Makhangoa Community Camp: 6th – 12th May 2016

The sun had already tucked itself behind the hills and dusk was creeping in along with the cold. There was no sign of the guests arriving and the last light had now faded out completely. I was just about to head back and phone the boss when two headlights appeared in the distance. It seems that car trouble found them long before they found camp and they had to make a tactical stop in Fiksburg to get a fix. It was a great relief to finally welcome Deon, Andrew and Matthew to camp, the only problem was that their other two mates had not yet arrived. We were speculating about the reason for their mates being m.i.a. but it wasn’t long before they too rolled into camp. As it turns out Reese forgot to pack his passport, so he and his cousin Kyle had to make a ‘little’ three hour detour. There is a lesson in this folks; check your car before you leave and double check for your passport.

There is an advantage to arriving so late on your first day. Everything is a surprise the next morning, and what a pleasant surprise to wake up in a place like this. Needless to say the rods were setup in a flash and they hit the water like a flock of coots. Andrew was on form. He was using his go-to-fly, the Viva Tadpole and it was proving irresistible to the yellows. On their second night the guys were joined by Kyle and Reese’s uncle, Roger. It was a jolly night with no shortage of banter and jokes.

The next morning the guys headed upriver in search of some fish, despite some superficial injuries and throbbing heads. They worked their way up onto beat 3, checking every run and pool, leaving no stone unturned. As luck would have it, Kyle took his eyes off the water for a couple of seconds and spooked three massive fish that were chilling in the skinny water of the skate park section. Unfortunately those fish were not going to give them second chance, and no other fish gave them a chance either.

We made a trip down to the Malibamatsu to go and tease out some big lunkers below the dam wall. While the others were focussed on going deep, Reese was keen to entertain himself with a dry fly and a couple of small trout, and he was not disappointed. Reese proudly explained to us that one of his victims was the smallest trout that he had ever caught in his life and used his index finger to give us an idea of scale. Although it provided amusement for the group there was something admirable about his attitude towards the tiny trout. He was as happy about the small fish as he was about big ones that came out and that is a trait that all fly fishermen should have. Despite the fact that Reese got his personal best ‘smallest fish’, the rest of the day out on the Malibamatsu went quite well, everybody caught a couple of fish and the guys came back to camp all smiles.

The rains came on the morning of their third day, it was proper rain and much needed. Kyle and Reese returned home, this time with their passports nearby. Matthew and I braved the cold and took on the pocket water of beat two. It was not too long before sanity took over and we retired to camp. Deon and Andrew on the other hand were sticking it out on the estuary, with some good results I might add. That evening Andrew spent time behind the vice restocking his box with Viva Tadpoles while I was turning out orange Zonker Minnows for Matthew.

Andrew’s faith in the Viva Tadpole was commendable. Despite the fact that there were no tadpoles around he fished it with confidence and it worked for him. The tadpoles had the yellows going mad, but the trout were not as interested, so I suggested a change. A change sometimes makes all the difference. I tied up one of my Double Strip Dragons for Andrew, told him to try it and the result was a beautiful brown trout and the cherry on top of a great trip. Viva!

Tight loops