Snow, Sundowners and Big Trout

The last month in Dullstroom has seen a lot of contrasts. From not only Dullstroom, but a large part of the country being blanketed in snow for the first time in a decade, to a red-letter Trout and About experience that has set the benchmark going forward – both in terms of fishing and weather. All elements that are for the most part out of our control, but we’ve been in this game long enough to appreciate everything for what it is, to capitalise on the best and to appreciate that the snow makes us value the sun just that much more, and vice versa.

The June and July, Trout and About experiences where spectacular, both in terms of the group dynamic, the fishing, and as always, the amazing drink and food.  

However, let’s not overlook the fishing. With well over 140 fish landed between 7 anglers – the average weight firmly knocking on the door of 2kg, the largest fish just shy of 4kg, and roughly a dozen fish over 3kg – June weekend was one to remember for both the guests and the guides. With an array of flies working, there were definitely a few favorites. 

With winter still in full force, depending on what waters you’ll be fishing, you’ll pick up on a common thread. Either large natural-colored patterns with a bit of fluorescent contrast or a trigger of sorts, like the Flexi Hothead Damsel from Fullingmill. Or if the fish aren’t zoned into super small nymphs, they’re going to be chasing down large attractors featuring yellow and orange as their predominant colours. Two classic examples would be the Yellow Mellow and Ty’s Taddy. These two flies vary, quite obviously in colour, but why we’ve been testing and catching so frequently on both patterns the last month is because they offer very different movement between them.  The way you fish them and the flies you pair them with, are all largely dependent on not just the colour of the fly, but how it’s going to swim and behave in the water.

We found that the Ty’s Taddy, weighted with a fluorescent tungsten bead, was great for fishing on a floating line – often in the shallows when the sun was high and the fish were aggressively pairing areas of the dams where the water was a degree or two warmer. The Yellow Mellow on the other hand was best fished on an intermediate or sinking, fished in front of a more natural pattern imitating a baitfish. Here we rely on the fly line, rather than the weight of the fly, to determine the depth at which we fish.

For the instances where large streamers, naturals, and attractors were not on the menu, we had to take a more technical approach. Stepping down to 5X fluorocarbon tippet, longer 12ft tapered leaders, and tiny size 18 nymphs. We’ve been testing the new Airflo Ridge 2.0 Universal Taper floating line the past few months and have found the taper to be just as good at bombing out a 30m cast, as what it is at close range. Which is exactly the method we’ve been employing – hiding behind the tall, long grass, sight fishing to single cruising fish in the shallows – enticing them with a team of small nymphs drifted towards the outlet of a dam. A classic, technical mid-water approach that never seems to fail when the time calls for it.

We’re looking forward to Spring and everything it has in-store in terms of fishing, new opportunities, new flies and new gear to test!

Report by Nathan Pahl.