The day started cold, dark and wet. It didn’t really improve. I met Ryan Weaver and Abraham de Klerk on the roadside – Ryan’s wife Jen, laughed at us as she headed to Kommetjie, a glass of sherry and warmth. We headed north, in the opposite direction, towards a new stillwater we had managed to gain permission to access.
About two hours out of Cape Town and Wimpy Breakfast stop later, we arrived under a rather intimidating dam wall. The mist floating out of a breathtaking manmade waterfall made for slippery steps and careful foot placement on the steep climb to the top. I just couldn’t stop staring in wonder at the engineering feat towering above me. The realisation that, for once, a barrier of this magnitude had kept a population of fish healthy and wild in their isolation.
I was also wondering about how on earth we were going to fish this water properly. It is very deep with super steep sides. The inlet stream allows some limited shallow water fishing, but on the whole it would be dredging with full sinking lines. My biggest concern, however, was the bottoming out barometer and six degree C water.
It was only the allure of catching big wild, stream spawned trout that got me into waders and pumping my tube (the waders actually had gone on in the Wimpy, much to bemused looks of the few other early morning customers!). The dam hasn’t been stocked in twenty years. There are stories of 5lb plus fish being caught. I wanted a piece of that 🙂 Even if the odds where stacked against us.
I must say the ‘Dumb Courage Award’ for the season must go to Abe who, not owing waders, braved the near freezing conditions in a wetsuit! He had to take a run up the steep slope of the mountains every 45 mins or so to warm up. If was cold in a down jacket under my waterproofs, I can’t imagine… The things we do!
We fished hard. Ryan had two decent knocks in the deep water – his patience almost paying off – and lost a smaller fish in the inlet section of the dam. I’m not a very good deep water fly fisherman and struggled to stay alert while plumbing the depths; my ADD tends to get me distracted!
And therefore soon hit the bank at the inlet. I spent an hour exploring the stream and was most chuffed to see a very handsome fish in the one of the first small pools, all lit up in his spawning colours. It saw me before I had finished wrestling the decision about whether or not I should disturb him with a fly. It must have run 3lbs.
At least I know the rumours of wild spawned trout had some solidity to them.
The end of the day arrived with lukewarm water for coffee – don’t go cheap on a flask – and a beer.
I will be back when the summer water levels are lower and I can spend some time sighting form the bank!