Fishing in the lowveld of South Africa.

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Fishing in the lowveld of South Africa.

Post by Biltong on Thu 03 Nov 2011, 11:37 am

It was early on a sunday morning, early spring. The blossoms were budding after their winter sleep and the most beautiful colours of green and yellow with a tinge of orange here and there were making the most picturesque setting in the lowveld. It reminded me of those early morning visuals we get of Augusta, just prior to the morning tee offs for the Masters.

After getting up I go into the kitchen where the sun is starting to peak through the window highlighting a bowl of fresh fruit on the table and promptly started baking some eggs, sunny side up of course and some crispy bacon. The sound of the sizzling pan is almost mezmerising and outside a little bird is calling, inviting me to come outside.

After the breakfast I get my rod and some flies, lovingly prepared the previous night, ready for action this morning.

The coldness of the water clutches at my legs as I enter the shallow end of the river and the glistening water looks so inviting, caressing the smooth rocks, polished over the millenia by the fresh mountain stream, I put my favourite fly on the hook and calmly casts to the edge of a shallow part of the river where there is a frenzied acitivity by the first emerging spring flies searching for something to devour.

Nothing happens for the first few casts, but I am enjoying the serenity of this calm oasis to such an extent that there is no sense of haste, simply just contentment within these magnificent surroundings.

It is amazing how your senses highten when there is total silence surrounding you, and the only reminder that you are actually alive is the intermittent chirps and whistles by seemingly invisible grey loeries, robins and many other species unknown to a city dweller like me. The river has a calmness about it, whispering softly as it runs by and slowly I go into an almost hypnotic state forgetting the reason why I came here.



To be continued.................

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Re: Fishing in the lowveld of South Africa.

Post by Fists of Fury on Thu 03 Nov 2011, 11:55 am

Jesus, almost thought I was there for a moment until I came to my senses and realised I was at my desk, at work...

Nice one, looking forward to the sequel!

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Re: Fishing in the lowveld of South Africa.

Post by Kenny on Tue 08 Nov 2011, 12:01 am

That was great , when can we have Part two ?
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Re: Fishing in the lowveld of South Africa.

Post by Biltong on Tue 08 Nov 2011, 7:02 am

Sorry boys, I know nothing about fly fishing, so can't really carry on with the story.

But if you can use the back ground I sketched and tell the tale from there, I will award a noddy badge to the best conclusion.

But you need to put some effort in. thumbsup
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Re: Fishing in the lowveld of South Africa.

Post by Fists of Fury on Tue 08 Nov 2011, 9:11 am

Laugh brilliant, you had us all waiting in anticipation there bilt!!

Maybe barrystar can finish up, given that he is the resident fly fisherman!

Either way, the lowveld of South Africa sounds pretty nice...

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Re: Fishing in the lowveld of South Africa.

Post by Biltong on Tue 08 Nov 2011, 10:30 am

Yeah it is a mighty fine place, full of pine forests, great winding roads to enjoy on a motorcycle, quant little towns to enjoy arts and crafts shopping for the ladies with little local breweries to enjoy the drink for the boys, and quiet secluded riverside cottages to stay in whilst fishing. zen

On top of that you are close to the Kruger National park as well.


Last edited by biltongbek on Tue 08 Nov 2011, 10:31 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Fishing in the lowveld of South Africa.

Post by Guest on Tue 08 Nov 2011, 10:31 am

sounds awesome mate, thanks for sharing that story thumbsup

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Re: Fishing in the lowveld of South Africa.

Post by barrystar on Tue 08 Nov 2011, 11:59 am

... I don't recall how long I spent in my almost hypnotic state, but I was awakened from it by a fierce rushing sound, like the passing of an aeroplane, followed by a sharp crack. I looked up with a start and started to scan the area carefully. I noticed that the birds whose company I had enjoyed had all vanished and then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a dark shape flying purposefully across the river and almost scraping the bank at a place where the vegetation was bare. The shape seemed to pick something up and I realised that it was a Peregrine picking up its prey. I had just had the extraordinary experience of being present at a kill - I had not seen it, but boy had I heard it. I wondered at the power of the bird forcing the air through its feathers to make the turn from a stoop and wished I'd seen a bit more. I watched the falcon flop up to a rock about 100 yards away and start tearing away at its prey.

