers in this country are members of this guild and this chap had been a member of the guild in question for ten years and still couldn't dub properly!
A large part of the problem is the way in which people teach. Being a good tyer or flyfisherman doesn't necessarily mean that you'll be a good teacher, a good teacher: will have the ability to instill confidence and the needed skills into his or her students to make them surpass their own expectations. Tying a fly from start to finish and then letting the class do it is fine if everyone is experienced but for a beginner it is hellishly difficult, so one needs to take the guy through it step by step slowly helping him/her understand the process as opposed to just going through the steps.
Experienced members should be helping the beginners out and this sadly doesn't happen as often as it should as very often the guy is more interested in his dop than his fellow tyer. Once again, I'm being blunt here but if we want to be the good guys we tend to think we are then we need to start shaping up.
Flyfishing can become a very selfish persuit if you approach it with a "me, myself and I' mentality." The sport as a whole would be better off if we start working together and helping each other out. This includes the retailers who I feel should almost act as custodians of the sport.
I also think we need to be taking full advantage of the opportunities available to us as South African flyfisherman and support developmental initiatives, when people like Korrie Broos brings out 3 times flyfishing world champion Pascal Cognard we need to support him and rock up. Korrie does this out of the goodness of his heart and believe you me, makes nothing out of the deal financially. It is a labour of love. SAFFA recently brought casting expert Peter Hayes out and all I can say is that anyone who wasn't there lost out. If you really want to extend your knowledge and skill base behind both rod and vice then seeking professional assistance can't be beat. An investment in your flyfishing education will go a long way in making your day at the vice or on the river a world class experience. Try it; you might just suprise yourself in terms of what you can achieve!
THE 2014 YELLOWFISH WORKING GROUP CONFERENCE
The 18th Yellowfish Working Group (YWG) Conference will be held on Sunday 22 June at the Black Mountain Conference Centre which is some 70 km east of Bloemfontein on the Thaba Nchu road. The main reason for choosing the date and the venue is that the SA Society of Aquatic Scientists Conference commences on the evening of the 22nd June and thus many delegates can now attend both events by arriving a day early and therefore save time and travelling costs. Further details contact Peter Arderne at firstname.lastname@example.org
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