FISHERY HABITAT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (FHHMS)
This unique software is a world leader, designed to manage the ecology of waters and strictly control utilization, to ensure that our waters are able to sustain incredible fishing.
Every stretch of water has a finite carrying capacity, measured in kilograms per Hectare. For example if a dam had a carrying capacity of 40 kilograms per hectare, it would mean that it could support 40 fish of 1 kilo each or 8 fish of 5 kilos (or any variables thereof). This biomass varies according to each individual dam, a stretch of water could sustain as little as 15 kilos per hectare or as much as 45 kilos per hectare or as much as 45 kilos. How much depends on many factors that require careful monitoring and with trout being at the top of their food web this biomass requires active management to continue producing specimens worthy of folklore.
Like any Game Reserve, the terrain and inhabitants need managing within a natural model to preserve the species, and this is exactly our focus.
The Bio-monitoring component of this software records samples of water regularly tested, analyzing low level toxicity and factors such as -: Water Temperature (surface and bottom) Dissolved oxygen, Oxygen saturation, Biochemical Oxygen Demand. Ph, Total Alkalinity, Nitrates and Phosphates, Dissolved Calcium and Magnesium salts, Turbidity and other variables of the habitat, allowing us to manage their environment and thus constantly yield fish of a high caliber.
Introducing man into the model needs strict controls, and here our unique software manages the Road Pressure, regulating the number of rods, aggressively promoting catch and release, enforcing applicable bag limits and closed wright windows, and religiously recording every aspect of the catch records.
With accurate data we are able to determine the optimum carrying capacity and stock our waters to formulas, and preferably with small fish or Fry. Why?
Because a one kilogram wild fish makes a two kilo hatchery fish feel like a minnow.
This is what every Fly Fisherman wants!
The feeling as 10 pound Wild Brown or Rainbow strips them to their backing! It is what it’s all about, the hunt and catch or fish that fight!! This is Wildfly!!!!
It is our strict rules and regulations interfaced with the software that allows us to exercise complete control, ensuring that the privilege of access is not abused!
Know Your Wily Adversary
The wonderful world of wily trout has been scientifically dissected as with most biomes that have entertained mankind from time to time. With enough information available, one would expect fly-fishing to be a wholly scientific endeavor. Not so, Flyfishing has been considered an art for a while longer than the sciences have been considered important. It is science however, that has lifted Flyfishing from its elitist traditions and expanded it into artistic perfection. It is important for a Flyfisher to arm oneself with as much weaponry as possible before going to battle with these ceritable giants of the watery world. Science has thankfully already acquired the necessary reconnaissance information that should make catching fish theoretically easy! Thankfully this is never the case and knowing every little nuance of the fish world only bring a small step closer to perfecting the art.
Flyfishing need to base their strategies on knowledge of behavior patterns that are specific to each species. Each species has a preferred ecological niche, preferred food organisms and preferred ambient conditions. Our focus here is on Trout (Oncorhynchus Mykiss: Rainbow Trout, Salmo Trutta: Brown Trout) and Scaly (Barbus Natalensis). The two factors that will improve one’s success concerns a fish’s biological mechanisms used in locating food and adverting danger.
Mechanisms Used in Locating Food:-
During stable conditions, the primary Mechanism employed in locating food is The sense of sight. Fish have almost all Round vision except for an area directly Behind the fish that is essentially a blind Spot. Fish have an area of stereoscopic Or three-dimensional vision directly in Front and monocular vision to the sides
Fish often respond negatively to rapid And sudden movement inside the area of Monocular vision, as they are unable to Ascertain distance of objects inside this Area.
Another principle influencing a fish is the principle of refraction. Refraction refers to the bending of light rays as they pass from air into the denser water medium. Refraction producers a field of vision known as the fish’s window. This window is the area in which there is no distortion of the outside world, with the surface around a fish’s window reflecting light and obstructing a fish’s vision into the alien habitat that forms our preferred ecological niche. This window increases in size as a fish descends deeper and decreases uniformly as a fish nears the surface. A fish holding only centimeters below the surface, has a considerably reduced window into the outside world compared to fish holding at greater depths.
