Dramatic sandstone cliffs, willow trees in full autumn bloom, clear water, and shallow cruising trout. What more could I ask for?
Here follow a few pictures of a beautiful day exploring a section of the middle Tsoelike River. It’s probably my last cast in Lesotho until next summer at least. The fishing was challenging and rewarding with almost all fish being sight fished. It was encouraging to know that the population is healthy enough that next season can be expected to be a cracker, assuming the drought is finally over.
Next season I have to make an effort to get up here in the height of summer. The locals talk about the yellow fish being full up in the river in the summer months, and we even saw one good sized yellow cruising a long pool before we had a chance to set up. I would have thought with the water temperature as cold as it was that they would have moved down river a long time ago.
It will be important to get the timing of the trip right, to coincide with good water levels, and clean water. It will take a few days to clear after rain so its easy to have a trip blown out by dirty water. It happened to me last year in February when I went up to try for some yellows, so its not an easy trip to plan for as it storms regularly in the summer in those parts.
Feast your eyes on the dramatic scenery
The road less travelled
Very Challenging water to fish. Firstly because of the clear and calm conditions, and secondly you can’t top looking at the stunning scenery.
A beautiful fat rainbow. This was the average size of fish. There were a few fish of this size in each pool. Their condition suggests that next season they will be a lot bigger.
Spotting trout from on top of a cliff. This was as much fun as actually catching the fish myself.
Spotting another beauty for Andrew.
This was a fish of a life time for Andrew. I spotted a smaller fish which was holding just beneath me. While Andrew was getting into position a big hen fish arrived on the scene. It was at least 20″ and in excess of 3lbs. After an hour and a half of watching, spooking, and two missed strikes, Andrew eventually hooked the beast.
Finally a hookup.
If I had a landing net, we would have landed the fish. Unfortunately neither of us had one, and the hook pulled only a few meters from our feet. Despite the loss, it was a moment of celebration. These moments of exhilaration and intense suspense are what will stay with us forever. A fish picture would have been nice, but its not the be-all and end all of fishing. When my blog posts are all about me posing with fish and not about the experience, then I know I’ve lost the meaning of fishing.
I could sit up on this cliff all day, just watching the fish below. Its fascinating watching their movements and feeding habits from so high up.
This is the place I call the “Knife Edge”. Anyone who has fished this section will know what I am talking about. If one stands on top of the cliff up ahead, the river is only a stones throw over the other side, and several kilometers around a big horseshoe. The height of the river on the other side is probably only a few meters lower than that white looking ledge in the rock. That white rock is stained from bald ibis and comorant droppings..
Last light on the river before heading back up to the car.