Waters & words : a celebration of flyfishing

Posts tagged “cold water

Dust and smoke in the Midlands

Yesterday I headed out along the Kamberg road.  Sunday past, this had been the scene of a wild and awful wind. One that lashed the dry veld angrily, kicking up dust and tossing branches. Inevitably, fire had been involved too. The farmers were now on guard. Houses, and even lives were lost down Kokstad way. Yesterday was calm. In  fact it was calm all day, and with Sunday’s wind fresh in everyones memory, the farmers were out in force burning fire breaks.

Palls of smoke rose from a few spots up the valley. Something was burning up in the berg, South East of the Giant. There was a plume of thick white smoke on the slopes above the Crane foundation. I thought it might have got into the timber there, but luckily not.  A black smoke rose from somewhere off  on the Loteni road too.

In the morning the Giant seemed way off, bathed in a screen of white. By the afternoon that mountain was obscured in a haze which seem amplified by the late winter sun. That sunlight cut sideways across the landscape, through the dust and smoke, making the entire vista seem more vast and distant. Hills seemed miles away in the pale purple, and a yellowness on the veld close-by, made it all seem old. Like the page in some faded book, left open for far too long.



Our dry winters of dust and smoke make it hard to believe that there is any water out there at all.



When one considers how crisp and clear the outline of Giant’s Castle is after a rainstorm, it is difficult to believe that it can be obscured in haze , even from as close as the top of Vaalkop.

This is not city pollution. I suppose our farming activities increase the incidence of fire and our vehicles add to the dust in suspension in the air, but perhaps all this stuff we are breathing in is as natural as it gets. Perhaps I need to accept that ugly days are part of the deal. That berg winds, smoky days, severe heat waves, and all the other things that have a way of bringing on a bad mood, are just natural things, put there for us to endure, in order that we might appreciate the beautiful days.

Having travelled to Durban this morning, and witnessed that landscape, I very quickly appreciated the smoky Kamberg valley of yesterday. I realised that in fact I am a hillbilly, in as far as I am something the opposite of a city person.  As I drove into Durban, I realised that I had been there far too long already.I managed to do what I needed to do without even switching off the engine, and I beetled back out of there as fast as I could. Tomorrow I will be up early. I will be out in the frost, kicking up ash in the burnt veld beside a Trout dam. Watching the sun rise through an  orange lens of particulate matter.



The water will be ice cold and startlingly clean.


Maybe I will  get a fish or two.

And maybe the dust isn’t so bad after all.

Journeys through the journal (4)

It was mid winter in 2012. The fishing club committee had arranged a week-end on a large stillwater, for us to see if we could help the hatchery there boost it’s brood stock with some hens and cocks.

On the Saturday I enjoyed taking my good friend Win out on the canoe. Win had had a rough year, health wise, and I enjoyed the opportunity to help him “break the fishing drought” so to speak.

Some of us took a few minutes to find our sea legs!  The boat is stable in that it will never tip over, but it has this little “wobble zone” where it rocks without resistance through about five degrees. It’s the sort of thing that is a bit disconcerting when the Great Dane stands up and leans over one side for a drink. Win was a lot more co-operative than the Dane, and we soon settled happily into the fishing off a steep side on the Northern shore.


(Note the box between us: used for keeping brood stock)

The water was just seven degrees C, according to the journal, and the air temperature around 12 degrees, but with a moderate Easterly wind blowing.  Despite an apparently mild mercury reading, it was cold. Properly cold!  Win was wrapped up for the occasion.


Big “Nasties”

As the weather gets bitingly cold, and the landscape loses the soft warm comforts of summer, one’s demeanour as a fisherman probably changes.

By that I am suggesting that when you are out there in a cold wind, with waves coming in at you across a large stretch of cold water bounded by drab dry grass, and no sign of anything moving, you are less likely to fish a #18 emerger. Well I certainly am less likely to do so!  Less likely that is, than when it is spring, and a soft breeze brushes a water surface occasionally disturbed by large Trout whose noses appear amongst tiny hatching waifs, and then turn slowly away in a beguiling languid swirl. In those conditions, there are few of us whose thoughts wouldn’t turn to light tippets, low stalking profiles, and miniscule flies meant to deceive.

two and thirty

A #2, and a #30 hook: the extremes of fly size!


But come winter, with dust and wind, and big jackets, and you will find me out on the boat or tube, with a sinking line, and some heavy artillery. It just seems more fitting to the circumstances. The Trout are dark, and the cocks have those hooked jaws that make them look angry, and it seems befitting that we supply them something to be angry at. Something to hit…not to sip!