Kalahari, Orange River – Group 5

The long, never ending road to Eldorado was to be embarked on one last time. The group of Tavis, Brad, Paolo and international guest Tim joined myself and Matt on the last drift of the 2019 season. Tavis, who joined us last year on a trip, was back for another crack at the Orange with fishing buddy Brad. Paolo, who is no stranger to the waters of the Orange, was after a double figure largemouth yellowfish. Tim, who had never fished for largies before was eager to see what all the fuss was about. With an array of different goals and expectations, it was time to head off into the wild one last time.

After much excited talk and a good night’s rest, we woke up on morning one ready to rock. Boats packed, rods set and ambitions soaring. By brunch the bar was set. Tavis and Brad managed largies in the first session. Things seemed to be going right. With adaptions to the retrieval and size of the flies we were using, largies seemed to become more responsive. The rest of the day was good with fish, both smallies and largies, coming to the net consistently throughout the day. Spirits remained high around the fire eating a hearty meal and knocking back a few beers.

After a very cold night the group slowly began to rise with hot coffee and a warm fire. Matt and I spent the first hour of the morning tying up some big baitfish pattern. This pattern seemed to be working like a charm which was a good thing as now everyone was fishing with confidence. This confidence was demonstrated in ten minutes of absolute madness! Tavis, who was drift fishing a long deep pool with decent flow, was working a small section of nervous water. Second swing over the section resulted in a big fish exploding out of the pocket and leaving Tavis with a screaming reel. Tavis worked the fish to an exposed rock where we photographed and successfully released the fish which was in perfect condition. Tavis’ first double figure of the trip, a very healthy 11 lbs. Within five minutes of releasing Tavis’ fish, Paolo found himself in the exact same situation as Tav. Swinging his fly over the same patch of nervous water saw Paolo go tight with another double figure largie! The fight was entertaining as Paolo found himself neck deep in the water after displaying a fine acrobatic dismount off the boat. Still managing to keep in contact with the fish, Paolo then swam onto an exposed rocked which gave Matt a chance to net the fish. Another solid 10lb largie, and the double figure fish that Paolo had been after for a few years. A great memory for both Paolo and Matt who had worked hard for a trophy largie.

That night saw our campsite on the banks of the Orange buzzing with excitement after a great day on River. So much so that we ended the evening with a few barbel lines out. This turned out to be great fun as the bite was on! In the space of half an hour everyone got to have a go at fighting a sharptooth catfish. Remarkably strong fish that gave us some top class entertainment before bed.

Day three was a day to remember. We had a short distance to cover for the day, essentially one long pool. This gave the guys the opportunity to fish really slow and work the pool hard. At the end of the day you needto have flies in the water for as long and possible. This idea was beautifully demonstrated as fifteen largies were landed throughout the day! Brad fished well by successfully bringing nine largies to the net. Tavis concentrated on the same bank of the pool for the majority of the day. This worked out incredibly well for him. Five largies for the day and two of them double figures. His biggest being a thick 13lber that he landed in the last light of the day. An impressive fish that Tavis will remember for a long time! Overall the day was on fire. Smallies and Largies were landed throughout the day. The only concern that was seen after day three was the fact that two fish were broken off on 20lb fluorocarbon leader… This left us all in wonder.

The last two days of the trip slowed down a fraction. A few good smallies were picked up but no largies worth writing home about. Guests had good fun running a technical little rapid that almost had Tim swimming! Day five was the best by far, from a South African point of view that is, as the Bokke took the world cup! We manged to find a radio signal and we all sat on the banks of the Orange River in the middle of nowhere listening to the final. If that isn’t “lekker” then I don’t know what is!

The last trip was an overall treat. I could not think of a better way to end the season. Some really good fish, great company and once again. . and everlasting memory.

I look forward to the 2020 season. More thrills, spills and unreal times. . . boet!

Until then, Get ‘em!