Apr 14

Trout Trekking Lesotho: 5th – 10th April 2014

Breaking Camp in the Khubelu Valley

Breaking Camp in the Khubelu Valley

After meeting up with Dale and Matthew from Pretoria we made the slow and windy descent down to the Khubelu River. We made ourselves comfortable in basecamp for the night and after a nice hot meal we forced ourselves to sleep. A difficult task as the excitement built for the next day.

Scanning the skinny water

Scanning the skinny water

Day 1.

We woke to a beautiful big blue sky day, and wasted no time getting cracking on the river. The levels were extremely low which meant tough conditions, but certainly fishable. Matthew and Dale got on the board within minutes with a number of small fish holding in the pocket water. Later on we found two very good fish actively cruising a long pool. Matthew was up fist.  After a careful approach he managed a couple of perfectly presented dries, unfortunately the fish spooked after a herds boy’s curiosity got the better of him. Matthew got another shot at a beautiful fish later on. An absolute bus was actively, but selectively, feeding up and down a pool. He did very well to keep his cool as the fish came up and refused the fly twice. Finally, a change to a size 14 cdc midge did the trick and we got the eat. Tragically as the fish turned down the 6x tippet parted and the fish was lost.

Nerves of steel are required when presenting to fish in such skinny water

Nerves of steel are required when presenting to fish in such skinny water

Day 2.

In the morning we shook and shivered ourselves into action after a night that went well below freezing. We struggled to find fish until about lunch time where we found a beautiful cock fish sitting into about 4” of water. This made it very difficult to present a fly and unfortunately it spooked. We decided to have lunch and then give it another shot.  After about an hour of tense stalking and five fly changes Dale got it to come up and smash a self-tied hopper. This 16” cock fish put up an incredible tussle on a 3 weight. After some quick snaps we all watched the fish cruise off and sulk at the bottom of his pool. High fives and smiles all round.

A beautiful fin perfect rainbow in its prime

A beautiful fin perfect rainbow in its prime

Day 3.

Another very cold night was had by all, but we still woke with eager intentions of tackling another day on the incredible river. Unfortunately we struggled on day three. We did not find any fish holding in the pocket water or the pools. Undeterred we still approached every pool with caution and spent hours on end staring at the water with never ending hope that a rainbow would show itself. In the end we didn’t see or get a shot at any good fish today. But never the less another beautiful day it was was spent in the mountains.

 

 

Mountain flora on the river banks

Mountain flora on the river banks

Day 4.

It was definitely getting colder every night. After defrosting our wading boots by the fire and some warm breakfast we set out – still with the same excitement and intensity that we had on day 1. After staring at a long deep pool for about 20min an absolute beast of a rainbow showed itself by slowly rising to the surface and sipping something off the surface. Now with our eyes trained on it we snuck Matthew into position. After about an hour stalk and shuffle to get the correct presentation,  the fish finally  raced up to Matt’s hopper…….. and refused it, three times in a row! This was almost too much for us to handle but Matthew did extremely well to stay calm and still. Another hour past, and finally the little cdc midge did it again. The fish came up and gentle slurped the fly down. Chaos erupted and the fish set off on a long run down stream towing a huge bow in the fly line. This  unfortunately resulted in too much drag on the fine 6X  tippet and after one jump, the 22” plus fish was gone. With moral at an all-time low we sat down for lunch and licked our wounds. The rest of the day we searched the water but with no luck. We did spot the legendary bus at the last pool of the beat along with another descent fish but they were not feeding and after a hopeful hour and a half and with the light fading and temperature plummeting we called it a day.

Rainbow Release

Rainbow Release

Day 5

We woke at first light to break camp and start the steep trek out the valley. After shaking the ice off our tents and packing the horses we started our slow and steady accent. Four hours later we reached the road and everyone parted ways with big smiles and the promise of returning next years for a re-match.

Thanks to Dale and Matthew for a great trip, we hope to see you on the water again.

Cheers Pierre and Stu, TF guides in Lesotho

Apr 09

Nubian Flats Exploratory Season – Week 2 – (31st March to 7th April)

A mangrove for the record books - fly fishing on the Nubian Flats

A mangrove snapper for the record books – fly fishing on the Nubian Flats

The first week had been very special – we had found areas with good numbers of bones, we had hooked and landed some exceptional milkies, GT’s, Bluefin, Bohar and had witnessed some of the finest triggerfishing anyone could comprehend. As soon as that week was winding down, we began watching the weather forecast like hawks for the next week. Unfortunately it was not pretty – a forecast of three to four days of strong wind meant that our plans to move the mothership to the earmarked area was not a viable option.

We were welcoming old friends John, Chris, Brian and Edouard onto the boat. All of whom we were extremely excited to fish with once again – making the “weather pill” even more bitter to swallow.

pointing out a tailing trigger on the Nubian Flats

pointing out a tailing trigger on the Nubian Flats

Our alternative plan was to move the mothership to the huge flats complex we knew already. In the past we had encountered triggers, goldens, GT’s, bluefin, Bohar, Barracouta, Bumpies and Permit in this area, so although we weren’t in the area we were hoping to be for this week, there was still lots to look forward to.

Our plan was to stay in this area and fish as much as possible, and as soon as the wind dropped we would move to another area for the last 2 days.

The first four days were extremely frustrating. The wind made it very hard to fish affectively. There were very little fish on the flats, and inevitably when one was sighted; it was too late to get in a realistic shot at it.

With these conditions it forced us to concentrate on fishing the flat edges for these first three days, with a lot of this being where we would tease in fish. Even this fishing, which is normally red hot, was tough. We managed some really good fish, including some great bluefin, bohar and mangrove snapper, along with a handful of smaller GT’s. Chris managed to hook 3 really big GT’s, all of which were lost to snapped leaders or fly lines.

Another good bohar taken on the Nubian Flats

Another good bohar taken on the Nubian Flats

Some other fish of interest was a big barracuda that Edouard hooked. This fish was around the 20 kilo mark, and although the hookup was solid, a line wrapped around the reel seat and a rapidly moving 20 kilo fish can only end in heart break.

When the wind finally died, we moved back to the flats we had fished the week before, and this is where things began to change for our last few sessions:

On the first session  it wasn’t long before Brian saw some fish moving and after stalking these fish for upwards of 20 minutes finally got into a position to make a couple good presentations. On the 2nd cast he went tight, the fish made two strong runs before the hook finally pulled – The fish in question was the elusive permit!! This particular fish was around the 8 to 10lb mark.

The following morning we went back to the same area to try and find more opportunities at the tailing permit.

Sunset over a settled Nubian Isalnd

Sunset over a settled Nubian Isalnd

We found numerous permit cruising the shallow water, with their distinctive dorsal and tail fins giving away their position. Many of these permit were unfortunately with shoals of tailing unicorn fish, making it an exceptionally frustrating task to present the fly well to the permit and not spook the unicorns. The permit could only be with the unicorns for that exact safety reason, like its own built in security alarm, or the unicorns were flushing out some prey species for the Permit. Whatever the reason, the unicorns were making us pull our hair out.

Chris Binnington managed to get a Permit to eat within one of these shoals, making it such a special fish – firstly any permit is an achievement, and this one was the first landed on the Nubian Flats, secondly the presence of the unicorn fish made it that much more technical.

The first Nubian Flats Permit

The first Nubian Flats Permit

Shortly after this Fede cast at a single cruising permit that didn’t hesitate to eat the fly. This fish was on for roughly a minute before it ran into a cut and snapped the leader. Fede reported that it was a bigger fish around the 15lb mark.

Another interesting development on this flat is that we were seeing a snapper type species tailing on the flats. A fish all of us had absolutely zero idea as to what it was. This is a big statement, especially when you have someone like Ed Truter on the boat who is the human equivalent of a Wikipedia on fish.   In a session we would see 6 to 8 of these tailing mystery fish, all in the 8 to 12 kilo range. They proved extremely spooky and we only managed to present crab patterns to them properly a couple of times, as this is the only thing we can fathom that they are eating – in the end we didn’t hook any, but we are certainly extremely intrigued. This ‘mystery fish’ as it has been dubbed on the boat is certainly going to become an obsession of the team until the day we land one. It is definitely going to happen, it is merely a matter of when.

Yellow Margined Trigger on the Nubian Flats

Yellow Margined Trigger on the Nubian Flats

With a permit under the belt we moved the mothership again to another flat. Here we found some good tailing triggers, something that the team had been looking forward to. Although there were plenty of shots it was only Chris and Ed that converted shots into actually fish.

We saw a number of single and double bones on one particular flat, and Ed hooked and lost a bone that he judged to be very close to the 10lb mark. A couple of good bluefins ended a great day.

The following day we had limited time and decided on a two pronged approach. Chris and Brian fished a flat we had dubbed the Turtle flat, and John and Edouard fished from the boat around south passage in the hope of boating the numerous big GT’s in that area. Off the boat Edouard managed to land a small GT and John had a  eat from a bigger specimen, which unfortunately continued to swim towards him making it very hard to set the hook.

