Sunday, 2 November 2014

Vision Loikka Gummi and Stud Boots Review (6 to 8 Months)

As I mentioned in my article on 21 February 2014, I will give you feedback on the performance of Vision Loikka Gummi and Stud boots. In that article I mentioned various criteria I will use to rate the boots and I have given ratings below out of 5 with a brief discussion.

Comfort (5/5): I found the boots to be very comfortable due to the light weight synthetic materials. This is the first pair of boots I have used with built in studs and my first assumption was that I would experience stud. The foam padding on the outer and inner soles are however sufficient to prevent stud pressure and are very comfortable. During a full days fishing I do not experience foot fatigue with these boots.

Feet Protection (4/5): These boots have decent ankle support and are heavily padded on the inside, which prevents your ankles from over extending and protects them against bumps from rocks etc. The toe tips are fairly soft, however I found the rubber covering to be sufficient protection if the boots are worn with thick wool or neoprene socks. Due to the light weight of the boots I also found them to be quite comfortable while hiking on river banks.

Sole Grip (3.5/5): Personally it took some times for me to get use to the Gummi and Stud sole configuration. As with all wading you have to be careful with your foot placement to prevent slipping. The tungsten tips do slip on occasions and will slide a few centimeters before gripping hard into the rock. I found the grip to be sufficient in all my wading conditions which ranges from still water fishing, the Vaal River and Small Streams throughout South Africa. The tungsten tips really come into their own while wading in rivers with rocks covered in algae, which is often the case while wading the Vaal River

The tungsten tips really help a lot while hiking on the banks of dams and rivers, this is normally where for example felts soles will often slip on wet grassy banks. The only situation where I felt the grip was not sufficient was on smooth, iron-rich boulders while climbing out of river beds. Care has to be taken in these situations and can normally be overcome by taking slow well placed steps.

Sole Durability (4/5): I have been wearing the boots since the beginning of March 2014 and have fished various venues ranging from the Bushmans River (KZN), the Broederstroom River (Limpopo), the Crocodile River (Gauteng), the Vaal River and some local streams and dams.

Up to this point the tungsten tips and their fittings have shown virtually no wear. The Gummi soles have a circular grip pattern, some of the grip points do tend to wear off on the side of the soles. The soles show little wear towards the middle sections.

Exterior Material Durability (5/5): The exterior materials of the boots have really impressed thus far. There is virtually no visible wear and tear visible on the exterior of the boots. The rubber layer on the toe part of the boots is still firmly glued onto the synthetic materials. I do advise to wear decent gravel guards with the boots to protect the neoprene sections at the top of the boot and the laces. Up to this point these section of the boots have also shown virtually no wear and tear, however I do think these section will get damaged without gravel guards.

Lacing System Durability (5/5): The nylon laces and rings still look brand new, and the lacing hooks shown no signs of rust.

Interior Material Durability (5/5): The inner soles have a strong nylon material and show no wear. The neoprene and stitching on the interior of the boots also still look brand new, I suggest wearing thick wool socks or neoprene wading socks to help protect these materials.

Weight (5/5): These are some of the lightest boots I have felt in hand and they proved to be even more comfortable while wearing them inside and outside the water.

Value for Money (4/5): These boots are quite expensive, however they are similar priced to boots in the same quality range.

Longevity (4/5): Up to this point the exterior of the boots have shown great durability and very little wear and tear. The soles have shown some wear, however that is very understandable. Normally the exterior of wading boots determine their longevity, my previous boots completely fell apart after a year and the soles where still intact. At this point personally I think these boots will at least last another 2 to three years.

