Blackjacks and puffaddders making the best of the last autumn sunshine. That is what I expect on the river tomorrow. I don’t expect to be able to avoid the former. I hope to avoid the latter. I have had thoughts of putting my landing net in some sort of canvas bag on my back to avoid having to pick blackjacks out of it for hours on end, but maybe that will just be a damned nuisance. I don’t know. I also don’t know if crossing the river will be easy or even safe.
For that I will put up with the extra clutter of a wading staff. I do find those useful for poking about on the path ahead of me, which is my snake defence. If I am to carry a wading staff (and maybe a bag for the net), I think I will go light and use the belt pack, rather than a full vest. But then again, the autumn colours are just so damned spectacular that it would be remiss of me to go without my bigger camera. If the water is as clear as I am told it will be, then the little underwater camera would be good to have on hand, and that doesn’t fit in the waist pack.
Rods: despite the predicted absence of strong wind, I might go with the 3 weight rather than the significantly more delicate 2 weight in my arsenal, because I may need to throw some nymphs, and a bit of an up-kick in the wind is predicted for the evening. But then again, what could be sweeter than catching an autumn brown on a delicate dry on the 2 weight.
I don’t know.
I wonder if the Browns will have already gone off a bit as their breeding instincts may have been triggered by these cooler conditions. Certainly the rainbow I caught in a Stillwater earlier this week had a protruding ovipositer. Or maybe the headwaters we are going to will have received some of the lunkers which have migrated from downstream, like Rhett experienced on his home stream in the last fortnight, and maybe they will still be hungry enough to go for a fly. I don’t know.
The farmer was doubtful about the road in. He said he traversed it on a horse last week, but didn’t take enough notice of it to comment on whether a vehicle would make it. He said we should maybe try the valley route, but I pointed out that the stream crossing had been damaged in the recent deluge and that it was thick with sticky mud. We might not get through that way. He nodded thoughtfully but didn’t offer a solution. I think we will take the hill road. I don’t know.
The strange thing is that people call me all the time, asking questions, because they think I know the answers.
But I do know that embracing the prospect of possible failure has become more alluring to me the less I seek out proof of my own conquest, as measured by fish numbers. Maybe that is why I find myself attracted to the less popular, the less explored.
I don’t know.
I posted a week or two back about the limited number of truly useful developments in fishing tackle. PD pointed out to me that I had omitted the now ubiquitous net magnet. He is right: that was an oversight. A magnet that holds your net at your nape, or on the side of your pack, is one of the truly clever innovations of the last decade or more.
It got me thinking though, just how many applications there are for magnets in our sport.
Firstly, Graeme arrived bright and early Saturday for our mornings fishing, and presented me with a gift: a small “fly pad”, which sports a fly threader (much ribbing about my eye-sight), slots for flies, and magnets in several places.
This thing replaces my now bald piece of sheepskin, and apart from the foam slots for the flies, provides several magnets that grab and hold a fly while you are sorting out your tippet.
Such a simple, and yet truly useful feature. When you have a spool of tippet in one hand, a fly in the other, and you need to put something down to deal with a sliding rod or suchlike, you can just touch the fly to one of the magnets, and instantly free a hand to rescue something that would otherwise be swept away in the current. Thank you Graeme!
When tossing out old equipment, I have always raided the guts of whatever it is for magnets. They just seem like such useful things to have around. I don’t quite know why. I am constantly looking for new uses for them. One such use, that sees a magnet permanently with my tying tools, is for picking up tiny hooks that fall under the fly tying desk, and hide in the dappled carpet.
I have written previously about Shaun Futter’s idea in which he showed me how to use a net magnet to attach a wading staff at ones side.
Unless it is a tiny stream, or low water, this is now part of my standard equipment on a river. The staff is as useful for probing the long grass ahead for snakes, as it is for keeping ones balance in fast water. Without the net magnet, I think the thing would get in my way just enough for me to have given up on carrying a wading staff altogether.
Then just two weeks ago Jem and Tim were marveling at a gadget that I have long since taken for granted: a rod holding magnet.
Such a simple thing, this small “U-shaped” magnet clamps your rod to the side of your car while you are setting up, so avoiding the classic “rod in the car door” accident. It is a wonder that those granting lifetime guarantees on rods don’t give these away with every rod bought. As a rod manufacturer, I think this would be the smartest investment since the rod tube started coming standard. (Hint, Hint….send royalties here).
Last time I took my pickup to the car wash, I neglected to slip the magnet into my pocket. When I came to fetch the vehicle, I immediately checked the special spot inside the bin where it lives, and it was gone! It was only when I threatened to line up the entire car wash staff and probe them with a metal detector, that a bashful fellow came forward and gave up his loot. He must have been a fisherman: just not my type of fisherman!
In KZN we generally don’t do our fly-fishing for Trout in big strong rivers. As a result there is not a lot written about wading and wading safety or difficulty in these parts. But of course at this time of the year, it is not impossible to find yourself on a fast piece of water, that is still clean enough for you to want to fish it.
Generally the Umgeni is unfishable from a water colour perspective, if it is too fast to wade. The Mooi, and the Bushmans on the other hand, can run a pale slate grey colour, with lots of white water, and be fishable. Fishable that is, with a fair amount of lead on the business end, if you are working a nymph.
And as I have written elsewhere, our KZN rivers are not as easy to wade as those of the North Eastern Cape, where one has the luxury of long gravel beaches and spurs to wade along. The Mooi has many stretches of nasty angled rock, tossed into runs like those “dolosse” on a breakwater. Sharp angled pieces, that scatter the river bed, with deep crevices and holes between them. Then on the upper Bushmans there are stretches where the water’s edge signals a vertical drop into the river channel, and in high water to step off there would see you in 4 ft of fast flowing water.