Apr 29

Makhangoa Community Camp; 19 – 23 April 2016

The most memorable fishing stories are often the ones where we have frightening encounters with Mother Nature and this story is just one of those. Well, it was one of those trips for Chris. He came up to Lesotho with his mates, Rob, Andrew, Gert, Peter and Jan in search of adventure, and he sure found it.

It was a pretty peaceful trip the fishing was good, not exceptionally good due to the warm waters and lack of rain, but good enough to satisfy these old friends. They had fished all over the world and caught beautiful fish in many beautiful places. For them this trip was more about the camaraderie and having a good time in the great outdoors than catching heaps of trophy fish. To be honest, I think all fishing trips should be like that (especially at the tail end of the worst drought in living memory in the Lesotho highlands – but not sure I will feel the same when the fishing is back to normal next season;). Anyway, they were all happy to fish the estuary and take things easy, but I was keen to take a horse upriver in search of some resident fish in the upper beats of the Bokong. Chris was also keen to make the journey to the top, so I arranged the horses and the following day we were heading up.

IMG_3836 CopyAfrican-time is a concept that most Africans are familiar with, for those who don’t know it, it simply means that everything in Africa happens at a pace that is more suited to the tortoise and not the hare. Up here in Lesotho however there is a phenomenon that I like to call Basotho-time. Basotho-time means that everything happens even slower than in the rest of Africa, and that’s pretty damn slow. Life up in these hills happens slowly and rushing it would be a futile attempt and possible just upset the balance of life, so it’s best to just go with it as long as patience allows. The day started with one such delay,  instead of  the horses arriving at 06:00, they arrived at 09:00. This cut down on our fishing time, but we were undeterred and at 09:30 we were off. You are probably wondering why I’m putting so much emphasis on this whole Basotho-time thing. Well, it’s probably because Basotho-time saved Chris’s life, but we will get to that.

Our aim was to ride up to the village of Matoele and if we saw any proper fish on the way up we would stop and have a cast. In most places you have a good view of the river from the donkey path the only problem is that you are about 50 meters above the water and being on the back of a horse complicates things slightly. It still is pretty effective though. Peter was on his mountain bike and he would tell you it is much harder to spot fish from a bike without falling down a cliff so he left us at beat 3 and fished from there up. Chris and I were not seeing much, in fact we didn’t see any fish at all until we arrived at Matśoele. There is a massive pool below the village, as clear as glass and blue as the sky on a summer’s day. It has a gravel bottom peppered with rusty red and amber stones that drops off onto dark basalt bedrock. The edges are laced with yellowing willows and in the distance there is smoke rolling out of the stone huts on the hillside. It was the perfect setting and just to sweeten the deal there were three trout cruising up and down the pool.

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Chris went down onto the sandbar while I scouted from the cliff-side. A slight wind picked up and it was making it hard to see these fish. While Chris was making casts out to where we last saw one of the fish the chief of the village, Morena Makalo, and his family came down to see what we were up to. Lesotho custom requires that you ask the chief permission to fish on his land. I was explaining to them, in very poor Sesotho in might add, that we came from Makhangoa and meant no harm. After a long conversation they were very happy to let us fish. In fact, the chief and his son, helped us to spot the fish and pointed it out. Chris couldn’t see it from his side so he made a blind cast into the general direction, one strip, two strips and the fish was on! Screams of excitement echoed down the valley as the chief and his son ran down the hill to see this fish. It was the smallest of the three, but a lovely fish of 22inches and about three pounds. It was a truly magical experience for Chris and the chief who happily posed for a couple of photos after which we released the fish.

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It was getting late and we had a 12km ride back to camp so we packed up a headed home. I was getting anxious to get back to camp before dark, and to my great frustration my horse was also on Basotho-time. It was a lazy beast and no matter what I did it seemed to stay in first gear, but this was not a bad thing. The donkey path can be a little daunting in places and one must always be careful when hiking or riding on it. We came to a waterfall where a small feeder stream runs into the Bokong and below the fall is a steep bedrock crossing that drops another ten meters towards the river. As we were crossing it I thought to myself that it was a terrible place to slip. Before you could say ‘be careful, it slippery’, Chris’ horse lost its footing and slid down the slope. My heart stopped for a second as my client and his horse slid down towards the edge of a long drop-off. In spectacular fashion Chris kicked out of the saddle without even breaking his rod. In even more spectacular fashion the horse also found its footing again. Against all odds both man and horse managed to get back on their feet, and avoided disaster. If we hadn’t been moving at Basotho speed, it might have been a different story. So I guess the moral is this; when in Lesotho, do as the Basotho’s do, it might just save your life.