Vision Loikka Gummi and Stud 6 to 8 Month Review

Vision Loikka Gummi and Stud - Minimal wear and tear visible on the exterior

Vision Loikka Gummi and Stud Review - Shoe Tip Wear and Tear

Vision Loikka Gummi and Stud Review - Sole Wear and Tear

Vision Loikka Gummi and Stud Review - Sole Wear and Tear

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Zwakala River Retreat - Venue Review

Introduction

Zwakala River Retreat is the only venue in the Haenertsburg area that provides instant access to the Broederstroom River. This mysterious and tranquil river that flows through indigenous forest and pine plantations offers fantastic, catch and release fly-fishing for both Brown Trout and Rainbow Trout. This privately owned farm venue provides accommodation in various configurations ranging from a comfortable campsite on the river bank, romantic cottages for couples and cabins for families. There are various other activities on the farm such as mountain biking trails, river tubing, swimming etc. for the non-fishing members. There is also an events venue (Mina’s Art Café & Farm venue) ideal for weddings, family or corporate events, music performances and art exhibitions.

Accommodation

During this venue review we stayed in the newly finished Cob House which is a 4 sleeper cottage with 2 bedrooms, living room, kitchen and veranda. The cottage does not have any electricity, it has solar powered lights, a fire boiler for hot water and a gas fridge and stove with an oven. The one bedroom has an on-suite shower with one door leading into the living room and the second bedroom is separated from the second bathroom with two doors, one leading to the patio.


Cob House Cottage - Veranda

Cob House Cottage - Living Room
Cob House Cottage - Main Bedroom and En-suite Bathroom
The living room has a large L-shaped couch perfectly positioned around a cosy fire place. Between the living room and the kitchen there is a dining room table looking out over the veranda. The kitchen is fully equipped with all the necessary utensils and as previously mentioned a gas stove/oven and fridge. In front of the veranda there is a fire pit and braai facility, which is the perfect place to sit and relax after a day’s fishing.


Cob House Cottage - Second Bedroom
Cob House Cottage - Fire Pit
Personally, what makes a venue special for me in terms of accommodation are the smaller details! When you break away for a weekend you want to be comfortable especially if you taking your partner with you. Zwakala passed this test with flying colours, from the fire place being lit on arrival (which was perfect with the cold, misty weather), to the most comfortable bed with feather down duvets and cloudy soft pillows. I also loved the fact that the cottage does not have any electricity which allows you to really just break away from all modern day distractions.

Fishing

The section of the Broederstroom River that runs through Zwakala offers some fantastic fishing! The river is only a few meters from the cottage, which allows a very relaxed fishing experience. To fish the river effectively you need at least three days to cover all the sections. The river has various features from a slow flowing section through a forest, various slow riffles, some faster flowing pocket water, pools with waterfalls and some deep slow flowing sections with a lot of structure.


Perfect dry fly water - Slow flowing section of the Broederstroom River
Forest section of the Broederstroom River
One of many waterfall pools
Perfect pocket water in the Broederstroom River
I suggest that river should be fished very slowly and patiently, you will often just have one chance on a big fish during your stay and you don’t want to mess it up. In some of the overgrown sections you will often find a pair of fish slowly sipping insects of the surface, you need to observe them for a while, plan your attack and only then present a fly to them. If you don’t fish this river slowly you will often walk past some of the bigger fish or just end up spooking them, often they will just be holding on the bottom and you will only spot them by seeing an occasional flash as they take a food items.


Brown Trout caught on a Bullethead Hopper
Bullet Head Hopper with CDC underwing
Ideally you should be fishing a 3 weight rod (or lighter) with a maximum length of 9ft, shorter rods will definitely help in the overgrown sections. I recommend you fish a 9ft 3x tapered leader (if you can handle longer you can use a 12ft) that you step down to 6x tippet (or even 7x in some of the shallower sections).


Largest Rainbow Trout of the trip 
I enjoyed fishing dry fly and I mostly fished a dry and dropper rig and switched to a single dry fly if I spotted fish. I caught most of my fish on small Puterbaugh Caddis and Bullethead hoppers. I used black jig mayfly patterns for the dropper and occasionally fished a NZ rig in the deeper sections, this delivered the largest fish of the trip. In some of the pools I switched to a single black or olive jig streamer which proved to be very effective. I fished the streamers upstream the same way you would fish a nymph and just kept contact with the fly.

