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The following day yielded this fish out of the same run.
The following day yielded this fish out of the same run.

The Forgotten Stream by Tim Leppan

From a young age, fly fishing has been an inspiration that has carved its way into who I am, an aspect of my life that drives me to sheer satisfaction and unhindered joy. The act of fly fishing captures you and guides you down a path of amazement & serenity, and provides new and fascinating dimensions to one’s livelihood.

When looking back, I realize that I’m often caught asking myself what the true nature of this religion is; that  desperately keeps me coming back for more…

Put simply, it is through this thought I construct my wonder and gratitude around when participating in the act of fly fishing. The act not only drives me to pin the most prominent fish out there, but also illustrates the real and raw beauty complementing all that is fly fishing.

Through extensive fly fishing over the last few years, I’ve discovered my passion and the heart behind why I fly fish. It’s the journey … . It is the total experience.

This brings me to one conclusion, the Cape streams. These two words in tandem, bring about a sensation second to none. Sure it’s exhilarating chasing GT’s and forever searching for the golden sickles of indo-pacific permit, or even targeting magnificent estuarine species within South Africa, yet nothing is remotely similar to the experience of the Western Cape streams.

One cannot put a finger on it unless it’s been experienced first-hand. To taste success on these streams, followed by the intense sensations of the surroundings, is untouchable. To use the phrase,” raw beauty” is simply an epitome at its best.

Water clarity second to none.
Water clarity second to none.

I use the term,” Cape Streams,” in a very general light, which leads me to say the following:

The Cape Piscatorial Society (CPS) managed streams are a very significant part of that term, as they do show off the raw beauty of the area. However, I write this with strict regard to the other streams that fall outside of the CPS, one in particular that I refer to as The Forgotten Stream. A stream that over the last two years, I’ve grown to realize tjust how immense and profound my love for it is.

A photo that doesn't need much explanation, merely illustrating the incredible sense of serenity which comes hand in hand with The Forgotten Stream.
A photo that doesn’t need much explanation, merely illustrating the incredible sense of serenity which comes hand in hand with The Forgotten Stream.

This stream has taught me more than any other single ecosystem, starting from the bottom and scratching, relentlessly, for knowledge that would set me forward in my quest for success.

It’s been a tough learning curve, bringing about many a day with no reward for immense efforts.  From learning the best seasons, temperatures and flows, to learning fly patterns and techniques required to hook into the elusive wild Rainbow Trout finding sanctuary within its cooling waters.

And on that note, boy was that first taste of success sweet…

It came about on a late winter’s afternoon, dredging the most unconventional black Zonker through the deepest pool I knew of when I was, to put simply, molested by a 40cm plus fish that proceeded to raise the hair on my neck through blistering acrobatics and a fight that had dirty written all over it. This was the turning point for me, the spark that has never since been extinguished.

Ever since this day I’ve been searching for that very same feeling. That feeling of absolute disbelief.

Through many more days on the stream, toiling, I found myself growing immensely in terms of my techniques on the rivers. Switching from dredging streamers in deep pools, to fishing the narrowest of runs equipped with 7X and size 18 R.A.Bs.

I’ve since managed to squeeze a fair amount of fish ranging from 8 to 10 inches which have simply been a pleasure. However, after the rains, things took and unexpected turn…

With every visit to the stream, I’d be greeted with fish breaching the surface film for the tiniest of terrestrials which, as one can imagine, explodes the heart rate to a whole new level. It was almost as if someone was rewarding me for the many days of no success through my journey of discovery on this fly fishing stream.

It was then that the addiction kicked in…

The river had sprung an intense and untouchable passion upon me that I simply couldn’t escape. I desperately wanted to learn more and more every day and grow my knowledge exponentially, which lead to months of consecutive days fishing.

A stunning fish, to my surprise, that couldn't help but smash a dead drifted Micro Caddis fished on a deep run.
A stunning fish, to my surprise, that couldn’t help but smash a dead drifted Micro Caddis fished on a deep run.
The following day yielded this fish out of the same run.
The following day yielded this fish out of the same run.

As time passed following the opening of the season, the quality of the fly fishing improved. The fish showed signs of shifting their feeding habits towards the early mornings and late evenings & techniques needed to be perfect. Not only this, the fish had become incredibly skittish, which required downsizing tippets from 6X to 7X and sometimes even 8X.

This was incredible as the challenges presented by these fish were constantly changing, as my self-proclaimed “season” had progressed.

1st of November 2016 

It was the day I had strictly devoted to fly fishing a run that I had watched for a number of days. I had stumbled across this run during the midday heat when I found myself in awe, gazing at four incredible fish in single file holding in a neatly tucked away section of the run. I approached the run with aims of having a closer look and to see how the fish were reacting. Very shortly I realized that these were some of the most skittish fish I had yet to come across on this stream.

With a good night’s sleep I had pondered long and hard as to how I was going to pin one of these skittish fish. It had been a long night, but had been greeted by a welcoming sunrise  and the start of my plan of holding a picturesque Rainbow which would undoubtedly test the limits of my fly fishing skill set.

The image above illustrates the pool I was intending to fish where I had spotted those skittish fish. The overhanging bushes on the left marked the area where the fish were holding, neatly and firmly tucked away.
The image above illustrates the pool I was intending to fish where I had spotted those skittish fish. The overhanging bushes on the left marked the area where the fish were holding, neatly and firmly tucked away.

