August 2009

Vaal River, South Africa

South Africa was another work destination in a surprisingly international year. So onto the web: could there be a fly fishing opportunity there? At first I thought of saltwater, but as I was working around Jo'burg, that really didnít make sense. Then there was trout fishing in the highlands; but why chase trout there when I would be back on my beloved River Wye soon enough? At last I came across fly fishing in rivers close to Jo'burg; close is a relative term, subject to local definitions. In South Africa, close seems to mean within 2 to 3 hours drive. The fish I was targeting, with my excellent guide, was yellowfish, a member of carp family that is reassuringly very yellow and looks like a cross between a barbel and a carp. As both are splendid fish, this seemed like a good idea. August is definitely winter in South Africa, that meant that it was a little colder than the UK in summer and the water was distinctly cold. My guide's face showed signs of anxiety. Would we find fish interested in feeding in this cold water? Well we fished away and watched a stunning hatch of the local large mayflies but still no action. Then the line went very solid and we found ourselves in danger of being towed upstream by an unstoppable and invisible force. On a 5 weight rod, this beast was a handful. After 15 minutes we still hadnít seen the fish and my guide was excited at the thought of a record yellowfish. When we finally saw our muscular adversary, it was a big carp Ė bigger than the guide had ever seen and certainly my biggest carp Ė but from a river in South Africa. ! Of the yellowfish we saw not a fin or scale. A return visit required. .

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Vaal River

Vaal in evening light

big carp

Big carp -- big surprise