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The next day Chris re-joined the group and kept to the safety of the float tube. Many more fish were caught, but none as memorable as beast from Matśoele. It was yet again an eventful and heart stopping trip in the Lesotho highlands. It is sure to be repeated, hopefully with a little less drama the next time.

Until then, cheers!

Johann

Apr 29

Makhangoa Community Camp: 16 – 19 April 2016

IMG_3759 CopySometimes a fishing trip is just not long enough. I believe this was the case with Peter, James, Quintin, Jonathan, Andrew, Nic, Mike Wilson and Mike Blackbeard who came in for a weekend to the Makhangoa Community Camp. It was a trip of personal bests, ‘new species’ for some and a strange encounter with a fearless trout.

On their day of arrival Peter, Quintin and James were still fishing the Malibamatsu River while the rest of the pack rolled into camp. As with most groups, it was a mad rush to get the heaps of luggage carried down from the cars, and to get the gear sorted. Once settled in they were flying down the gravel road toward the estuary to get lines in the air and flies in the water. Mike x2 were in their inflatable raft along with Jonathan (Cat) patrolling the cliffs across from the woolshed and getting into a couple a fish straight away. As the last light was fading they were still out flogging the water while the troops from the Malibamatsu had had enough of the baby trout and finally made their way to camp. It was a good start to the trip and it ended with a world class braai by Andrew.

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On day two there was another boat on the water and a healthy competition was on the brew between the two teams. The only problem was that the Seahawk 2, captained by Peter, had a slow puncture and had to be pumped regularly to prevent it from becoming a lob-sided death trap. Regardless of the deflating situation it was the Seahawk that took home the honours with the most fish.

As part of the community tourism project, we also train community River Rangers to help us police and protect the fishery, and offer assistance to guests where possible.  For one of them, Ngahle a.k.a. Martin it was a special day too as he cast a fly rod for the first time. I showed him the basics and without too much hassle he soon got the hang of it. Hopefully one day, with a bit of patience and hard work, he will be a fly fishing guide.

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Anyway, back to the fishing. Andrew, James and Peter were keen to do some river fishing so I took them up to Ed’s pool where we found a trout with a bit of an attitude problem. He was hovering in the glassy water over a piece of bedrock, sticking out like a sore thumb. First Peter had a crack at it, casting at the fish that simply refused his offerings time and time again. We changed flies, tactics and still it wouldn’t budge. Then we decided to see if it would spook if I went closer, but this little guy wouldn’t go. Eventually I waded in, took some pictures and put my hand right underneath its belly and lifted him up. It was only when it broke the surface that it decided that maybe it was safer to run and hide. This little guy was either deaf or dumb, but definitely the most unfazed little trout I had ever seen. For Andrew it was an awesome session, he stared off by harassing some small trout, then landed a very nice fish of about a pound and shortly after caught his personal best river trout of two pounds in pocket the size of a bathtub. He was not the only one to get a personal best that day. Jonathan fished the village pockets section that afternoon and caught a lovely four pounder on a hopper, it was truly a great day for these two gents.

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In the meantime Mike2 was fishing the estuary and Mike ‘Willows’ caught his very first smallmouth yellowfish, well at least that’s what Blackbeard told him. I later identified it as a Mudfish. Mike was rather disappointed that he didn’t get his prized yellowfish, but at least he was in the right family.

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Although the trophy fish eluded them and the yellows outsmarted them, it was a ‘lekker’ trip with some ‘lekker’ guys and I hope to see them return to this magical place in the year to come.

Best wishes boys!

Johann

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Apr 29

Makhangoa Community Camp: 10 – 15 April 2016

It was a pleasant sight when a couple of familiar faces rolled into camp. Uncle Colin and Mars made the long journey from Maclear and were joined by Jeff, Rodney and Andrew. These seasoned fly fishermen were in for a proper challenge on the fishing front, but they stepped up to the plate and did well under difficult circumstances.

