Monday, January 31, 2011

Tying For Sandvlei

Uploaded using my Iphone.  Apologies for the quality.  33cm Lefty's Deceiver for Leerfish/Garrick.  Thats about as big as a single hook fly can be tied.

Dave Todd with his remarkable catch

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The History of Spotted Grunter on Fly in South Africa

Henkie Altena

If you've ever tried to get them on fly- Pomadasys Commersonnii or Spotted Grunter, then you would have heard of Anthony Kruger, or Doug Swannel, or MC Coetzer, or August Lohann...the chances are you've never heard of Henkie Altena.  But you should have.

He's achieved what few others have on fly in the Western Cape, including catching Spotted Grunter.  It was a few seasons ago now, but using a bendback pattern he managed to get some real success on the Little Brak River.  Its a part of the world that is very close to my heart.  Its where I cut my teeth in the salt.  So seeing someone catching fish on fly in these locations (and probably getting the old "no trout here buddy") from the locals puts a smile on my face.

He guides now and has a company called Fly.Fish (fly-dot-fish) and has had some pretty interesting captures.  And a few firsts as far as I know for Saltwater fly fishing in SA.

Next time I'm up in that part of the world ill definitely be going out on a charter.  R1500-00 a trip and similarly priced to be guided for Grunter.  You cant go wrong with that.  in my experience in one day with someone like this you'll inherit the knowledge that would have taken you months to develop.

You can get in contact with the man here:

Contact Numbers:
0722503175 / 0448770978

Henkies Bendback Sand Prawn

Leervis / Garrick at Great Brak
Black Musselcracker
Black Musselcracker
Red Roman


Cob / Kob

The Smoothhounds of Strand

Mark Krige

Its something that a few guys have managed to do lately. Take a smoothhound shark (Mustelus Musteluson) on fly.  They seem to take flies quite easily.

Having a chat to one of the guys who's probably got the most experience and he reckons on a good day if you dont see 20, you'll get 20 shots at one.  Sight fishing to sharks.  Definitely my sort of game.

In reports the guys have said they are remarkably strong recommending tackle upwards of 12 weight.  And they have a penchant for taking you into sharp rock surrounded gulleys.

Apparently the wind has to first blow SE or SW to bring the fish in and you need to fish the push and wade out at low tide.

The wind direction has been good, the weather looks good.  Its all systems go for Saturday.

Strand Captures:
Mark Krige went swimming to stop this one.  Its a biggie.
Stephen Smith

Stephen Smith

Stephen Smith

Stephen Smith

Jimmy / Jacques

Jimmy / Jacques
 It was first done by two guys named Jimmy and Jacques.  Standing waist deep in the water.  Chumming in front of themselves.  At night.  Now they do it from kayaks in the day.  It must be spooky.  Guys have stood on Raggies here (Sand Tigers) and another light tackle guy had a bronze whaler take a smoothhound out of his arms while taking a picture.

A story on the guys can be read here:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Silicon Prawn Avalon

The last few sessions on the flats in the hunt for the Grunter has been tricky... The tidal pull has been too strong to accurately time and cast and present repeatedly, meaning that ive only had a few shots a day at fish, if that.

This is what Im up against- Spot fish / get in position / cast upstream (has to be timed perfectly so as to arrive at the fish, at the right level, as it blows into a prawn hole....current is about 3ft per second) / strip.

The drift is what makes it difficult.  You can often judge the position the fish will tail next but casting with your floating line (a necessity with the surrounding weed) and light fly to the fish is pointless if timed incorrectly.  Additionally you have to judge the sink rate of the fly so that NOT ONLY does it drift in front of the fish at the split second its needed to... But now it has to drift and sink to the exact height in the water column.  Difficult.

The solution:


Heavily weighted to hold in the sand.  This way I can cast to the predicted tailing position and then just wait to strip through the sand cloud.  The inspiration came from the Shale Crab (a merkin/avalon hybrid) designed by the master himself- Jono Shales.  His site is

Shales' Crab

Shales' Crab

Other Avalons:
tied by Bjorn from

silicon prawn fly, silicon shrimp fly, avalon fly, the avalon fly, silicon prawn avalon, crab avalon, merkin crab, prawn fly, silicon prawn, spotted grunter on fly, fly fishing for grunter, fly fishing cape town, fly fishing south africa,, jono shales

Monday, January 10, 2011

Beulah Fly Rods

What a beautiful bluewater stick..

