If there is any good that has come out of being confined to our homes because of the Covid pandemic, it has been time to get through those things that have been on the to-do list for awhile. Yesterday it was sorting through thousands of digital images, some, reminders of long forgotten fishing outings.
Here is one, I’ll record as I recall it ……
It was 10 years ago when over a couple of seasons, I’d set myself a goal to explore a number of small feeders streams of the better known rivers – tiny streams that are either ignored or seldom fished. The Mtshezana, a tributary of the Bushmans River at Giants Castle is one. Krister, a Swedish friend who was visiting South Africa at the time. joined me for the day.
An early morning dash up the ribbon of tar to Giants Castle, a grab-n-go cup of questionable fuel stop coffee and we were stringing our rods at the confluence of the Bushmans and the Mtshezana by 7.30am – there were fish rising – a good sign. The path up to Champagne Pools is well worn, but it’s here where the trail peters out. I wanted to go on and explore the higher reaches, beyond where most venture and new water for me.
It took nearly forty minutes of scrambling through long grass, brush, over and around boulders before the first cast where the turquoise water sluiced out over bedrock into a deeper, good looking pool. Fishing hard from here we moved upstream with little reward other than a couple of eight inchers on small Klinkies – it was slow going in water that showed so much promise.
By mid-morning we’d covered no more than the best part of a kilometre, across the stream on the right bank a beautiful, timeless primeval forest – shades of verdant greens, the trees old, twisted and gnarled, boulders covered in glistening moss and lichen. Here the water rushed between boulders, over riffles and through small runs. There were signs of Caddis and a tiny, smokey Baetis Mayfly hatching – the odd trout began to move. Absorbed in the fishing the build-up of storm clouds had gone unnoticed until the first low rumble of thunder in the distance, there was an ominous bruised darkness out to the west. The air was still, atmospheric, even the hoppers and birds had gone quiet. I knew we’d have to turn back soon.
Then, Krister spotted them, three nice trout just below the plunge at the head of the run, one a little larger than we’d seen before. It was his cast – he crept and cast carefully, the caddis imitation landed too far to the left, the larger of the trout moved, watched the fly and then swallowed it with an unsuspicious innocence. A short fight and he lifted the astonished 12 inch brown, removed the fly and released it downstream.
The second fish was a repeat of the first, but smaller. As he slipped it back into the water, there was a frighteningly close flash of lightening and ear splitting crack of thunder. The storm was about to off load on us. Rods down we scrambled our way back downstream. The rain started, heavy icy drops, it poured, lightening flashed and the noise of thunder was deafening. We made it back to the safety of the vehicle – drenched and cold, our day was over.
The Mtshezana is a delightful little stream, it’s small brown trout are not plentiful displaying an innocence to suggest they hadn’t seen many flies and leaders – they had a “eat anything” attitude.
All images and copy in this post are copyright Peter Brigg Photography © 2020. All rights reserved