Makhangoa Community Camp: 16 – 24 March 2016

The first week and a half of the trout season was more than just eventful, it was tremendous! The long awaited trout season had finally arrived. With the changing of the seasons came the changing of the target species. For the last couple of weeks, as will be remembered from previous blogs, more and more trout started coming to the fly while the yellow fish catches started to decline. With the dam level still being well below normal the normal mid/alter March trout migration into the river had not started yet, but all these hormonally charged salmonoids were getting stacked up in the estuary and waiting for the right conditions to enter the lower beats en mass.

The first gents to cash in on this phenomenon of epic proportions were Hendrik and Andy. Hendrik had been here before and was well rigged for action, with an assortment of flies that would put any respectably fly shop to shame. They were of the blocks with a flying start on the first afternoon, landing and releasing nearly a dozen fish. Later that afternoon, Kyle a.k.a. Stoof pulled in with his three mates, Gavin, Brian and Rey. The prospect of large numbers of large fish had them racing to set-up their gear and off they went for a first session on the river.

On the second day, everybody was settling down and getting their rhythm, especially Hendrik and Andy. These two were tubing around in the bottom of the estuary and picking up trout on slow retrieves using large streamers. Kyle and the others were fishing from the bank, but soon realised that float tubes were the way to go and it wasn’t long before the whole clan was drifting around catching fish.

This fiesta of fish continued like that for the next couple of days until, Hendrik and Andy’s time in Lesotho was up. Reluctantly they packed their gear and headed back to busy Johannesburg to re-join the rat-race. Their spots were soon filled by to very keen fishermen namely, Jeff and Howard. These two were in for a real outdoors experience; maybe a little more than what they wanted. Jeff and Howard had a pretty quiet first session from the bankside at the estuary while the float tubers were having a ball.

For Rey and Kyle it was getting too easy so they opted for a bit of river fishing. Although it was slightly more technical, Kyle was rewarded with a beautiful river rainbow of about 7lb – I still don’t know who was more surprised, Kyle or the fish. In the mean time I was taking Howard and Jeff out, for their first ever float tube experience, needless to say things got interesting. The first struggle was to decide what to take and what to leave. Those of you who have tubed will know that they are not very spacious vessels. Once the bare essentials were sorted we had to get them into their flippers. Flippers are awkward contraptions at best so getting these on and keeping them on was quite a struggle. In fact, it wasn’t long before I had to dive out on of Howard’s flippers that had dropped into the chilly waters of the estuary. The Lesotho highland can be windy place, as Jeff quickly found out when he got blown into open water and drifted half a kilometre off course. I arrived with my Kayak and found a very exhausted Jeff trying to kick his way back into a gale force wind! It was not a pretty sight so I towed him back to safety. Despite the ‘minor’ struggles we found some hungry trout and it was all worth it.

After the previous day’s intense float tubing session Jeff, Howard and I decided to do some river fishing. It was a fun session, but it started off with yet another hiccup. On the way down to the footbridge Jeff slashed a tyre on a rock, so we had to do a quick change before the fishing could commence. It all went pretty well except for the fact that the spare had a slow puncture. Gavin was the man of the hour, who arrived out of nowhere with mushroom plug kit and sorted the puncture out in no time. The river fishing was good and produced a couple of wild rainbows out of the most unlikely looking slots imaginable. It was the last day on the water for Kyle and his mates, so they made the best of it on the tubes. All in all they caught more fish can they can remember, including some yellows just to sweeten the deal.

The last day on the water for Jeff and Howard was also one to remember. They had overcome the struggles of float tubing and proceeded to catch trout left, right and centre. The trout season kicked off in spectacular fashion and hopefully it will get even better in the weeks to come.

Over and out