Brian and Chris did well on this last session with Chris getting a respectable GT and a good sized bluefin and Brian hooking a big shark on the flats. Brian also fished to a bone fish that was around the 12lb mark, and although the fish showed interest it spooked on the second cast. With our mounting experience in this area it is only a matter of time before this translates into landing one of these really big bones.

That’s it for this week – one that was frustrating with the weather, but great company made the week memorable along with some great fish in the end.

Apr 03

Nubian Flats Exploratory Season – Week 1 (24 – 31 March 2014)

Part 1

Nubian Flats

Nubian Flats

We are more than confident that the Nubian Flats is the real deal, but in order to be in a position where we will be able to offer fully guided trips, we need to put in the ground work to ensure we understand the fishery properly before the 2015 season, and so I find myself here, on board our mothership writing the blog report from the first few days of our first, of seven, trips – all of which are totally dedicated to the exploratory process.

During this week we are joined by old friends Eric and Chris from South Africa, Jeff from America and Nikolay and Alexey from Russia. A really great bunch of  characters to share this amazing experience.

Eric landed some really impressive blue fin!

Eric landed some really impressive blue fin!

Our last trip was in November 2013, where we spent 2 weeks exploring a vast flats complex in the south of the coast. We returned to this same area to start off this first week of exploring, and already we can see the value of experience. With this prior experience we were able to concentrate our limited time in areas that we were confident of finding fish.

This is what the first few days had in stall for us:

Straight off the bat on the first day Mark Murray found numerous shoals of tailing golden trevally, triggers, and although there were many fish they proved extremely spooky. Added to this, they were positioned in such a way making it hard to get into a realistic casting position.

On this first day there were a few huge napoleons that flies were presented to, none of which managed to get to the fly before one of the numerous blue fins did! Very frustrating indeed.

 

 

 

Chris with a great 115cm GT

Chris with a great 115cm GT

On the GT front, there didn’t seem to be as many as our previous trip, although there were certainly still opportunities. Chris Rooseboom managed a magnificent GT of 115cm, and there were a few smaller GT’s on the flats and the flat edges. The GT’s bluefin cousins were in good attendance with many great specimens caught.

Interestingly, after the vast numbers of Bohar that we landed in this area in November, we were expecting to see the prevalence of this species once again. The number of bohars wasn’t as high as our November trip, but what this species lacked in numbers it certainly made up for in quality. Almost every single bohar we landed in this first few days was a

Alexey with one of many good bohar off the flats

Alexey with one of many good bohar off the flats

really great fish, with many of these bohar reaching the 7 to 8 kilo mark.

So far it has been an amazing start to the week. Every single person has a few great fish under their belt. Tomorrow we set sail into some unchartered waters for 2 flats we have been itching to get to. Hopefully our next blog report, for the second half of this week tells some tales of some amazing fishing……

Till then

Rob

 

Part 2

Being the first angler to walk a flat is truly special!

Being the first angler to walk a flat is truly special!

It’s been 4 days since my last blog update, over which time we have been exploring an amazing set of islands and Flats off the Sudan coast. At the moment, the guests are busy breaking down their rods, and reluctantly packing away their gear in anticipation of the journey home tomorrow.

Our legs, bodies and arms are tired. Every bit of energy we have put into exploring, and this often meant whole days walking to ensure we saw as much of this area as possible.

On the first day after we arrived at the new unexplored island, we split into 3 groups to ensure we got to cover

Eric with a fantastic yellow margin trigger fish

Eric with a fantastic yellow margin trigger fish

as much ground as possible. Ed and I took Jeff Currier, Alexey and Nikolay to an interesting channel and sand flat that separated two separate islands. We hadn’t even reached the drop off point on the tender when Mark called on the radio to say that they were looking at bonefish where they had got off their tender on the south point of the island. Although they were getting some shots at these fish, none were taking any notice of the fly, so they were quickly written off as being something that merely looked like bonefish. They quickly managed to forget about these mystery fish, as within meters they we met by literally hundreds of tailing triggers. Mark reported that as soon as you had finished targeting one trigger, there was another a couple meters past it.  Eric and Chris even got to the point where they were walking past tailing triggers in an attempt to get to the bigger sighted fish. Within a short time Mark, Fede, Chris and Eric had all landed triggers!

On our side of the island, while we were listening to the amazing reports coming over the radio, we were also experiencing some amazing fishing.

 

Edward, Alexey and Nikolay had gone to the edge of the flat to tease and were being rewarded with bluefin, bohar, coral trout and GT’s.

