Unfortunately this is becoming a regular theme. Rex goes off fishing in some beautiful stream, blanks yet again, gets mocked by his wife and writes a story on where not to fish. You must be thinking that I’m a pretty hopeless fisherman. If you are, well you not alone, my wife chirps me non-stop. I’m wondering if I am a worthy contributor to “Feathers”, after all you guys want to read about the fish we catch and how we do it. In my defense, it’s not a great time to be a small stream enthusiast in Natal at the moment. The drought has seriously thinned out the fish populations, but they should recover soon as the river levels are looking really good. One thing I will continue to do, is share beautiful pictures of the streams that I explore. Judging by my recent success, I may as well write about where you shouldn’t go fishing. Fish or no fish, its great fun exploring these special streams!
All I wanted to do this weekend was to catch a fish, just one and bring it home to cook for Jen (after throwing it at her first for all her mocking). I have to agree with Jenny that technically speaking fishing means catching fish and so what I do must be something else. If its not fishing then what is it? Mediation came to my mind this weekend. What better way to describe my hobby. Its the best way to unwind and completely zone out and forget about everything else. Not that my life’s is so stressful that I need meditation, but its good to zone out none the less. I won’t bore you guys with the details of the my last three fishing trips, but I will share some photos. I have fished in three incredibly beautiful places but have only one 6″ fish to show for it. So if its fish that you after then take this post as a guide of where not to fish.
This weekend we spent a family weekend at Lotheni Nature Reserve in the Southern Drakensberg. It’s somewhere I have hiked through twice, many years back, but I’ve never stayed in the chalets. I can’t believe I’ve never stayed there before, as its an absolute gem of a place. This was actually a family getaway for grandparents and uncles and aunties. It also happened to be my little ones first birthday. What a place to celebrate your birthday. I did sneak in some exploring and a bit of fishing, with no luck of course. Lotheni is definitely going to be more frequently visited by our family in the future.
So what about the fishing? Well, pretty much the same as the last time. Absolutely gorgeous water, but Lotheni’s Brown trout were nowhere to be seen, at least in the areas I focused on. I spent a few hours fishing the section around Cool Pools, where I rose a decent fish which I missed (probably meditating too hard) and had one tiddler splash at my fly. Other than that, it was just casting practice, and lots of meditation. On Saturday morning I fished hard for a few hours up the Left hand fork of the Lotheni River that comes in from the west. I fished a few km above Simes Cottage while the family picnicked on the rivers edge. It was the most beautiful water, where I would expect to find a fish in every pocket, but I didn’t even spook a fish.
This morning Jenny and I went for an early hike up the Northern fork of the Lotheni river, which according google maps, is called the Elandshoek River. We walked about 4 or 5 km upstream of the main confluence. This was even better looking water than the left branch! I fished hard for a few hours before we had to head back to be there when Granny arrived. Here again, I didn’t even see a fish. If there were Rainbows in the river, I would have expected to be hooking them in every pocket. It seems like that both the Lotheni and the Mkomazi Brown trout have been severely thinned out by the drought, but I have no previous reference other than from other anglers. Both rivers seem to have a few fish lower down, but in both rivers, I saw nothing higher upstream, where the water actually looked better. Anyone wanting to go and fish those rivers, and who actually wants to catch something, then focus on the lower reaches. Maybe its even worth going down into the tribal lands where there is more holding water. It wasn’t for a lack of flow, the rivers were flowing at a perfect level, its just that there seem to be bugger all fish higher up. But then we are talking about those sneaky things called Brown Trout which can appear out of nowhere and then disappear again leaving the river looking devoid of fish.
Here follow a few pictures from two other weekends fishing I have had in the month of September. I fished for a day on the lower Tsoelike River in South Eastern Lesotho, and a day on the Mkhomazi river in Vergelegen Nature Reserve in the Drakensberg. To read more on those two outings you can check out the two links below: