The cool weather experienced throughout this past November has called for a change in our approach to the way we typically target fish during the lead up to Christmas. The water temperature throughout Sterkfontein is significantly cooler for this late on in the year. Although the weather on any given day can drastically improve one’s chances, the conditions preceding a visit to Sterkfontein play an integral role in determining where the yellows are and what they are feeding on. Fly Fishing for small mouth yellowfish at Sterkfontein is summed up by being able sight and cast to feeding fish. In other words, the success of one’s outing is largely at the mercy of the elements and the weather conditions on that particular day. With a paradigm shift in the prevailing weather conditions, the element of risk involved in planning one’s visit to this popular fly fishing destination has become inherently high.
These past few weeks were certainly no exception and I am sure that I speak for many in saying that the beginning this year’s Sterkfontein season has – at the best of times – been rather challenging. Strong north westerly winds on clear days and a plethora of cold fronts in-between persisted throughout most of November into December amplifying less than desirable conditions.
Fruitless hours of stalking through our regular haunts called for a change of tactics and unconventional approach. Prospecting with weighted GRHE’s, ZAK’s and small Damsel patterns in and around drop-offs, deep water points and prominent weed margins became the order of the day. This is certainly not why we go to Sterkfontein but now and again one is forced to capitulate as there is no point in letting one’s pride compromise an entire week’s fishing.
We found fish in some of the regular haunts but not in their usual feeding mode weaving up near the surface.
Fish held deep and remained reticent towards most of the standard offerings.
Now and again there’d be a lull in the wind a smattering of rising fish, the odd fish showing here and there in the shallows but that was about as much surface action as we had all week. Prospecting blind, several yellows responded to weighted nymphs inched through the deeper water and small damsels twitched along weedy margins. Having learnt a cracking new card game (thank you John) – as I said, there is always a silver lining – and sporting several new grey hairs…oh and now pretty adept at skippering a boat through tumultuous ‘inland seas’, ‘Mother Nature’ finally relented. It was great to see big cruising yellows up on the surface and even better when they ate well-presented dry flies like all good yellows ought to.
Let’s hope the second half of December settles down to what most of us know as great South African weather.