Blue fin double up release

Blue fin double up release

Jeff and I were side tracked by the amazing discovery of a Dugong on the flat. I had initially seen the dugong and thinking it was a massive ray, had called Jeff over in case there was a GT cruising with the ray. When the “ray” was merely meters from me it rose to the surface and literally put its head out the water to look it at me. I have had some experience with Dugongs before, and couldn’t believe my eyes. There are estimated to be only a few hundred of these amazing animals left along the entire East coast of Africa, so to discover one so unexpectedly was a humbling and privileged experience.

Back to the fishing: After leaving the Dugong Jeff and I found a handful of tailing triggers, and although not nearly the numbers that Mark’s group were experiencing, they were still plenty to keep us vibrating with excitement.

Jeff enjoying the triggerfish action

Jeff enjoying the triggerfish action

Although we couldn’t convert any of the Triggers, as we left the triggers we walked straight into a group of tailing bumpies. Jeff managed to have 3 or 4 decent casts at them before the fly snagged the bottom and the bumpies spooked. Although it would have been great to connect with one, it was exciting never the less.

The rest of this first afternoon we spent walking northwards casting at numerous tailing triggers. As we got to an area where the flat narrowed, the triggers started showing up in their droves. Jeff managed to hook 2 really big yellow margined triggers. Lady luck however wasn’t on our side. One quickly came unbuttoned and the next managed to run long enough to get over the flat edge and into some bommies. From what we had experienced so far we were far from worried – tomorrow was sure to be jam packed with enough shots at triggers for everyone.

Going back to the mothership, everyone was abuzz with excitement about what we had found.

Releasing another good blue fin

Releasing another good blue fin

The second full day on this new island we again split into two groups for the morning session. Ed and Jeff went to explore the northern tip of the north island, with its big sand and rock flats. Eric, Chris and I walked south from the northern island, and Mark, Fede, Alexey and Nikolay walked north from the southern island towards an area that looked as if the island flats gave away to a very deep water channel that came right up to the shore. The morning was a mixed bag for everyone. There were numerous shots at tailing yellow margined triggers, and although a few were hooked, none were landed. Interestingly, it seemed that there was a complete absence of titans today.

All three groups did some teasing on the reef edge with some good results. Plenty bluefin and bohar came in, along with some good GT’s. Eric hooked an exceptionally big black GT in the 30 to 40 kilo range. Unfortunately a knot in his line ended the fight as fast as it started.

The afternoon saw some very interesting developments. Eric, Chris and I went to explore the wild northern edge of the main island, where there are no flats, but the coastline is dominated by a small cliff that goes straight into the ocean. We fished to a few sighted Napoleons, and managed to tease in and hook some big GT’s and some really exceptional Bohars.

Another Nubian Flats bonefish. Not long till we figure them out now!!!

Another Nubian Flats bonefish. Not long till we figure them out now!!!

The other groups went to target the triggers, and they were nothing short of gale force. Everyone managing to get into the triggers. What was exceptional for us, as part of the exploratory process was that Ed called in the radio and confirmed, once again that he was seeing numerous shoals of bonefish, but couldn’t get any to eat. After numerous fly changes, he finally managed to land a great fish around the 5 pound mark!!! Not a huge fish, but certain confirmation that the fish we were seeing were indeed bones, and that there was some other much bigger bones cruising the flats.

The next day we moved the mothership to another island and flats complex. On the lee of the island were  hundreds of feeding milkies. In no time at all Ed

One of three Milkfish hooked in a session. many more to come!

One of three Milkfish hooked in a session. many more to come!

had hooked and lost two milkies, from the flat. Mark managed to pin an exceptional milky of 109cm and 35lb’s.  The whole team was absolutely pumped with the milky.

Interestingly, since the milky died, we cut it open to discover some interesting things in its stomach. We are busy tying some other experimental milky flies, and if we find them again, we could have something extremely special on our hands. Watch this space!!

Anyway, this week has been exceptional. The weather forecast has just come in and looking pretty windy for next week…. this will mean a change in where we had planned to move the mothership. More

Where to next... follow the blog to find out!

Where to next… follow the blog to find out!

on this in due course.

Till next week

Rob and the TF Nubian Flats crew

 

 

Mar 18

Three Rivers – Lesotho Yellowfish Group 12: 06 March – 09 March 2014

 

Selection of flies used in the dam

Selection of flies used in the dam

A cold chill in the air, winds pushing clouds over the high Maluti mountains from the west and the smell of rain in the air, it was certain, the hot sunny days of summer were slowly but surely coming to an end! Nonetheless, the yellowfish were still around in good numbers and with five new guests in camp, some fishing had to be done!

