WATCH: EPIC ORANGE RIVER SMALLMOUTH YELLOWFISH ACTION
“The sheer aggression and vast scale of the naked geology is intimidating, yet this landscape inspires a near-spiritual devotion in many who explore it” – Scott Ramsay on the Richtersveld in ‘South Africa’s Wildest Places’
Our guides are among those with that near-spiritual devotion Scott speaks of so eloquently in his beautiful book. So when they get time off (a rarity) between trips. They go exploring. Now, you’ve no doubt heard it before from guides all over the world: ‘We had some time off… So we went fishing.’
What you don’t always hear, are the backstories.
“These trips are usually more research-orientated than for the guides to actually fish,” says Gareth Reid, who has guided more seasons on the Orange than most. “It’s to do the stuff we can’t do when we have clients, because it would impact on their experience. You know, the stuff we do to make sure we have it all dialed and then on the client trips they have the best experience possible.”
Gareth, Nathan and Colen had a gap between two client drifts during the 2019 season, so they took advantage and planned a bit of a boys trip. Along for the ride came Feathers & Fluoro co-founder, Peter Coetzee and globetrotter Francois Botha.
“The idea was to experiment with patterns and techniques,” Gareth says, explaining how they also used the time to rest the section the clients usually fish on Mavungana drifts.
“So we went to a section that offers good smallmouth fishing because Pete was dead keen on targeting those.”
“Just a little clutch-out session for the guides and couple friends, you know – super casual, low-key DIY vibes,” says Gareth.
Our regular client drift trips are a premium offering featuring custom-built inflatable rafts. We’ve partnered with SA’s longest standing rafting company and our experienced guides row while a logistics team heads downstream with all provisions and non-fishing related gear. The camps are full service with spacious tents and comfortable beds, warm showers and gourmet meals paired with wine.
All the client has to do is immerse themselves in the timeless landscape and fish for those very special largemouth- and smallmouth yellowfish.
This trip was not quite like that…
Press play to check out the action and read on below:
The boys took no tents and slept on stretchers under the stars. With smallmouth yellowfish as the main target – they fished lots of crab patterns and experimented with hanging baitfish patterns statically. On top of heaps of sight-casting, of course.
And, they took the time to document the scenery and capture what it is that keeps drawing fly-fishers back to this special wilderness. Also something guides don’t always get the chance to do when they’re on the clock.
“Mostly Peter fished…” Gareth says. “He would not put the fly rod down, while Franny and I were messing around with camera gear, documenting the spectacular scenery. I think between Franny and I we fished like 30 minutes in four days…”
Okay Gareth. We’re pretty sure you (and Francois) are also still claiming that Peter’s mirrorless camera images are nowhere near the quality of your DSLR results…