Just the moderate climate in the Transkei makes a wintertime trip from the Cape worthwhile!
We arrived at the boathouse to a stunning afternoon – no wind, blue skies and a flat sea. We grabbed the dropshot rods and headed to sea. I lost a tank in the first few minutes when I got smoked by sometime big. Dave McGibbon, Ken Keightley and myself landed a few nice rockcod before chasing the setting sun back to the warmth for the boathouse and some well earned beer!
My intended focus for the trip was obviously my flyrod. The Dec/Jan trip had prepared me for this one and I wanted to fish hard. But I didn’t! Not as hard as I should have anyway. This didn’t mean I didn’t get some good fish though.
The Shad were in the river, as my Dad and Ken proved as they threw fish after fish back while fishing with sardine drift baits. Several other species came out on the sards, including half-beak, kob, stumpies, blacktail and – on another boat – a River Snapper. The grunter were also acting different with more than a several caught on a drifted, floating sard over deep water. How those fish fascinate me!
I played quickly found that the Shad were readily eating light coloured baitfish imitation flies. As long as they were retrieved very slowly from about 4 or 5m depth. The takes were soft but the fights fun. Unfortunately we missed the main run of Shad and although we caught lots, they never got thick and they never arrived in size either!
Another mission of mine was to plumb the shallow reefs from the skiboat with the long rod. Dredging would not be considered a pure form of flyfishing, in fact, it probably isn’t at all! However, it opens the doors to areas and species that aren’t normally targetable on fly. And the rockcod loved the flies!
I’m sure its been done but I don’t any fly fishers who can tick a Yellow-Belly Rockcod off their South African species list! Ken got a stunning Black Steenbras on bait and I believe we’ve found an area to target them on fly, but more on that in the future… The reefs of the Transkei hold a huge variety of fish and it really is an exciting prospect thinking about the potential.
The bad weather, unfortunately, did arrive and we had quite a few rainy and overcast days – they didn’t stop us fishing but they certainly slow us down. A fair bit of time was spent diving crayfish and oysters and throwing a net for swimming prawns. I mean, what’s a Transkei trip if you’re not going enjoy copious amount of seafood 🙂
We spent some time high up the river looking for Perch and Nkula Nkula (River Snapper). I got a few Perch and did battle with a fish of sorts that could only have been a good size snapper. It won and I’m still waiting to tick one off my bucket list! These dirty fighting fish are voracious predators and are my number 1 to catch species in the Transkei. My father tells stories of the big ones of years past and I’ve seen them come out on bait. I will get one on fly!
A great trip all in all. Hopefully will be back sometime next year and have a few ideas for then…
More photos below: