Long weekends are not made to be wasted, and what better way to take advantage of one than by heading to Lotheni, one of my favourite (wild) brown trout waters.
With Sharon as my wingman for this trip I decided to cut her some slack and to head up a little later than I usually would with Nick. We left our house at around 6am and stopped off at the Lavender Trout for breakfast. Amazingly they had run out eggs which forced us back into the car in search of another breakfast venue.
We opted for a bistro in The Junction at Nottingham Road. Both of our meals were fantastic and when we left Nottingham Road we were both energised and ready for the weekend ahead.
The wind was howling on route to Lotheni and we came across several idiots on the dirt road who were driving well in excess of 80kms/hr. Thankfully when we arrived at Lotheni they were nowhere to be seen so I didn’t have to deal with them for the long weekend.
On arrival our first stop was at the small museum at the entrance where we managed to track down a staff member and go through a few of the old farming, fishing and living items. It was incredibly interesting, especially the old fly books, but eventually my eagerness to fish got the better of me and we went to check in to our chalet.
While unpacking we were entertained by both a wedding taking place outside one chalet and our next door neighbour trying to braai in the howling wind. LEts just say in close to two hours he managed to cook two or three chicken pieces.
Sharon and I relaxed in our chalet, ate lunch, and I tied up a few dry flies while I waited for the afternoon session and hoped that the wind would drop.
Sadly the wind didn’t drop and when I headed out at 3pm I was fishing directly into a gale with a 3 weight rod. Thankfully, by fishing the angles, this proved not to be a problem and before I’d even waded 50 meters I’d picked up two wild browns on home tied flies.
Eventually I climbed out of the river near the camp site having landed 6 trout, mostly on elk hair caddises. Amazingly three of them came out of one small pool which goes a long way in showing that the smaller fish are not as easily spooked as the larger ones. Other than the 6 landed fish I lost quite a few due to old tippet material…a mistake I won’t soon make again.
As I climbed up the steep banks, in neck high grass, I revelled in just how good my first session had been. While I was bashing through the bush, fearing snakes, I heard a strange bird call. I stopped and listened. It in turn stopped. I walked a little firther. It got closer. Eventually a buck jumped up from where it was nestled in the long grass, just a meter or two away from me, making me nearly soil my pants. It amazed me at just how close I got without even knowing it was there.
The walk back along the road proved just as exciting as the climb out of the valley. A black backed jackel joined me on the road, just a few meters ahead of me, and walked with me the entire way back to the chalet. It never got closer, but it never got further.
Back at the chalet we sat outside, overlooking the river, next to the fire and enjoyed a fwe glasses of sherry as well as a Pigs beer. We then braaied a steak with a few garlic mushrooms and finally nestled down by the fire in our room. I tied up a few more flies to replace the one’s I’d lost, as a few buck grazed outside our window, and then we went to bed.
The next morning I took Sharon fishing with me at 7am. She was kitted up with a heavier 5 weight to aid her casting while I had my trusty 3 weight at hand. We parked at Cool Pools and walked back to the meseum where we started out session.
There are some bigger pools in this area and I was hoping this would help Sharon. Sadly the conditions were not ideal and we struggled for quick some time without picking up a fish. Eventually we climbed out of the river and walked back to the car.
Back at the chalet I headed down to the river for a quick session. I entered the water and after only a few cast I noticed someone had jumped into the river ahead of me. Fail! Not wanted to cause a scene I climbed out of the river and walked a couple hundred meters upstream before re-entering the water.
I slowly fished my way upstream and as I turned the first bed there was a family swimming in one of the pools. After hop scotching them I came across a group of hikers swimming. Eventuially I was forced to concede defeat and headed back to the cottage having landed just one fish.
Thankfully a fantastic lunch of steak rolls was ready when I returned and quickly helped me to forget about the bad morning sessions. We played some cards and generally relaxed until about 2pm when I headed out for a long afternoon session.
Clearly my luck had improved and I once again had the river to myself. It was a relatively tough session but I did manage to get a few fish. My perseverence paid off when, right near the end of my beat, I hooked into the largest brown I’ve seen in the Lotheni River. It gave a fantastic acount of itself and I was being with pride when I netted it.
Sadly my happy moment was short lived. Not only was nobody around to photograph me with the fish, but when I pulled out my waterproof camera I noticed that water had gotten inside. I managed to snap off a few photos before the camera died all togehter but all of them were foggy.
At that point I decided to call it a day and started the long walk back to the chalet. Sharon was waiting with a glass of wine to ease my camera pain and soon we were chatting by a roaring fire and enjoying a great dinner.
The next morning I decided to spend with Sharon rather than fishing. We had a lazy start and a great breakfast before packing up. We then spent the majority of the day meandering back to Hillcrest via any little stall Sharon could find on route.