On the last Saturday of September last year, Mike and I headed out to Riverside on the upper Mooi river. This stretch of river is club water, and is on a dairy farm that sits within the “U” shape formed by the KZN parks area of Kamberg Nature reserve.
We were blessed with a pleasant sunny day, the temperature peaking at just twenty two degrees C, and the occasional light gust of wind.
One parks under some plane trees at the farm entrance and fishes upstream from there.
This is classic KZN river water for me. Quite high river banks, through which runs a stream, deep and moody in its big pools, and light and babbling over sheets of shelf-rock in other places, with just occasional rapids through a tumble of jagged rocks or rounded pebbles. You generally wade up until it gets too deep, then you clamber out and go around the head of the pool, where you slither down the bank again. In mid summer your forays out of the river involve pushing through grass and maize higher than your head, with the odd fence or bramble bush to keep you on your toes. But in September, while it has turned green, the fields are dusted in short grass, large areas are burned, and the going is really very easy.
Last week, just as our first decent spring rains were arriving to break the drought, I started building my case. Today, with a full week of inclement weather behind us, I plan to let you in on where this affluenza thing is going. Work with me please.
If you didn’t read what I posted here last week, perhaps you would like to pause here and do that to better understand where I am coming from.
So: in our quest for a magazine cover life, and a magazine cover fishing life in particular, we go in pursuit of the best water, right.
Nothing wrong with that, you may say .
Of course not: Mongolia in the autumn as the larch trees are turning and the Taimen are taking medium size rat imitations. The highest stretches of some local mountain stream, that is pure champagne. The very best fishing club stretch on the Mooi. The Yellowstone rivers. South island. All good. We are fishermen. We enjoy good fishing, and we seek it out.
The other day I was on a piece of river with a fellow fly-fisherman, and with my camera around my neck as usual.
The going was really tough. We caught nothing on this stretch (again!). Apart from catching nothing, the stream was full of logs and trees and sticks, from a government tree clearing initiative gone wrong. We scrambled under fallen trunks, slipped down eroding muddy banks, got scratched by invasive American bramble. Our socks were full of black-jack seeds. The rocks were covered (in places) in fine layers of silt from erosion upstream.
This doesn’t sound pretty does it!
OK, so here’s the picture:
Looks good doesn’t it?
Just after ‘new years’ this year, we were staying in a farm cottage in the midlands. It so happens that we have permission to fish the dam on the neighbouring farm. And so, most days that we were there, we drove across there at some point to throw a line.
We were catching fish every day. Nothing spectacular. Just rainbows of a pound or two, but all very pleasant.
On the 6th January, we ventured out later than usual, because of stormy weather. In fact my journal records that it stormed at lunch time, after a hot morning, and then again at 4 pm. As soon as that downpour was over, the entire family piled onto the back of the bakkie, and we slithered off to the dam. The roads were very slippery indeed, which slowed us down, and we arrived at the dam with very little daylight left.
I remember once peering into a deep pool on a river somewhere, and not being able to see much, because of a layer of “scum” for want of a better word, and PD turning to me and saying (with the most subtle tones of disdain), “you like that stuff don’t you!”.
Yes I do.
The truth be told, such scum is often an accumulation of wattle pollen or flowers, and pollutants of unknown origin, and is blown into a pool by an awful berg wind, all of which I dislike with a passion. I have previously written of my inconsistent prejudices, well this must be another one then.
But think about it: who wouldn’t get a tingle of anticipation when rounding a bend in the river to find a pool with a deep shaded spot, covered by a rock overhang, or tree.