As the name implies, Vergelegen, is at the end of a long and winding track, the last stop before the mountains take over and wilderness begins.
It is has a feeling of being on the very edge of the earth – here birds sing all day, tall grasses wave in the breeze and there is an ever changing kaleidoscope of light and shade over the rolling hills and towering escarpment. At times the clouds paint the sky in shades of white and grey bringing relief from the heat of summer and life-giving rain to all. In the valley the Mkhomazi flows steadily like a blue ribbon, clear and cool with an almost glacial tinge – over smooth multi-coloured pebbled runs, riffles and deep slots, between grassy under-cut banks and shimmering pools – a chorus of sounds and liquid trills.
The small brown trout population has lived in these pristine waters for nearly a century, buttery brown, heavily spotted, always challenging and wary. There are days when they seem to disappear like shadows in the mist and other times when a few can be fooled, but they are never easy.
I spent last weekend at Vergelegen with a few friends, Andrew Fowler, Graeme Steart and Grant Visser – the weather wasn’t perfect, but the company, just like the whiskey and the fire-side guitar music provided by Grant were better than good. The fishing was slow, but that’s what you can expect on the Mkhomazi – it makes the surprise of a wild brown of 16 inches that much better, a sense of achievement that for once you managed to get it right – right fly, gentle cast and a perfect drift. Although the fish are seldom plentiful I always have a sense of reward, of priceless pleasure and of spending unencumbered time along a beautiful stream in the presence of wild trout. I guess I’m obsessed with the trout of the Mkhomazi because I’m perplexed and delighted by them – creatures that are secretive and deserving of respect, recalcitrant, intractable and defiant – almost everything spooks them, sending them swimming for cover, for survival.
Here is a small selection of pictures from a memorable weekend – better than a 1000 words.
All images and copy in this post are copyright Peter Brigg Photography © 2015. All rights reserved