Flyfishing report: Saltwater - Garden Route

Date of Report: Wednesday, 1st June 2022
Name: Brian Sowden
Phone: 076 0525634

It has been a bit quiet in the Garden Route this month where many a weekend was plagued with ugly weather and strong winds. 

The Sedgefield mouth as well as the Goukamma mouth has closed for now.

Deon Stevens from Tidal Loops has been busy and landed a few nice fish in the last month. Landing a beautiful 79 cm Grunter making sure there are no winter blues.


Just over 2 weeks ago David Coetzer and I had a great day on Swartvlei, with plenty of activity, each catching 2 respectable Spotted Grunter on the Tidal Loops Prawn and dropping a few more.

On Monday I took Ian Gaylard out for a session, picking Swartvlei again, and with some confidence.....BLANK! Hardly a fish in sight, and Tidal Loops had to concede after a full day of searching the shallows for any movement.

For the rest of the week, I had to do a few things, but put Friday aside to get another day's fishing in with Marius Rosseau, again targeting White Steenbras on fly. Since our last successful session, we had both been tying up a few new patterns, including small, weighted jig hook prawn patterns. Arriving at the estuary there was hardly a breeze, but the silver blue tails were busy again, slapping away in the shallows, and in good numbers.

All in all, we caught over 15 White Steenbras, all sight fished, dropping a few more and I managed to catch 2 Cape Stumpnose as bicatch.

After wading the endless shallows all morning, and with the sun now on the drop we found ourselves near the channel. I was starting to check my watch for when I need to call it and start heading home. A few tails were hanging out in the deeper water, requiring a good cast out and a bit of help from the easterly that had now picked up.

I had shortened my leader / tippet to around 14ft and dropped my fly ahead of one fish, strip strip, the tail dropped, I felt some tension and lifted into my first Spotted Grunter.

Still wading the dropoff looking for similar behaviour, often sinking into mud knee-deep we both found tails to cast at. Another full cast out and same thing, strip strip, and BOOM, I was in again. I was well into backing before I knew it and whatever it was was fighting very differently from any White Steenbras or Spotted Grunter I had caught. I recovered some line only to lose it again with another heavy run for the deep water. Slowly but surely, I brought it over the dropoff and onto the shallows, yelling to Marius to come lend a hand. No net, no Boca, this fish was thrashing around wildly before we finally managed to subdue it. It was another Spotted Grunter of 79cm, with massive, hunched shoulders. A trophy fish for sure.

Shortly after that Marius was busted up on another big fish, and with the sun now dropping fast, and the wind quite cold, we trekked back toward the car.

But the Steenbras were still busy in the shallows, so we couldn't help ourselves, each catching one more before I just had to drag myself away so I could get back to Plett. A spectacular day's fishing. Happy Days, despite my hands being a little shredded from fins and spines.

Next week's long-awaited trip Sekoma is looming and once I get back a multi-day session to the Eastern Cape to fish the Kariega and Gamtoos and maybe the Kromme awaits while Jessica finally heads home to visit her family in Malaysia. Hopefully some bigger Steenbras and Kob will be about.

Tidal Loops' Ark has been delivered and will soon in use. There are reports of good-sized White Steenbras and Cape Stumpnose here in Plett, but that will have wait till I get back from Sekoma."

Luke van der Heever had a pearler of a day on the Knysna Lagoon managing 6 Grunter and a small Garrick.

In his own words you can hear his excitement

"Oh man, what a day!!!

6 grunter (28 ,36 ,38 ,41, 47, 49 cm FL)

And a juvenile leerie.

Best part was 2 of the grunter were landed after sun set, using the full moon to guide my casts towards shimmering fins and ripples on the water’s surface.

2 things made a noticeable difference today, firstly was increasing my leader from 16 to 20 feet and decreasing my tippet from 8 to 6lb. Both of these aided a soft presentation in the low flat conditions.

All in all, very chuffed as it was my first time fishing this system in 6 years."

The Garden Route Fly Fishers (GRFF) had another meeting this month with speakers, Ruben Tores, Robin Fick, Si Kay and Niel Malan.

A birthday was celebrated, dog food collected for KAWS (Knysna Animal Welfare).

The Tactical Angler Online was also live offering members discount and a wealth of fly-fishing knowledge was swapped around.

Winter is here and we get our almost unfishable days, but if you persist there will be results.

Happy flying


Deon with his 79cm grunter


Dave with his 56cm grunter