On their first day it was a leisurely affair as the guys settled in a made themselves at home. Andrew and Jeff broke the ice and went down to the river to fish Diepgat. Due to the seemingly endless drought the river was not allowing fish to migrate thus resulting in a fruitless venture on the first day. Luckily there were plenty of drinks in camp to cheers the boys up and we enjoyed the first night of world-class banter around the fire.

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On the second day no time was wasted in getting to the water and Uncle Colin was first on the scoreboard with a lovely rainbow. It has to be said that these chaps were not looking for any small fish, especially Mars who was dead keen on catching the mother of all Lesotho trout that the MCC has become known for. Although the mother didn’t come knocking, Mars and Andrew both caught more than ten fish in their first session and there others were not too far behind.

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On the third day things got a little more difficult as a problem with some fish poachers arose. The poachers were fishing a prime piece of water on the estuary where the fish congregate in waiting for their spawning, this was obviously not ideal for our guests, and it is times like this that the years of preparation in drafting a legally binding fishery management plan are most welcome . After some long negotiations explaining the community camp fishing rules and regulations the poachers packed up and headed home. Later that day we were joined by Gavin, a very lucky Irishman who is taking sabbatical and fishing all over Southern Africa. It wasn’t long before he was sucked in by the group and taking part in the fireside banter.

The following day we headed a couple of kilometres down to where the guys saw some good looking water on their way in to camp. It was an exploratory session and we soon found out that the water was much deeper than anticipated. Jeff however found his form and was floating the margins along some rocky drop-offs and picked up plenty of fish. After a late lunch everybody became pretty sluggish and decided to head back and enjoy the comforts of camp.

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On their last full fishing day the guys were back at the estuary, but to our disappointment we were joined by the same gang of poachers once again. They were a band of ‘non locals’ from a nearby village who fish the dam without the necessary permits that are issued by the LHDA (Lesotho Highlands Development Authority), who disregard the laws of their country and the community camp fishery management rules and regulations. These rules were set in place by the LHDA and TF to protect and preserve the fishery and tourism in the area, while still allowing local subsistence fisherman, with the correct permit, the ability to harvest a set limit of fish.   Fortunately, the very helpful and passionate Mr Phallang Lebesa (LHDA Environmental officer) came to the rescue via boat with his well-trained officers who then poached the poachers – confiscating all gear with the warning of arrest should it happen again. They poachers were sent home with a final warning and the  fish were taken from them. This incident should not be seen as a blemish, but as a sign that there is hope and a bright future for this wonderful fishery due to the passionate support from local law enforcement and the community.

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Through the hard work and dedication of the LHDA, the Tourette Fishing staff and our River Rangers we will continue to protect and preserve this wonderful fishery, even in the toughest of times.

This is Africa, and we love it!

Cheers, Johann

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Apr 21

Makhangoa Community Camp: 3rd – 6th April 2016

 

Six members of the Jacaranda Fly Fishing Club namely Paul, Brian, Alfred, Tiaan, Ivann and Nic came fish the Katse Dam in the picturesque Lesotho highlands. Tiaan, Ivann and Nic are also the founding members of an organization called the Barbus Clan; basically a group of keen fly fishermen who are passionate about catching yellow fish and even more so about the conservation of the species. Well, the traded their caddis flies for streamers in search of Lesotho trout.

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Their first stop was the very special Semonkong Lodge where they caught a couple of wild brown trout on the Maletsunyane River. They were keen to catch some rainbows, brown trout and a couple late season yellow fish on their trip and the Bokong estuary did not disappoint. The river was in near perfect condition after the good rains from the week before and some fish were starting to make their way upriver. The migration of trout from the dam to the river was not happening in its full glory though. Because of a below average dam level the some of the obstacles in the river proved to be a little too exposed and daunting for most of the fish, so most of the fishing had to be done in the estuary.

Paul and Brian were in the thick of it and getting some good numbers of fish. Unfortunately two of the Barbus Clan members, Tiaan and Nic were struggling with a stomach flu that they picked up on their way in. It was so bad for Tiaan that he hardly picked up a rod all weekend and it was getting gradually worse for Nic too. However bad the illness was Nic was determined and fished close to camp, in case of an emergency. Despite the un-pleasantries everybody succeeded to fool a couple of fish.

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On the second day river fishing was on the agenda for Ivann, Alf and Nic. We worked the lower section of beat one, from the footbridge back up to camp. I spent some time guiding Alf while the other two headed upstream. After a quick demo, Alf found his rhythm and caught a beaut of a rainbow. He had done some steelhead fishing so the concept of swinging flies ‘clicked’ well with him. Ivann and Nic deceived some trout on their way back to camp. It was all going pretty well until a bus of a rainbow appeared out of nowhere and took Nic for a proper boxing match, in the end the fish took home the honours and spat the fly out like it was never even there.

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By day three both Nic and Tiaan were starting to feel the fatigue of the illness and decided to pack it up and head home. Alf, Brian and Paul worked the estuary that day and had some good fishing. Alf was even tormenting the parr from last winter’s spawning with tiny dry flies. Paul completed his Lesotho slam with a lovely brown trout that evening and was well content and ready for home.

I hope to see these gents again next year. Same time, same place.

Tight loops

Johann

Apr 20

Makhangoa Community Camp: 30 March – 3 April 2016

As fishermen we are always in the hands of Mother Nature, who can be a cruel mistress sometimes. Point and case being the ongoing drought that is crippling fisheries all over our country and when the elements are against us, there is only one thing left to do. Fish harder! This was the case with our fourth group of the trout season; Jason and Owen were the first to arrive at the Makhangoa Community Camp, followed by Ralph Ryrie and his mates Ralph Milton, Rynard and Garth all of them in search of some monster Lesotho trout.

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It was by no means an easy trip as there had been no rain for two weeks and the heavy demand on the Katse Dam had force the level to drop much too low for the trout to migrate upstream, but they were determined to catch some fish and so they did. As usual, the first day was a slow one. Everybody was paddling around like drunken ducks trying to get used to casting from float tubes and getting to know the water. Once muscle memory kicked in and they found their casting rhythm things got going and the fish became more compliant. Owen was quick to strike and got stuck into some lovely rainbow trout in the estuary.

On the second day everybody was determined to pick up their numbers, especially Ralph R. who was making a killing on a green Woolly Bugger with an orange hot head. – It is funny how faith in a fly can change the way we fish it, just a little confidence can change an average fly into a favourite.- Needless to say, the others soon started catching fish on the same Woolly Buggers too. That evening many fishy stories were swapped around the fire and it was all smiles in camp.

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It is never fun to see fish die, but every now and again one doesn’t revive properly. This happened to a smallish trout that Owen caught so he brought it back to camp so that we could make a trout dinner. We checked the stomach contents to see what this little chap had been eating and what we found was rather unusual. First there was a piece of wood the size of a thumb half way down its throat as well as an awkwardly large piece of polystyrene. No wonder it was in bad health. This proves two things; one, a trout will eat just about anything that looks like food and two, that we must make an active effort to keep the waters that we fish pristine and clean, up after ourselves. We were not going to let this over eager trout go to waste so it went straight to the Weber for cold smoking and it turned into a world class meal.

The next day they were all fishing with much more determination, despite the increasingly difficult conditions. Jason had good fortune, not only did he manage so deceive a couple of trout, he also fooled some mudfish and a very decent yellow fish. It was a good day all round until the mother of all winds pushed us off the water.

Determination paid off for these gents, who stuck it out in gale force winds and low water conditions. They surely picked the fruits of their labour. Next year we will see you fellas again for the yellow fish season and more favorable river conditions, but until then, tight loops and thanks for the visit.

Cheers

JohannIMG_3669 Copy

Mar 30

Makhangoa Community Camp: 12 – 15 March 2016

The weather was on its head as Jacques, Andre, Corne, Wynand, Johann and Tiaan came up for the last Yellow fish trip of the season. There was a bite in the morning air and a cold rain pushed hard against the basalt cliffs of the Bokong valley. The river rose nearly two feet in a morning, sending cold shivers down the spines of the remaining yellows and sent them running back to the dam. As a result we decided to take the guys down to the estuary section to search for the missing yellows and their trout friends.

Setting off for the day

Setting off for the day

 

The first day on the water was a testing one. The guys spent hours on end in their tubes in search of fish only to find them feeding very selectively on tiny midges, and of course they refused everything else. The tension to get on the scoreboard was mounting so I took Wynand to the edge of a steep cliff where he could cover the rises with a big streamer and it wasn’t long before he got stuck into two decent trout.

