At long last the river season is officially now open in the Natal Midlands, although we are still waiting and hoping for some early rains to flush the system and get those big Brown Trout moving.
The Snow melt would have certainly helped and with a little luck assisting in some respect to their successful breeding.
There are many rivers to choose from in Natal, with the wealth of our Drakensberg Catchment, but the Mooi still remains my firm favourite for good reason. Not only is the entire course of the Mooi from the Kamberg Nature reserve to the new Spring Grove dam largely protected from poaching by private landowners, but it also has very little intensive farming along it’s banks, conserving the water quality admirably.
I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy some incredible fishing over the last decade, from the headwaters at Riverside, compliments of the Mollers to the lower reaches of InverMooi that have been left as a wild fishery in which to stalk your prey.
At this time of year, the water is still quite thin, so one needs to tread stealthily if you expect to sight cast to your fish and more often than not you will find the more worthy specimens in the head or tail of the chain of pools that characterise the waters flowing through InverMooi.
River Browns are undoubtably the smartest of the Trout that we will find in South Africa, having the keenest eyesight accordingly to scientific journals. So here’s a few tips if you want to convert a few of your casts.
1. Pack away your big ugly patterns in Spring and have faith in that the wily brown will see your size 14 or smaller patterns.
2. A floating line is all you will need in this water level and current, as by simply lengthening your leader you can fish the entire water column, if you decide to nymph.
3. Make sure you don’t fish anything heavier than 4x tippet, preferably fluorocarbon and 12ft is a suitable leader length for your 3wt stick.
4. Less casting will equal more fish. If you believe the fish can see your small fly, then your fly line repeatedly hitting the water will definitely announce your presence.
5. Trout generally are easier to find in a river than a dam, as the obvious ‘lies’ will be were they have-:
a. Protection for predators – i.e. undercut banks or submerged structure
b. A break from the current – no fish likes to waste energy fighting fast flowing water
c. In well oxygenated waters – this is as important for the invertebrates on which they feed as it is for them.
All of the above, equals an opportunity to feed quickly and return to the safety of their lie.
6. Then it’s a matter of drifting the right fly over your designated spot naturally – water dragging on your fly line is what you want to prevent here. Only after you have presented and drifted your fly over the lie precisely a few times, should you think of changing fly or moving on.
7. Above all, don’t rush, it’s not about how much water you cover as you gradually move upstream, but more about covering the water properly.
Fishing for wild Brown Trout will teach you patience, but there is nothing more rewarding than seeing it all come together and earning your fish.
As I am fond of saying there is no substitute for time on the water and you can’y pay a good guide enough. Fortunately for fly fishers visiting the Midlands this season, InverMooi has just opened a range of luxury cottages, giving you access to a wonderful section of the Mooi, as well as some very productive still waters on this majestic farm…….Macnab and Malachite dam as they are known, actually caught the most fish in this years TOPS Corporate Challenge.
Get your booking in early, as this gem is without a doubt the finest new fly fishing venue around. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your space.