The Vaal river, I have decided, is fast becoming my greatest torment and challenge when it comes to angling. We made our way down there this weekend (12th November 2011) to throw a few fly lines and what a day we had. Now on paper it’s going to look like the Vaal River beat us again, and it did. Of the ten odd fish that I hooked personally, I only landed three: two beautiful Yellows, and one hideous Mud fish. That is a 30% success rate on buttoned fish. Which means that an unacceptable 70% became unbuttoned! As frustrating as it is, I really believe that SOMETIMES you have to fail over and over AND to truly learn something, and on Saturday I believe that I learned magnitudes!
What I did wrong:
because I was afraid to lose yet ANOTHER hooked fish I put as much pressure on the fishies as possible to make sure that they never made it into the main stream, because if they did it basically doubled their power and resulted in straightened hooks, and mangled leaders. I broke many tippets applying too much pressure and in one case even suffered a snapped hook shank on account of one unruly Catfish! I guess my finely tuned “hook and haul” bass habits are hard to shake, so much so that i found myself doing this even when they had no chance of getting to the main stream and were fighting fair!
What I should have done:
I should have taken my time, played the fish with finesse, and literally followed them down stream. There is absolutely no reward in putting as much pressure on a steam-train Yellowfish as you can , unless you are packing 10kg leader and tippet, which would be as despicable to some as shooting lions in a cage. Please also remember that it does not matter how heavy your leader and tippet are, fly hooks are not designed to carry MASSIVE amounts of pressure and I opened many hooks applying unnecessary pressure. Once you have hooked a fish, relax and enjoy it! See it as a bonus to land a fish and trust me your success rate will improve on its own!
In total the three of us who were fishing landed 4 fish collectively, and lost many MANY more than that. However, we will be back, and next time I think we will fair a lot better. As an extra note we found that a lot of fish were hooked in extremely fast flowing water and the flies that seemed to work the best were small sized 14 GHRE flies and even the invaluable Copper John.