The debate around what flies works best is as old as the art itself and one that becomes most animated over a dram or two. Tying pundits the world over will swear blind on their unique patterns, with the multitude of variations now requiring one to have a manual to identify the thousands of creations. And naming a fly has become as important as the premise behind it’s origin……it’s makes you think carefully about the man responsible for the Wooly bugger!
So when you invite 146 anglers together to test their metal against the feral trout of the Kamberg Valley, no prizes for guessing what’s the hot topic of conversation.
The root of tying stems from observing what the fish are feeding on and attempting to imitate their prey. Although along the line, the imagination of the artist has definitely dominated………after all, a beautifully crafted fly attracts the admiration of an angler more than the average fish.Many factors come into play when deciding on which fly you should strap on, but it’s important to realize that many flies will do the job if they are presented in the right area. So the first question is not what fly to use, but where should you be looking for trout.
The basic reasoning being that the wrong fly put consistently in the right place will out fish the right fly presented in the wrong area!
Early morning and late evening, all trout feel less threatened by potential predators and hence in low light conditions will hunt more readily near the surface. Most fly fishers would agree that the start of any fishing session should begin by looking for moving fish as throwing to a feeding or active trout certainly increases one’s chances.In the absence of any discernable movement then we next look to where a trout would or could be foraging. Structure, inlets and spillways are all likely holding areas in a Stillwater and where most of the festival entrants seemed to find fish early on.
The 1st day of the 2013 Tops at Spar Kamberg Trout Festival, now in it’s 17th year saw more fish caught and released than in the entire 2012 event….a testament to their stocking program and the frigid water temperatures that the first frosts brought on.And that’s the second factor that most entrants seemed to take into consideration, knowing that the late Autumn into Winter would see the trout transform into their spawning colors. Hence the fish would have a tendency to ignore the patterns that mimic insects in favor of brighter flies that would attract their attention and trigger some territorial aggression. Yellow, Orange and Red composites took down the bigger cock fish over this year’s festival. That said, specific patterns certainly outperformed others.
Using a combination of the aforesaid colors as one or more attractors, most anglers chose to fish with larger flies (in the 6-10 hook size), generally with a little weight, to ensure that the fly always sinks and retrieves at a different depth to the line. The more innovative fly fishers elected to add movement into the fly, with a natural tail or prominent collar or hackle that proved to entice the fish even further.
As one would expect the atmosphere in the evenings rivaled any celebration after a Springbok win with stories being embellished without any embarrassment as the excitement of reliving those moments gained momentum. The catering continued to impress this year, as the Kamberg ladies kept the fisherman from having to rely on their fishing skills.Predictably the 3rd and 4th fishing sessions proved tougher with a howling wind on Saturday afternoon making float tubing closer to kite boarding than fishing.
Come prize giving, having spent some 20 hours on the water, anglers were singing a different tune on the fly front. Smaller patterns, presented with a lot more finesse were the order of the day, as the trout had become a little wiser to the free meals on offer.
Drifting a pattern also proved to be far more effective than simply stripping the fly at varying degrees of speed and length.
Many of the anglers at the Tops at Spar Kamberg Trout Festival fished with two or more flies to cover many variables at play for when the trout get a little fussy, mixing two flies of distinct size…usually one an attractor and the other a smaller imitative nymph. But again the biggest factor that counted was time on the water, putting and keeping the flies in the right stretch of water longer.
In total 838 trout were caught and released, with only 31 being culled for potential trophies. The Winning fish was Crispin Harrison’s 3.3kg rainbow, with session prizes going to Peter Shanley, Keiran Siney, Jonathan Saulez and Stu duToit.Grevin Price and Richard Gorlei both released a 56cm beauty earning them a special mention and trip away compliments of WildFly Travel. Best lady Angler went to Genna George for catching in three out of four sessions and Danie Steyn took top Dam honors for the magnificent fish that Hlatikulu dam produced.
Being a community fundraiser you have to take your hats off to Graham Armstrong, Ed Erskine and their committee for bringing the community together to put on such an incredible show. It sets the benchmark in festive fly fishing!
And of course to all the sponsors for supporting this fly fishing festival….make sure you support them please.
What fly caught the most fish….well if I’m to believe the culmination of all the stories overheard, it would have to be an Orange tail, red arsed wooly zonker with bubble eyes, green rubber legs adorned in a crystal chenille……….go figure!