Monday, 23 April 2012

Amatola Mountain Lodge

Friday, 6 April 2012

On Easter weekend my girlfriend and I headed down to the Eastern Cape to review Amatola Mountain Lodge for www.flyloops.net. Please keep a look-out for the review that will appear on the website soon, for more information on the venue visit www.amatolaflyfishing.co.za. We left Johannesburg at the ungodly hour of one in the morning and started the 1000km drive down to Amatola that is situated close to Hogsback in the Eastern Cape. The route to Amatola is quite an easy drive from Joburg, first heading towards Bloemfontein on the N1 then getting on the N7 that heads to East London. We passed through several towns that included Aliwal-North, Queenstown, Catchcart etc. Eventually you turn off the N7 at Stutterheim and you start a 40km drive on a gravel road to Amatola. On the gravel road we passed Gubu dam that is set between plantation and looks like a very good option for a future trip.


Gubu Dam
After getting confused with a few turn-offs we eventually figured out how to get to the lodge. The last section of road is tarred and we followed it up the hill and found our temporary home for the next few days. The lodge is set high on a hill and has a very scenic view with the Cata Stream and dam in the valley below, surrounded by mountains with indigenous forests!

Amatola Mountain Lodge

Our Chalet
A Close-up of our chalet
After arrival we quickly unpacked and headed down to the river to have a quick look around before the sunset, we had no success but we where full of enthusiasm for the next few days! 

My girlfriend fishing in the lower reaches of the Cata Stream

Another section of the lower reaches of the Cata Stream
The evening we had a relaxing braai in the braai area in front of our chalet and discussed that we would fished the dam the next day and the river on the last.

Braai Area

Braai Area View

Saturday, 7 April 2012

On the Saturday we woke up to quite dismal fishing weather, with gale force winds and a chill in the air. We were met by the local guides and we headed of to the Mnyameni dam that is about a 15 minute drive away from the lodge. At our arrival I was again surprised by the scenic setting of the dam high up in the catchment of the Mnyameni River. It is truly one of the most beautiful dams I have fished in I a while! We fished the dam until about 2 pm with no luck and decided to call it a day, the weather was deteriorating and the wind was getting stronger which was making casting nearly impossible.
Mnyameni Dam!

Another view of the dam!


Casting myself to death, at least the view was pretty!
Our patient guide at the inlet of the dam

Sunday, 8 April 2012

On the Sunday morning our two guides joined us again and we headed down to a little bridge where we would leave our car for the day. We fished the lower reaches of the river for about an hour with little luck. I only noticed one fish interested in a size 18 Zak nymph that I drifted passed some reeds, but I was to late on the strike. We headed into the forest and after about another hour of fishing I was starting to get a bit discouraged. 


Upper reaches of the Cata Stream

Bow-and-arrow casting territory!


Bow-and-arrow cast!


As these negatives thoughts where passing through my mind, I made a bow-and-arrow cast in a pool above me with a Puterbaugh caddis and a Zak nymph dropper. As the flies drifted towards me I saw a white mouth appearing from the depths that in an instant swallowed my fly! The ice was broken and I was thrilled with my first little Brown Trout safely in my landing net.


The fish that made my trip!

The Close-up!
I decided to take the dropper of and fish with the caddis pattern the rest of the day. This proved to be a good decision as I quickly caught another fish soon after that was hiding under a branch of a tree hanging in the stream. This was the trend of the day with fish sticking close to structure in deeper pools, attacking the Puterbaugh Caddis with speed as the fly drifted past their lies.

More fishy photos:







At around 3 pm we decided to call it a day and hike up to the waterfalls and to the hiking trail up on the plateau. This was quite a good break to the tiring and challenging fishing conditions in the dense growth of the indigenous forest. On our hike we spotted some weird looking frogs, insects and on our way up to the plateau we were even surprised by quite a large Bushbuck ram. By sunset we eventually got back to the car, both quite spent from a long days fishing and more walking than I have done the whole year combined.
Our guides from Cata village


One of many waterfalls!

A scenic view of the Cata forest 
The plateau overlooking Cata village and dam

Monday, 9 April 2012

The Monday morning I was quite sad to leave this place, the friendly people, the scenic nature scenes and the intimate little Cata Stream with its beautifully colored little Brown Trout had made quite an impression on me. This is one of those places where I felt at one with nature and truly felt closer to my Creator, hopefully I will visit this magical little forest soon…

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