Summary

Zwakala River Retreat offers the perfect balance between living comfort and fly-fishing quality! This is definitely one of the best fly-fishing venues you can visit that your wife/girlfriend will also enjoy!

The Video


Zwakala River Retreat from flyloops.net on Vimeo.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

The Angler and Antelope Guesthouse Review


Introduction

This was a trip and review way overdue; I had been threatening to visit Alan Hobson in Somerset East for quite a while.  During last year’s Getaway Show at the Coca Cola dome I finally met Alan at their exhibition stand and we decided there and then to arrange a date for a review. We decided to do the review during December last year and I couldn't wait to explore the hidden fishing potential of Somerset East.

The town is situated approximately 150 km north of Port Elizabeth and 100 km north of the well know Addo Elephant Park. For the newcomer fly-fishermen out there Alan and his wife Annabelle owns a 4-star guesthouse in the town and provides access to various fly-fishing venues in the area. These venues provide fishing in both rivers and dams with various fish species such as Largemouth Bass, Bluegill Sunfish, Carp, Sharptooth Catfish, Smallmouth Yellowfish, Moggel, Mullet, Blue Kurper and trophy Rainbow Trout. Alan recently caught a Rainbow Trout of over 6kg in the Little Fish River which just proves what quality fish this area can produce with its good quality water and healthy ecosystems.


Alan guiding me on the Little Fish River during high flows





Alan is a highly skilled fly-fisherman, a REFFIS registered fly fishing guide and he is also registered as a field guide with THETA. I can highly recommend his services for both novice and experienced anglers, as he has a great knowledge of fly-fishing in general and a lifelong knowledge of the fishing on offer in and around Somerset East, including the well known Thrift Dam.

Accommodation

The Angler and Antelope Guesthouse is 4 star rated and consist of 3 buildings, the main guesthouse, a self service cottage and an old historical church building converted into a bar, restaurant and a fly-fishing shop. The church building is the ideal place to tie some flies on a rainy day or enjoy a drink while swapping elaborate fishing stories.

The guesthouse is centrally situated in the town of Somerset East and is the ideal base for fly-fisherman looking to explore the fishing on offer in the area.  The rooms have various comfort features such as heated flooring, air-conditioning and free WiFi. For more information about the rooms please visit the website at www.anglerandantelope.co.za
The restaurant in the old church building offers guest breakfast and dinners, the ideal arrangement for fisherman that would like to spend the whole day on the water. They have a delicious menu that uses ingredients from local suppliers such as Karoo lamb and beef.

The Angler and Antelope Guesthouse
Somerset East is surrounded by various parks such as the Addo Elephant Park, Camdeboo National Park and Mountain Zebra National Park. What really surprised me about the area is the wide variety of vegetation that rapidly changes from open grassland, Karoo shrubs to forests in the mountainous areas. This makes fly-fishing so much more exciting in this area and just driving to your next fishing spot can provide you with a mini game drive.

Fishing

The fishing around Somerset East can only be described as fantastic and adventure filled! We spent 4 days in the area and barely scratched the surface of the fishing potential. Unfortunately during December fly-fishing can be temperamental in South Africa due to thunderstorms and the rivers where un-fishable in the area.

This was however not a problem, there was endless other fishing options to be explored. On the first afternoon we fished at the nearby Glen Avon Farm that offers both Rainbow Trout and Largemouth Bass fishing. The specific day was fairly hot and we experienced a significant thunderstorm earlier the day that seemed to put the trout of the bite. The bass on the other hand was feeding aggressively and I got smashed on almost every cast with a green deer hair popper.

Glen Avon Farm Dams - Managed by Bankberg Troutfishers Club
Vlei Dam - Glen Avon Farm Dams
Mill Dam - Glen Avon Farm Dams
Mill Dam - Glen Avon Farm Dams
Bass Dam - Glen Avon Farm Dams


On our second day we took a drive up to Mountain Dam with Alan Hobson. The dam is situated on the mountain that overlooks Somerset East. It is a beautiful looking dam surrounded by indigenous shrubs and has various features from deep rocky drop offs to shallow weed beds. It was not long after we started fishing that Alan was into an average size trout, the dam has an average of 750 g to 1.5 kg Rainbow Trout at the moment. The fish in this dam has a great growth rate due to good water quality and food sources, and should have some trophy fish in a year or two.


