I recently returned from my annual trip on the lower Orange river and when people ask me what I love about fishing I usually simply take them through a day on the Orange. You float down a deserted river with zero contact with the outside world for 6 days enjoying nature in all her splendor, have a few ice-cold beers at the end of the day and then roll out your sleeping mat under the stars and fall asleep while as the milky way smiles down on you. The fishing is often secondary to the overall experience and total immersion in the outdoors.
On a trip a couple of years ago I saw three good fish tailing in a shallow glide and assuming they were smallies made a cast with a streamer I was fishing. Without hesitation, one of the fish inhaled the fly and after a proper pull in some fast water landed a lovely 12lb largie. It was a largie in every way except for its peculiar mouth which was almost a perfect hybrid of a smallmouth and largemouth. I’ve had conversations with a number of experienced yellowfish veterans post this event and most believe that some fish have a preference for grubbing and as a result develop this mouth. I would love to hear any other theories on the subject.
It’s well known that both largies and smallies love to eat crabs and after catching a tailing fish albeit on a streamer I was keen to fish some realistic crab patterns on this trip. On the first morning I fished a brown flexo crab and made a dead drift through a likely largie lie and went tight on my very first cast. I had mixed emotions when it was a big smallie instead of a largie but the fact that the fish ate without hesitation gave me a lot of confidence. A combination of cold fronts in the cape and a dropping river resulted in tough fishing for the week and the tried and tested streamers even struggled so I didn’t spend as much time fishing crabs as I would have liked but under better conditions I’ll give it a full crack next time.
The other highlight of the trip for me was fishing my new 7wt had had built by Derek Smith. Garth Wellman put me onto the CTS Affinity X blanks a while ago and they are incredible. The rod casts larger, heavier flies effortlessly and it couldn’t have faced a sterner first test than a big largie. Derek did a fantastic job on this beautiful rod which is now my go-to largie and big clannie stick.