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Luckily things only got better on day two. Stu and I took the boys down to the Malibamatsu River below the Katse Dam wall, the constant nature of this river makes it a great fall-back when the Bokong gets blown out. So we worked the Malibamatsu with great success as everybody caught and released some strong, wild trout. Once Johann and Tiaan got up to speed it was hard to stop them, the fish were eating their flies like ‘mielies’.

Trout on the Malibamatsu tail water. A fail safe option for guests staying at the Makhangoa Community Camp if the Bokong gets blow out.

Trout on the Malibamatsu tail water. A fail safe option for guests staying at the Makhangoa Community Camp if the Bokong gets blow out.

On their last day we took them back to the footbridge to restore their reputations after the first day’s bruising. Corne was first to strike with two trout in quick succession and was soon followed by the rest. It was a splendid day on the water. Tiaan was on form again, getting fish after fish in the rapid where the river joins the dam. Just before sun was about to duck behind the hills, Jacques came to me for some assistance since the fish were giving him a hard time. We changed to a classic New Zealand rig, two nymphs under an indicator, and worked it along the bankside. Two casts later and he was fighting a strong yellows fish. His luck had turned and proceeded to land another yellow and three trout.

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The catch of the day often comes at the very end, it sure did for Jacques and his mates.

Best wishes from the Tourette team here in Lesotho. We wave goodbye to the yellow fish season in anticipation as the trophy trout season gets on the way.

Johann and Stu

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Feb 29

Makhangoa Community Camp: 22 – 26 Feb 2016

Fly fishing is a strange disease. A disease that causes a very select group of people to go to extremes to find that ‘perfect’ piece of water is some remote corner of the world. Once found, they would go through hell and back to fish that water regardless of discomfort, risk to personal safety, or adverse weather conditions. Luckily for Seb, Lionel, Glyn, Allen, Pat and Mike this was not that kind of trip! They found themselves on a near perfect Bokong (after an incredibly volatile season due to drought and sporadic violent rains) river with all the comforts of home,and hundreds of hungry yellow fish right at their fingertips.

IMG_3040copyOn Monday afternoon, shortly after their arrival at camp the guys were treated to fishing below the footbridge. With some pointing and shouting, Stu and I got all the guys a good taste of the Bokong dry fly action. As with most first days on fishing trips, quite a few fish managed to escape the hook, but more than enough of these pretty yellow fellas made it to net and back into the river. It was a good start to what would become a great trip.

IMG_3006copyDay two, and what a glorious day! The bottom of beat one was on the agenda. The shallow gravel bottom runs were stacked with hundreds of hungry fish that would swim meters to grab a well presented dry fly. The guys were steadily landing and releasing fish from the get go; in fact I had to drag Pat, who had contracted a proper case of fish fever, off the water for lunch. It was Glyn, who got the catch of the day, a hog of 7lb! This exceptional fishing continued until there was no more light and the hunger pains drove us back to camp for dinner. Once again we had to pry to rod from Pat’s hands 😉

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Day three, was all about getting technical. We headed up-river to fish the upper section of beat one and bottom of beat two and although the fishing was excellent, it required a much more refined touch. We sight fished the crystal clear water of Home pool, Mike managed to raise a hog of a fish to his perfectly presented dry fly but got a last second refusal. This was how most of the day played out. Plenty of fish drifted below the flies, allowing for utmost scrutiny of what we had to offer. Results, were either a bump of disgust, or a solid eat off the surface. And when they ate it was screaming reels and big smiles all round. Despite their finicky demeanor many golden Yellows came to the net and everybody had some good stories to swap around the dinner table that night.

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Day four was even more of a test for our feverishly eager guests as we packed the donkey and made our way onto beat three. The fish hung out in the pockets and runs which required gentle, yet accurate casts. To complicate matters they were not eating the subtle Klinkhammers and Shuttlecocks with the same gusto as the days before, but they went silly for bigger hopper patterns in the faster water. We had a world class lunch in the shade of a willow tree, and thanks to our pack donkey and river ranger, the beers were ice cold. It was a challenging, but rewarding day for the boys from Zim. To round off a perfect trip, we had a braai and a beers, followed by a chocolate pudding that would make Willy Wonka jealous.

