APRIL 2015 NEWSLETTER.
My life has been hectic since my last newsletter in November 2014 at which time I had just come back from the last of my 2014 trips to the Maldives.
Pam and I spent the first two weeks of January this year at our family cottage on the wild coast of the Eastern Cape and then in early February I conducted a four day saltwater workshop at Rocktail Bay. February and March I hosted three trips to the northern atolls of the Maldives and have just returned from an exploratory trip to the Orange River near Kimberley in the Northern Cape.
My time in between trips has to a large extent been taken up with the development of our property here at the Home of Ufudu so sincere apologies for the long time span between this newsletter and the last.
REPORT ON RECENT TRIPS
Rocktail Bay Saltwater workshop: 4 – 8 February 2015
We were fortunate to have ideal weather conditions throughout the four days of the trip. February is traditionally the ideal season for GT and other kingfish species along this part of our coastline and five Ufudu guests were certainly well rewarded for their efforts.
Dave Scott landed a Bluefin kingfish of 82 cm fl at Rocktail Bay, which is without doubt the biggest of this species that I have ever seen caught on fly – congratulations to Dave!
Not to be outdone, the next morning Andrew Blades managed to accomplish a feat that I am convinced will not be repeated for a long time to come when he managed to land a 97 cm GT at Lala Nek. What makes this so special is the fact that he landed this fish on a 9-wt rod, a 9 kg tippet, a 4/0 fly in a bay strewn with rocks and pounded by waves, all in the pitch dark at 4.30am. A very big high five to Andrew for this. (Read the full story in the April edition of TCFF).
Other species caught during the trip were, brassy-, bluefin- , yellow spot- and bigeye kingfish as well as several big wave Garrick.
Trips to the Northern atolls of Maldives:
16 -22 February 2015
Two days were allocated to exploring new atolls that sadly did not live up to my expectations. For the remainder of the trip we fished areas that had produced very good results on my trip in 2014. Several bonefish were landed and although we saw numerous GTs, we only managed to land two despite having plenty of follows and lots of fish missing flies. The adrenalin was pumping but sadly, nothing to show for it.
3- 9 March 2015
With seven guests on board I had planned to fish some of the 2014 spots initially and then to go to an island that I had last visited some years ago where I had seen some of the biggest GTs ever.
Warren Butler landed a nice bonito on the first afternoon, whilst several bluefin- and yellow spotted kingfish as well as bonefish were landed during the first few days. Once again we were frustrated by GTs that followed flies and turned just when it counted, getting the adrenalin pumping again.
For the final part of the trip, we undertook a three hour crossing to the island and it was certainly worthwhile, not one of us could say we were disappointed during the two days we spent there.
It is along the kilometres of the island’s west facing surf zone that the GTs patrol. During most fishing sessions I saw up to 30 fish that ranged in length from 70cm to some monsters of 1.6 meters. On one occasion I presented an 8/0 fly to a 1.5m fish cruising in crystal clear water a mere 25 meters from me. With my heart in mouth and my limbs shaking, I started my retrieve… only to have the fish ignore my fly with disdain. This still gives me sleepless nights.
After only landing three GTs and experiencing numerous refusals, it became clear that these fish had become very aware of our presence and that more stealth would be required if we were going to enjoy any success during future visits.
Besides the GTs, bluefin, bonefish and triggers were ever present on the flats during the pushing tides. Nic Davies, Dwight Thompson, Clive Brauteseth, Warren and Rhett Butler all caught bluefin and yellowspotted kingfish whilst Nic landed the only bonefish on these flats. Sean Hickson got very animated about a permit that tested his sense of humour for the best part of a morning’s session.
All in all a big learning curve at a great venue.
17 – 23 March 2015
On the final trip up north for this season I was joined by seven guests, five of whom are regular Ufudu guests who had been on a 2013 trip to the south.
We spent the first two days fishing the flats and sandbanks with bonefish very high on the agenda. Rudi Hiestermann got cleaned up by a really big one and Heather Ralph landed her first trigger. Dean Sparrow, the Hansen brothers Mark and Russell landed several bluefin- and yellow spotted kingfish and I landed a small permit.
Then we set off to the island of the fabled GTs for the remaining four days of the trip.
With lessons learnt from the previous trip, we approached the surf fishing for the GTs with a lot more stealth and caution. Each day we would see up to 40 fish, some as close as three rod lengths away, in shallow clear water. Our tactics paid dividends as a total of eight GTs were landed during these final days of the trip. Topping the list was Rudi’s first ever GT of 92cm and this was soon followed by his second GT of 70cm that had him smiling for the remainder of the trip. Russell Hansen also landed his first GT, a fish of 77cm and Dean Sparrow landed his biggest GT ever and this was 87 cm.