Shortly after arriving in camp, the gents were briefed on the days ahead, their tackle inspected and in no time we were ready to roll out. Unfortunately mother nature had other ideas, and not even 5min into the walk down the river the heavens opened up leaving everyone wet and cold! Needles to say, it did not take long for the kettle to be put onto the gas stove with everyone huddled in around it.

 

 

Gerhard with a nice river caught Yellow Fish taken on a klinkhammer

Gerhard with a nice river caught Yellow Fish taken on a klinkhammer

The first full day started off with really good conditions weather wise. The water temp in front of cap was still a bit colder than we would have liked so we decided to get into Leroy (the “trusty” camp cruiser) and fish a small inlet and bay about 15min drive from camp. This area had been producing for us in the past week when river conditions were not ideal.

 

This turned out to be a good call as all the guests got stuck into the yellowfish from the start. The vast majority of  fish were taken on two nymphs rigged New Zealand style slowly drifted on the edge of a submerged weed bed. Hotspot, Hare&Copper and Copper John’s produced the goods. No real big fish were caught, but the vast majority of them were in the mid 30cm range.

After a quick lunch in camp we headed down river for the

Cassim with a tank 55cm Yellow caught in the dam

Cassim with a tank 55cm Yellow caught in the dam

afternoon and fished a section just above the estuary. It started off slowly but during the last hour of daylight, as water temps reached the maximum, the fish became very active and were taking Klinkhammers and parachute adam’s like there was no tomorrow! Hats off the Richard who managed a really nice yellow in the mid 40cm.

 

With river conditions much the same on the second full day as the first,  we decided to fish a very similar pattern to the day before; except this time round half the guys would stay on the same side of the dam while the others would cross over and fish the cliff and grass banks. The cliff side seemed to be the winning side as plenty fish were sighted and caught on both dry and nymphs.  A is often the case when sight fishing to big fish in stillwaters, some really big fish were popped on the take.  The highlight of the day was a 55cm fish landed by Cassim after an incredibly tense fight.

The guys were really happy as we headed back to camp to fish the river for the afternoon session. This turned out to be a little slower than expected but the guys still managed some great yellowfish and the odd trout. Richard again managed a good mid forty cm fish while the rest of the guys tucked into the fingerling sized trout on dry.

 

All in all a fun couple days in Lesotho. With some more heavy clouds creeping over the mountains (that were to bring floods to the entire area!) the group decided not to fish the last morning, and head out before the rains hampered their travel.  

Only one more group to go before we start breaking down camp but if the weather will allow, only time will tell.

Till next time

Cheers

Mark and Pierre

Tourette Fishing Lesotho Guides Team

Mar 10

Three Rivers – Lesotho Yellowfish Group 11: 25th Feb – 2 March 2014

Yellowfish sitting high in the water column on the Bokong River

Yellowfish sitting high in the water column on the Bokong River

On arriving at Katse Dam for the 11th group of the season we were quite unsure of what the start of the trip would be like as the previous week it had rained most heavily, making the fishing tough with swollen rivers. Regardless, the guys on this trip were all veterans to yellow fishing, and were excited to get started no matter what the weather gods threw at us.

Due to the heavy rain we spent the first afternoon fishing the lake as the river was still too high. Simply fishing 5 to 6 metres off the bank with a tandem nymph rig and an indicator as one would do on Sterkfontein when the fish are down. The fishing was slow that first afternoon with only mudfish, strangely, being landed.

Sight fished Yellows on Dry Fly - What Lesotho is all about

Sight fished Yellows on Dry Fly – What Lesotho is all about

The first full day we woke to sunshine and a dropping river although still too high to fish with dry flies. We fished from the mouth up to camp and just above camp in the afternoon. Still on tandem nymph indicator rigs we targeted productive looking seams and runs but focused on the tails of pools where we had sighted a lot of fish. With the water still being cold (16 degrees Celsius) meant the fishing was still difficult and only about 5 fish were landed that day.  Mainly caddis larva and hot spot nymphs seemed to be the go to patterns

Day two, three and four the river dropped dramatically and the water temp rose to a comfortable 20 degrees by noon. The fish came higher in the water column and dry flies became the name of the game. With a stealthy approach to the tails of the pools we were treated to many fish eagerly eating big terrestrials. Big stimulators and hoppers came into effect and especially black hoppers or black crickets seemed to be irresistible to the yellows as the water got warmer. Steadily the number of fish landed per day on the Bokong rose to the 20′s with most fish being taken on the dry.

