The rain hit hard through the night here at Tourette Fishing’s Makhangoa Community Camp in Lesotho. We’re thanking the rain gods because they are experiencing serious drought. November is the end of rainy season and the beginning of the dry season. The yellowfish rivers should be high and full of fish. Instead water levels are already the lowest my friends have ever seen.
After the night of rain the morning clouds were thick but there were a few pokes of sun that snuck through making this gorgeous scenery even more dramatic. The air was surprisingly chilly much like at home on a summer morning. It makes sense however because our elevation here is same as home at 6,250 feet.
Our visit here will be four days. Granny and I were generously invited by my friends of Tourette to be part of their opening of Makhangoa Camp for the season. All their guides will be here by the end of today and this is their guides party like we have back home in late October. It’s a real privilege to be part of this.
After my coffee I grabbed my Winston 4-weight and wandered down the steep hill from our hut to the camp pool. Tourette’s guide whom I met last night for the first time, Johann du Preez, has been here a week setting things up and mentioned there are a few trout in the camp pool. This excited me because I was unaware of the trout being here and I’ve never caught a trout in Africa. How cool would it be to add an Africa segment to my “Trout Bumming the World” PP? I tied on a Peter Carty cicada and my choice baffled Mark.
It was 6 AM. The sun was warming things fast. There wasn’t an ounce of wind and the camp pool was deep and still. It was stunning in beauty with the hillside colors and the reflection on the water. There was something about it that rang of a few big fish hidden in there. I snuck carefully through the trees trying to spot a fish. The clarity was off but I still had six inches of visibility.
Things weren’t as quiet as it looks in the above photo. Its spring here and the swallows and weaver birds were going crazy. Up on the hillsides local Lesotho boys graze their sheep. Occasionally they yell to one another from a mile away. They say one word at a time spacing their sentences and amazingly the person a mile away understands and they go back and forth with the conversation. It’s incredible and Victor, Idaho suddenly felt like a million miles away. I grabbed a seat on a log to listen and watch the weavers weave their incredible nests.
I must have relaxed for ten minutes when lo and behold a respectable brown trout swam by in the one tiny opening I had between the riverside trees. I had absolutely no way for and overhead cast so from the log I popped out the cicada pattern with the deadly bow and arrow cast. The cicada splatted and the brown charged the fat black dry fly and ate it so fast Mark would’ve fainted. I set and as if I didn’t have a hook in my fly it slipped right out of the browns mouth without touching him. The brown bolted and I was horrified!
That would be my one chance in the camp pool. These are extremely wild trout here in Lesotho and a second chance was not in the cards. Regardless of my failure to hook the brown I was pumped as heck and returned for breakfast and to organize Granny to hike upstream and fish more. I proved we had a chance to catch some fish.
The weather conditions diminished fast. The wind came up then we had a squall of rain then hail. The temperature dropped again. It went from hard to see fish to nearly impossible. We struggled through the rest of the morning before Granny gave up. We’d walked upstream a mile and I returned with her with plans of a nap and some blog catch up.
The Tourette guys knew sight fishing for yellowfish was brutal for today and they opted to work on camp. After lunch I failed at napping and couldn’t get my writing mind in order. The river below our hut just kept calling me despite the fact that now the home pool had whitecaps. The sun returned with the cold and wind so I went back out solo and walked a couple miles till sunset. Miraculously I spotted one cruising yellowfish and got him to destroy the cicada. Unfortunately I lost him on the first run.
It was a hard day on the water but I gave it all I had. The good news is that the skies have cleared and Keith Clover and the other guides arrived tonight with a weather report of constant improvement over the next three days. We finished the day with beer wine and lamb chop stew. All is good in Lesotho!