It is always a mission to pack in the last of the camping gear and squeeze in extra bedding under the lid of a baggage-filled trunk for that unsuspected cold night 1000 m above sea-level. The nerve racking drive through Friday afternoon going-home time traffic adds to the frustration. But once the city lights shimmer distant in the evening haze and the cool air of the mountain contour breeze strokes your cheek through the open car window the annoying sticky shirt from a sweaty back is nearly forgotten.
Camp is reached when the pink glow on the quartzite boulders stacked in mountainous fields of fynbos is the only reminder of sunset. A glass of red wine is the final remedy to turn a frown into a smile and then it’s time to shuffle into a puffy sleeping bag, easing in the thoughts of Clanwilliam yellowfish and sawfin rising to dry flies in a clear, but peaty stained stream.
A screeching Cape francolin is the wake-up call to slip on the khaki trousers that still carry the stench of mud and decomposing algae from the previous weekend’s fishing. A fly rod is rigged with 4X tippet and a big Klinkhamer before any attention is given to a growling tummy.
After a boiled egg and strawberry drinking-yoghurt breakfast, the footpath heading to the biggest pool is carefully navigated with wide eyes to avoid the bite from a puff adder dozing in the dense Restios grasses that form a near impenetrable hedge around the river. The edge of morning-calm water is reached –wind is mostly absent in the Cederberg morning hours.
There is not a hint of fish and the low angle of the sun does not yet allow polarised sunglasses to help observe fish under the blanket of blue sky reflected on the water surface. The Klink is whipped out onto the pool and before the slack line is drawn in with the retrieving hand a yellowfish buldges under the fly and sips it in. It is always the biggest fish and the fish worth photographing that strikes first. The fighting yellow attracts a mixed school of yellowfish, sawfin and Clanwilliam redfins which hang around just long enough to nail ten more. Then the pool goes quiet and although abundant in sight, the aforementioned fishes give the fly offerings nervous inspections, but seem wiser than before and they don’t touch it. It is time for a fresh pool.
The fishing must have been memorable when the midday heat becomes unbearable and a spring-time water temperature of 16°C feels comfortable enough to join the shoaling fish for a swim. Soaring dragon flies that patrol the air for a mayfly snack like colourful World War One fighter planes seeking out an opposition target become the centre of attention. A macro-lens is fixed to the DSLR camera body and the imagination runs wild.
Recipe for the CDC Klinky
Hook: Knapek #14 G:14:25 (Scud/Czech Nymphs)
Thread: Gordon Griffiths Sheer Black 14/0
Post: CDC tuft, black or natural
Tail: 2 x rubber or silicone strands – any colour
Abdomen: 1 x stripped peacock herl and 1 x unstripped peacock herl twisted and wrapped over glossed thread
Thorax: CDC spun into the thread and wrapped to form an oval thorax