Slab of Gold
Kyle and I hit the Vaal River again this past Thursday (28th March) in pursuit of one of our favourite quarry, the Smallmouth Yellowfish, as the waters begin to cool ahead of winter. The river was flowing at probably just under 20 cubics and was also fairly murky with visibility probably sitting at about 15 centimeters. I wasn’t expecting much and to be honest we never took a single fish till about 11 o’ Clock. Once we worked out the pattern though we managed to pull a fair number of fish out, probably ranging between 0.5 and 3 kilograms.
the Pattern was quite simple. basically it consisted of bright green flies (such as rock worms) being fished in fairly deep water, but it took us a while to figure this out. interestingly not a single fish was taken in shallow rapids, which tells me that the fish might be moving slowly towards deeper pools already in preparation for winter.
Another Great Yellow
Above is a picture of another nice sized Yellow. This one took me for a pretty long walk down the rapids before I was able to net it. All in all it turned out to be an excellent day on the water and I did not lose even half the number of fish that I normally do. This could probably be attributed mainly to a new rig that Kyle showed me, but if I could add any advice it would be to fish with only 2 flies. The reasoning for this is that with 3 there is just so much more potential for the loose flies to snag up under water while fighting a monster fish.
A Decent Yellow
Slab of Gold
After a loooooong winter period tis finally the season once again to be jolly. Spring has arrived, water temperatures have risen, and the smallmouth yellow has moved back into the rapids. What an exciting/frustrating day we had had on the Vaal this past weekend. The fish are definitely on the bite as we managed to land a couple of large small mouth yellows and obviously lose many even ‘bigger’ ones.
I took a good friend of mine Clinton “the rod smasher” Van Zyl to splash the water, and what a day he had. He first of all landed one of the largest yellows I’ve seen in real life and then almost landed an even bigger one later that day. The later breaking his rod as he tried to bring it to the surface. It was big. I would estimate close on the 4 kilo mark but we all know the story of the one that got away, right.
I had a relatively frustrating day on the water, landing 3 yellows myself: one tiny, one very large and one somewhere in between, with no scale to quantify the bounty. Sadly I lost more yellows than I ever have in a single sitting, many of which felt like absolute boats. They were heavy, uncontrollable, and impossible to turn. I guess I still haven’t mastered the art of fighting a yellowfish. As I watch others seamlessly managing to keep their fish by their feet once hooked, I cannot stop them from running downstream and breaking me off. I break trace after trace and it feels at the time as if there is nothing I can do to turn the fish in the strong currents.
Many Fish Had Sores
Well there is always next time I guess, and next time I’m going back with heavier tackle to catch the ones that got away…
My two highly experienced fishing buddies: Keith Falconer of Explorer Fly Fishing and Chris le Roux, took me out to visit club water on the Vaal just outside of Parys this past Sunday. We went in search of a few smallmouth yellowfish and I really feel for the guys as I don’t think that I stop with the questions from the moment that we get onto the highway until long after the last fly is thrown for the day. “Do these flies look ok?” “Are they the right colour?” “Should I tie them with a glass bead or tungsten?” “Is the water flow correct in this spot?” I am aware of how unrelenting I am with these questions, but I blame them for being so damn accommodating.
Lovely little yellow
Unfortunately for us after the recent rains the river level had risen about 30 centimeters overnight and on top of that the water was reasonably chilly! The consistent chill that I felt the entire day was in stark contrast to the swelteringly hot productive yellow fishing days that I am used to. I managed one sizeable mudfish (losing 2 nippy yellows) and Keith netted 2 beautiful small mouths for the day. We didn’t do too well but after a few phone calls to other avid Vaal anglers, we found that everyone had a shocker at the hands of unsuitable weather conditions and fluctuating flow rates.
A fish is a fish!
Well, I say that we had a shocker but then again no day on the water is a shocker to me. It is always a pleasure to be out on the river, especially with the right people sharing their knowledge and experiences. Every slow day is a great learning experience and I learnt more about fly selection and line mending techniques in one day than I have in the last 10 trips that I have done alone! Thanks Keith, looking forward to the next one!
52 centimeters but no weight
So, guided by future smallmouth yellowfish legend Chris “the gold digger” Le Roux I might just have caught my personal best for the second time in 2 weeks, but without a scale to measure. This is the second time I’ve been out with him and both times have been electric.
Awesome smallmouth yellowfish
We hit the Vaal near Parys and immediately found ourselves the only two anglers on the water. We rigged our lines with our favourite flies (or rather Chris’ favourite flies) and made for the rapids. In true style Chris was on within the first five casts or so. And that pattern just continued throughout the day which ended with him landing approximately 22 yellows, one of which was a striking 60 odd centimetres.
An unfortunately grainy photo of Chris' monster smallmouth
I on the other hand managed to land a mere five yellows and 2 muddies, one of which could have been my new personal best, broken after just a week. One of the things that i learnt from Chris was the correct method of Czech nymphing, which requires NO strike indicator. The concept is that with a strike indicator you allow a lot more drag and “bowing” on the line, ironically leading to more missed strikes. Now for the novice this would seem a paradoxical approach to yellow fishing, but as you use the technique more and more, you find yourself fine tuning your senses to detect the strike not only more frequently but also easier.
Always remember it is often difficult to adjust the leader length of your line to the varying river depth with an indicator, and leader length in relation to this is of paramount importance, which can, with practice be more easily adjusted without an indicator by simply developing a feel for the depth of the target area. Tight lines.
We had a rollercoaster of a day out on the Vaal a couple weekends ago. It was a strange day of intermittently successful fishing. One minute the fish were on the bite and the next they were off, then suddenly on again, all in the space of a couple hours.
Approximately 2.7 Kg smallmouth
Both I and the Bass Bugger managed to land numerous mudfish and the Bass Bugger even managed to net his very first Yellow! And a beauty at that. The highlight for me was that towards the end of a relatively slow day on the water, I netted what was at approximately 2.7 kilos by far my largest smallmouth yellowfish yet.
Slab of gold
I have to admit that on this occasion I upped my tippet strength to just less than 10 lb test mono, which I concede that at face value seems a tad overkill. However, the water was flowing at quite a rate on this particular occasion and quite honestly we needed all the advantage that we could afford ourselves while fighting a hooked fish.
Netting a fish
The method that I used was Czech nymphing with a three fly tandem rig, and the prize winning fly for the day was an orange hotspot tied on a size 14 hook as the point fly. I used a copper john as my control fly (which is almost always the case) and various flies as my top fly. I find that this is my most successful configuration for targeting smallmouth yellowfish. However, I tend to switch the top and point fly from time to time.