The area of stereoscopic vision is used to measure distance when assessing or pursuing prey. Fish’s eyes are more adept at gathering light than human eyes, allowing them to see adequately in low light and murky water conditions. Trout specifically are adept at registering colours, sometimes locking into a specific colour and refusing to register others as food. Their perception of colour is nowhere near as proficient as a humans, but fish seem to have a better perception of contrast. It is the nature of water to filter out colours. Sunlight is comprised of the seven rainbow colours, each colour being filtered out by the water at different depths. The first to go are the warmer reds, orange and yellows, down to violet light which penetrates to the depth at which all sunlight is finally filtered out.
Fish combine their sense of sight with a vibration detecting mechanism known as the lateral line. This organ is highly sensitive to vibrations as well as the barometric pressure changes. Trout and scaly will use their lateral line and sense of smell to locate prey when their sight is compromised due to poor water clarity or low light conditions. All fish have an acute sense of smell, but many species with exception of a few only use this sense when their sight is compromised or to confirm whether what they see contains nutritional value.
Mechanisms used in averting danger:
Fish use all available senses to detect danger, often to safety underneath rocks or into deep water at the slightest hint of anything unnatural within their range of detection. Sight, hearing with lateral line, taste and smell are all employed by fish to preserve themselves. It is therefore important to minimize the amount of unnatural chemicals transferred from ones hands to one’s equipment. The larger the fish the better their senses. Fish are used to seeing the same things 24/7 and are usually quick to reject anything that does not behave in the fashion that they are accustomed to. Your best chance for consistent success comes from an ability to blend into both the surrounding bank-side vegetation and the natural process which the fish are accustomed to. Excessive false casting will often result in a lot of spooked fish, so one must learn to cast efficiently.
Preferred ecological niches:
Trout: Clean, unpolluted water with an oxygen content of 5 parts per million and temperatures between 8 and 22 degrees Celsius (16 degrees optimum). Aph of 7, 5 to 8 is preferable but trout will tolerate ph. of 6-9. Sufficient cover or depth to avert predators and bright light, as fish don’t have eyelids and do not tolerate certain light intensity.
Scaly: Scaly or Yellow fish are indigenous so they are perfectly adapted to the African conditions. They can tolerate higher temperatures than trout and prefer feeding in temperatures between 12 and 30 degrees Celsius. Scaly move into the headwaters once the water warms up during the spring and summer. They will move into the upper reaches as soon as the first rains have past as long as there are no unsurpassable waterfalls to bar their progress. Once the water cools down again coming into winter, scaly migrate downstream in search of fairer climates.
THE ETHICS OF FLYFISHING
Aside from the strict rules and regulations that govern our waters and the art of fly-fishing in general, a topic worth debating internally to yourself is Catch and release.
This is a contentious topic with many viewpoints resulting from countless inconclusive debates. Under the wild conditions, the largest trout are the ones which have survived natural selection because of superior genetics. It is important for these fish to remain in the water to continue to supply the river systems with healthy offspring and to provide quality Flyfishing throughout their life cycles in still-waters. Trout rarely spawn successfully in still-water and there is a small percentage of trout that make it to large sizes under natural circumstances.
Under optimum conditions a Rainbow Trout lives for 5 years and a Brown for 7. Only few reach this super predator stage, eclipsing the legendary double digit proportions that every Flyfishing enthusiast aspires towards. When man is added to the natural model and if high levels of fish are removed from a system, specifically or certain sizes, then the system will not be able to produce the returns that we are all looking for. As detailed under our fishery Habitat Management System, considering the finite carrying capacity of any water, what would you rather catch, lots of small fish or a consistent return of quality proportioned fish. The point is that as source of entertainment, if it is the hunt and catch that gets the Heart pounding and gives a sense of satisfaction, then a large portion of fish should be released, giving them the opportunity to become folklore!
It is logical that the majority of healthy fish caught should be released, and injured, unhealthy fish removed. Hatchery trout taste far better than those caught in still-waters and rivers, so if the table is first priority, then this should be your destination.
