Rhodes is a long way from almost anywhere in South Africa; it is said to be the Centre of the Universe. From my home in Westville I bank on between 7 and 8 hours travel time and that includes the shortcuts I know. Not the last visit to the Wild Trout Association Trout Festival in March 2016 – we did the trip in record time (in my book) in just over 6 hours that included the now traditional Wimpy breakfast in Kokstad – TA doesn’t hang around. The old saying ‘low flying’ comes to mind as all in our wake were left clearing the dust out of their eyes as we touched just the tips of the corrugations and edges of the wash-aways with the odd controlled sideways slide with nervous banter from white-knuckled passengers. We left Westville at 4.20am and were safely in Rhodes for morning coffee.
The regulation stop at the top of Naude’s Pass (in the mist) at 2500m above sea level
There are of course slower modes of transport
The annual festival, a gathering of some 40 flyfishers from the length and breadth of SA was great success, a meeting of old friends and new friendships formed. A place where the hospitality is unsurpassed, the prairie oysters are delicious and Mr. Walker’s nightly battle cry, “don’t forget your lunch packs”, legendary.
All roads lead to Rhodes the Centre of the Universe.
If Rhodes is the Centre of the Universe, Walkerbouts is at the Epicenter.
The inimitable Mr. Dave Walker, the glue that binds much of it all together.
The steady rain the day of our arrival meant coloured water and rivers in spate. But from day two with rapidly dropping levels and clearing silted run-off, the fishing conditions progressively improved until near perfect, especially in the higher reaches. The effects of the devastating drought over the last 12 months was reflected in the daily returns seldom recording more than 6 fish between groups of 3 or 4 anglers per beat and as low as ones and twos – a far cry from the 30 to 50 fish days of years gone by. In my view it’s not a bad thing for fishing to be difficult – it forces anglers to focus and utilise their experience and skills that otherwise become dulled when it is too easy. The pocket water and undercuts on upper Bokspruit produced the best results. Stories around Walkerbouts in the evenings suggested that there were some large trout around – some sighted others hooked and lost. It must be born in mind that the average size of fish grows by at least an inch for every hour in the pub! – so the jury is still out on the truth of it. The good news is that many small fish of less than 4 inches were turning short of the fly. This augurs well for improved fishable populations in the next 18 to 24 months.
Trouty looking water.
A 16″ NE Cape wild Rainbow trout.
This selection of images are not so much about the fishing, but about the beauty and the infectious charms of the NE Cape, the rivers and streams – the reasons I have a fondness for the place, its people and of course the fish and the rivers that are their home.
The area is rich in San rock art
All images and copy in this post are copyright Peter Brigg Photography © 2016. All rights reserved