Getting ready with Alan Hobson to fish Mountain Dam
Mountain Dam, Somerset East

Alan had some good success during the day fishing small nymphs with a quick retrieve just below the surface and with his great local knowledge easily out fished me. I caught my first Karoo Rainbow Trout on a weedbed with a large size 4 dragonfly pattern.  Later the day I managed another fish on the same fly on the opposite bank fished slowly of the rocky cliff. Soon afterwards we called it a day when it got fairly misty and cold.

On the third day we took a break from serious fishing and Alan drive us around to explore some of the local rivers. As previously mentioned the rivers had high flows and was unfishable. It was still worth seeing this area as Alan caught a 6kg+ Rainbow Trout in one of the pools a month before. I will definitely be back to explore this river in the future.



On our final day we explored a dam that has various species such as Largemouth Bass, Blue Kurper, Sharptooth Catfish, Carp, Mullet, Moggel and Smallmouth Yellowfish. The amount of fish in this dam blew me away and at various stages during the day I found myself surrounded by schools of Carp and Sharptooth Catfish. It was difficult to decide what to target and after an hour chasing carp to no avail, I decided to target catfish on a 9 weight setup. I fished a double fly rig, a BBB and Carp tugger combination. I caught around 5 catfish between 3 to 10kg and all of them took the carp tugger on the calling method.



Fly-fishing for Sharptooth Catfish in the Karoo
My first decent catfish in the Karoo
We booked two nights at Thrift dam over new years after our visit in Somerset East. Before we left The Angler and Antelope, Alan gave me detailed advice on techniques and flies to use at this iconic South African dam. Alan knows this dam like the back of his hand and it is well worth arranging a guided trip with him or to one of the other trophy dams in the area. During my stay at Thrift dam I caught my personal best Rainbow Trout, a specimen of 27 inches! I caught the fish from a float tube of a weedbed with one of Alan’s flies, a Hobson’s Original Tadpole (HOT fly).


Cottage at Thrfit Dam
Rainbow over Thrift Dam
A storm brewing over Thrift Dam

Moments before my first fish on Thrift Dam

Last fish from Thrift dam
Conclusion

The Angler and Antelope Guesthouse offer a unique fly-fishing experience with endless options. The fishing ranges from trophy trout fishing in both rivers and dams, Yellowfish and Moggel in rivers and a variety of others species in dams. Alan also offers a fly-fishing guided service that I can highly recommend, he has a great knowledge of fly-fishing in general and also the fishing in the area. The guesthouse offers a very relaxing and comfortable stay and is the perfect base for fly-fisherman that would like to explore the fantastic fishing on offer in the area.

The Video


The Angler and Antelope Guesthouse Review from flyloops.net on Vimeo.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Vision Loikka - Out of box first impressions

I just bought a new pair of wading boots and decided on the Vision Loikka boots with the Gummi and Stud sole option. They also are available in felt soles and the Gummi sole without the studs. I chose the Gummi and Stud configuration, because I will need the boots for various situations. I think the studs might help the longevity of the the Gummi sole, however this theory will need to be tested.

I plan to review these boots over the next two year and keep you updated on the wear and tare of the boot. I will also report on the performance of the sole on different surfaces and in different situations.

As a first impression the features I noticed about the boots are:

  • They are light weight;
  • Limited stitching;
  • It has a rubber layer that protects the front part of the boot;
  • The sole is raised in the front to cover half of the toe point; 
  • There is neoprene webbing at the shoe laces that will hopefully keep out any gravel; and
  • The tungsten stud protrude slight further than the Gummi sole.
Over the next year I will be testing the boots at several venues and I will give short report back on the performance of the soles and how they grip on different surface. My first trip will be in Lesotho where will be hiking short distances with the boot and also do some wet wading crossing the river. I will also be wading with the boot if I have to nymph or fish dries in pocket water.

