The last day at the dam
It was a slow start we had flies to tie, leaders to make, and coffee to drink before we headed down to the boats. We knew that the drought wouldve pulled the waters edge further away again and we would have to pull the boats through the sinking sand like mud before we could set off.
Damian headed out first across the minefield of camel thorns and peaked our interest when we saw him meerkatting on top of the ridges. It must have been fish and judging by Damians enthusiasm, probably more of his pet catfish.
We walked down and were amazed to see decent sized smallies patrolling high up the drought formed cuts in the bank. Ewan and I started taking shots and immediately a carp started tailing right in front of us. Again no joy, but Ewan would hook up to one of the smallies. Took a few pics next to the log where he hooked it and set off towards the boats.
Clarity was worse still and I was in eco tourist mode. I think Ewan knew his hunt for a double digit fish was over the second he saw the water.
I wanted to check out the big island beyond my largie spot and we were both pretty relaxed considering our odds in these conditions. Ewan was still set on structure while I was deteremined to find better clarity. We found neither. We continued to walk the steep drop off on teh windward side of the island. Casting indescriminately into the depths. It was stupidly hot today and we were ready for our eggs and leftover braai.
Walking through a trench to the leeward side we found a beautiful looking, calm carp bay full of, you guessed it, carp. There were also a few smallies around and Ewan focused on those, while I looked for more punishment with the carp. Stubborn, tired, hot and frustrated I put the wooly bugger on the nose of a fish crusing the bay time and time again. After a few minutes, and for no reason whatsoever the little mirror carp decided to inhaled the bugger! A shocking reminder of how strong Carp are. I couldnt get the little sucker within net range.
We eventually landed it and took some beautiful pictures whereafter we had our snacks and continued along the leeward side of the island. What we found was a shale rock beach kilometres long, with carp and cats throughout. Ewan convinced a massive pussycat to follow a full fly line in, but it just refused to eat. In reflection I seem to remember one of us getting a baby Largemouth somewhere on that walk.
Empty hydration packs and finished lunches we arrived back at sugar kid and the boats. As we put our gear back in the boats and considered our next move we could see the chocolate mermaids surfacing across the dam from us on another little pinacle with structure on either end. I still really wanted one and after some moaning Ewan decided to join.
I tied a massive dahlberg diver to my 9 and presented right on top of each cat that surfaced. They would tickle it with their whiskers but just would not commit. My abused winchwood had a goldilocks tied on with an intermediate line and I figured I would try the Permit technique of casting and hoping to feel. I put it on his head as he surfaced. He twitched sensing it’s proximity, but I couldn’t see anything else. I took up the slack in the line and just waited to see if I could feel anything. Sure enough I could feel movement in the line, and i set the hook hard before all hell broke loose. Massively under-gunned with my six weight, I knew the odds werent great with keeping it out of the submerged logs. But by God I was going to give it a go.
For the next five minutes Damian witnessed a full on straight sticking GT fight in freshwater constantly commenting that something was going to break, my rod specifically. However, I could feel each pull was less energetic than the last and soon we had the mottled zombie from the deep on the rock. Shaken not stirred. I am embarrassed to say after seeing the size of its dentures I was too scared to put my hand in its mouth and proceeded to shuffle it up the bank with my feet. I had my big cat and it stank every bit as bad as Ewan had told me it would. But it was a happy kind of stink.
On the way back we saw another big cat cruising on the surface but with both of us too tired for another hiding and looking forward to the river tomorrow we decided against a cast.