Dullstroom Fishing Report
The devil is in the details
With water temperatures still so high, I don’t see why we don’t expand a little on our previous article – prepping for the cooler months, helping you to make the best out of your trip. Last month we coved the importance of casting, fly selection and how to fish them; along with tippet and leader diameters, and also I introduced you to my little friend, the tippet ring. This month we’ll focus on some must have accessories and the right gear to get the job done.
If you ever get the chance to speak to someone who fishes competitively, do yourself a favour and pick their brain a bit. Apart from carrying 2 000 flies with them, they have up to 10 different fly lines with them at all times, because they’ve realised that it’s not only about casting far and fishing the right fly, it’s about the depth at which you do so. Last year while fishing Lakenvlei in the Western Cape, we were picking up fish at an average depth of 8m, which for that dam isn’t too deep. Now we may not have dams over 6m in Dullstroom, however the concept is the same. You need to fish where the fish are. With that said, I’m not suggesting you go out and by everything from a floating down to a Di7 line, I will however recommend you have a Floating, Intermediate and a Di3 Sinking with you. That’s all you’ll need for this area, but when to use what??
Firstly that will depend on the depth of the dam you’ll be fishing, and secondly the time of the year. For sub surface fly lines, the general rule of thumb is if the dam is 1 – 2m deep, you’ll use an intermediate; 2 – 4m and you’ll use a Di3, 4 – 6m –Di5, etc. Secondly, summer – deep, Winter – shallow. That’s another general rule of thumb along with the higher the sun the deeper you fish. But let’s look at a few situations where you’ll want to alter the depth.
- Cold Fronts (Pressure changes) – when the pressure drops the fish generally stop moving around and stop feeding, this is due to the pressure affecting their swim bladders. This makes them uncomfortable and unwilling to actively hunt food. When this happen you want to put on the fastest sinking line you have and fish very slow, the aim here is to drag that fly in front of the fish and hope you get a take!
- The ungodly hours (just before sunrise) – not all of us are morning people, but the fish are, so wake up early for a good few hours of fishing, you can always go back to bed. Now, this applies in summer not winter. Remember, you’re generally adjusting depth based on water temperature. In summer it’s coolest in the wee hours of the morning. In winter the fish only start moving around when the water warms up a bit. So if you’re fishing in summer and decide to be on the water at 5, I’d start off with either a floating line or a hover line (slow intermediate) depending on how much activity there is on the surface. If the fish are rising, fish dry/ dry & dropper with a floating. If not, you can fish a hover line with nymphs and damsels just below the surface.
- Vegetation (that damn weed!) – there is a bit of a catch 22 in summer when it comes to fishing deep, and that is the amount of weed in the water due to the increased water temperatures and higher light penetration. Now you do get your specialised sink tip lines and all that fancy stuff, however, we don’t all have the luxury of using such equipment. In the case of fishing over weed beds, your best option is either a floating or intermediate line, paired with a long (as long as what you can comfortably cast – but be ballzy about it) leader and specific flies. In such a case, I’d use a heavy point fly and un-weighted flies on my droppers like small nymphs, skinny damsels and small woolly buggers.
At the end of the day, the more experience you have and the more time you make to get out onto the water the easier it will be for you to pick up on when to change your lines and what depths to fish at, and more importantly – why.
We’ve spoken a lot about depth, subsurface, etc. let’s talk about floating lines for a second; more specifically keeping you dry fly dry and your tippet sunk. Floatant isn’t new to most of us, but most of us are only familiar with the silicone based gels. Let’s take that to a new level, the level of descants and pre-treatments. We’ve all made the mistake of applying floatant to a wet dryfly only to have it sink like a rock. That’s because floatants won’t seal in the water on a wet dryfly. When your dry is wet, you need to either change it or add a descant which is a super absorbent powder, typically used on dries when fishing a river. The powder dries your fly instantly… the process is as follows:
- Put wet dryfly in a bottle of descant and shake it, or use the brush supplied with some brands and brush on the powder. Remove fly from bottle.
- Blow off any excess powder
- Add gel floatant (optional but not necessary)
The other option is a pre-treatment such as hydrostop from Loon. One dips your flies into the liquid, you then let them dry over-night. This ensures that the fly is buoyant right through. Once again, it’s optionally to add some Loon Aquel just before you start fishing. However, a pre-treatment won’t be effective on CDC, nor will the standard gel floatants work. One needs a product like Loon Lochsa. Personally I only use this stuff, it works well on CDC and just about any other dry you can think of – even foam! But to optimise buoyancy I treat my flies at least 15 minutes before that fly hits the water.
Your fly is finally staying high and dry, but that’s only half the battle. Now it’s crucial to get your tippet to sink. There are a couple options, my favourite being Deep Soft Weight from Loon which is a tungsten putty. It’s basically the same as split shot, however the advantages of Deep Soft Weight outweigh any alternative. Firstly, you control how much weight is added. Secondly, it’s reusable and only necessary to apply once provided it stays on your tippet and this brings me back to tippet rings. A technique we use on Sterkies is pushing the Deep Soft Weight into the tippet ring. This lasts all day! Lastly, it doesn’t damage your tippet at all.
The other option is a degreaser such as Snake River Mud, the issue with this is that you have to apply it every 3 casts. This is fine at Sterkies when you’re only sight fishing and shots at fish can be scarce but if you want to save yourself valuable fishing time, opt for the tungsten putty option.
Using the above tips and techniques should help you consistently catch fish, don’t believe me, give it a go. You might just be surprised!
By Nathan Pahl in our Dullstroom Shop