I approached the pool with utmost caution, remembering how skittish these fish were. I crept ever so slowly to the middle of the pool in order to spot the fish when I immediately spotted a very good fish holding in the current just under the overhanging foliage.

Preferably, I had wanted to fish the pool from the back, drifting a size 18 Epoxy Buzzer in the current on  7X tippet, detecting the take by the reaction of the fish.

I soon realized that this was simply not an option. Equipped with a 0 – weight, I knew that the cast, considering the density of the riverside foliage, was simply impossible.

Changing tactics, I adjusted my leader setup. This consisted of a short strip of bright red suffix, leading onto a six foot piece of 7X, ultimately leaving me with a fifteen foot leader structure which I knew would be a challenge to turn over.

I placed my trust in the epoxy Buzzer and had proceeded to walk ever so quietly to the head waters of the pool. Making as few false casts as possible, I managed to place the fly as close as I could to the overhanging bushes.

The cast went down with a relatively neat presentation followed by no interest; I was disheartened, as the thought of a second cast came to mind.

Picking the fly line up off the water gently, placing my second cast which was not much further off my previous cast, when I decided to mend the fly line to the left and hopefully let the current swing the Buzzer into the zone under the bushes.

As my fly line swung into the shadow, I saw the indicator behave strangely, when I thought about something I had read in one of Tom Sutcliffe’s books. “If you see any change in your indicator, strike, more often than not, it’s a fish.”

It was then that I gently leant into what I thought may have been a fish…

I felt the weighted head shakes and splashing in the shadows of the pool. I was on… It was a moment I simply cannot forget and to put lightly, I had been scarred with that feeling of satisfaction and overridden joy with the result of that hook-up.

I had pushed myself, unexpectedly, to achieve success described best as a picture perfect scenario.

Breath taking…

The fish that I had been dying to connect to managed to find its way to my camera lens in all its glory.
The fish that I had been dying to connect to managed to find its way to my camera lens in all its glory.

The unspoken truth is that these fish lack the quality to those of the CPS streams; however, I beg to differ…

Words cannot describe as to how overwhelmed I am by the quality of these fish, it is impossible to make any remark with regard to their physical health. Another aspect of the greater picture, with reference to fly fishing. To ponder and glare at the perfection of these fish is common activity and one that everyone, who has the privilege of experiencing these fish, cannot escape.

2nd of November 2016

After being blown away by the previous day’s encounter, I thought, why not head out again? What’s is there to lose?

It was a spontaneous decision, yet one I couldn’t pass up.

Sooner rather than later, with perfect skies and no wind, it was time to spot fish on areas I hadn’t previously experienced. Walking with utmost caution, I found myself stumbling across what looked like a reasonable pool. It was shallow yet exceptionally clear with heavy riverside foliage making it near impossible to cast, more so then the previous day.

After a long period of silence and planning, scowling the sides of this pool for any gaps, I figured the only reasonable option would be to wade; however, this was a task that I knew could ruin the potential of this pool.

Rigged up in the same manner as the day before with my newly trusted Buzzer pattern, I was confident I would have a shot at sticking a fish if sighted.

It was almost immediately, when a large specimen made its ways towards me, swimming freely and undisturbed, before turning gently and settling, once more, under riverside foliage, providing shade from the searing midday sun.

I quickly stripped off a couple of meters from the reel as I knew this cast was going to be tight, having to put my fly pattern within a tight gap in the overhanging bushes, with trees behind me.

This was an uphill battle without a shadow of doubt.

img_1743
The shadow in which the fish was holding.

I managed to squeeze a roll cast into the gap as the buzzer hung off narrow stream side leaves, followed by a short draw and the fly found its way into the hole; it was then that I witnessed something I never had before…

The fish reacted to the buzzer as if it were a streamer. Sheer disbelief… The fish swung around whilst lifting its head straight towards the fly. It was then that I saw the white of the mouth as I knew the fish had truly committed. A short, simultaneous, strip set and rod lift sealed the deal as the fish set off tearing up the pool!

Contending with the foliage during the fight was yet another story, using low rod angles as if it were a 10lb Tigerfish… However, with some fortune the fish settled in exhaustion, thus, momentarily,  giving me the chance to lay it in the net. Success it was, coupled with immense satisfaction!

img_1731
The picturesque Rainbow that nestled tightly within the shadow.
This fish perfectly illustrated the unparalleled quality that I was referring to earlier in this piece.
This fish perfectly illustrated the unparalleled quality that I was referring to earlier in this piece.

It was this very moment that drove me to writing this short piece.

The unquestionable realization sprung to mind,  that I was not merely setting foot upon a stream that was deemed as written off, but rather a stream that possessed hidden secrets; secrets awaiting to unfold at the gasp and surprise of many a fly fisherman.

So I beg to question, are the CPS streams that much better?

Yes, they may hold more fish and possibly yield more results, but do they bestow a passion and satisfaction quite like the Forgotten Stream? A question that will, without doubt, be pursued, unfolded for that matter, with simply no rock being left unturned.

Leaving me feeling obliged, might I add.

Much love Forgotten Stream.

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