I resolved to be a bit more awake from then onwards. Amid all the activity in the river I could see one regular, slow, sip on the far bank of the river just on the edge of the stream, slightly into and at the top of a small bay. The bay was about 5' long and 3' in width with a rock marking its downstream end and a tussock of tough grass with long over-hanging fronds marking the top end. From the angle of the current it looked like a place that would hold a big fish - the current turned into the bank just at the tussock before coming slightly away leaving the bay untouched but just off its edge. There was a small bush on the shore of the bay with some overhanging branches. I looked behind me and there was a narrow gap that would accommodate a careful back-cast. The cast would not need to be excessively long, but accurate, and there was a slight breeze likely to blow any carelessly thrown line into the bush on the far side. Also, since the main stream turned back into the middle of the river from the tussock there was the risk that any fly landing too far into the calm water of the bay would skate across it dragged by the main line lying in the current leaving an unnatural "V" which would no doubt put down any wild fish. The first cast or so was going to have to count.

I only had a short line out, so I swung the rod back over my shoulder and checked my fly - I put a bit more grease on it because it was likely to be drowned in the current. I stopped and took a final look at my friend the falcon enjoying his meal and decided to have a quick swig from my water bottle. I pushed my net around to the side to keep it out of the way, adjusted my polaroids, gave my head a scratch under my hat band, and started to strip line off the reel to get the right length of line, false casting all the time. I had borrowed the rod and reel from my host. The reel was an old-fashioned click-check reel and the peace was disturbed by the sound of it screaming in short bursts as I took line off. The possibility of the fly dragging complicated the exercise of getting the right length of line - I was going to have to strip out more line than the distance between me and the fish and 'waggle' the rod on the forward cast. This would create a snakey "s" shape of the main line on the water so that when the current got hold of the main line the first action would be to pull the slack straight, rather than to pull immediately on the fly causing a drag as would happen with an arrow straight cast.

Once I had stripped out what I thought was enough line I did a few false casts looking behind me to get the feel of how to use the gap in the trees - there was enough room if I was careful. Then I looked at the bay and where my line was reaching. I threw my first cast well above and to the left of the tussock to get a feel of length - it was just as well because had I aimed it at the fish I would have caught the bush at once. I tried a few more with a bit of a waggle on the forward cast and got a feel for the length. Now, time to go for the fish.

The first meaningful cast was a bit too long and the fly landed on one of the fronds of overhanging grass on the tussock which deposited it too far out into the current where it raced away past the bay, apparently unnoticed by the fish. The same fate befell the second cast - I did not mind because the fish would not have been disturbed. The third cast was about a foot shorter and fell just on the edge of the stream as it passed the bay. The fly shot away in the current, but without a drag, and there was a an ominous bulge in the water as it went by that sent ripples back across the bay - my heart leapt into my mouth and I let the line go by quite a long way below the bay as I gathered myself for the next cast. The fourth cast and the fifth cast met the same fate as the first two, and the sixth cast, near disaster - I could see the fly heading straight for the bush on the other side of the bay. Fortunately I reacted quickly, tweaking the line with my left hand just as the line was due to land on the main current and the fly to nestle into the bush - the tweak sprung the fly out of the bush and it landed back with the main line in a heap in the current opposite the bottom end of the bay and away from the fish - I hoped the fish had not been spooked by the cast flying over his bay. There had been no movement in the water so I was probably OK.

I had not noticed, but part of the reason for my mistake was that the breeze had got a bit stronger between the fifth and sixth casts. I pulled the line in to look at the fly and give myself a chance to have another sip of water, a scratch of the head, and time to compose myself.