My aim is to test the boots under the following criteria and rate them from 0-5:
  • Comfort;
  • Feet protection (ankle support and toe protection);
  • Sole grip (I will break this down into different surfaces);
  • Sole durability;
  • Exterior material durability;
  • Lacing System durability;
  • Interior material durability;
  • Weight;
  • Price (Value for money);
  • Longevity;
I will give you feedback on the above mentioned categories every sixth months for the next two year. Please feel free to ask any questions and also suggest any additional criteria.


Vision Loikka - Gummi and Stud
Side View - Notice the Rubber Layer

Gummi Sole over the the tip

Close-up of the Gummi and Stud sole

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Blast from the past Czech Nymph Leader Setup Video

I stumbled across this video we made around a year a ago for our website www.flyloops.net. It features Craig Stockden flyloops co-owner and developer and myself (Pieter Snyders) website content editor. It gives you a brief breakdown down a Czech nymph leader setup!


Tuesday, 17 December 2013

My First trip as a host – Three Rivers Lesotho


After a year of planning and making arrangements with clients that booked their spots through www.flyloops.net, it was at last time to make my way to the Three Rivers Lesotho Camp. This is a new and exciting location Tourette Fishing has opened for guided trips. The focus of these trips is targeting Smallmouth Yellowfish on dry fly with some big Rainbow Trout also coming out from time to time. I decided to take of an extra day and stay over in Fouriesburg where I would meet the clients before crossing the border. This would be my first trip acting as a host and also my first time fishing Lesotho. Understandably I was quite excited and nervous at the same and I was really hoping that everything would go down according to plan.

Day 1 – 13 December


I woke up early on that Friday morning and checked my phone for the time, I was met with a message of bad news. Two of our clients, a couple of friends, would most likely not be able to make the trip due to personal family matters. The show had to go on though and the remaining clients would be arriving soon. When both clients arrived we decided to take only one vehicle and quickly transfered all the luggage. We soon crossed the Caledon River and arrived at the border, after a few minutes of paper work we soon entered the Mountain Kingdom.

The first hour of the trip the landscape was characterised by valleys and farms, this however quickly turned into a beautiful mountainous landscape with various small rivers and streams. We soon reached the top of the pass and every corner of the road had a new surprise, a broken down Land Rover, a donkey car and a land slide (luckily we were able to get pass these massive rocks). 

One of the massive rocks that almost blocked the road - Photo by Christo Els
One of the valleys we drove past
After another hour or two we started seeing some glimpses of the Katse Dam. Around the dam there are a few villages and we saw our first signs of fish, a few small Rainbow Trout netted by some of the locals.

We would meet our guides from Tourette Fishing at the Katse Hotel… I must admit with this being my first trip to Lesotho I had no idea where it was. On the GPS we could only find a location called the Katse Lodge and we hoped that this would lead us to the Katse Hotel. After a while we reached the bridge below the Katse Dam wall… this stretch of river really got us itching to get to our final destination.  A few kilometers further we arrived at the Katse Lodge aka the Katse Hotel, quite confusing but the hotel staff soon confirmed that they are also known as the Katse Hotel.

View from the Katse Dam Lodge
Having arrived with time to spare we decided to order some Maluti Lagers and relax until the guides to arrive. Luckily our guides, Mark Murray and Yuri Janzen, also decided to arrive early! I decided it would be a good opportunity to check up on our other clients; however they confirmed that they will definitely not be joining us. After finalising that matter we made our way to the camp!

We soon arrived on a stretch of gravel road with a bay of the Katse Dam to our right. It reminded me of scenes at Sterkfontein Dam, with clear blue water and from time to time you could clearly spot some fish rising. The bay started getting narrower and soon we could see sections of the river that we would fish the next few days. The Three Rivers camp is placed in a perfect setting, a flat bank between two big pools. The pool below the camp is just perfect… with a set of riffles flowing into it with a small forest of poplar trees on the right hand bank and willow treed on the left. The pool is fairly deep and ends with a set of rapids below it. It is fairly deep and it seems that the Smallmouth Yellowfish use this as a resting pool before heading upstream to spawn.

