I haven’t fished much over the last few months mainly because I have been so busy planting cabbages and turnips. If you thought dairy farming was busy, well then try growing vegetables. I have a new found respect for vegetable growers. It’s been been a great challenge planting 14 ha of cabbages which may not sound like much, but it’s a lot of work. Apparently growing them is the easy part, it’s the selling them that’s the real challenge!
I got a chance to get out into the hills yesterday and throw a line while I was at it. I was determined to try out a new beetle pattern that I have tied which I have named the Bungezi Beetle. It’s a good looking fly if I may say so myself, but I never knew if it would fish well. I decided to take only 3 beetles on my hike.This would force me to use the beetle rather than change flies if it didn’t work. I hoped to find trout in a gorge where I haven’t fished before that has trout lower down. I’ve never heard of anyone fishing this stream in the upper reaches. It’s a completely forested and very deep gorge which I have only looked at on Google Earth and from the top of the mountain a few thousand feet above. It’s a daunting looking gorge to get into, but then those secrets closely guarded by mother nature herself are often the most special to discover.
I set off from home a 4 am as I needed some time to hike the 10 km to the top of the gorge and then I had no idea what I would find down there. There was a concert on at 3 pm in Kokstad which I wasn’t allowed to miss so I had the morning to explore. It’s was an epic hike up onto the plateau which was shrouded in mist. The mist lifted as I got to the top to reveal some spectacular views down the forested valleys.
By 7 am I was on the top of hill looking down into this incredible forested gorge. It looked like such a mission to get into the gorge that I almost turned around to go and spend the morning fishing one of my favourite streams, but my instinct to explore got the better of me. It was an incredibly steep hike down onto the gorge. It was so steep that I wondered how the hell plants grew on such a steep slope. It took me the best part of an hour to get through the forest and into the steam bed. The sight which greeted me was mind blowing! It was a yellow wood forest like I have never seen. Trees reaching up to the heavens with carpets of flowers on the forest floor. The stream looked too small to hold fish and I didn’t see any on my scramble up the valley. After about an hour of pushing my way through the undergrowth I had had enough. It was really really tough going. It took me an hour to go about 500 m, so thick was the undergrowth. I found what looked like an exit route which was even steeper than the way I came in. It wasn’t rock climbing, it was grass climbing where you are literally holding onto every tuft of grass and pulling yourself up the hill. After a strenuous hike out of the gorge I was thoroughly bushed. It’s one thing walking up a steep hill of over 400m vertical gain, but it’s another to do it through thick grass and brambles!
On my way home I spent a few precious hours stalking some of the trout in another gorge where I often fish. Unfortunately my time ran out but only after I managed to stalk and catch 3 beautiful trout on my new beetle pattern. I saw 4 fish and I caught 3. I had only one rejection, the other were all taken on my first drift. Each of those 3 fish rose and confidently sipped in my beetle pattern as if it was a natural insect. There’s not much more satisfying than that.
I got back just in time for the concert which was well worth it.
If you haven’t heard of a guy called David Jenkins then look him up. A young white guy who plays traditional African Maskandi music. Similar to Johnny Cleg in a way but more traditional. He played with his close friend Maqina Radebe. All I can say is wow and get the album. It’s fantastic music!
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