Having been voted onto the UHTFC committee at the AGM, Neill and I decided that it was time for a club visit and informal committee meeting. In other words, it had been far too long since we’d targeted trout on fly and were itching to get back in the water. We phoned a few friends and had soon organised a group of 4 fishermen, and had booked accommodation at Twin Springs.
I took the Friday off with the plan of heading to the Berg after my wife had left for the office. It was a good plan on paper, but fell apart when I tried to get my fly rods out of the garage after my wife had left for work. I soon discovered that she’d taken both garage door remotes with her. FAIL! Thirty frustrating minutes later I manager to work out how to override the automatic door and finally freed my rods. Then came the next piece of bad news, Andrew’s car had broken down and Neill had had to go and fetch him. They would therefore only get to Underberg closer to lunch time.
On the up side, Dave was already on the road so we both set our sights on the Grange and ventured forth. I arrived shortly after 9am and started kitting up my rods. This was when I experienced my third (and thankfully final) piece of bad luck; while putting on a new fly line (after my Bend disaster) I somehow managed to create a knot that took me close to 45 minutes to untangle. The water was already warm and the heat of the day was fast approaching. My frustration was quickly growing and I was itching to get onto the water before it was too late.
Finally ready, I kicked out onto the glassy water just after 10am. The air temperature was close to 30 degrees and the water was probably at around 22 degrees – far too warm for trout. Amazingly I got into a fish (of just over 1kg) on just my fourth or fifth cast. Perhaps I wasn’t too late onto the water after all?!
Dave then arrived and quickly joined me on the water. Sadly my first fish was not the sign I was hoping for and we fished hard for the next two hours without so much as a knock. At around 1pm I was lucky enough to pick up a second fish, just before Neill and Andrew arrived. We kicked to the edge to greet them, had a quick beer, and then decided to do our shopping and head to the cottage. I was meanwhile lambasted for not tying my 5 flies for the weekend (that we’d apparently all agreed to do). This was accompanied by threats of severe fines consisting of flavoured tequila later in the evening.
After a quick shop we unloaded our gear at Twin Springs and then planned for the afternoon session. We opted to fish Trelevans 2 which had produced some good fish for us in the past, and is always worthy of a visit while in Underberg.
We arrived at the dam at roughly 3:30pm and got straight onto the water. It was slightly murky but not so much that I was worried. I was however once again concerned with the temperature which was far too warm. Fishing was slow and I was extremely lucky to hook into a lovely 2.5kg rainbow hen just as the sun was setting. She was exceptionally strong and quickly took me into backing before I managed to net her. The rest of the boys battled and sadly all left the water empty handed. I guess I therefore rubbed some salt into the wounds when I hooked another fish just meters from the shore on my last cast of the day.
That evening got a little out of hand as is expected on the first night. It all began with Alan pilling a weeks worth of wood onto the braai, which meant that the fire was only ready to cook on at close to 11pm. We therefore filled the time with glasses (yes, glasses, not shots) of tequilla. One thing led to another and, although we braaied the meat, nobody ate any dinner before we collapsed into bed in the early hours of the morning.
The next day everyone was feeling a little ropey. Neill and I had a committee meeting at 9am so I climbed into my car and headed off alone to get in a few hours fishing before the meeting. By 7am I was on the water (Lake Ringstead) and managed to land one small fish. The rest of the boys arrived just before 9am, which meant that Neill only fished for around 10 minutes before we climbed out and headed to the Himeville Arms.
The informal committee meeting went well, although the best part of it was perhaps the greasy egg and bacon breakfast after the night before. With all club matters resolved Neill and I headed back to the cottage to wait for the afternoon session. We were joined shortly by Andrew and Dave who had sadly blanked once again. Clearly the conditions and high water temperatures were making fishing tough.
I think Dave was starting to lose hope after hours of flogging the water for no fish. He therefore decided to give the afternoon session a skip while the rest of us headed to Turner’s 5.
As we kitted up on the water’s edge we could see a large storm brewing in the distance. Wind and rain I can handle, but lightning is not something to mess with while holding a fly rod. We therefore climbed back into the cars and sat in the pouring rain as the beast passed overhead.
Thankfully it didn’t last more than 10 minutes and before we knew it we were throwing our kit over the fence and readying ourselves for another tough session.
There was a single strand of electric wire on the fence, but Alan had assured us it was off. I decided to test his word and touched it quickly with a sharp jab. Having not been shocked on this first attempt I touched it again, this time a bit more bravely, and got the shock of my life. While doing my “I’ve just been electrocuted” dance I slowly became aware of the raucous laughter around me. Suddenly I felt less guilty about being the only person to catch fish on the trip.
Finally in the water, albeit a little tingly, we got down to our fourth session. The water was again murky and perhaps felt even warmer (although this could have been due to cold weather overhead).
The session was relatively quite and again I was the only person to produce a fish, although this time it was a small stockie which I worked exceptionally hard for.
As the sun set we climbed out of the water and headed back to Twin Springs for another evening around the fire. This time we were more careful and even managed to enjoy some of the chicken we bought from the local Spar. The beers went down that little bit slower and we were all in bed shortly after 10pm.
Sunday morning was to be the last session of the trip and we therefore thought long and hard about which water to fish. Neill, Andrew and Dave were yet to produce and time was fast running out. We eventually settled on Turner’s Cottage as it had never let us down in the past.
Andrew and I headed across as early as possible, while Neill buggered around in the house as per usual. We were on the water and fishing by 7am, but had not even had a knock when Dave and Neill arrived an hour later. I targeted all the usual spots but continued to battle until I eventually got into a trout at around 10am. Shortly after that I lost another fish to a short battle. Again the other boys toiled and were left empty handed when we climbed out of the water just before lunch.
It was a tough trip with just 7 fish coming to hand from our 3 days of “hard work”. The water temps were a bit high and most of the waters were murky. Are these excuses? Perhaps. Are they valid? I don’t know. What I do know is that it was the toughest fishing I’ve ever experienced in Underberg. That said I’ll soon be back to put things right.