Sterkfontein Dam Blog: Jan – Feb 2022
2022 saw South Africa experience one of the wettest summers in our recent history. The shear amount of water and variable weather conditions experienced between January & February can make fly fishing a challenge, particularly in South Africa. This was not the case during our 2022 Sterkfontein fly fishing season and again proved why “Sterkies” is our favourite high summer fly fishing destination, it just keeps producing the goods regardless of the variables!
This season at Sterkies saw us run our full fleet of customised Fusion 17ft boats for a period of 7 weeks. Our team rose the bar another couple of notches with days full of opportunities, even during the most challenging of conditions. Week in and week out we felt a great deal of pride seeing the excited grins on the faces of our guests who had either just tasted their first ever Smallmouth Yellowfish success, or veterans of the experience expressing a sense of satisfaction closely resembling one’s face after enjoying a delicious meal. The fish swam high and happy, and we were in the right place at the right time. A success in so many ways, we’ve highlighted the top 5 moments from our 2022 season below:
1. Ant Fall
Sterkfontein is comparatively devoid of aquatic hatches. Despite this, the reservoir experiences prolific ant falls with hundreds, if not thousands of these terrestrials losing their way and eventually falling into the dam. Our quarry, the Smallmouth Yellowfish have cottoned onto this phenomenon and lock onto them. At times they become very selective, only accepting profiles that closely resemble the ants in the water. A simple fly change is often all it takes and then the action begins in ernest. Guests Tom Lewin & Dean Riphagen of Frontier Fly Fishing experienced this exact scenario and managed to make the most of their opportunities as the fish swam just a few inches below the surface picking off the struggling ants. Although these hatches are not guaranteed, when they do happen the dry fly sight fishing action can only be described as superb. See the video below of a brief snippet of this experience.
2. First Time Success
Welcoming first-time visitors to Sterkfontein is always an exciting occasion, and an opportunity for us to unlock the full fishing potential of the fishery immediately for our guests. Keegan Kennedy of Xplorer fly fishing and friend Matt joined us for a couple of days on the dam. Their second day produced one of the most productive sessions we’ve ever seen, with no fewer than 36 x Smallmouth Yellowfish brought to hand, all sight fished under bluebird skies. Keegan caught 3 specimens of 50cm (20 inches) plus, which are large enough to be considered as trophies at Sterkfontein. Well done, Keegan!
3. Veteran’s Redemption
Long-time friends of FlyCastaway, John and Paddy enjoyed a stella 4 days of fly fishing with us during our Jan-Feb Sterkfontein season. The duo was treated to various dry fly fishing scenarios, most notably were the late afternoons where they experienced the thrill of heavy ant falls. On each occasion the team made the most of their opportunities and went on to enjoy double digit days on the dam which is no mean feat… Well done gentlemen!
4. Open water cruisers
The father and son duo of Ian and Drummond also had their eyes opened to the full fishing potential available at Sterkfontein. They enjoyed an incredibly productive session fishing in the open water, amid a large brewing storm. The sharp change in barometric pressure mixed with the large ant fall meant the duo experienced some of Sterkfontein’s gold standard, the guys landing several large and healthy Smallmouth Yellowfish!
5. Guide’s Day Off
Although there weren’t very many days to spend on the water ourselves, we took the few opportunities we had to explore rarely visited areas of the dam, putting the prior evening’s creative fly tying product through its paces. Fly fishing at Sterkfontein is one of those experiences that you can fully immerse yourself in, where the mind doesn’t wonder about anything other than the task at hand…. finding high riding smallmouth yellowfish and attempting to convince them to eat our new/improved dry fly patterns. One such day stands out above the rest when guides Justin and Milan found a string of fish while drifting along an extended scum line in the middle of the dam. The boys made quick work of the fish and enjoyed an incredibly productive 2-hour session which left them both itching for that next day off!
Our time at Sterkies provided us with another opportunity to scratch that sight fishing itch that we love so dearly, which for the most part we have to travel far and wide to enjoy. There isn’t any doubt in our minds that this experience ranks highly with other top venues around the world, whether it be in the fresh or saltwater. As the saying goes “no rest for the wicked” we have already begun our preseason preparations for our 2023 season where we’ll be extending our season into March. For those of you who fished with us this year, we thank you and we look forward to sharing Southern Africa’s No 1 sight fishing destination with you again soon.
Yours in fishing,
The FlyCastaway Guide Team