Waters & words : a celebration of flyfishing

Current flyfishing conditions

Like most passionate flyfishers, I keep my ears to the ground about weather and fishing conditions. When I am heading out, I want to gather as much information I can, to try to establish what water levels, clarity or temperature I should expect. I also like to know how others are doing; not because I want to follow them to their private hotspot, but just to know if things have been slow, or brilliant, or somewhere in between. In keeping with that, this page is definitely not intended to blow good fishing spots, so if that was what you were hoping for, sorry!

My fishing news is also sporadic, as are my opportunities to get out, and this page will be updated according to when I get news, so I’m afraid I can’t commit to a schedule. What I can share is “Updates” (more comprehensive) and “Check ins (bullet style one-liners). “I will share these on twitter and Facebook, so check that out to keep up to date:

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or check in here as you need.

Check in: 17 January 2021

The uMngeni is looking wonderful at the moment. Water temp: 19.5 degrees C.

uMngeni, Stoneycroft

The Mooi is looking superb up top, but a bit milky down at Reekie Lyn. The Bushmans is just too strong. Forget colour…its just pumping!.

Check in: 15 January 2021

In the last week, I haven’t been up to the Mooi or Bushmans, and there have been just a trickle of reports indicating that flows have been abating and clarity improving since last Friday’s/ Saturday’s significant storms. I expect they will be looking superb this week-end, and my best guess is that the Lotheni will be similar. The uMngeni, and by the looks of things, chiefly its tributary the Furth Stream (which joins at Brigadoon) received an absolute deluge last Saturday. Small streams running into the Furth were still dirty on Wednesday when I crossed them, and the main uMngeni at Chestnuts was clearing but still unfishable yesterday. I would try the uMngeni above the Furth confluence, where I reckon you will get some clear water.

uMngeni below Chestnuts on 14th Jan

Check in: 8 January 2021

The Bushmans and Ncibidwana were in full flow this afternoon and milky, and storms broke over the Giant in the afternoon, no doubt worsening the situation. Stream temps were at 18degrees C . The Mooi is very full, and was cleaner than the Bushmans, but storms were swirling around the catchment. The Reekie Lyn stream was crustal clear today, but around 4 pm a big storm broke in that catchment. Looking from there to Spionkop, it looked possible that the uMngeni maybe escaped the storms, but info in showed a massive storm hit the slopes of Inhlosane Mountain, blowing out the Furth stream and the uMngeni below the confluence completely.

Frequently updated info on fishing conditions in the KZN Midlands, of relevance to the Trout waters .
The “Mavela stream” that feeds the Furth Stream at 5 pm 8th Jan.

Check in: 7 January 2021

The Bushmans confirmed flowing strongly and a bit milky this morning.

Update: 6 January 2021

December hit us with all the heat, drizzle, wild storms, and rain that it is known for. Anglers staying over for Christmas will have had days when it was too hot to go out, followed by ones that were too dangerous on account of the lightning, or too miserable due to the drizzle. That is summer for you. You grab the opportunities for an hour in the early morning, or after the storm. In between you are dealing with rivers that are blown out, sunburn and purple patches that lasted a few minutes and which you missed on account of some turkey, revelry, or family obligation.

But you know what…I have been missing typical wild Decembers for years, and it has been so good to have one again. A December of extremes. Wild, wet and beautiful. I don’t mind that the fishing had to be eked out in between.

I had a few days on a Stillwater where, when it was cool and pleasant, the fish were down. Then it was too hot, and the fish were on the prod for a while, and then an east wind came up, or a storm, and it was over.

These times are best spent in a cottage beside the water,  where your rod can stay rigged and on a hook under the eaves. Its expensive, in that you may pay for a week’s worth of accommodation and total only a few hours here and there.

I fished the Mooi one day where it was hot and humid and stuffy, but the water pulling at my legs was clean and refreshing, and the lightning a few hours later wasn’t all that frightening. My companion got a few little browns on nymphs. I blanked. The amount of time spent behind a camera lens or catching up on my pal’s news may have had something to do with that. We spoke about going back a few days later to do it again “but properly this time”. Then the heavens opened, and I am not sure if the river has cleared up yet.

A call to the Bushmans yesterday yielded news that it was very full and “The colour of Stoney Ginger Beer”. I am trying to picture it. I reckon you could nymph it, unless they too had the downpour we had yesterday. Maybe high up will be better. It certainly cleans up quicker up there.

Even on the top beats though, the flows are strong, and it will be a case of dropping a fly into the pockets of slack water or in the back eddies.  For the rest it will require nymphs heavier than I care to fish.  If you catch it for a day before the next deluge, the Gods may shine on you and you will get to fish a dry.

River temperatures are highly variable. From just after a hail storm, to the evening after a stinker of a day, you can expect anything from 14 degrees to 22 degrees C. If I had to report an average of what I have experienced it would be 19.5 degrees. That will do. In a strongly flowing river the water will be fully oxygenated, which as you may know, means different things depending on the water temperature. Either way, the temps are better than the stillwaters, and so is the oxygenation. That is why the Natal Fly Fishers Club has exercised their annual Stillwater closure thing. So for now it’s the rivers.  

And who knows what you will get.

Go anyway.  Just do it.