Tourette Fishing Three Rivers Lesotho Camp

After unpacking the guides gave us a quick tour of the camp, the camp is very basic however very functional and comfortable. With a small hut as a kitchen, three canvas tents (each with two stretcher beds with mattresses and a small cupboard), a paraffin shower (nicknamed the jet). After orientation we got our rods ready and decided on a game plan, I would fish the section of the river below the camp and the guides would take the clients above the camp.

I took the trail through the poplar forest and I got really excited with the sight of schools of Yellowfish in the pool. I decided that I would walk a few hundred meters downstream and work my way back to the camp and finish of at the home pool. Soon I met a local herd boy fishing from the bank with a hand line and I tried my best to communicate with a little bit of Sotho and hand gestures. He seemed to be fascinated by my rod and reel and the whole outfit (I am sure most fly fisherman would agree we look quite ridiculous most of the time with all our gear and gadgets). The thing that caught his eye the most was my bait (a stimulator with rubber legs) and he laughed when I explained it was suppose to be a grasshopper. He decided to follow me around and for my first few hours of exploring I had a fishing companion.

The riffles below the camp pool was fairly void of big fish and I only managed a very small Rainbow Trout, I must admit there was millions of them and it does seem like smaller fish stay there to grow to bigger sizes and then move to the upper sections of the river or back into the Katse dam. I eventually worked my way to the home pool and crossed the tail section to fish it from the opposite bank. When I passed the pool earlier I noticed a lot of fish in the head of the pool and decided to fish that section. I had a size 12 Stimulator on and this did not seem to attract any attention. I decided to size down to a size 16 Ed’s hopper and with the first cast it got smacked… I missed this opportunity and placed the fly down again. The fly drifted for a moments and I could see a fish rising for it, this time it was a confident take and the fight was on. I was amazed by the fight this fish put up, it was not a massive fish but still respectable. After a very spirited fish I had the fish in the palm of my hand (I forgot my net at home… enough said…), the golden color of these fish where just spectacular and they fish where in great condition. I managed another couple of fish out of this section in similar fashion and then decided to head back and fish the riffles at the tail of the pool. I noticed a school of males and changed to a dry dropper NZ-rig.  On the first drift, fish starting rising to my dry, however none of them took it. The next moment a fish hit my nymph incredibly and shot of into the pool. It gave an incredible fight considering that it was a small male and I was quite shocked that he could pull that hard. That concluded my days fishing and I head back to the camp.

Camp pool

Top view of the camp pool

Around the camp fire we exchanged our day’s events and both clients where happy with their afternoon’s efforts with both getting fish on the scorecard. At that point I really felt relieved and relaxed, sitting in the middle of nowhere with a beer in hand, with the calming noise of the river a few meters away, a sky full of stars and our guide “chef” Yuri Jansen preparing a great meal over the fire.

Day 2 - 14 December

On our first morning I woke up fairly early and upon leaving my tent I was greeted by Yuri, who offered me a cup of coffee. After finishing my cup of coffee I decided to give the early morning rise a go, this proved to be fruitless as the fish where rising to very small mayfly at quite a distances and it was nearly impossible not spooking the large school of fish. I decided to head back for breakfast and prepare for the long day ahead…

One of the clients netting a fish in the Camp Pool

On this day we would drive a few kilometers upstream and fish a completely different stretch as the previous day. We drove in an old Toyota Land Cruiser that is kitted out with extra benches and a cooler box fridge. It was quite a scary piece of road for me as I have a mild case of vertigo and it had some high drops on the one side. Luckily it is a very short drive and we soon arrived to our parking spot. The arrangement was the same as the previous day, I would fish the bottom section and the guides would head upstream with the clients. I set off downstream and decided to cross the stream and see how far I could get before starting to fish back upstream towards the parking spot. This specific stretch of river had a long straight section with various large pools and faster water with a large bend that created a deep slower flowing section.

