Sterkies was to be the first official fly fishing trip of the Baha Boys. That said, there were only 2 fishermen amongst the 6 of us so it was going to be tough to get in a lot of time on the water.
Even after a difficult drive to Sterkies (thanks to some car troubles) Nick and I were in high spirits as we discussed the mornings fishing plans over a rum at midnight. Despite being the last to bed we were the first up and were ready to go. Sadly we got off to a rather slow start, sorting out the boat etc, but this was to be expected on the first morning.
When we eventually got into the water we headed 5kms south to roughly the vulture restaurant and found a protected bay where we parked the boat. It was partly cloudy with enough of a breeze to form a slight ripple on the surface of the water. The conditions would’ve been perfect for Trout but the ripple made sight fishing somewhat difficult and, while I walked the bank trying hard to spot fish, Nick threw a blind cast right next to the boat. His hopper bobbed on the surface for 10 seconds and then it was smashed by a Smallmouth Yellowfish! First cast and we were already into fish.
I rushed back and shot off some footage of Nick fighting the fish before helping him land it thanks to forgotten nets. We were now rather hopeful and fished for another hour or so with no luck. I managed to spot one fish on my trek around the bay but I’m not even sure it was a Yellow as it swam off at high speeds.
We then returned to the boat to find it sitting somewhat deeper in the water than we’d left it. FAIL! By the time we’d climbed in the water was lapping at the edges threatening to pour in at any stage. Slowly we circled the bay in vain hoping to get the boat on to the plane…no luck…the boat was clearly FULL of water. Time for plan B…we pulled out the drainage plug and got going straight away. We were hoping that the water would drain out the back while we were in motion. But as good as this plan was, it soon became clear that it wasn’t working. The problem now was that we couldn’t stop or the boat would fill up with even more water and we’d head straight to the bottom.
It was all or nothing as we started making our way back across the 5km stretch of water, far from any bank. The boat was so full that we were barely moving and the GPS informed us that it was going to take 45 minutes to make the crossing. In the meantime we phoned Werner who for some reason wouldn’t believe us that we were sinking. The wind had picked up and the chop certainly wasn’t helping as we were heading straight into the ever growing waves.
Thankfully Sharon managed to find a rescue boat which she sent out in search of us. Due to a little miscommunication they headed right past us despite my best efforts in flagging them down with an orange emergency tub. Finally they spotted us and ended up following us back to the slipway while I bailed water furiously out the back of the boat.
Thankfully 40 minutes later we’d made it to the slipway and all seemed good. Well, good as in we hadn’t drowned.
Once we’d pulled the boat out of the water we quickly spotted the problem. There was a hold so big I could fit all my fingers into it. WOW!
After a quick lunch we all headed in to Harrismith where we stocked up on ice and fiberglass. The afternoon was then spent repairing the boat and trying to get resin off of our hands. Damn that stuff’s sticky! I guess that’s the point though…
It was raining when we woke up the next morning and that, combined with the fact that the we were unsure of the condition of the boat, meant that there was to be no fishing. Instead we elected to head to Clarens and have a day out.
When we got back to Sterkies later that day the weather was semi decent so Nick, Werner and I took a drive to the wall for a little fishing. Once again sight fishing was out of the question so we casted blindly in the hope of picking up a Yellow. Nick lucked it and picked up a small Bass while stripping in his hopper rapidly to cast again.
Another storm was fast approaching so we headed back to the chalet for a few more beers. We braaied for the second time of the trip, this time under the watchful supervision of 3 evil looking woman who seemed to think we’d forget about the fire once again.
The following morning, and the last day of the year, Nick and I headed out to try our luck once again. Our boat repair seemed solid and we flew across the water instead of through it. This time we headed straight across the dam to First Stop and Stratherrick.
Things were looking up as we found a rocky outcrop which we could fish off. Almost instantly we spotted a few Yellows. Sadly, as many of them as they were, not one of them seemed at all interested in our flies. I had one Yellowfish rise to my beetle, open his mouth and then turn and reject it at the last second. Aaaaaagh! There were also some massive Sharptooth Catfish off the small cliffs but these weren’t our primary targets.
The following day, and our last full day at Sterkies, we decided we’d had enough of being rejected by Yellowfish. The girls were also experiencing some cabin fever since the weather had been somewhat dismal and they’d been mostly stuck inside for a few days. The solution to these two problems…We opted for an outing and headed in the direction of Royal Natal.
Why Royal Natal? Well our Garmin had informed us that it had a hatchery and we thought we’d bash some Trout. Turns out the hatchery is a thing of the past (get it right Garmin). But despite this minor setback they still had one small Trout dam available for fishing so we gave it a try.
Nick and I headed out in our respective directions and started fishing the water. It looked fairly decent except for one minor problem…day visitors. Between people picnicking around the edge and kids throwing rocks in I don’t think we had much of a chance. There was also the ever present threat of hooking into one of the million kids running around playfully.
Eventually I made a bold move and waded out to an island hoping to get away from the chaos. It was well situated amongst some reeds and I fancied my chances. Sadly I had no luck other than one small fish which followed my fly all the way to the bank before darting off. Clearly this was a week of rejections for me.
When we woke up on our last day it was sunny and the water was like glass. Typical! Sadly we couldn’t head out fishing since we had packing to do and needed to be out by 10am. Was this Karma? What had we done which was so bad?
Anyway, it was definitely a trip of ups and downs but what an awesome trip it was. Let’s hope we can get back there in more favourable weather conditions to nail those elusive Yellows.