True Fly fishers tend to consider Flyfishing to be about things other than the human hunter instinct, so releasing ones catch becomes part of the satisfaction. Ideally, Flyfishing should be about taking part in nature without taking too much from nature. A Flyfisher should fit in to the natural model by only cropping those fish that are handicapped by injury or poor health, or removing only a limited number of specific size fish according to a defined model, thus emulating what happens naturally. Some people may feel that the money paid for a rod fee gives them a right to do as they please, with little regard for their fellow anglers, this however, is a philosophy that will upset any model and ultimately your future sport.
Now all of our waters are extremely carefully managed to produce a consistent quality yield, through our unique Fishery Habitat Management Software. This unique system allows us to determine precisely what should be cropped, in relation to weight windows.
Based on our bio-Monitoring program, which collects and records every facet of the habitat data and the strict control of Rod Pressure, we are able to stock according to formulas that promote the growth of our trout within the carrying capacity of the water.
In short you will be told permissible bag limit in relation to size/age.
Quality angling can only be sustained if fly fishers release their catch successfully. If one wants the fish one releases to survive, one must develop a sense of respect for the fish. You must concentrate fully on proper handling of the fish. Always wet your hands before handling a fish and it is critical not to put any pressure on the soft underbelly where the vital organs are found. You must take care to lift a fish by the jaws, as a trout’s spine is not strong enough to support its full body-weight outside of the water. Many trout perish unnecessarily due to infections which start after a fish has been dumped unceremoniously on the bank, or mishandled and the released with damage to the protective mucus which covers the fish. It is important to release a fish as soon as possible thus ensuring a chance of survival. More than half of released fill will perish die to stress. This is a startling statistic, even more so since it was derived from a controlled test environment, which would be far more sterile that the natural habitat of fish. Hooking mortality was also measured to have a difference of about 5% between barbed and de-barbed single-barbed hooks. The test proved that hooks which have a large gape in proportion to the fish’s size caused a considerably higher hooking mortality than smaller hooks.
What does this mean for the Flyfisher?
It means that one can define one’s angling capability by one’s ability to attract, catch, land and release the quarry, for it to reach its full potential at the top of the food chain.
Those that have perfected the art of Flyfishing know how to subdue trout quickly and efficiently, then release them without even touching them (using barbless hooks).
Occasionally a fish is lifted briefly out of the water to be immortalized by the click of the camera, then gently lowered back into their world. Sometimes, the Flyfishing-artist has to club one on the head, not to fulfill a hunter instinct, but to remove unhealthy fish which has no chance of reaching its full potential. These include fish which have injuries from cormorants, or otters, or fish that have visible infections. Another consideration, in terms of release is water temperature, as the amount of dissolved oxygen diminishes as water temperature rises. Trout only thrive in cooler temperatures, where the oxygen content in water is high. As the fish struggles on your line in warm waters with little oxygen, it battles to survive. Even with good intentions of preserving the fish for bigger days, if released after a long struggle in warm waters, it will probably not survive.
The key during warm weather is to land the fish quickly (don’t’ play it), resuscitate it properly and ensure during release that it beyond the weed-bed. (Many fish end up tangling themselves in the weeds on release, not having the strength to make it to open water). Climatic conditions in South Africa are marginal at best, with only 4 months generally out of the year being conducive to stable water temperature for trout. The larger the trout the more oxygen required, and hence the more susceptible they are. Subsequently, a trout that is of trophy proportions must be handled very carefully and sometimes removed if it is incapable of being released successfully. A school of thought says that you should release it anyway which may sound ridiculous, but if you return a fish and it dies, it does become part of the food chain. The crabs will thrive and in turn will become food for the fish, which could be construed as the most effective and efficient way, as the entire food web will benefit.
Most of us fish for that elusive trophy, and the fact is that in modern world of taxidermy the fish isn’t required, provided that you have a good photograph, the fish can be gently returned, hopefully to fight another day. A win-win situation, for you, your prize and the Fisherman who follow after you.
In short a trout is too a valuable resource and too much fun only catch once!!