The Clarens Inn roosters had us up before 5 AM today. Some people get worked up over such but I grew up raising Rhode Island Reds and I wish I had some roosters back home in Victor. The early start had us ready to rock to begin the last chapter of this southern Africa adventure.
The last chapter is with my South Africa friends from FlyCastaway, Gerhard Laubscher, Tim Babich and Ryan Hammond. Like Tourette Fishing, FlyCastaway is a phenomenal fishing company that guides groups to various exotic destinations. FlyCastaway specializes in the Indian Ocean islands of the Seychelles and St Brandon’s.
I met Tim in Farquhar last December where he was the head guide. Gerhard passed through Victor back in June and I had dinner with him at the Knotty Pine. Somehow Ryan and I haven’t met till today but it seems like we’ve known each other for years. The plan for the next two days is to fish the famous Sterkfontein Dam for yellowfish with Tim and Ryan. Gerhard is recovering from a surgery so Granny and I will stay with him in Johannesburg on Sunday and Monday on our way home.
Tim and Ryan picked Granny and I up in Clarens at 11 AM and we drove straight to Sterkfontein Dam. The drive took slightly over an hour and to get there we backtracked through Golden Gate National Park. We traveled through here on the way to Lesotho from Durban a week ago. When we arrived, Sterkfontein was an inhospitable wild ocean of whitecaps with sandstorms overhead.
This was indeed a “Monsoon Currier” situation. Tim and Ryan have us booked in a condo overlooking Sterkfontein in the Nature Reserve Site so we checked ourselves in. It was so windy that the gusts jolted you as you walked. It was quite hectic unpacking the vehicle and transporting our stuff in the condo.
We moved in and got comfy. Granny and I have been traveling so long our stuff explodes all over the second you open a bag. I grabbed the fishing stuff which for these last few days will consist of my 4- and 5-weight rods and a variety of terrestrials. Sterkfontein is famous for its dry fly sight fishing for yellowfish.
Once unpacked we sipped beers and ate lunch while hoping the wind would ease. It didn’t and finally Tim said let’s go for it. I’d never go on one of my lakes back home in these conditions but Tim and Ryan are captains and drive boats on the ocean for a living. They also know their boat was made for this weather. Before we could change our minds we launched and were bouncing our way to the Rock Quarry where some bays may be protected from the wind. I’m sorry but it was so intense I didn’t crack a photo. Granny opted out to stay back and watch Cricket.
It was late when we reached the Rock Quarry but today wasn’t planned as a big fishing day. It was windy here too but fortunately the steep Sterkfontein banks protected the water’s edge and we could see yellowfish immediately. Tim and Ryan guided me for the first ten minutes then I assured them I’d be good to go. This is a weekend away from work for them and Sterkies is one of their favorite places so I want them to fish and not worry about me.
Conditions were incredibly difficult with the wind and our time was short for this session but I found enough fish to realize that this will be more challenging than I expected. The yellowfish I cast to have PHD’s in fly patterns and spend their time scanning the cliffs for unwanted visitors. I had two fish rise to my fly only to nudge it away and spook. The rest spooked on my false cast.
The three of us met back at the boat before sunset to make the crossing back to the condo. There were fierce clouds in the distance. The fishing results were Tim landed two and Ryan one to go with my blank. I’ll be asking a lot of questions tonight so I can up my game tomorrow.
The next two days will likely be an education for me but challenge is what I like. This famous place has long been on my list. And I know you won’t believe this, but it’s time to fire up the barbeque!