Amazing water clarity - Photo by Christo Els

I started fishing in a pool a few hundred meters before the bend in the river. I could see fish feeding on the bottom of the pool; however it was too difficult to get the flies down to them. The shallow fast flowing pocket water above the pool looked like a better prospect and soon I caught some of the smaller male yellowfish. I soon attracted a small crowd of spectators, a bunch of young local kids, watching me pull out fish after fish. They looked very curious yet very cautious of this funny looking man with a big beard and strange outfit. I found the fishing too easy in this section of the river and I decided to move up to the pool on the bend of the river.
 
There were various rises in the tail of the pool, although they looked like small Rainbow Trout. This assumption was soon confirmed with a small little Rainbow taking my fly. Closer to the head of the pool I had a fish come up to my fly, that I could have sworn looked like a Brown Trout, it however go rid of the hook very quickly. While changing flies I spotted a massive Rainbow Trout cruising a meter from me, he must have seen me as he just slowly disappeared into the depth. I made a few drifts in the general area, however I had no reaction. A few casts later I had a golden flash under my fly, I immediately made another cast towards the same spot and got smashed by a decent sized Yellowfish. This was the biggest of the day thus far and the fat female soon gave up the fight and settled the palm of my hand. I thought it would be a good idea to change tactic and drift a streamer through the pool. This proved to be a great decision and I got smashed by a big rainbow, unfortunately after about a 2 min fight the fish jumped out the water and the hook flew out of its mouth.

The sections above this pool had a few deeper pockets to the left and they just screamed trout. With the river having quite a high temperature in these lower sections it seems that the trout prefer deeper pockets and pools with a lot of oxygenated water entering them. I soon landed a small Rainbow Trout above the pool on a dry fly, I then switched to a nymph setup and landed a decent fish in a deeper pocket. For the next half an hour or so I fished another section of shallow fast water and again landed  quite a few of the smaller male yellowfish. After this productive stint I decided to head back to the Land Cruiser and have some lunch. I was quite exhausted when I got to the parking spot and decided that I would take a rest, I think the high altitude was getting to me…


Another Beautiful fishing coming to the net - Photo by Christo Els
After my rest I made my way back to the river and I spotted one of the guides, Mark Murray with one of the clients. I met up with them briefly and enquired how their day had gone and at what time we would head back to the camp. There was about a half an hour of fishing left and I decided to fish a nice slow flowing section below the parking spot. I made a perfect cast into the head of the run with a green deer hair bullet head grasshopper pattern. A large pair of lips appeared and slowlysipped the fly of the surface, I set the hook and all hell broke loose. The fish ran the leader over a large boulder and head straight for the faster flowing main stream. I quickly ran after the fish and tried to stop it from heading downstream. After a few nervous moments I managed to get the fish close to me and slip my hand under her belly. This was my biggest fish of the trip thus far and I was happy to end days fishing. We all met up back at the Land Cruiser and made our way back to the camp.


One of the clients catches of the day - Photo by Francois Roux
After arriving at the camp I decided it was time to test out “the jet”. An interesting geezer that works with paraffin and sounds like a yet engine you start it up. Having a hot shower in a remote place I always a great experience especially spending a whole day in a cold river. With the shower having no roof it is an even better experience, with the Milky Way as a view. 


The outdoor shower aka the "Jet" - Photo by Francois Roux

That evening we were treated to a plate of curry and some interesting fishing stories from our guides ranging from Salmon fishing in Russia to raging hippos chasing boats in Tanzania while catching trophy Tigerfish.

Day 3 - 15 December

On our third day we head back to the same parking and would be our last full day to explore the river as far possible upstream. I would fish the same stretch the guides and the clients covered the first day and they would hike further upstream on a narrow mountain footpath.

The weather was not playing along this day with a strong wind howling down the valley that made casting very interesting. I decided to fish with two rods on this and rigged my 10ft 3 weight with small black nymphs and my 5 weight with a dry fly. I started off by fishing nymphs across and down to simplify casting and also not to spook the big schools of Yellowfish migrating up the river. This proved to be highly effective and I soon landed a fish in the first pool. I moved up to the next pool and on my first cast hooked into another good fish.