I waited a while, it seemed like an age, but the breeze dropped reducing the risk of a repeat of the sixth cast. During that time there were three more rises from my friend in the bay - he was still there. OK - here we go, number seven, and it's a bit better, just in the edge of the stream at the top of the bay, perfect in fact, but no bulge this time. The doubts crept in - wrong fly, too big, too small, did I spook the fish? Nothing for it but another go. This time it was even better. The fly just touched one of the fronds from the tusssock, slid down the frond and dropped serendipitously on the bay side of the edge of the current just at the top of the bay. I knew it was going to be perfect and started to hold my breath. The fly landed gossamer light on the surface and a great face came out of the tranquil water of the bay off the edge of the stream. It was my fly he wanted and after what seemed like an age, the fly was gone and the face was back under water, followed by a long back and dorsal fin. Despite my heightened state of excitement I had managed to avoid striking too fast - whilst the fish took the fly I had tightened smoothly and firmly and felt the satisfaction of a firm stop of the line before a mad rush from the bay took my line out into the stream - he was on and he felt like a marvellous fish....
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Re: Fishing in the lowveld of South Africa.

Post by Biltong on Tue 08 Nov 2011, 12:30 pm

Barrystar, you should write training manuals, it was not only very discriptive but also very educational.

Very well done friend. thumbsup
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Re: Fishing in the lowveld of South Africa.

Post by Fists of Fury on Tue 08 Nov 2011, 12:33 pm

clap clap

Excellent stuff, Barry!

Anyone really want to go fishing in South Africa after reading all this? I certainly do!! That's twice I've been transported there now only to return back to work with a bump!

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Re: Fishing in the lowveld of South Africa.

Post by barrystar on Tue 08 Nov 2011, 1:10 pm

Thanks for that - it's a sort of bunching together of numerous experiences I have had of fishing. Since I live for the hooking and prefer to land fish almost straightaway with no fuss somebody else better take up the playing if you want to keep it dramatic.
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Re: Fishing in the lowveld of South Africa.

Post by sherm on Tue 08 Nov 2011, 2:51 pm

Bravo fantastic stuff

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Re: Fishing in the lowveld of South Africa.

Post by Kenny on Sun 13 Nov 2011, 6:59 pm

Excellent barrystar thumbsup
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Re: Fishing in the lowveld of South Africa.

Post by Galted on Wed 30 Nov 2011, 12:03 pm

Nicely written Biltong/barrystar. Fished in the Lowveld (Limpopo province) about 2005/6 on a trip back to SA. Involved driving in a smashed up old landrover that broke down periodically until the semblance of a road was too rugged even for a 4wd. We then walked in the blazing sun for a few hours before finding a decent spot on the river and digging for worms to fish for small fish which we used as bait to supposedly catch tiger-fish. Snagged a log after a while and was in the process of wading into the river when my brother advised me that he probably wouldn't do that if he were me. I asked why not and he nodded to the far bank where there were about 35 crocodiles basking. They seemed quite noticeable once I'd been told they were there so I was the ar$e-end of a few jokes from then on.

A couple of days later we were walking along a dry river bed - you probably know the type, wide bed, lush vegetation on either bank, soft sand with the occasional pile of droppings. Noticed a movement in the trees/bushes about 200m away and realised it was an elephant, soon saw another, passed them when they were about 50m away and they seemed completely oblivious, suppose I didn't really expect them to say hello. I stupidly asked what we should do if they charged and was told "get trampled".

Caught nothing except tiddlers but the experience was well worth the sunburn, scratches, blisters, stings and hangovers.
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Re: Fishing in the lowveld of South Africa.

Post by Fists of Fury on Wed 30 Nov 2011, 12:18 pm

Ha, fantastic. Seems an extraordinary place.

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Re: Fishing in the lowveld of South Africa.

Post by Alexander222 on Thu 12 Jan 2017, 9:59 am

Very lively and vivid like in Bradbury's the Veld! Cool

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Re: Fishing in the lowveld of South Africa.

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