This year has been a slow pickup following the lockdown of Covid. The dams have been producing some outstanding fish and it is encouraging to note the browns have steadily grown to around the 1,5 kg size. There are several years of stocking in most dams now and this will ensure browns of all sizes can be found.
There have been two stockings this year. Eric Boucher and your chairman had a clockwork pick-up from Martin Davies in Grahamstown. This resulted in a good delivery to the Birds Rived dams and Oakley.
The second collection from Martin was on one of Martin’s off days and we just could not get away. We collected a keen young Rotarian in town who photographed the following saga.
The result was a late stocking of browns and rainbows to Uncle Georges and then to Pine Grove in gathering thunderclouds. The lightning started as we finished stocking. By the time we reached Snowdon, we could not see the side of the road because the mist was so thick. Rounding the corner of the old krall we dropped into a deep hole which had been formed by a weaner truck the day before. As we surveyed the Ranger deep up to the rear axle the heavens opened and the mist dissolved. Carl Miles saved the day with his tractor and ropes. Having negotiated the slippery track and needing Carl’s assistance yet again it was decided to deposit the whole stocking for both dams in the long narrow dam. Charles waded out to clear a patch in the weed and all the fish went happily into that dam. The return home of two exhausted, and drenched committee members and a soaked photographer was safely achieved.
Grateful thanks must go to Martin Davies for his devoted care from stripping eggs in the coldest months from Thrift and Ventnor dams to watching over these precious fish as they grow to stocking size. The endless challenges of poor water and electrical supply in Makandla keep Martin stressed for most of the year.
Then to Eric and Charles for providing the transport for the stockings. Charles for his careful preparation of the essential equipment. And to Gary Stiles and Rudi for supplying the essential oxygen for all our stockings. Also for members of the committee for pitching in to assist where needed.
We held a very successful Gathering based at Aloe Grove as usual with some twenty competitors from Cape Town to Pretoria and many other places across the country. The winning fish was caught in Pine Grove by one of our new entrants. As usual Darren Boucher managed to catch the biggest fish of the two days in the Bottom Birds River dam. He fishes there so often he can charm the fish onto his fly. Or they just come when he calls.
The fellowship with old and new friends drawn together with a passion for casting a fly is always one of the most commented aspects of our Gatherings.
The prize table was as always well supplied by the business of the town and the support of Amatola and Barkley East fly fishing clubs. This year Explora, Complete Fly fishing magazine, Daniel Factor and Upstream Casting from Cape Town, all sponsored the Gathering with vouchers and equipment.
The idea of making the Gathering a team event was discussed at the prize-giving dinner and was embraced enthusiastically.
Financially the Gathering covered costs. Several who booked in 2021 withdrew after having paid their money, due to covid. We carried those entry fees over to this year.
Potentially a team event could see around forty entrants in teams of four.
All our dams are full and overflowing and have been for most of the year, Sadly the dam at Pine Grove on the way to the main dam has collapsed and therefore Pine Grove is not available until the road is repaired.
We need always to keep on good terms with our landowners as we use their dams by generous their good grace. The occasional person who goes fishing without booking and informing the landowner causes much anxiety. We live in a violent land and farm attacks are all too common.
To Ed Clarke, Johan Wege, Marianne Boucher, Dillon Thompson, Peter Cloete, Hugh Smith, and Piet Lubbe we want to express our appreciation for another very successful year of fishing.
The closure of the dams from mid Jan to the end of February has had a very positive impact on the survival rate of the large fish. This is now a well established strategy of the club.
Andrew Junior has run the booking aspect of the club for a number of years. He has indicated his desire to step down from this role as of this AGM. Firstly we owe him an enormous vote of thanks for the amazing job he has done. His passion for fishing all our dams has given him a deep knowledge of the conditions and flies which work on each dam This knowledge he freely shares with those wanting to fish our waters.
Secondly, I propose we make Junior an Honorary Member as a token of our gratitude.
Speaking of Honorary Members the committee also has recommended that both Eric Boucher and Stephan Cloete be made Honorary Members. Eric and Carol are moving off to Kei Mouth and Stephan is moving to Barkley East to the farm.. They have both given many years of dedicated service to the club.
These have been held as needed through the year and if Covid taught anything it was that we do not need to meet every month.
Most meeting have been hosted here by Charles and we express our thanks for his and Rika’s willingness to let us use their facilities.
My grateful thanks for all the work done by members of the committee on behalf of the club.
However, with the departure of several committee members we are in need of some new blood.
Please give this serious attention and we are open to proposals for new members.
FOSAF and the ongoing court case over the listing of both rainbow and brown trout as both alien and invasive.
The state of play at the moment is the dept of fisheries has lodged an application to appeal the high court judgement. They were refused leave to appeal by the Judge in the case. They are using our money to apply to the court of appeal directly.
We wait for further developments in the new year.
Fly Tying Group
This group has been formed during the year and is proving to be a very committed bunch. Well done to those involved. And congratulations for going national this week with the FOSAF fly of the month. I am impressed with the flies which are being crafted in the group.
Finally thank you all for keeping this club in the fore front of fly fishing in South Africa, Our waters are renown for producing fish of the highest quality which always give a good account of themselves when you hook into one..