I was lucky enough to win a weekend away at Castleburn at last year’s Boston Fly Fishing Festival (courtesy of the UHTFC). We finally decided to make use of it when my dad and Cassia flew up to Durban to visit Emma and us. The weekend was fantastic while the fishing was a bit of a mixed bag as my dad and I only made it onto the water twice over the course of the week.
Our first attempt saw us heading down to Lake Madingofani (Castleburn Lake) for a late afternoon session. On the walk down we fished a few of the smaller dams, more out of curiosity than due to their potential. I assume these dams are targeted at beginners as we were easily able to cast across them. We could also easily see all the fish in these dams as they are extremely shallow. However, despite all of this, we were still unable to land any fish (I guess they could see us too) and therefore continued down to the lake.
It is interesting to note that these smaller dams are stocked weekly and you are allowed to keep these fish for the pan. The lake on the other hand is strictly catch and release.
Lake Madingofani is large and looks extremely promising. I opted to take a row boat out while my dad fished off the mowed banks and convenient jetties. He therefore slowly made his way to the wall while I headed for the reeded areas closer to the inlet, as well as the far bank which isn’t fishable from the shore. Over the next hour or two I slowly fished my way around the dam until I met up with my dad who was now fishing the wall.
Neither of us had had so much as a touch despite the hundreds of fish rising around us (so many in fact that it almost sounded like rain). That said, they appeared to be stokies in the 4 – 5 inch range with no bigger fish in sight. Strange, since the manager swore blind that they hadn’t stocked fish that small. Could the fish be breeding despite no river flowing into the dam?
As night fell I finally managed to hook one of the small stockies. My dad meanwhile had a promising knock from a larger fish but sadly didn’t manage to connect.
Our second attempt saw us heading down to the Umzimkulu River the following afternoon. My dad climbed in at the pools while I jumped in further downstream at the bridge. On just my second cast I landed a beautiful brown trout of about a hand-span. Shortly afterwards I spooked a second fish, which was probably around a kilogram in size and a beaut of a brown. Slowly we made our way upstream, but the water was thin and for the next hour neither of us spotted a fish. Our luck then took a turn for the better, either because of the longer runs or perhaps due to the evening rise. Either way, the fish suddenly came alive and both of us landed several small browns, all in spectacular condition.
Eventually, fearing we’d finished our beat and were now trespassing, we climbed out of the water and waded through thick grass back to the main road for the walk home. It had been a successful session in my preferred type of water, crystal clear mountain streams.
It’s tough to say how well the lake usually fishes, but either way, I definitely preferred (and would recommend) the river.