Vrederus - A Tale of Two Visits

On our second visit Jenny and Stephen were fishing the evening rise in the novices pool when Steve hooked a fish of reasonable size. It crossed the pool at high speed drawing line smoothly from the reel and en route it grabbed a passing tasty bit which proved to be Jenny’s small black woolly bugger. When landed shortly thereafter both hooks had to be removed before the fish could swim away unharmed. Most will say “Just another fisherman’s tale” but we know that fishermen (and women) don’t really lie – anyway not about anything important - so we have to accept this tale. The fish here take freely and this is just a small measure of the fun to be had at this magnificent venue.

The main lake is shallow and has extensive weed beds that ensure plentiful feeding for the trout which grow to good size with very large trout reported from the lake – not by us unfortunately. Vrederus is situated just over 6000ft above sea level and the water thus remains cold throughout the year, to the benefit of the trout.

The main lake offers the fly fisherman a number of different approaches that can be changed to suit your own tastes and desires. Different approaches can be selected during the course of a day to exercise different fishing muscles and skills and to maintain variety. There is an additional small lake about a kilometre away that has been stocked with browns only and some substantial fish have reportedly been caught there. Our own experience was that we never saw any sign of activity from a fish although there were many birds at this venue. I understand that a new venue is to be opened soon. This looks as if it will be another lake with plenty of weed beds and the potential to grow excellent trout.

On the first visit we confined ourselves largely to fishing from the banks with reasonable success and from the boat provided by the Naude’s. This boat with an electric outboard is fast enough to get about easily without causing a disturbance. With a single anchor the boat swings a great deal in the water and overall fishing is more convenient if a second anchor is used to stabilise the boat’s position and to make a more stable fishing platform. On the second visit I used the float tube in addition to bank and boat fishing. When wading from the bank and fishing from the tube it was frequently possible to sight fish to rising fish with some considerable success. From the boat we had less success in terms of sight fishing though we had a fair amount of success fishing the water blind or anchoring off beds of weed and fishing the edges. Wading carefully along the banks and casting either blindly to gaps in the beds– if you are impatient – or by sight to rising fish can produce enough action to keep any halfway reasonable person happy.

All the fish we caught, barring a single brown thrown in for good measure, were rainbow trout; all the fish are in excellent condition and very strong. The rule here is fly only and catch and release is the standard approach (although an occasional fish to eat is acceptable). The fish are strong and solid and since you are planning its release any way it would seem sensible to use 5 or 6 wt tackle so that the fish can be landed expeditiously and given a better chance of surviving the release. The average fish that our group caught in the main lake was 16 inches and estimated at 2 pounds. While talking of tackle it is worth packing lighter tackle if you are planning to enjoy a day on one of the local streams. We had a day each on the Luzi and on the Hawerspruit. In neither of these streams did we catch any large fish but the small stream fish are feisty for their size, take dry flies enthusiastically and take one to magnificent settings. Well worth therefore a break from catching still water fish to fish these wonderful small streams.

The question all fishermen ask is “What fly should I use?” they seldom ask, “How should I fish the fly?” Unless you have a truly enormous amount of time for experiment to try all the flies in the box you are left with only limited realistic options. The first is to identify what the fish is eating and use an imitation. If the fish are not feeding on the surface this can be difficult to work out. Thus you find out what the fish are eating by first catching one and then assume that they are all on a particular diet and use a suitable imitation. Alternately you fish with a fly that you believe to be effective. This is usually a fly that you have used often with success. Possibly the successes that you have achieved is only because you have fished the fly frequently, but you fish the fly confidently and hence are successful. The flies successfully fished on the main lake by our group were mainly green Damselfly nymphs and Black Woolly Buggers. The damselfly nymphs in sizes 12 and 14 and the BWBs in the same sizes. Most success was experienced with a very slow retrieve that was not quite smooth and even but not frankly jerky either. We did not have any success with dry flies (but fished them very little) nor did we succeed with buzzers during the evening rise although the lake logbook showed that some anglers had great fun using a buzzer. Our success to these porpoising fish was with a slowly fished Black Woolly Bugger cast in the line of rising fish and slowly drawn across the fish’s apparent course. No doubt other anglers would select different flies and catch as many or more fish.

The whole Vrederus experience, on and off the water is one to be cherished. We certainly plan to revisit.