It was not long before I attracted some attention from the local herd boys and I soon had my own “guide” that showed me some of the good fishing spots. I found the fishing fairly challenging on this day as there where higher densities of fish moving up the river. It was especially challenging to catch fish on dry fly this day, making a well presented cast in the strong wind without spooking large schools of fish seemed nearly impossible. On this type of river you can really understand the value of a guide and/or fishing buddy.  From higher positions it is easy to spot fish, however when you get close to the river bank where you are hidden from the fish it becomes fairly difficult to spot fish and determine which are the best ones to present your fly to.

This section of river was truly beautiful with a lot of variety, it would change from fast riffles to long deep with the most amazing shaded of blue. During lunch I stopped at a long pool to eat a sandwich and observe the fish swimming through the pool. In that moment I realised what a special place this is and I couldn’t believe I was sitting there, watching these large schools of fish, in such a relaxed state that I could probably have taken a nap and not be bothered to fish further on that day.


My lunch Pool
After lunch I decided to try my luck with a dry fly on this pool. I slowly moved into position behind a bush close to the water’s edge and made a gentle cast in front a smaller group of fish close to the opposite bank. One fish slowly rose to my fly, it slowly sucked it in, I slowly set the hook and then I completely missed it for some reason. The whole school spooked and I missed my chance for that section of the pool. I decided to move to the head of the pool and drift a nymph towards some tailing fish in the faster moving water. After a few drifts I hooked into one of the energetic males and he gave me a spirited fight.

It was getting rather late and I decided I would finish of my day at a big pool I found about a hundred meters or so above the long pool. I could see some big Yellowfish rising in this pool and decided to have a go at them. This proved to be a rather frustrating exercise as I would make a perfect cast and then the wind would push the leader over fish and spook them. I decided to give the pool a rest and Czech nymph a very fast and deep section of the river above this pool. It was not long before I picked up a small Rainbow Trout and after releasing the fish I decided to dead drift a streamer into the pool. I carefully watched the streamer drifting past a huge bolder and saw a shape moving towards it. The fish suddenly darted towards the fly and grabbed on to it, however I could managed to set the hook properly and he was gone in a second. 


Time to head back to camp, the last pool I fish on that day - Photo by Christo Els

I made a few casts after that with no results and I soon spotted the guides out the corner of my eye. We made our way back to the car and I was glad to hear that the clients also had a good day picking up some good fish on the narrower upper reaches of the river.

That evening there were some more camp fire stories to be told and certain parties of the group felt celebrations was in order with it being a successful trip. It ended up being quite an early night with the long days fishing, good food and some very good whiskey resulting in some very tired and relaxed fisherman!

Day 4 - 16 December

As usual the day of departure was perfect! We decided to fish close to the camp for a few hours and stop art around 9:30 when brunch would be served. This proved to be a good decision as the fish seemed to be fairly active this morning. I decided to fish only with my 3 weight this morning and 5x tippet to get a perfect presentation. My plan of attack was to change flies until I found something that fish would eat with confidence. I soon tied a size 16 brown CDC and Foam beetle on and on my first cast with this fly it got hit aggressively! The first fish missed the fly and I immediately put it down in the same area. Another fish spotted the fly and also attacked it with speed, this time I firmly set the hook and the fight was on! The same trend followed the rest of this short session and I managed 5 fish in an hour, missing several more a perfect ending to one of the best trips I have done.

After arriving back at the camp we quickly packed our bags had a good brunch and then made our journey back to Ficksburg.  During our drive back we swapped stories of the fish we caught, lost opportunities, funny encounter and I think we all had mixed emotions leaving this little piece of fly fishing heaven.

The Video


Three Rivers - Lesotho Yellowfish Trip 13 to 16 December 2013 from flyloops.net on Vimeo.

Trip Details

If you would like more information regarding this destination contact me at pieter@flyloops.net