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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

Providence Blog: 10 – 19 October 2021

Welcome to the Providence Atoll blog and our end-of-year season opener. Week 1 is always filled with a special mix of expectation and excitement and this week was no different as a regular group of friends from the US and some new ones joined us for an extended 9-night/8-day trip to kick off our season. As our captain dropped anchor on the shallow periphery of the atoll on the eve of day one, we settled in for the evening with our bags packed, cameras charged, and fly fishing gear primed for the flats fishing magic that lay ahead.

Day 1 – The flats fishing action experienced during day 1 was accompanied by clear blue skies and a familiar stiff south-easterly breeze. A total of 11 GTs were landed for the day with Dave and Allen wasting little time both landing their first GTs on the fly. Allen went one step further following a sighting of those fabled giant green tails waving gently across the flats, and after a measured stalk he managed to hook and land his first-ever Bumphead Parrotfish on the fly. A special way to begin your Providence Atoll fly fishing adventure, well done Allen!

Day 2 – With conditions stable and similar to that of Day 1, a total of 17 GTs were landed. The standout catch of the day went to angler Dave who encountered a monster GT while stationed upon one of the atoll’s several white sand drainages. After spotting the familiar electric blue silhouette crossing the flat, he presented his fly and after a few quick strips watched his fly get engulfed by the first meter-long Giant Trevally of the season. Well done Dave! Angler Kyle went on to land his first Bumphead Parrotfish on the fly, adding to the tailing fish tally and providing him with a new experience conquered on the flats.

Day 3 – We were now well and truly into the neap tide cycle with the slower water movement offering a change of pace on the GT front. A total of 6 GTs were landed, angler Kyle enjoying the pick of the days fishing landing 4 himself, well done Kyle!

Day 4 – We moved our attention to the areas better suited for fishing to the atoll’s lengthy list of tailing species. Despite the change of focus, the Giant Trevally fishing action continued in red hot fashion with our group landing a total of 9 GTs for the day. The atoll’s resident Bonefish were also encountered in good numbers offering incredible skinny water fly fishing opportunities for our guests. A total of 19 Bones were landed with Kelly managing to surpass that fabled 10lb mark, his trophy accepted a well-presented crab and following the hookset went on several blistering runs. In search of a Providence Atoll slam, Kelly and his guide moved offshore in pursuit of a Sailfish, and in no time Kelly’s rod was bent double with the sight of an energetic Sailfish greyhounding into the horizon. He went on to land the Sailfish, securing a well-deserved slam.

Day 5 – Continuing on the previous day’s antics our group enjoyed yet more outstanding fishing for the atoll’s resident targets with a total of 20 Bonefish and 2 GTs landed for the day. Kelly who has enjoyed everything on Prov’s extensive list of target species managed to land his first ever Bumpie on the fly, the group’s third for the week.

Day 6 – With shots at GTs slim during Day 6, we continued to focus on the tailing species. Our group enjoyed spectacular skinny water Bone fishing with a total of 18 fish landed. Allen landed the standout catch for the day after seeing a large Bone show its tail in a shallow sandy depression. He presented his fly which the fish promptly engulfed and after several long blistering runs, he managed to land a beautiful 10lber, well done Allen!

Day 7 – An early morning low tide allowed us access to the flats immediately while fishing a gradual incoming tide, typically ideal for the tailing fish species. Our group enjoyed exceptional fly fishing opportunities for Triggerfish and Bonefish. In total, we managed to land 5 Triggerfish, 3 of which landed were by angler Allen who then went on to land himself yet another 10lb Bonefish.

Day 8 – The final day of our first week on Providence Atoll produced a total of 4 GTs, one of which would end up as the catch of the trip. A large dark grey shape was spotted moving between an area with white sand and turtle grass patches. Kyle sent out a well-presented cast to the fish and began his retrieve, the GT followed the fly almost to the tip of the rod before accepting the baitfish imitation as prey. Once the hook was set the fish tore off on a blistering first run, luckily Kyle was on the boat and he and his guide managed to follow the fish and keep the fly line clear of any unforeseen snags. The fish was eventually landed and pushed the tape to 122cm! A fish of a lifetime, well done Kyle! With the high water experienced in the afternoon we set about looking for the atoll’s resident Sailfish and after several close calls we eventually ended the day with a total of 2 Sailfish landed concluding the final day of the week. 

All too quickly we were done and dusted with an action packed season opener filled with first time catches and memories made that will last a lifetime.

Our catch tally for the week 1 split between 6 anglers was:

• GTs – 48 (2 over a meter)
• Bumphead Parrotfish – 3
• Triggerfish – 6
• Sailfish – 3
• Bonefish – 63 (4 over 10 lbs.)
• Total number of Grouper, Snapper, and other species landed – 382

Until next week,

The Providence Guide Team