FLY FISHING RHODES AND BARKLY IN MID WINTER
Text Gijsbert Hoogendoorn; pictures Warren van Rensburg
After hearing that the water levels were good in the Rhodes and Barkly area, Warren van Rensburg, Jan Coetzer headed down to the Centre of the Universe.
The first day of our trip we fished the Kraai a few kilometres downstream from Lekkerbly. The Kraai was looking magnificent, but there were no fish to be seen anywhere.
Our theory is that during winter most trout move upstream and the yellows downstream, leaving many sections of the Kraai uninhabited. Or, at least that’s what we think.
The next day we decided to fish the Saalboom on Vaalkop.
This day proved to be successful. Jan got two rainbows of 16 and 17 inches on drop-off’s in large pools. A 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.
We then decided to head to our good friend Tony Kietzman in Rhodes. The first day in Rhodes we fished the Parkgate section of the Bell. Warren got a 13 inch rainbow on the lift.
It was also a first for us fishing in the snow.
The next day we headed up the Bokspruit with Tony to fish Brucedell. We got a couple of fish on the lift and Jan got a rainbow of 13 inches. However, the water was 2 degrees Celsius and consequently the rainbows were quite passive.
The next day we fished the Coldbrook. This river was very thin and clear and demanded quite technical fishing with very crafting casting to get into deeper sections, we once again got a couple of nice fish on the lift and Jan somehow managed to get a few on the dead drift.
A word on flies. We fished a wide variety of flies including bloodworms, which we reckoned would be the ideal choice during winter, but to no avail.
In the end the Zak and CDC nymph’s worked the best and mostly on a Leisenring Lift. Fish were almost never in shallow sections nor in fast sections; the ideal spots were slower sections with undercut banks especially.
All and all I would say that winter fishing in Rhodes is thoroughly worth it. But, be warned it is physically very demanding.
Wading, even with waders, is quite challenging and saps a lot of energy because of the cold.
Day temperatures dropped down to 1 degree a couple of times and we woke up to –10 degrees many a morning.
A good fitness level and proper nutrition is essential to make your fishing comfortable and enjoyable.
The fishing can be very slow at times, but with patience and determination quite worth it. We reckon that the fishing will be a little better as soon as the water temperatures lift a little.
It also goes without saying that nobody matches the hospitality in the Centre of the Universe.”
The story includes running out of food, sinking a Land Rover into a swamp and suffering the first stages of hypothermia.
Interesting, last week's trip in Rhodes we only noticed one hatch; flying ants! The aquatic life underneath the rocks was mostly mayflies and the occasional tan coloured caddis (both in lower and upper reaches of rivers). But generally aquatic life was few and far between.
It would be really interesting to get an idea from more anglers how they would approach these streams in winter.
(Warren van Rensburg’s photography is poetic, artistic, captivating – in fact all of those nice to see things. But above all he captures atmosphere perfectly – including those typical ‘fly fisher moments’ we all know so well and that when assembled in our minds often become the essence of a trip and consequently the real memories of it.
Robert is a professional photographer. See more of his work on http://www.warrenvanrensburg.com/ Tom Sutcliffe )