Lesotho Gold

Lesotho Gold

0n day five we departed under threatening skies to the Malibamatso and after a hair raising drive to the river it was clear from a distance that the river was in good fishing condition. Due to the Malibamatso being a much larger river than the Bokong its tempting to go back on to nymphs but with a careful approach and a lot of patience in watching the water, one is able to spot yellow fish lying in shallow water and if presented to well, most of them are happy to come up for a dry. This was case for our last afternoon of the trip with a few fish being landed on nymphs and a few on dries. Great ending to yet another great trip in Lesotho.

A big thanks to Peter, Kevin, Duncan, Morice and Murray for coming and well done on some good angling.

Mar 10

Video from our November exploratory trip to the Nubian Flats

 

Feb 26

Three Rivers – Lesotho Yellowfish Group 10: 18 – 23 Feb 2014

Breakfast time on the Bokong

Breakfast time on the Bokong

Our trip started out in the village of Ha Lejone so that we could first fish the Malibamatsu river and its sister tributary the Motete .

Our group consisted of Murray Pedder from Flyfishers Unlimited  and 4 of his guests namely Ken, Alan, Martin and Thys.

On arrival of the guests the rain Gods had decreed that we would be denigrated to the position of pontificators of weather and imbibers of scotch as the heavens opened up  (Ken, Martin and Thys got a brief 15min session in before this, and manged to land 1 fish, and tempt a few more that unfortunately come unbuttoned).  We did both of the above to the best of our abilities as we waited for the rain to stop so that we could hop in my trusty ’75 Cruiser and go in search of rivers that were clean and slow enough to fish the following morning. Martin had his Toyota Prado and followed behind.

Murray working through Czech Nymphing setups with his group

Murray working through Czech Nymphing setups with his group

We were to spend the first full day of the trip fishing the above mentioned rivers and after  a scenically mind altering drive, we arrived at the Malibamatsu, only to find it coming down brown and fast like the splashboard of a Hindi toilet in the height of the mango season!

Being a of a democratic nature and also noticing that Alan,Thys and Martin were looking at the river as if they would like to have a stab at it with heavy nymphs and a strike indicator, I suggested that I would cross over the ridge (read Mountain) to the confluence (about 45 min drive)to see if visibility and flow were any better , leaving them in the capable hands of Pierre my fellow guide.

To cut a long story short, it was the Motete river that was the culprit, and the Malibamatsu above the confluence was running strong, but mercifully a bit clearer!  I had taken Ken and Murray with me and they went on down to the river and got into some nice yellows  after a couple of casts. After waiting for the others to arrive, we went down and after a challenging crossing for some managed to get some fishing in that resulted on a few nice fish, but nothing like we were used to on this river. We fished as late as was safe and then hiked out on the contour path back to the vehicles. In total 11 fish were landed before we climbed out of the valley and headed back to base

The trip past Katse and onto to our main camp on the Bokong was uneventful apart from the usual mind-blowing scenery.

Both Pierre and I were quietly holding thumbs that the Bokong River in front of camp would be behaving itself, but considering how much rain was in the area the gesture seemed futile.

Czech Nymphing the fast water in front of camp

Czech Nymphing the fast water in front of camp

Upon our arrival in camp our hearts  sank, as we were presented with a very angry river frothing at the mouth and  flaying its banks as if to dare us to contemplate bringing a fly near its surface! Unperturbed our hardy guests tackled up and did what they had come to do, fish the river of course….!

The river was unfordable so we were constrained to the one bank, and as Murray clearly pointed out , the only way to get down to fish in this velocity of water was to fish deep, close and heavy. Czech  nymphing would  have to be the order of the day and so it was.

Martin coerced a yellow from its hiding place in the torrent as did Murray and the others, but it was hard demanding fishing and not quite the style that our guests had envisioned when they decided to fish Lesotho rivers with us.

Success in the fast water

Success in the fast water

Upon closer inspection to the amount of effort the guys were putting in versus the rewards, we decided that discretion was the better part of valour and we decided to head downstream and fish the estuary where our  raging river calmed down and became a clearer more fishable water as it met the big water of the Katse dam.

Upon arrival we noticed just how many fish were rising and spirits were immediately lifted and rigs were altered.  Some using dries suspending small nymphs and others choosing to fish deeper using only nymphs. It proved successful with all taking yellows in a relatively short time and fishermen commenting on how feisty the yellows were as they put up a good fight right until they were netted.

Changing tactics and driving to the dam yielded good results in the poor weather

Changing tactics and driving to the dam yielded good results in the poor weather

All in all it was a good day that improved even more as we adjusted our techniques and rigs to suit the conditions and as the day ended we trekked back to base camp, tired but happy with our performance in this unusually wet environment.

After a good meal and many drinks around the campfire to stave off the cold wet weather around us and blustery convivial conversations tinged with bouts of raucous laughter, we retired to bed fortified to face what tomorrow would bring.

