Article by Gijsbert Hoogendoorn, photos by Darryl Lampert

AFTER months spent waiting to fish some of the best stillwaters in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province, the time had arrived. My mate Darryl Lampert and I packed my Suzuki Jimny to the brim and started the ten-hour journey from Johannesburg to our accommodation close to the small town of Tarkastad. During the long drive I started to feel symptoms of flu. I wrote it off as being psychosomatic; surely I would not be as unlucky as to fall sick on the first day of an extended fishing trip. Alas, the next morning I woke up with a fever and a whole range of symptoms that, for your safety, I will not discuss here. We had to skip fishing and take an hour-long drive to the closest doctor. To my dismay, the doctor suggested that I take two days of bed rest and avoid any strenuous physical activity. That is where the negotiation process started; I argued that if I fished from the bank and covered myself up from the elements I would be okay. Luckily the doctor agreed.

After popping antibiotics and a variety of other pills we raced to Thrift Dam. Thrift is one of South Africa’s most legendary fisheries, and at about 400 acres is one of its biggest stillwaters. Because most South African stillwaters are considered small, the vast majority of anglers use float tubes. Ten foot, 6-wt rods are most commonly used at Thrift and in my view they’re better for take detection in comparison to 7-wt rods. As fishing from a float tube provides a more stealthy approach, you do not need to make very long casts. With that in mind, being stranded on the bank on the first afternoon without a 7-wt and my 40+ lines (because I thought I would not need them) was not ideal. Unfortunately one of the concessions I made to the doctor was that I promised not to kick myself silly on a float tube.

The structure of Thrift Dam is not particularly conducive to bank fishing, with thick weed beds lining many parts of the 2.5 mile (4km) shoreline which makes casting and landing decent size fish problematic. While I was struggling, Darryl was catching a string of strong rainbows in the region of 3- to 5 lb from his tube. By the end of the day I managed to find a pod of recently stocked fish at the dam wall and climbed into them with Kevin Porteous’s FNF Jelly Fritz Blobs in blushing sunburst and atomic yellow.

Read the full story at https://issuu.com/sheenacarnie/docs/flyfishing_201802
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