It was at a time that I was scrambling for a formula that worked for Garden Route Grunter, long before I realised there were many formulas, for many situations.
Id been up every weekend for a year, walking, wishing & working. A process that I enjoy far more than any other aspect of the sport. The grass banks in Sedgefield had moved and a big tide had laid them flat. This isn’t like turtle grass. Think soft pine needles.
Id watched these fish tail on the dropping tide and had tried the usual trick of casting to tailing fish, but with a closing mouth it had become harder and harder to predict this behaviour. I had a nap in the grass and then noticed something. Thousands of tiny crown crabs on the lagoon banks. I didn’t know it at the time, but id stumbled accross a hatch. To make matters worse (or better for the fish), was that the grass cover had all washed away. Could they be eating these?
It called for a new approach, kneeling on the grass and adjusting my eyes to pick colour rather than contrast over the dark grass. I only had one crab fly, a little Turneffe crab that was left over from a Seychelles trip in dark brown.
A group of 3 small fish was cruising on the grass, pectorals splayed and relaxed. What happened next seemed ridiculous, particularly after a year of presenting in the same lagoon thousands of times with no result. The lead fish just swam up and sucked it in. I was so shocked I struggled to react, and eventually did a half ass hook set. I pulled the fish straight to my feet before it came off. The fly was now destroyed, so I returned to friends house and tied 5 or 6 different variations after taking pictures of the tiny hatch crabs.
The next morning was perfect, and yielded a perfect result. The first fish that swam by sucked up, I pinned it and the hook pulled. I turned to see a tail out proudly behind me, and without needing to cast dropped the fly almost too close. It slid down the tail of the fish and the reaction was priceless. I didn’t even need to strip it was sucked in so deep. I had to head back to Cape Town, and somehow managed another little guy before hitting the road.
I thought Id cracked the code. Nope. Id cracked “a” code, but it was a great feeling while it lasted. Ill be up there this year, looking for those little crabs.