Makhangoa Community Camp Season 2022 – Week 3

Gin-clear water. Sight-fishing. Dry fly heaven. These are terms familiar to anyone who regularly fishes the Bokong but are in complete contrast to the challenging conditions we have had for the last few days. A more accurate description of the last few days here would include terms like “monsoon”, “sludge” and “chocolate”. So what do we do when weather happens for a whole trip? Well, we had to fish the dam.

We knew the new arrivals were almost here when David, our river ranger and resident weather predictor, came running down the hill shouting something like “WHITE PEOPLE” with a massive smile. They arrived to a slightly discoloured, but very fishable river and you could just about see the drool as they stared lustfully at rising fish in home pool. Feverish hands tied on flies and they all rushed down to the river to catch what was left of the afternoon. Almost immediately a few fish were brought to the net, most of which were trout. By the time the fading light pushed everyone off the water there were smiles all round, some being smiles of satisfaction and, for those who had not managed a fish in the first evening, smiles of anticipation of a day on the river. A supper of creamy lamb curry had everyone satisfied and ready to fish hard the next day.

Have you ever experienced rain so dense that you are scared that you will not be able to breathe if you step outside? Or rain that quiets all conversation as every man is left in a state of awe at the sheer volume of water falling from the sky? This is the kind of rain we had on the first night and one look from Ollie was all I needed to know that the river was going to be well and truly blown within minutes. We were going to have to fish the dam.

The morning light confirmed what we had all suspected and the normally serene blue river looked like an angry brown serpent speeding its way through the valley. One advantage of a blow out like this is that you can get high concentrations of fish in the dam right on the colour line. We confirmed this to be the case as we watched masses of fish rising and the disappointment at seeing the blown river quickly turned to excited anticipation of the fish to come. By the end of the day everyone had caught at least one yellow in difficult conditions and we marched like a troop of happy drowned rats toward a steaming hot supper of deboned stuffed chicken. This was the pattern of the next few days and one day merged into the next of dam fishing. The fishing was excellent with many fish being brought to the net on both the bank and the boats and a couple of tanks being landed as well, but even though there were smiles all round at the last supper together, I couldn’t help feeling deeply sorry for the guests who had been stuck on the dam for their entire trip. I really hope they have a chance to return to a crystal clear river, because I would love to show off our beautiful river to them.

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