On this trip, the flats were also very productive during the early rising tide and we saw plenty of triggers tailing. We also saw milkfish, bonefish (Rudi caught one and saw many), permit and the usual bluefin kingfish.
I spent a lot of time observing the numbers and behaviour of the GTs in the surf and I am convinced that I have now found a gem of a destination in the Maldives that with skill and refined tactics will in time produce not only the biggest GTs caught on fly but also a variety of exciting fish species. I will certainly be spending more time here during the four trips planned for the 2016 season.
Orange River: Small and largemouth Yellowfish
It has been some time now that I have been looking for a productive and exclusive yellowfish destination that primarily entails fishing from the river banks… I was recently introduced to a farmer who has a farm with nine kilometres of Orange River frontage and who wants to introduce fly anglers to his magnificent venue.
Unfortunately on my recent visit to the farm, fishing was limited due to the recent heavy rains and the chocolate brown water that persisted for the three days. This major disappointment aside the venue as everything a yellowfish fly angler could want with access to nine kilometres of absolutely pristine Orange River varying in structure from long wide stretches of deep slow flowing water to narrow sections of fast flowing waters, rapids and small canyons. It has all the structure and qualities of a top class large- and smallmouth yellowfish destination and just to add to the allure of the venue, anglers will have the opportunity to view a wide variety of game in addition to excellent birding and kayaking. And all this is situated within an exclusive and very pristine environment.
Although I was not able to personally gauge the fishing, I did spend a lot of time walking various sections of the river banks and saw numerous rises that indicated a healthy population of fish. The dirty water prompted my host to show me many pictures and video clips of big fish that have been caught there. I have a date to return with a group of friends when the water clear to see for ourselves. If you are keen to visit this very special yellowfish destination…watch this space.
Rocktail Bay Saltwater fly fishing workshop.
You will be accommodated for four nights at the very comfortable Rocktail Bay Beach Camp and fishing will take place at various beaches within the Isimangaliso world heritage site.
Take advantage of this opportunity to enhance your saltwater skills and techniques by attending this very comprehensive and practical workshop.
Dates: 10 – 14 October 2015: Anglers R9700PP/Non-anglers R8300PP sharing 2 rods available
The cost includes lunch on arrival, dinner bed and breakfast, all guidance and tutorials by me, 4×4 transport to fishing venues.
The price excludes transport to the Rocktail Bay, bar, gratuities and park entrance fees.
TRIPS TO THE SOUTHERN ATOLLS OF THE MALDIVES
Trips for the more serious angler:
Limited to six anglers, these eight night hosted trips to these atolls coincide with the best tides and season. Shared accommodation aboard a very comfortable traditional safari Dhoni will bring you to some of the best trigger fishing on the planet and sightcasting to GTs and bluefin on the flats is the order of the day. If you are up for the challenge of fishing for GTs in the surf zone, the experience gained on this trip will add a new dimension to your fly fishing.
Dates: 24 – 31 October 2015 Cost: $2550pp sharing 6 rods available
7 – 14 November 2015 Cost: $2550pp sharing 6 rods available
The cost includes eight ????full board aboard a very comfortable safari dhoni, all hosted fly fishing and ground transfers.
The costs exclude international flights, bar, gratuities and travel insurance
The only couple’s trip planned for 2015, Pam and I will host a maximum of seven couples for seven days aboard this very comfortable and spacious vessel. Past experience and unanimous positive feedback have made these trips a real hit because of the uniqueness of being able to cater to each partner’s special interests.
The fly anglers go flyfishing to their hearts content whilst the non- anglers can enjoy all the comforts and mod cons of the boat, endless walks on uninhabited islands and sand spits, visits to fishermen islands, not to mention the world class snorkelling and scuba diving on some of the most fantastic reefs in the world.
DATES: 23 – 30 NOVEMBER 2015 COST: $2750PP SHARING 5 CABINS AVAILABLE
Costs include seven night’s full board aboard the luxury boat Conte Max, all hosted fishing and snorkelling, and ground transfers.
Costs exclude international flights, travel insurance, bar and gratuities.
My Last word
Unlike golf, in fly fishing everyone has to play off scratch, so before you set off to your next fly fishing destination make an honest assessment of what you think your fly fishing handicap is. Then, with this in mind……. go fishing, enjoy and learn from the experience!!
Tight lines and loops