Fly Fishing Report: October In Dullstroom
Ever wondered what the fishing is like during October in Dullstroom? Well here is a report… Once again we were fortunate enough to visit this amazing farm, Millstream, in Dullstroom, Mpumalanga. We left on Friday and came back on Monday morning. The weather was scheduled to be dismal, and it was up until Sunday, but we still made the most of the weather before then.
We arrived to hail and rain, plenty of lightning in the sky as well, so casting a fly rod did not seem to be the smartest idea at that stage, especially when I got struck by lightning through the skylight in the cottage, now that was a strange feeling…
The weather cleared up enough to have a few casts before dark. The fish were rising everywhere in the weir below the house called Evening Rise, after a few different flies and techniques I managed to get a 400 gram Rainbow Trout hen out on a Black/Red Woolly Bugger. I was amazed at the strength of this fish for its size, it gave a good account of itself on the Sage 5 weight fly rod.
Saturday morning I was up at 4.55am and walked right up to the top weirs in the system, where I was greeted by a Mountain Reedbuck who made a few snorts and then ran off. It was a very tough morning with little activity, I had a hit on the Black/Red Woolly Bugger and a chase in the low light conditions. I then tried many other variations of fly… The fish were not interested in dry fly, nymph or brown, olive, attractor and red colours in the wet fly range… Until 7.40am when I got a solid hook up on the Black Woolly Bugger. Super strong fish, and when I landed it I decided to keep it. It weighed 1.3kgs, what an awesome fish. 8.07am came along and I had another solid hook up, this time a Rainbow of about +/- 800 grams, maybe a bit heavier. This beautiful hen was revived and released to get bigger. It was then time for breakfast.
We walked up to a pond called Water-Cricket which I had never caught in before and I decided to stick with the Black Woolly Bugger, size 14, and it produced two fish in superb condition around the 400 gram mark. These are the best quality stocked trout I have ever seen anywhere, as well as the strongest, the conditions and colours these fish were in, were similar to what I had seen in the Rhodes streams years a go. In 15 years of fishing Millstream I have never seen such beautiful stream lined strong colourful fish. Aimee did have an inquiry on a small black PTN fished drifting along in the wind. It was then a long walk back as the rain and lightning approached once more.
Between 11.30am and 2pm I managed 3 more fish on the Black Woolly Bugger, black was definitely the colour for the day, I also had a hook up and lost a fish in-between. The first of the 3 was about 350 grams and it took the fly on a slow strip pause retrieve, it smashed the woolly bugger on the pause. I then got a 600 gram fish on a medium retrieve along the bottom, also super strong and beautiful. 2 casts later I had a huge surprise. A long cast to the reeds, 20 seconds to sink, one strip and on! This fish took so much line I could see my backing and it was +/- 500 grams, I am not lying when I say this 500 gram fish fought just as well as my biggest Rainbow of 2.4kgs! The weather then proceeded to move in and that was the end of Saturdays session…
Sunday came along and I was up at 4.40am this time. The weather wasn’t too bad, slight drizzle, misty and mild. Walked to a dam called Whirligig where I saw a lot of fish rising and a lot of wildlife, but did not manage to see any fish in my landing net after 2 hours or so. Then I made the long walk back to the “monster fish” weir called My Beauty. It was really quiet and I got a chase and a hit on the Olive Woolly Bugger, 20 seconds later *snap* , I thought “Aw great I didn’t test the knot properly” and I reeled in to see my 2.1kg leader had been snapped half way up, a clean snap as well. Now there are no rocks in the weir and the fish snapped it very close to the surface, I can only think and reminisce about how large that Rainbow was, especially when another fly fisherman walked up to me after that happened and said “There’s a few big ones in here this weekend, had my 2kg tippet snapped yesterday.
After the weirs and smaller dams were producing nothing, we walked up to the larger dams to try our luck. The first one we fished was Lake Coleridge, Aimee was fishing a GRHE and I had the trusty Olive Woolly Bugger, after a hit or 2 in the first 30 minutes I went tight. Coleridge is a very deep dam and it was really fun bringing in this 700 gram Rainbow Trout which was barely released it had so much kick left in it. We moved on to the trophy dam Solitary Reaper after the wind forced us to move along. A few casts and Aimee hooked a huge fish, I saw it close to the surface and it was one of those fish The Solitary Reaper at Millstream is famous for, looked like a Brown, easily 90cm, a huge fish… A bit too much pressure was put on the leader and the fish went on a turn and fast run and so unfortunately snapped her off. Now in my time I have seen a 3.8kg Brown and a 4.1kg Rainbow landed in here so once again it was one of those “the one that got away” stories, I was more bleak than Aimee I think. We then moved to the bottom dam Lake Tintern where Aimee got a 500 gram Rainbow on a Olive Woolly Bugger, probably still thinking about the Solitary Reaper fish.
Now between 1pm and 5.30pm I did not so much as have any inquiry on any dry fly, nymph or wet fly. Some of the most frustrating hours of stillwater fishing I have had as the fish were all active, I did my best to mimic the hatching flies but nothing, but then this is why I love Fly Fishing, it can be tests like this which give you the most rewarding fish! 4 and a half hours later I had my first hook up on a black fritz and landed a 400 gram Hen with a sigh of relief and a slight fist pump and that was Sunday!
Monday was time to leave and I had a quick session in My Beauty where I got 3 fish out, the first was a fingerling of 80 grams, a beautiful little Rainbow with the bright colours big blotches and it was just so nice to see a miniature specimen in a dam that is known for big Rainbows. I got this one on a brown woolly bugger after she had hit me 3 casts in a row, probably could not fit the size 10 fly into her mouth. Then I got 2 400 gram Rainbows on a Woolly Worm with a yellow and orange tail, Aimee chose this fly for me, a few casts and then I saw a rise, casted on top of the fish, strip, strip, ON! Strong fish this one, fought me for about a minute and after that I landed another fish that was feeding close to the side and that was that, an awesome trip, a really memorable one!
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