The happy season that was, the one between the arrival of the cuckoos and the arrival of the mosquitoes, is now behind us.
Now we have fierce heat, fierce storms, and humidity in between. We have mosquitoes too. I live in fear. The big ones must be on their way. They bite your head off and drink you like a coke.
It has been a great spring, I think. By my reckoning, it has been a cool one, (Hell, we had snow in October!) , and it has been a relatively wet one too. Having said that, I got a message from my friend Tim the other day to say “Water 21 degrees. Returned some fish carefully, but don’t rate their chances. Stopping fishing now”, or words to that effect. Also, Midmar and Spring Grove dams have little more than stabilised in water level at around 40%. Many Trout dams are also not yet full.
But we are in big storm season now. Just yesterday we sat on the porch with a cold beer and watched a fierce storm build to the north. “Do you think it looks green?” I asked my daughter rhetorically before adding “I think it looks green” . Green storms signal hail. I parked under the tree in case.
This morning friends reported that it had missed Notties, but a video emerged of carnage to the north of that. Carnage would be good I think. A slow spring has allowed river banks to cover in grass, holding them firm, and Midmar needs the water. I would also like a hundred trillion wattle sticks to wash themselves from the upper Umgeni, and save us the man-hours, and the trouble. Midmar normally only overflows around the first week of February, but as soon as you have a few days dry patch, pundits begin citing that the dam isn’t even overflowing. PD confirmed that it doesn’t overflow before his birthday. I am happy to wait and watch. Hopefully “watch” will mean watching some carnage by way of those fierce storms. But since we are playing catch-up, we can give it until the first of March before we expect the dam to overflow.
Wild storms mean dirty streams, and I was reminded the other day that silt particles in the water absorb more heat and cause warmer water. Warmer water holds less oxygen. So we can’t have it all. Rank grass and healthy forest trees on those steep south banks mean more shade though, and rain water, besides having a slightly acid pH, can be cool, so I will take my chances with wild storms over drought any day.
We will just have to pick our fishing days between hot days and dirty rivers. We must also remind ourselves that many a superb day on the stream has been had while sweat trickled down our necks.
I can always go sit out on a big stillwater in a tube and roast while I wait for a storm to roll in.
Or I can go fish in the rain.
As my friend Rhett says ”Just harden the @#$?& up Bevan!”
In the height of summer, our stillwater fly-fishing is a fickle affair. Picking your day is difficult, and hap hazard at best.
If like me, you are a working man, you already have the formula wrong. You will not pick your Trout fishing days: Government and organised religion will do it for you. You will have more fishing days available over Christmas, than at any other time of year. And these are the days you will be lumped with:
The water is flowing out of every orifice in the hills. It rushes and gurgles through tall lush grassland. Grassland that waves like a sea in the ever present north wind. A wind that fans giant swathes of obedient seed heads, blown and baked in white hot sun. It is a white hot sun, with a tinge of fierce copper in its light, that has your shirt sticking to your sweaty skin, and your face is glowing red at the end of the day. And that gurgling water that that runs in the grass, seemingly everywhere, enters the dams, where you realise it is peat stained. Brown, but somehow still cool against your waders. Out there on your float tube, the sunscreen is little comfort as your forearms cook in the sun. You splash them with water, apply more sunscreen, roll down your sleeves, and wet them again, unable to escape the veritable oven. Your legs meanwhile dangle in cool, but heavily weeded water. Water that offers up an irritating tendril of weed for your hook on every single cast, until you find yourself retrieving faster and faster to try to keep the fly up out of the stuff.
And while you are out there clouds will form up on the horizon.