JAN MALAN WRITES ABOUT A GLIMPSE HE GOT OF THE UPPER SAALBOOM RIVER, BARKLY EAST DISTRICT
A lovely piece of investigative fly fishing – or fly fishing R & D
Jan wrote recently
‘I've been meaning to send you these shots for a long time, but only now getting round to it. They are not great photography, but it’s more the stream that fascinated me. On the way to Rhodes early in the year (around March/April), we drove over the Erasmus Pass which drops you close to Barkly East. (I think Jan means Greyling’s Pass here, because I phoned two knowledgeable Rhodes locals today, Basie Vosloo and Dave Walker, and neither had heard of the Erasmus Pass. Should you care to look at it on Google Earth, the road is the R396 from Dordrecht to Barkly. See http://samountainpasses.co.za/EasternCape/EasternCapePasses/GreylingsPass/Map/tabid/1124/Default.aspx )
It’s a beautiful drive and on the Dordrecht side as you approach the pass there are some spectacular mountain views. There was also a tiny stream on that side, running close to the deeper folds of the mountains and it looked almost fishable, but since we were driving in rain it would be difficult to judge whether it is perennial.
Unfortunately don't have any usable shots of that one. On the other side though, we crossed the upper Saalboom River and it looked very good in these upper reaches. One hears little of the Saalboom, although I know it gets fished a bit lower down for some really big trout in the slower, deeper holes. This upper water, however, reminded me a lot of Ben Lawers on the Bell River and it looked like near perfect small water. I was wondering if you know anything about it.’
Clearly this is a stream with great potential. I did fish the Saalboom many years back with Jake Alletson, also as I recall on one of the upper sections where we got a few brown trout. So did my friend Gijsbert Hoogendoorn, who wrote to me mid last year as follows…
‘The next day we decided to fish the Saalboom on Vaalkop. This day proved to be successful. Jan got 16 and 17 inch rainbows on drop-offs in large pools. A very large version (#10) of Darryl Lampert’s CDC nymph did the trick. That evening a massive rainstorm came down onto the Barkly area with the Sterkspruit and Saalboom staying murky for the duration of our trip.’
IF YOU HAVE SOME EXPERIENCE OF THIS STREAM I WOULD BE DELIGHTED TO HEAR FROM YOU SO THAT WE CAN BUILD ON THIS POSTING. ANY INAGES, OF COURSE, WOULD BE GREATLY APPRECIATED.