MCC (11)Thanks for a great trip, gents! Cheers

Johann and Stu

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Feb 18

Makhangoa Community Camp: 8-13th February 2016

The ‘old-timer gang’ consisting of Davo, Mkulu, G-man, John, Phellam and Pieter stormed the mountain kingdom with high hopes of tussling with some Lesotho gold. With a few of the group back for their 3rd visit, we were eager to welcome old friends and meet new guests alike. The group from Natal arrived at the Makhangoa Community Camp with the Bokong River in near perfect condition, but steadily on the drop. The good rain from the week before was trickling away, but there were plenty of fish around to keep these fine gentlemen busy for their 5 night stay.

IMG_2722copyShortly after their arrival at camp they had their rods set-up, and the troops headed down to the spring-riffles section below camp. As usual some cast went astray and a good portion of fish was spooked, but once the chaps found their rhythm they proceeded to land plenty yellowfish, both on dry flies and nymphs.

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On day two we headed further downstream towards the footbridge. The unusually low dam level allowed us to fish an extra kilometer of river that would normally be part of the dam. As a result we could sight-fish the shallow run to hundreds of yellows that were on the move upstream. Many fish were fooled into eating their humble offerings, and as one can expect for these high altitude speedsters, many of them raced upstream and popped tippets like it wasn’t even there. Needless to say we had to drag the guys off the water, especially Davo who was not too interested in leaving Homepool anytime this year!

DSCF2385copyThe plan on the third day was to fish the second beat, and work the pockets and runs in front of the village, but with dropping water most fish evacuated the runs and opted for the deeper pools. This didn’t stop us from catching them, and with a slight change in tactics lines went tight and reels screamed in no time. Pieter was slaying the fish on the nymphs in the head of village pool. Phellam was determined to raise fish to the dry and it wasn’t long before he found little honey-hole where the yellows were sipping surface flies with abandon. For the afternoon session the guys went back to their pools and waited for the evening rise. John got stuck into some proper fish with the rest of the gang close on his heels. That evening was spent in camp, with many stories being shared over an ice cold yeast, accompanied by some world class camp cuisine out of the modest kitchen.

IMG_2761copyOn day four it was Mkulu’s time to shine. We made our way to the end of beat two and worked Back-eddy pool with tiny nymphs. The first to strike was Pieter followed by G-man who hooked and landed a bus of a Yellow. Mkulu was yet to get stuck in, but after threatening him with a whiskey ‘strafdop’ he started hooking them yellows pretty easily. As the evening rise came on Mkulu was on form, it must have been the fear of the whiskey, but he landed and released a bucket load of fish before the light faded.

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These gents proved that experience does count, but also that an old dog can learn new tricks 😉 Another good trip to the Makhangoa Community Camp was wrapped up with good wine, great food and even better stories. As always, it was an absolute pleasure hosting this group at the Makhangoa Community Camp, and we are eagerly looking forward to their next visit in 2017!

Tight loops

Johann and Stu

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Feb 04

Makhangoa Community Camp : 28th Jan – 2 Feb 2016

The times they are changing. And so is the weather, luckily for the better! After what has been the worst drought in the last 100 years, El-nino finally started losing its grip on the Lesotho highlands, and with the rolling thunder came the first big rains in all their glory. With a well restored Bokong river, thousands of yellow fish started their, delayed, but epic, migration up river for their summer residence.

Makhangoa Community CampThe group of FlyCastaway guests from Jo’burg consisting of Pat, Tom, Andrew, Riaan, Brent and Jean, timed it to perfection, and rolled into the hills just as the Bokong reached optimal conditions. Shortly after their arrival everybody had stuck some hard fighting yellows, with Pat landing a solid six pounder. To end off a good first day on the water we had a braai of epic proportions.

Makhangoa Community CampOn day two we worked the top end of beat one and beat two, where many fish came up to the dry fly without hesitation in the golden morning light. It wasn’t long before the weather turned and Tom resorted to fishing nymphs in the head of Ed’s pool where he proceeded to land a small truck load of fish. If it wasn’t for the lighting he would probably still be fishing there. Luckily the weather broke, and allowed us to squeeze in an afternoon session before retiring to camp for some home-made gourmet beef burgers.