13/15wt $395.00.  Cant seem to find the weight in Ounces anywhere.

West Coast on Fly - Olifants River Mouth & Brittania Bay

I spent the last week of 2010 on the West Coast on a family holiday and hoping to get some fly fishing in I went to my old friend Google Earth.  I ended up at one place.... The Olifants River Mouth.  It looked fantastic on aerial imagery so the first chance I got I made a break from it.  Its a 3h40min drive from where I was staying.  Usually with that sort of drive I expect the fishing gods to go easy on me.  Conditions looked good and I was set to arrive just before high tide at 14:30.

On the Satellite image it looks like the Northern bank will be the naturally prouctive spot for my quarry.  Wit Steenbras (White Steenbras), but on arrival.... A disaster.  Not only was the road rutted like a moto-x rhythym section, but the entire area was closed off for Aluvial Diamon Mining.  I begged some security guards for access to the river but they denied.  So naturally, I moved 3 concrete pylons, opened the gate with an indemnity stating that deadly force will be used if this barrier is crossed due to illegal mining activities and 4x4'd as far as my Prius would go.  Luckily that little car is a soldier, its been places i got stuck in my 3.0l D4D Hilux but somehow the torque and weight over the front axle gets it out of anything.... Even when its skidding on mud on the floorpan.  It took me covering some holes with boulders but eventually I got within sight of the river.

the hike in
Not feeling particularly safe at this point I packed by gear and began the hour hike to the spot I'd located on Google Earth.  All along the way there are holes where diamonds have bene sivved and most of the equipment was abondoned and still lying around (holidays).

I got to the spot, got prepped and the tide began to push.  I noticed a massive problem again. Erosion.  The diamond activities mean that the upstream flow runs about as clear as a river in flood.  Even at high tide.  This was no good, and fresh from getting chased off a flat by a Bull Shark bumping me up the coast I wasnt too keen on standing waist high in this water.  I tied on a prawn immitation under a Kio Kahuna strike indicator and did a few drifts... but feeling uncomfortable decided to navigate around to the other bank.  Its one hell of a drive but an hour later I was at the mouth on the Southern bank.  It was running clean here and same technique, I started drifting flies in the now outgoing tide.  I did this until sunset with no joy, eventually arriving back after 10pm.

Hike In
The Spot
Along the way I did notice a few spots that looked good for some shallow water calnwilliam yellowfish exploration.  Ill indicate the spots below;

It was time to switch to an easier quarry- Sand Sharks on Fly.  You can spot these guys by the ventricles on the top of their heads when theyre submerged.  And Brittania Bay has a lot of them.  A lot.  The trick is to spot one before it spots you.  Then on a heavy sinking line tie a short leader and strip a small crustacean fly about a foot over its head.  (apparently dropping it next to one and waiting for it to sit on it works too).  The strike is just like youve seen them eat baitfish on discovery.  They cant fight to save their lives but its good fish spotting practice and cool to see them up close.

Apparently Varkvlei is another area that produces for Sand Shark and Cow Sharks (7 gill) and Velddrif.  There are some Shad (Elf/Bluefish) under the bridge at Velddrif too but this time of year its hell.

My next trick was to try chumming at night in the Sand Shark spot for hopefully a few spotted gully sharks.  I chopped up about 200 sardines and with a thrower made out of a water bottle begain putting out a slick.  After chumming for 3 hours I put a sardine out on a hand line under a balloon.  My thinking is when I see action on the balloon Ill pull in, teasing the shark close and then when its close enough Ill cast a fly out.  Well, under a new moon alone on the rocks with some bush behind you isnt fun.... And no sharks came in this time.  But I know the technique will work elsewhere so It want be the last time its tested.

pilchards, chum thrower, fire wood

Teaser under the balloon

stripped and ready for sharks

More Sand Shark Pics:

Fly Fishing Brittania Bay
Fly Fishing Varkvlei
Fly Fishing Velddrif
Fly Fishing Olifants River Mouth
Fly Fishing for Sand Sharks
Fly Fishing Varkvlei
Fly Fishing West Coast