In my life river has always meant estuary. I’ve never been landlocked, so that definition never needed to change, until now. Rivers North and North-East have Crocodiles and leobarbus , rivers South have just leobarbus.
In these parts people tend to keep their info close to their chests, so, truly on the outside, its Google Earth or guides. The latter involves talking to people, of which the inverse is on top of my weekend getaway list. Spin and pin it is.
The forecast was dismal and it seemed that regardless of where I went, I’d be in for rain and single digits at mid day. I hit the road early afternoon Friday and reached the cottage at dusk. A quick survey of the accommodation and all seemed good, bar the fact that the gas heaters were all empty. I had packed an electric fan heater just in case. Saviour.
The evening was spent equal parts solo drinking and tying. My entire material supply a hedge against unfishable weather. 6 game changers and a few hours later I retired. A peek through the curtains before first light showed rain which was expected but a disappointment nonetheless. More flies, with a headache substituting the booze this time.
The rain subsided by mid day and I took off dressed as warmly as someone without waders can. A check on the vehicle thermostat when I grabbed my net confirmed it, 5 deg. The cold was made bearable by beautiful walkable banks, and beautiful clear water.
I don’t know a hell of a lot about yellows, but I know that the largemouth variety enjoy structure. I enjoy casting at structure particularly with game changers as they tend to bounce off, and so I went. A submerged tree here, a shallow rock shelf there. A few kilometers downstream the river narrowed dramatically before opening up into a deep but narrow pool. I had on hiking socks and my PJs under my pants, and so the bite was provided by Murphy himself.
On the far side of the flow was a turbulent eddy full of surface scum, which Ewan and I had actively searched for in VD Kloof dam. The trick now was to try and cast over the massive current to get into this pool. I was far too cold to consider trying to cross, so I was hoping to substitute laziness with technique (of which I don’t have a hell of a lot in sweet water). I figured I would try a cast upstream, and allow the current to swing the fly along the eddy. That didn’t work so next attempt was to cast dead into the hole and allow the current to pull my fly. Im not sure if thats an actual technique in rivers or how the hell you would strike, so luckily no bite there, but I was noticing a strikable scenario as the current dragged the fly into deeper water below me. I noticed something odd and lifted without striking. A vibration made me first think branch or debris, but then tension and chaos. A kick on the surface revealed a silver tail as it shot down stream. Hope.
I was a long way from the deep water and decided to eventually run ahead to get a better angle. Unsighted into the deep I was worried about structure. A few anxious minutes later I had a pretty small yellow with a pretty big game changer completely in its mouth. Greedy little bugger. You made my day.
A few interval timer selfies and off he went. I continued down river some until the rain started again. Now soaking wet, the hike home was an exercise in thermal exposure. The rain didn’t stop again for the next day and a half, but that was fine.