So the winter has definitely crept in, and in an attempt to salvage what sanity we have left the “Bass Bugger” and I made a trip up to Dullstroom to target Rainbow trout this past weekend the of the 4th of June. We fished our usual private farm dam at Dabchick cottage on the Saturday morning and the weather was absolutely FREEZING. A cold front had settled in and unfortunately for us this seemed to force the fish down along with the temperatures. Fishing was tough and after trying a wide variety of flies from Olive and Pancora Wooly Buggers to PTN Orange Hotspot Nymphs, we turned up with nothing. We fished them shallow, deep, fast, slow and even tried just fishing them static on intermediate line, but nothing, not even a bite. With not even a single rise for the day it was difficult to tell which areas to target. Only when we changed to the boring egg pattern did we start to see some action. The “Bass Bugger” Shaun Taylor managed to land the first rainbow trout, just fishing his white egg pattern agonizingly slowly. Then it was my turn and we each managed to land just one meager fish for the day, although Shaun’s was undoubtedly a decent sized specimen.
The next day we tried a new venue, a series of 3 dams set up by the local Mavungana Fly fishing shop. The weather was undoubtedly better, slightly warmer temperatures, less wind, and not a cloud in the sky. Unfortunately though, the water at these 3 dams was so clear that the fish could basically see you before you even arrived at the dam. Getting to close meant spooking fish. It was tough fishing for us but, again, we managed to land one trout each. I took a very good sized fish on a size 14 Orange Hotspot PTN fished static, with slight twitches no and then, which is a new style of fishing for me. Shaun took his on a Pancora Wooly Bugger fished deep on intermediate line. We were both using about 3 kg fluorocarbon tippets not only to get our flies to the bottom (as flouro sinks quickly) but also because fluoro is far less visible in crystal clear water than normal leader materials.
Later on in the afternoon we returned to Dabchick dam where I managed to land one more small trout on a Pancora Wooly Bugger rigged in tandem behind a small Orange Hotspot PTN. Again this was allowed to sink and then fished extremely slowly through the water column with a figure 8 retrieve. Bright Flies such as Pancora Wooly Buggers (black Wooly bugger with an orange and yellow tail) and Orange Hotspots are ideal at this time of year (June) as the bright orange and yellow colours serve as attractor patterns to fish preparing to spawn. In most cases such bright attractor patterns should be fished quickly and aggressively to entice a bite, however, in tough conditions trout seem to prefer a much slower retrieve. There is not a feeling in the world better than the moment a passing fish tugs at your line on a tough days fishing when you least expect it.
For most of your trout fishing applications in Dullstroom a 5/6 weight rod with matching floating line will be adequate. Floating line is versatile because it is a necessity for dry fly fishing, which is best in the early mornings/late evenings. However it can also be used for deeper fishing applications, such as in the middle of the day when the fish move deeper, by simply using a longer leader (no shorter than the length of your rod). Also remember that for surface fishing always use monofilament leaders and tippets, as these will float on the surface better than fluorocarbon. Use Fluoro when fishing deep as it sinks quicker.
Although floating line is versatile there will be occasions where you might need either a sinking or intermediate line. These are especially beneficial for very deep water fishing conditions where you may need the line to pull the fly deeper quickly. I have also found that in windy conditions it is difficult to fish sinking flies on floating line as the line actually acts as a sail which allows the line to be blown across the surface of the water, therefore affecting the action of the fly under the water, often pulling it out of the strike zone. However, with sinking line the wind has little effect as the line sits under the water surface.
A new piece of advice that I can give you is not to think too much. When you are on the water, make your fly selections, set up your rig and once the fly hits the water for the first time, just enjoy it. Don’t over think and just fish. Good luck.