We awoke to a much nicer day than yesterday. It was freezing cold but the clouds were gone and I could see right away the river came down a few inches. I got up at 5 and slammed my coffee, grabbed my 4-weight LS and went back down to the camp pool. I had a meeting with a brown trout.
I went back to the exact log I sat on yesterday. Guessing the brown to be too smart to eat my Carty cicada fly again I replaced it with a small red Chernobyl ant. I pulled enough line for another bow and arrow cast and I waited. The clarity of the water improved greatly and within minutes the same brown I missed yesterday swam slowly past me.
This time I opted to enjoy him for a few minutes and I watched him work a complete beat. He swam past me then disappeared under a bush then out deep and around and back. For his second pass I was ready and I shot my fly out and it plunked a foot in front of him. Like yesterday he came charging but this time, like only a trout can do, he put the brakes on a millimeter from my Chernobyl and pushed it with his nose then took off. Today’s chance was one and done.
I wasn’t off to a roaring start to do better than yesterday. At least yesterday morning I got that tricky brown trout to eat. I hiked the hill back to camp and the Tourette boys and Granny were just serving a big breakfast of bacon and eggs. Keith was tying a few of their favorite flies for here, the Ball Biter Ant and he gave me a few to try for the yellowfish after breakfast.
Mark, Johann, Granny and I headed upstream after breakfast. Despite the sunshine, the day was warming up slowly. Rather than fish from camp we walked upstream a half hour and started in what they call Beat 2. The scenery was unbelievable but the fish were nowhere in sight.
What I love about this trip so far is that most of the fishing has been sight fishing. Spotting fish then trying for them is a true art that I learned in New Zealand twenty years ago. It’s not like in the US where you fish blind or look for risers. Here you actually look for the fish swimming or hiding in his lie. It wasn’t till almost noon when the water warmed enough that the first yellowfish moved to the shallows. Granny got first crack at a school of three but after a cast they sank to the deep of the pool.
Johann suggested for Granny to take off the dry fly and switch to a nymph to prowl for the sunken yellows but she’d have none of it. She offered the idea to me and I told Johann to come down and do some nymphing while we watched. Johann will be guiding for the next four months so he gladly went in to action. Within minutes he landed the first smallmouth yellowfish of the day.
We covered a bunch of water over the next hour unsuccessfully. The water temp is simply too cold after last night to entice the yellowfish to get active. Johann continued to nymph all the normally prime locations but he couldn’t move much. I broke down and blind fished a bushy caddis fly in search of that first African trout. It wasn’t looking good when totally out of the blue a small fish smashed my fly and in came a 10” rainbow. I’ve now caught trout on six continents!
We must have walked and fished our way several miles today. It wasn’t till the very end that we caught our first yellowfish on a dry fly. Mark spotted the happy fish and put Granny into position. My lady can fish and sure enough she got him on my home favorite flying ant. After she released him we reeled it in for the long walk back.
I didn’t notice from down on the river bottom while we were fishing but we’d passed right under the hillside village of Makhangoa Community. On the way home our trail took us right through the village. It’s amazing to see these people living so happily in their primitive way. They were friendly and kind to let us take some pictures. It’s these very people who watch and protect the river from poaching and work with Tourette.
It was a warm night around camp. Not only is the rain gone but it seems the cold followed in the rains footsteps. We sat outside and grilled steak and sipped the beer of Lesotho, Maluti, till it was too dark to see. This warmth should finally wake up these smallmouth yellows!