The next day dawned dry after a full nights rain and the river was as challenging as ever. The group consensus was to try the river again as it was a tad lower and clearing, Ken being the exception as he wanted more of what the dam had given us the previous day. I elected to go with him and keep him company.

Martin getting in on the action

Martin getting in on the action

It did not take long for Ken to get into the yellows on the dam and at the end of his session he declared , having hooked 11 and landed 9 really nice yellows  on a fly of his tying called the “Black Magic” ( you will have to ask Ken for details, as he blindfolded me everytime I came near him)

We returned a happy pair, but were told on arrival in camp that the river had once again come out tops in the battle to keep her fish from prying flies, and subsequently our rods wielding warriors had come away with very little to show for their efforts.

That evening much was said about the weather, none of it very flattering, but nonetheless the food and good quality scotch made up for the lack of fish numbers. Jokes and laughter flew thick and fast and bonhomie was the order of the night.

The day of departure dawned blue and the sun was hot as our guests prepared for the trek back home. The river had dropped substantially , but sadly the temperature was a tad too cold at 15 deg and as everybody had a last session before leaving. A few small trout were caught but no yellows. They would only contemplate the fly  when things warmed up…. With the weather on the turn, things are looking good for the next group.

 

Feb 18

Three Rivers – Lesotho Yellowfish Group 9: 13 – 16 Feb 2014

Zoran with the weeks biggest, 52cm

Zoran with the weeks biggest, 52cm

Finally after two weeks we can finally say it seems the river is back to its old self again! The water has slowed down and the level is nice and low with the temperatures back in the late teens. This really bode well for our next group of guys who came into camp on Thursday and were very amped to say the least! We were joined by a Serbian Father son duo, Zoran and Darko and with them came two local KZN guys, Zaakir and Kavir, who’m both are in the medical profession and in love with catching yellow fish!

It started off slowly the first afternoon as a little hale storm the previous day made the water a little cool but still manageable! We decided to fish the home pool right below camp as we sighted some nice fish cruising the pool on the drive into camp.  Zoran managed to hook into two high 50cm fish straight away on dry but failed to land them as both times the hook pulled. Meanwhile the other guys managed a couple mid 30cm yellows also on dry.

The first full day started off slowly as the water temperature was touching 17 degrees at eighth o’clock and made the fish a little more sluggish. A couple was landed on hare&copper nymphs fished right down with the odd fish coming up and looking at the dries we had to offer. After lunch is when things started to heat up again as the water tempe shot up to just above 20 degrees. Zoran made a meal of it and landed two late forty centimeter fish and one of 52cm which turned out to be the biggest fish of the trip. Zaakir, Kavir and Darko also got into the action with everyone managing mid to high forty centimeter fish. The day didn’t end with no drama though, after Zoran preached to everyone on how important it is to fly fish with sunglasses he managed to hook himself in his eye! Luckily Kavir who is in the medical profession was close at hand and assisted but let that be a lesson to everyone!

Note the amazing water clarity

Note the amazing water clarity

Day two was started off in similar fashion as the previous day. Slower morning session but then again after lunch is where it all went down. The guys were catching yellow fish on dry like there was no tomorrow. Zoran managed 10 fish in the afternoon all by himself while the other guys had similar success. Stimulators, Adams flies, Klinkhammers and DDD’s were the flies in heavy demand but the nymphs did not go untouched either! Swinging gurdle bugs behind Hare&Copper nymphs delivered some spectacular eats taking the guys into their backing in a matter of seconds! Heart racing stuff to say the least.

All in all a great day!

Zaakir's beautiful Rainbow Trout

Zaakir’s beautiful Rainbow Trout

The last morning though, Zaakir got hands down the fish of the week. Bright and early he took a stroll down to a small pool below home pool and got a beautiful 30cm Rainbow trout on a stimulator. The colors on this fish just mind blowing and what a way to end the trip on.

Be sure to check in soon for the next day update from camp and by look of things, its only going to get better and better!

Till next time

Mark and Pierre

Tourette Fishing Lesotho Guides team

 

Feb 17

Three Rivers – Lesotho Yellowfish Group 8: 07 – 02 Feb 2014

Beautiful colors!

Beautiful colors!

So after all the rain the previous week we were a little nervous to see how the fishing would be this week. The weather forecast showed that it has cleared up but when we drove up the Mafika Lisiui Pass, which by the way is the catchment area for our river, on our way to Katse we could see signs of heavy rain the last couple days. Wet roads, loads of cloud still around and water seeping out all over the place.

None the less, we would still try our best!

