Post Lesotho, Ryan and I had a day to kill before heading home to the Cape. I was Knysna bound, via an Eastern Cape farm wedding – which was an absolute jol – and Ryan was catching a bus from East London to a very happy wife and daughter in Cape Town.
As mentioned in a post before, my family has a long history with the Transkei and its waters; both fresh and salt. My grandfather was one of the initial drivers of the original stockings of the many of the trout streams. And, contrary to the belief of many, most of the old rivers still hold original stocks of trout. Some streams are known to very few fishermen and it was one of these that we sought out.
A typical stream for the Transkei, it meanders through tribal grazing land between the last stands of indigenous forest. It was a long drive to fish a small stream but the rumours of good fish kept us dodging taxis and cows. Once parked, we tackled up slowly, the water wasn’t clear and had that dense green look to it.
Once started we quickly realised that there were a lot of small fish in the river. I was actually a little miffed: I was tired of catching small rainbows and had really hoped for some quality river Rainbows. Luckily, my spirits where buoyed when I hooked, in a both tub size plunge pool, a fish that put a serious bend in my #3. I didn’t land it but at least I now knew that there were big fish the stream. Game on.
Although the fishing was slow, we had something fish for. Ryan, fishing in his slow meticulous rhythm, drifted nymphs under fishy looking banks while I bounced super-weighted flies along the bottom (with the odd swing when required).
It took awhile after the first loss to tighten up again. And what a fish! A stunning Rainbow from the tail of short deep pool. Cradling this fish, I could only smile at the quality of the trout, from a stream that might get fished a couple of times a year.
Two pools later Ryan had his rod in a deep bend in his rod as another big fish gave him gears in a long wide pool. The fish was really putting on a show when it all went slack. Both Ryan and I sagged in disappointment. Hurting, we moved on.
As the stream entered a section of forest, it formed a wide and shallow run that reminded of one of my favourite pools on the Stellenbosch section of the Eerste River. A beautiful rainbow picked my up and prompted popped me off behind a rock mid current. I was gutted. At least I had landed one!
We fished on into the heat of the day. Cattle grazed lazily in the grasslands and the cicadas screamed their songs. The fishing slowed and I almost walked into a Boomslang (tree snake) and as it made its way towards a nest high above us. A few more small fish were caught but nothing to make us overly excited. We fished high up and eventually decided it was time to head back to the car. We gave a few higher pools cursory casts but without much conviction. It had been a good day.
The lush forest section was too good to walk straight through so it was decided a lateish lunch was in order. We stopped right next the pool where had lost the third fish. I didn’t have much faith but I sent a loop out anyway. Second drift I was smashed by a good fish! Surely it wasn’t the same one. It was – my fly from earlier was still lodged neatly in the scissors tailing a foot of tippet. Just shows that a fish isn’t that bothered by a spare hook in its mouth! Ryan and I had a good laugh about it and happily finished lunch. That fish and I were 1 all and I was happy with that draw!
My encounter had got Ryan serious about the possibly of settling his debt and proceeded to carefully and slowly fish the big pool. I’ve said it before but Ryan is one of the most persistent and patient fishermen I’ve come across. I would have packed in that pool in a quarter of the time that Ryan took to fish and hook that fish. And what a worthwhile wait it was!
Driving back through the Transkei, it is easy to understand why people see it as a scary place that needs to be skipped. But once you get away from the craziness of the N2 thoroughfare, there are a million gems to be discovered amidst and a variety of friendly communities.
Get out and explore, wherever in the world you might be. There a million gems waiting to be discovered!
nice article and even nicer fish. i’ve often wondered about some of the streams i’ve driven over/near when driving thru the Transkei to visit my swaer in maclear.