Heading into the El Nino cycle, none of us expected the late rain that most of the country received over the past few weeks. Although very late, especially coming out of a long, hot spell, it was more than welcome, now having set up Dullstroom for a cracker of a stillwater season as we inch closer to winter.

Water temperatures have dropped down to as low as 13 degrees which falls in the middle of optimal water temperatures for trout, typically ranging between 8 and 16 degrees. Considering that a month ago it was close on 20 degrees, we’ve already been seeing a drastic increase in fish activity, and with it, some fantastic fishing. Not only is the water cold enough, but the clarity has been spot-on. We’ve experienced what can only be described as winter conditions, but without the added complexities of ‘the spawn’, making now possibly the best time to get out onto the water before fish begin to pair up, and become more aggressive. This, as we all know, can go both ways.

With the clear water, we’ve seen that floating lines with long, fine leaders and small nymphs have been doing well.  Weighted and unweighted GRHE’s, PTN’s, Tunsgten PTN’s, as well as Epoxy buzzers have all taken many a trout as of late. On waters such as Laverpa, where the water is extra clear, we would step down to 5X fluorocarbon tippet, and 14ft leaders, fishing either two or three flies. When your leader becomes so long, you need to regulate the depth at which you’re fishing with either the size and weight of your flies, or by dressing the leaders with Loon Payette Paste This is like a floatant for your leader, and by applying it to the butt section of your leader, thus making it buoyant, you can control the depth much better. Top tip, always fish a team of nymphs when you have a bit of wind, this will add movement to your flies and allow you to cover water as your line drifts across the surface.

Over and above nymphs, skinny damsels fished along weedbeds and in the margins on either a floating line with a long leader, or preferably an intermediate line, have done well. The weedbeds are still olive in colour, which means olive damsels are your go to colour choice right now. If your smaller, more natural patterns aren’t fishing as well, then your bigger streamers such as your Psycho Fritz, Flexi Hothead Damsel, or Snake Fly will graft.  As we get closer to winter, your brighter attractor patterns will slowly become more and more effective. But for the next month, you can continue to fish natural colours. Remember, the clearer the water, the smaller the fly and thinner the tippet. Early mornings, and late evening fishing sessions are behind you with the cold water. Fish between 8am and 5pm. Move around, mix it up, and try something new. We look forward to seeing you either on the water or in the shop for a cup of coffee to hear about the one that got away, and even better, the one that didn’t!