Most of us have a weakness for remote places, perhaps a product of the reckless pace of modern life, or maybe a throwback to our ancestral origins when things were, well, far less complicated for a start. Vrederus is such a place. Beautifully remote country, still and peaceful, full of the thread and stitch of nature, full of trout fishing at its best.
This is the kind of trout water you can feel relaxed about and just discover at your own good pace. The main lake is one of those big but still somehow pretty stretches, with a willow-lined bank winding into distant shallows. And as with all good lakes, the trout vary in size from ‘nice’ to pretty exceptional, at times ‘double-figure exceptional’. And there’re browns and rainbows, which is also nice, because so often browns are neglected, and as you know, browns are something else. I’ve taken most of my fish off the banks, but that’s because when Ed Herbst and I are traveling in the area we don’t pack float-tubes. Not because we shouldn’t. It’s just a matter of space. And there’s no-doubt the lake is best fished from a tube, or from the boat that Donie has provided, probably with an Intermediate fly line, say along the old river course and up towards the shallows. And in time Ed and I plan on leaving a couple of old tubes up here.
All of which makes a visit to Vrederus worthwhile, but to my mind the nearby rivers make it even more worthwhile. Maybe even exceptional. Ed and I have waded a few miles of them around Vrederus. I mainly use dry flies on these streams, because dries are great fun and because the trout are mostly naïve and rise pretty reliably to even half-decent presentations. The streams are typical quick-water, tumbling, clear and slender and the trout are typical high-mountain, wild rainbows, rakish and very pretty. Most of these streams don’t see more than a couple of anglers a year. And they run in majestic country, untamed, rough and dramatic, with more than just a light sprinkling of Bushman paintings in rocky overhangs. Raptors float the thermals – Black Eagles, Jackal Buzzards, Cape Vultures, Lammergeyers (we’ve seen them twice). You’ll also maybe come across the odd rare birds, like Mountain and Yellow-Breasted Pipits, Buff-Streaked Chats or the Hottentot Button Quail, and you’ll see stacks of not so rare but unusual birds, like Rockjumpers, Sentinel Rock Thrushes, and Ground Woodpekkers.
So this is Vrederus. It’s tempting to go on, but you probably have the picture by now. Perhaps I should just add that it’s one of those places where I consider the fly fishing to be as authentic as you get it. Come to think of it, it’s more than fly fishing actually. Fishing here is a whole experience.