Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Dry fly fun at Vaal Streams


The last two weekends I have spent some time at Vaal Streams below the Vaal Dam. Although it is a challenging fly-fishing spot on the Vaal River for Largemouth Yellowfish (Labeobarbus kimberleyensis) and Smallmouth Yellowfish (Labeobarbus aeneus), it is a good option when flow-rates are to fast at venues further down in the river.


First Weekend

On the first weekend, 29 January 2012, I offered to a new friend that I would go fly-fishing with hi to show him the ropes. I don't consider myself an expert in any means, but I am a bit of a Jack of all trades always exploring different techniques and flies. My girlfriend also decided to join us, this being her second outing on the Vaal, the first time being a fruitless prospect. On the Sunday morning we arrived at around 7am, the conditions where not ideal, being quite cold and cloudy. I showed the beginner the basic Czech nymphing rig set-up and also set my girlfriend up with a NZ-rig.

We started fishing and after a few seconds I hooked and lost a fish, probably a foul hooked muddy. After that first miss the fishing was slow with no bites for about 3 hours. I decided to change tactics and changed to a zonker type Largemouth fly. On my first cast down stream in a slow flowing rapid I retrieved the fly slowly up stream and it got smashed by a little Smallmouth with an attitude.


Little fish big appetite!

A few minutes after this little bugger my girlfriend gave a yelp to me and she was fighting her first Smallmouth Yellowfish. A few cast later as I was walking away to start fishing again she got another one, this time being a bit bigger 


First Smallmouth


The Upgrade!
My girlfriend decided to take a break after this fish to get out the cold and take a nap in the shade. I was feeling quite bad for the beginner, having caught nothing yet not even a nibble. I noticed some fish rising in the in the slower, deeper flowing sections below the rapids and decided to investigate. I waded across to a rocky ledge and tied on a black beetle pattern. On my first cast the beetle made a plop on the water and in disbelief I saw a pair of lips sucking in the fly, I paused a few seconds then slowly lifted into the fish, it bolted out the water and the fight was on. After a minute or two fight I landed it my first yellow on fly!

First Yellow on Dry Fly
Quick snap before release
The next hour or two I managed another two fish one on a Black Foam Beetle and the last one on a Brown Foam Hopper. 

Black Beetle strikes again!
Foam Hopper victim!
I was quite amazed with the eyesight of these fish, seeing these flies in water with about 10cm visibility. This day really introduced me to dry fly fishing for yellows and will be exploring this technique more in the future. Although the beginner didn't catch anything he enjoyed the day and he said he can't wait for the next outing, hopefully getting his first slab of gold!


Second Weekend


On the second weekend I took another beginner for his first outing. We decided to fish from the Saturday afternoon until the Sunday, camping next to the river. I quickly showed the beginner a few basic and we went of the river to a little side channel where my girlfriend caught her two fish the previous weekend. As we approached the channel I spotted a fish next to the bank and told him to make a drift past the fish with his NZ - rig. After about the fourth cast his indicator disappeared and the fight was on, it was quite small, but no bad for a first fish on fly.


I then told him that I am going to leave him to fend for himself and started walking to my dry fly spot from the previous weekend. It was not long before I heard him screaming a "whoo-ooh" with another fish on the line, the excitement was short lived with the hook pulling after a few seconds. About a half an hour later he hooked a decent fish that he fought for a few minutes but unfortunately the fish wrapped around his wading stick and snapped the line.


The action was a bit slow at my spot, but I eventually managed to hook a nice little feisty fish on a Brown Foam Hopper.


Brown Foam Hopper

The First Fishy!
After this fish I started wading upriver looking for fish in the shallows to target on the Brown Foam Hopper, I struggled to hook fish, missing about strikes. The fish where hanging behind rock piles covered in a green vegetation. Just before sunset I spotted three fish behind a small little island feeding on insects in the vegetation. I made a perfect cast with the hopper landing with I nice plopping sound and the closest fish didn't hesitate to grab it, what an ending to a day!

The Foam Hopper gone!

Perfect way to end a day!
The beginner decided to take the day easy, having hurt his foot the previous day. He was satisfied with his one fish for the weekend and the few ones he missed.

My day was very uneventful with no success for hours. I spotted a few fish and tried to catch them on Hopper and Beetle patterns to no avail. Eventually I reverted back to the old trusted NZ - rig with an Olive Caddis imitation and a brown and green orange hot head mayfly nymph. After about a half an hour I made a drift pass some reeds and suddenly my line shot upstream at an alarming speed. The fish ran about 20 meters in 3 seconds before I managed to stop it and begin the fight. After a few nervous moments I got him safely in my net. I decided that was the day for me and I took the fish to the bank to take some decent photos and revive it, what an ending to a very tough day!

Happiness!

Another angle!

Measurement!

The Release!




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