Under normal circumstances Friday the 13th holds something of an aura of prickly nervousness… but on Friday 13 May 2016 that nervousness was replaced by excited anticipation: it was after all the Natal Fly Fishers Club & Vagabond Fly Stillwater clinic.
The stillwater clinic was the second collaboration between the NFFC & Vagabond Fly with the first being a sell out audience for a river clinic despite drought conditions. There was much to live up to!
Editors Note: the drive alone from Johannesburg is worth the effort & entry fee to these club clinics. We absolutely love the landscape transformation from the flat smog & concrete to the tree-lined country lanes, rolling hills & autumn hues of orange offset against the grey imposing Drakensberg Mountains proper.
Attendees were greeted on the first eve with generous welcome packs from the event sponsors, and the Vagabond Editors we more than happy to showcase some of the latest rods, reels, fly lines & accessories on offer from the world of fly fishing. Everyone was giddy as children on Christmas morning touching & feeling different gear from leading brands including: Thomas & Thomas, Scientific Anglers, Orvis, Allen Fly Fishing, Scott, and Patagonia.
Each event is designed to offer participants an opportunity to listen, engage & ask questions but also to put new learned theories into practice under the watchful gaze of experts on local conditions. Topics included gear set-up with some new rod length & line weights thrown into the equation and compared to the more traditional set-ups. Other topics included fly tying & tactics for winter sight-fishing, and Wayne Stegen brought a scientific approach to reading & understanding the stillwater trout environment; he spoke at length on leader set-up, fishing multiple flies & trip preparation.
Despite being run by the NFFC the club also gave floor time to other local fly fishing clubs to help build membership numbers, show solidarity toward the growth of fly fishing in South Africa & promote the idea that together we can do more good than as opposition. Everyone received insight from the NFFC, the UHTFC (Underberg-Himeville Trout Fishing Club) & WildFly as to their club offering, waters & entry procedures.
Editors note: For most Fly Fishing Clubs the price of admission is on par to a couple days fishing at your local retreat. Also, there is more than just fishing value to be had; the ability to fast track your skills or ask questions within a dedicated community are invaluable and you will only benefit. Make sure to support your local clubs.
Fishing NFFC waters
Each event hosted by the NFFC & Vagabond Fly opens the full array of local waters to participants & this stillwater clinic was no different. Divided into Saturday & Sunday sessions & with over seven venues on offer everyone had the opportunity to chase a Natal bruiser rainbow trout without rod pressure and on their water of choice.
The Saturday afternoon session accounted for a host of fish landed & a personal best for one of the participants; most notable however, was how many of the new skills learned were paying dividends within minutes of arriving at each destination.
The NFFC stillwaters must be some of the most spectacular fisheries in the country, the fact that fish in the 6-9lb range are not uncommon make then even more so & maybe it was the cool winter air talking but even the smaller fish radiated their spots & pearlescent green backs.
With the evening chill setting in & the light fading fast we all hightailed it from our fishing perches to share stories over a couple beers & a “boerie” (South African sausage) roll back at basecamp at Glengarry Lodge. The conversations were teeming with newly tested & successful techniques with a few tall stories thrown in for good measure.
Prizes & Sponsors
An early start awaited a few with thick heads on the Sunday morning but some informal presentations & an open Q&A session made waking up worth while; the prize giving made it even more so which was followed by a longer Sunday fishing session before everyone packed up & headed home in their own time.
We would like to thank the following event sponsors & prize sponsors for their contributions.
- Jandi Trading
- Lake Zonk
- Goxhill Trout Lodge
- Tops@Spar Nottingham Road
- Rotunda Farm Stall in Hilton
- Scientific Fly (Grip Hooks)
- Pure Fishing (Greys)
Learning & Observation
As the compliments roll in post another successful event we cant help but reflect on how quickly some of the stillwater advice, technique & tactics were put into practice & met with success. There was not a single attendee, from presenters to beginners, who did not take something away from the experience and with the interest, questions & enquires into the next instalment we are positive that this NFFC & Vagabond Fly stillwater clinic can only be described as an overwhelming success.