Mavungana Flyfishing recently conducted our annual river clinic and this year it was held at Verlorenkloof Estate which is located on the eastern escarpment slap bang in the middle of the trout triangle of Mpumalanga. Home to 6kms of the upper Crocodile River that at this time of the year (May/June) runs clear, cool and at a comfortable water height – perfect for fishing to wild rainbow trout on light outfits. The river offers a variety of different types of water to cater for a wide range of technical application. However, if your presentation is not up to scratch you will be left thinking (my favourite saying) “there are no fish in this river”. But if you get a suitable drag-free drift through some good water, the fish are there for the taking!
This year we had 12 anglers grace us with their presence over 7 days. A few familiar faces that are no stranger to the ebbs and flows of river fishing dusted off the cobwebs and got down to work, affording us the opportunity to hone their craft and target some tricky lies and great fish while learning the various mends and techniques required.
This year saw a lot of rank beginners join us and when I say rank beginners, I mean to fly-fishing as a whole. Now for those that are not familiar with the technical competence required to fish a skinny clear river to wild trout, its no small task and takes some doing to wrap your head around so when clients arrive with 6wts, sinking lines, gumboots and rugby shorts….. you know things are going to be interesting!
After setting them up with the necessary rods, waders and odds-‘n-ends, we set off down to what promised to be a comical day with no shortage of entertainment. After a basic demo and a couple beautiful fin perfect fish to dispel any notion of there being ‘no fish in this river’ we set them off to get down to business and come to grips with what river fishing is all about: thin tippet, small dries, tight loops and accurate casting.
With more grass and trees being hooked than anything else, let’s just say the fish were nice and safe in the water. After some hard hours on the water and a couple days to get the basics right, the newbies started to make contact with water, the stars would align and a fish would rise to sip the #16 CDC dry fly off the surface. This, however, is only half the battle won and the mark of the next chapter in the book of stream fishing. Setting and landing these little critters.
Suffice it to say many fish were hooked, some lost, and some prize specimens landed. All in all the trip was a steep learning curve for all who joined, good times were had, new friends made and plenty comical memories banked for some future stories around the fire.