Makhangoa Community CampOn the third day it was time for us explore the spectacular and equally challenging third beat. Brent was quick to pick a few good yellows from some fast flowing pocket water. While we headed up stream onto the very skinny and challenging Skate-park section, Stu and the other chaps worked their magic on the crystal clear runs at the end of beat two. Skate-park was challenging, but Pat accepted that challenge with open arms and fooled some fish into eating his ‘firetruck ant’. Heavy weather pushed us back to camp, but it was not long before we braved the cold and wet to go bash more Yellows. Between Tom, Pat and Jean almost every fish in Diepgat was caught, measured and released to fight another day.

IMG_2457copyWe woke up to a chocolate river on day four, but this didn’t stop this ever optimistic group from trying. We nearly hiked off the map to find clearer water but in the end Mother Nature won this round, and who can complain about too much rain after such a prolonged drought! After a burning hike back to camp, the guys had a beer or two, recharged their batteries, and headed back onto the water for the afternoon session. Fishing until the lure of dinner had everyone back in camp. Three roasted chickens later, and the struggle of the long day out battling the elements was long forgotten. It was a great end to wonderful trip.

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They came, they saw and they conquered the mighty Bokong River and its wild Yellow fish. Well done to a great group of guys who fished like champs and who were rewarded with champion fish! Hope to see you again soon

All the best from the Makhangoa Community Camp

Johann and Stu

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Jan 06

Makhangoa Community Camp Grp 5: 16 – 21 Dec 2015

Makhangoa Community Camp, Lesotho

With the lack of rain persisting and the Bokong River getting gradually harder to fish, Stu and I decided to give the Malibamatsu River a bash. Due to government regulation the Katse dam has to let out a specific quota of water to sustain the river level. This means that the Malibamatsu always has proper flow and although the fishing can be very technical it became a very promising and feasible option for our incoming clients.

IMG_1534copyThe first gents to arrive were David and Luke Baker who made their way up from the Cape for some father and son time. On their first afternoon we fished on ‘Diepgat’ below the camp to some hungry Yellows feeding deep in the water column. With minor adaptation to Luke’s normal competition setup, some spotting from the cliff-side and loud shouting from my side he managed to lift into a bunch of decent fish.

IMG_1747copyAs the first light hit the water the following day we set out to fish the Malibamatsu below the dam wall in search of some trout. All the riffles and shallow runs were filled with foolish young trout that ate as if there was no tomorrow. To get to the bigger trout however, Luke and David changed to deep sinking nymphs and minnow imitations and fished them tight against the bank. This proved too much for the Rainbows to resist as both David and Luke got stuck into some decent fish. After negotiations with the LHDA we got permission to fish the pool below the Katse dam wall, a place that is basically untouched by fly fishermen and just to sweeten the deal our guests ended up taking a couple of Rainbow trout that tipped the scales at 2pounds.

IMG_1678copyOn day three our new guests who came in during the previous day, Andrew and Dave, got the chance to pull some Malibamatsu Trout. After hearing the great reports from Luke and David they were fired up for the day on the water. The deep searching proved deadly once again as many fish in the two pound range came to the net. Dave was on form with the best fish of the session going over three pounds. As with all good fishing stories; the best fish of the day (rainbow estimated at 6pounds) shook himself loose from the hook just before the net.

IMG_1738copyThree more gents arrived on our doorstep the third day, Gerry, Ralph and Chris. Luckily these fellas were as keen to just enjoy the stunning Lesotho landscape as they were to catch some fish, as the weather conditions deteriorated. The fourth day we went out to search for Yellows, but soon returned to camp for some cold beers and good food as a sudden drop in the barometric pressure put the fish down. This drop in the pressure was not all bad as the following day a proper weather system moved in and offered some brief respite from the crippling drought with a short lived downpour.

IMG_1600copyDespite some testing conditions on the Bokong River its large cousin the Malibamatsu River came through for us in spectacular fashion. More than two dozen good fish were landed by these fine fishermen. The harsh climatic conditions served as a reminder that we cannot control what nature is up to, but that we can choose how to react to difficult conditions. It was a cracker of a start to the season and we hope to tell many more fishy stories after the holiday break.

IMG_1765copyStay golden

Best wishes, Johann and Stu

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