Lesotho: Back down

Photo: Ryan Weaver

Waking up on the escarpment is not something that is easily explained.

The sun rises below you in the mists of the distant hills of Natal. The Ngeli lie far to south, barely discernable only after the sun gets higher. The light filters slowly up to you as it melts the grey mists to golden. The green fills of Natal reveal themselves in a glory of green, brown and lightening orange.

The melting grays transform into mountains and hills
The melting greys transform into mountains and hills
Ryan and Rex enjoying the sunrise.
Ryan and Rex enjoying the sunrise.
Natal in its morning glory!
Natal in its morning glory!
Giant's Castle waking to the morning warmth.
Giant’s Castle waking to the morning warmth.

The sunrise left me feeling energised and ready for the massive walk that we planned to complete that day. We would be walking north along the ridge of the edge of the world below ducking back into Lesotho to fish down a different river.

Again, the fishing was typical small stream fishing in some of the most unspoilt country I’ve ever had the privilege to meander through. Stunningly marked Rainbows came regularly to the fly and we took fish after fish, some as long as 12′, in the crystal clear water.

fly fishing for trout in lesotho highlands

Beautiful cuttie look-a-like
Beautiful cuttie look-a-like
So many that I could fish with one hand and try photograph the take with the other.
So many that I could fish with one hand and try photograph the take with the other.
Every pool held several fish
Every pool held several fish, but selfie poses always take time!
Another pretty rainbow
Another pretty rainbow

The fishing continued as such until we eventually reached a large switchback were lunch and coffee were served alongside a beautiful pool. Ryan took a couple of Rainbows even after we had had a needed swim. The weather had rather hot although didn’t seem to slow the fishing. At this point, because of the geography of the immediate area, we could split our little threesome up – two fishing up and one fishing down – and still cover the same amount of water before meaning at the next switchback.

Rex went up, we went down. We fished back to base camp and picked up a few more Rainbows along the way. We had missed Rex at the switchback and simply continued down to the base camp thinking he catch up to us shortly.

After our second cup of coffee, we decided it was time have a look for Rex. We met him about 15 min out of camp. The story he told told another 15min.

He had sighted a big fish feeding in one of the pools – one of the longest he had seen in Lesotho – and without thought about tippet condition or what would happen if he hooked it – he put out a cast. The fish rolled lazily out of its holding water and inhaled his dry.

Fish On and nerves arrived. The fish took its time to realise that something was amiss and three head shakes later it had popped the tippet and had disappeared, quietly, from sight. The first good brown of the trip had been seen, hooked and, unfortunately, lost.

Things were looking up. This encounter has buoyed my spirits, I came here to sight fish to big browns and had so far be disappointed. The experience had been thoroughly awesome and I couldn’t complain but I had come to the point where my hankering for decent clear water browns had started to cause an internal frustration that I was actively suppressing. Rex’s story was a great motivation. All I needed now was to get one myself – maybe the next day but I was to wait longer still.

We celebrated our return from the escarpment and Rex’s close encounter with Foie Gras, biltong and cheese. Who says you have eat two-minute noodles everyday in Lesotho?

Dinner fit for champions and lost boys!
Dinner fit for champions and lost boys!

4 thoughts on “Lesotho: Back down”

    1. fdavis says:

      I wish. Its an older model, a VT2, which love because of softer action and great butt power…

  1. Ray says:

    Sublime. Great piece that underscores how much more there is to fly fishing than catching. We fish because it transports us into other worlds. Thanks for taking us along.

  2. metiefly says:

    Totally agree with Ray – what a journey! Can’t wait to find out more about the big brown trout! All the best – metiefly

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