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Ian Couryer- Fly Fishing Guiding Services - South Africa.  

July Fishing

July is often the most tricky month of the year to catch smallmouth yellows consistently, due to the low water temps and the because the reliable mayfly hatches of the last 10 weeks start to stutter and thin out.

Vis, not too shabby.

I am happy to report that the river is looking like a trout stream with regard to visibility, which is currently well over a meter.Temperatures have not yet sunk to their lowest and are presently around 11 degrees, more then warm enough for smallmouth to feed heavily given a fair hatch.

With stable warm daytime conditions and little wind ( 09.07.16) we saw the first tan mayflies # 14 , # 16 coming off at around mid day. The hatch peaked between 1 and 2pm and was almost done by 3pm.

Emerging baetis nymph

I took a seine net sample upstream and in line with where the fish were feeding to make sure I was getting the menu completely correct. I had noticed that some of the rises were just subsurface which normally means that the fish are taking emerging nymphs, the net results confirmed this and so I added a floating baetis nymph New Zealand style behind the tan mayfly, using the mayfly as an indicator for the nymph.                                                                   A couple of fish ate the nymph in stead of the dry which was encouraging as I am sure this lead to more hook ups.Most of the fish ate the dry with a powerful and audible kissing /sucking sound.

All in all a great guiding day on the river and a very satisfied client. I am looking forward to more dry fly action in August and September if the clear water persists.In  August and September Caddis are back in the mix adding to the excitement of a new season. 

Dry fly release.

Report May/June 2016

Saturday the 14 May dawned miserable and cold with heavy rain, unusual for this time of the year but welcome none the less.

I picked up my friend Enrico from his Johannesburg hotel and we headed  for the Vaal in the less than ideal weather conditions.

Being a civilized guy and an accomplished angler who has fished with me over a number of years, we were after smallmouth yellows on dry fly, a mutual passion. On the hour long drive down we discussed tactics and I said I felt sure of three things, we would be the only fly fishermen on the river,  the hatches would be better than usual due to the overcast cool weather and we would be very wet by the end of the day, even with our good rain gear.

As I pumped up the boat in the deluge I scanned the river for signs of life. A good number of swallows and martins were working the water signalling that a hatch of some sort was in progress. Enrico spotted several yellows feeding on top not 30m downstream of our intended launch site. Not yet having a chance to identify the hatch, I took an educated guess and hastily tied on a # 16 tan parachute Mayfly, the most commonly encountered insect at this time of year.

Normally we fish off the boat as the fish are in deep water but these boys were easily reached up and across from the bank. First cast and we had a hook up and landed a smallmouth yellow of around 1.3 kgs. Two more followed with about a 5 min rest between fish to allow the pod to start feeding again. After the third fish was landed and one broken off, the fish were well and truly spooked. I walked up stream to have a proper look at what was hatching.

Surprise, Surprise, the small spotted caddis, normally this bug is only seen hatching from August till around March. A  # 16 grey cdc caddis was tied on and we pushed off in the boat to find some more rising fish. Just a 100m further downstream and I dropped anchor as there were dozens of yellows feeding on top. Many of the caddis were scuttling across the surface making a down and across presentation the medicine and before too long we were constantly connecting with fish. After Enrico had boated more than his fair share and we were soaked to the bone we decided to motor back to the vehicle for a bite and some time in front of the heater. 

On our return the blue wing olives were hatching as well as a slate winged trico and to top it off there was an epic spinner fall at the same time. Although the caddis had thinned out a little by now they were still being eaten with gusto and the fish were now eating anything and everything.

Enrico fished from the bank and took multiple fish on a dark grey parachute mayfly casting to shoals of greedily feeding fish and stalking the odd lone riser. The fish were in a fighting mood, no doubt the rain oxygenated cooler water and their incredible post summer condition being the reasons. Yellows are renowned for their fighting abilities but these were all exceptional, with searing head shaking runs and he saw backing on several occasions.

To put this day into perspective, this was the biggest hatch of caddis I have seen in about 6 years and the best multiple hatch I have ever experienced in over twenty years of fishing and guiding the Vaal. World class quality wild fishing and not another fisherman in sight!

A happy man with the first of many on the Dry.  Fishwhisperer,where it all comes together.