Makhangoa Community Camp – Lesotho Group 1: 1 Dec – 8 December 2014

A week of firsts. The first week of the 2014/15 season, our first group in the newly completed Makhangoa Community Camp, and also our first international clients to Lesotho, courtesy Planet Fly Fishing in France. After meeting, George, Phillip, Francis, Denies, Florane and Chantel at HaLejone we all settled into our rooms, worked through tackle, and after dinner got and early night ready for the next day’s fishing.

After a quick breakfast we headed off with hopes of fishing the bottom section of the Malibamatso. Unfortunately heavy rains in the upper catchment overnight had turned the river into a cold and dirty mess. Undeterred we kept climbing over and down the ‘pass of death’ to the confluence of the Motete and the Malibamatso. As expected, the Malibamatso was running clean above the confluence. With more weather closing in we quickly set up and got cracking. Although clean, we soon realized that the river was still a bit on the cold side and the yellows far from eager to feed aggressively. They guys did very well to land two yellows and two rainbow trout in tough conditions. We made the decision that night over dinner to head over to Katse lodge the next day and fish the dam for the afternoon, so we could make it into the Makhangoa Community Camp early as possible on Day 3 of the 7 day trip.

With the last of the bad weather showing itself upon arrival at Katse, with took the chance to drink some good wine and eat some good food, while prepping for the days to follow at camp.

The next morning we went ‘home’ to the Bokong River. There were many new French words coming from the back of the cruiser when we came over the ridge to see the Bokong literally alive with yellow fish. Once we had settled in to the brand new Makhangoa Community Camp, we hit the water. As guides, we had to get very creative with our sign language, but after some drawing in the sand, and some comical hand gestures we all seemed to be more or less on the same page. By that evening everyone had experienced and learnt just what an incredible experience sight fishing to yellows in mountains stream is all about. Phillip did very well by landing seven good sized yellows all on dry. It was now, as the guest would say “gee tee time” (gin and tonic), and not time to fish. After a proper saffer style braai, lots of wine around the fire place, and a hot shower everyone tucked themselves into the new thatched rondavels with great anticipation for the day to come.

It’s truly something special to wake up, walk outside to clear blue skies, and look down onto one of southern Africa’s best yellow fish fisheries. We split up and started the onslaught on the middle beat. By lunch time everyone had fully acquainted themselves with what the Bokong has to offer. Denies and Florane had a wonderful morning with one of the community guides exploring the village and seeing the Lesotho way of life. We spent the evening fishing closer to camp. With chicken curry on the menu we all gathered around the table (with more wine of course). As the evenings went by we slowly created an interesting language which was a mix of English and hand gestures and strange noises, but it seemed to work very well.

The 2nd to last day greeted us with perfect conditions again. After a quick breakfast we drove over to the village to introduce the French guests to our community partners. After sampling some of the local brew, the guests were treated to a bit of a song and dance by the community. We spent the rest of the day fishing the upper beat and picnicking on the river bank near a small waterfall. Chantel and Phillip did very well fishing the long runs of pocket water. George a Francis focused on the many big pools and by the end of the day everyone had landed a fish over 53cm! Once again smiles all round.

Unfortunately last days do exist on fishing trips, so there was a race to hit the water the next morning, and what a great morning it was with everyone climbing into the fish. All the strange noise hand gesturing had paid off and very little guiding was needed. We just had to sit back, enjoy the spectacle, and hop around from angler to angler to land fish. Around midafternoon the storm that had been looming rolled in, pushing us of the water. This gave everyone a chance to unwind and relax around the fire, sharing stories of the past week, and finishing what wine we had left over a delicious lamb stew.

To George, Phillip, Francis, Denies, Florane and Chantel we would like to thank you for an incredible week with many laughs, many stories told and memories made, and hopefully many more to come in the years ahead.

Cheers for now.

Stu and Pierre – Makhangoa Community Camp