I was joined this week by a group of guys who’s been best mates since school days so regardless of how good or bad the fishing was going to be, the atmosphere in camp would still be good.

The first session on Thursday afternoon we got treated to quite an impressive thunder storm but what stood out was the colors of the clouds, bright orange with hints of purple coming through, breathtaking to say the least. We still managed some fish even though the water was a little off color and still high after all the rain of the last couple days.

Allan with a mid forty cm Yellow Fish

Allan with a mid forty cm Yellow Fish

The first full day we fished the pools below camp as the water was still quite strong and off colored. Allan and Dave stuck to the home pool while Vossie and Wayne walked with TF Guide Yuri Jansen a little lower down. The guys managed some fish on a dry-dropper rig and some fish on the famous Gangnam Style fly as well but the majority was on the dropper! Little soft hackle nymphs, biots nymps and Hare&Copper nymphs plus the gurdle bug in orange seemed to be the go to flies for the day.

Wayne punished the fish in the tail of the one pool, by swinging the gurdle bug right into their faces and almost like forcing them to eat it! The best thing about this fly is that it pushed the fish’s buttons so much that they smash it with force like you can not imagine! Anything less than 4X and you playing with fire. Everyone had a ball and by nightfall the guys were chuffed plus we got treated to Dave Wood’s campfire guitar performance, definitely something to experience at least once in your life time haha

Day two got put on hold by a rising river that went up in a matter of minutes! While we were having breakfast it came up about a foot so we got our Jvices out and decided to whip out some flies instead while we waited to see what the river had in store for us. Luckily it calmed down very quickly and by 11:00 or so we headed back out, same strategy as the day before, focus on the pools as the runs and pocket water sections were still a tad to fast to fish!

Wayne's PB 53cm Lesotho Yellow

Wayne’s PB 53cm Lesotho Yellow

It started off slowly with the odd rise here and there but 20min later it was like someone just flipped a switch and the fish came on hard! Taking dries like it was going out of fashion. Between Dave, Allan and Wayne they must have landed about 30 fish on dry! One thing that definitely stood out this session was Allan’s double up. On a dry dropper rig he got a nice 41cm yellow on the dry and same time on the dropper he had a small rainbow trout. Quite an unique catch!

We retreated back to camp at around 15:00 as the storms clouds rolled in showed us an epic display of lightning hitting all the surround mountains.

The morning of departure we had a quick fish and Wayne managed a PB 52cm Yellow which was also the trips biggest fish and ended his trip on high no doubt!

Be sure to check in soon for another update from Lesotho

Till next time

Mark and Yuri

Tourette Fishing Lesotho Guides Team

Feb 05

Three Rivers – Lesotho Yellowfish Group 7: 30 Jan – 02 Feb 2014

From hero to zero. Thats what it felt like when we arrived back from Katse in camp after collecting the new guests.

A complete opposite of what we experienced the last couple weeks!

One spectacular low pressure system moved into the area and rendered the river into a raging torrent of muddy water! Nonstop heavy rains, icy winds and snow on the high peaks, myself and fellow guide Kyle knew the writing was pretty much on the wall.

wether1None the less the group was super motivated to give it a go anyway. You cant catch fish if you don’t have a line in the water right?

So we were joined by a group of four friends, Gerald, Terrance, Chris and Greg

Unfortunately with the state of the river and weather, the first afternoon was spent in the “mancave”, having a couple drinks, tying flies etc.

The first full day started of with the weather looking like it might clear so we decided to fish a beat quite high up the river with the hope of it cleaning up quickly. The water being a chilly 15 degrees C did not help our cause that much and by 11am the rain came down in buckets again and ended the day really early. Gerald managed to get one little rainbow trout on a biot beatis nymph fished behind a heavy Tungsten. Not bad going as the river was still in flood!

Terrance with one of his four yellow fish taken the last full day on dry

Terrance with one of his four yellow fish taken the last full day on dry

That night the river level went up some more with standing waves in front of camp and turned into an almost milo like color.

Early the next morning the river looked like it slowed down a little again but the temperature dropped to an even cooler 13 degrees C. We took a walk just below camp and came across a small mayfly hatch with some fish rising to the occasion. The guys capitalized fully and Terrence took the spoils with four yellowfish and 4 trout taken on Dry. Unfortunately this only lasted for about 20minutes and after that it was game over.

The heavens opened up on us again and ended the day really early.

Unfortunately weather is something you cant control and sometimes its in your favor and other times not, You win some and you loose some right? We looking forward to the guys returning next season and have a rematch so to speak.

Till next time

Mark & Kyle

Tourette Fishing Lesotho Guides team

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