It was mid-summer and I was eyeing the weather forecast on my cell phone in the gaps between uploading files and sending out work emails; I had been checking the weather the whole week, anticipating a perfect alignment of wind and tides for a scarce shot at kob from the beach. The tides were good but the wind had changed overnight from light south-westerly to a gale force South East accompanied by rain. Damn…Thoughts of landing a 20 kg kob from the beach had to be erased and I had to come up with a new plan.
I hurriedly checked the West Coast, but the strong wind was predicted along the entire Western Cape coastline; I was doomed. The hottest summer months can be a dampener on the limited freshwater fishing we have available in the Cape and especially after the three year drought we experienced. The Cederberg, my favourite hunting ground, becomes unbearably hot and the rivers often stop flowing, which can make the fish wary and very difficult to approach and catch. The fish also usually sound and disappear into the deepest holes where an intermediate line never reaches the bottom and a DI5 sinking line constantly gets stuck on rocks and stumps, not the kind of fishing that gets me excited at all. I try to avoid the rivers, focusing my efforts on saltwater fishing instead.
Nevertheless, I was desperate to get my fix so I checked the weather forecast in the heart of the Cederberg and noticed something special. Rain was predicted all over the mountain range. It rarely rains in mid-summer over the Cederberg and then usually only if a high pressure system moves over. Thunderstorms…”Clannies dig a thunderstorm” I thought as I remembered how Ewan Naude and I randomly experienced an ant hatch during a high pressure system and caught over 70 Clanwilliam yellowfish in a day. The fish went ape shit for the ants, splashing all over the pools and they ate any and every fly that we tossed their way. The fishing was out of this world.
Suddenly the weekend had me all excited again. The only problem was that I had packed for a saltwater trip, aiming to leave for the coast directly after work. I rushed home at 5 pm sharp to meet a very surprised wife at the door. I chucked the heavy sticks out and placed my 5 and 6 weights in the trunk along with my freshwater pack and a tent. I raced off along the mountain passes leading up to the Cederberg with last light. The Cederberg welcomed me with a flat tyre.
Heavy drops started to fall from the sky as I pitched my tent in torch light. It poured that night; the lightening display was spectacular and the thunder and rain kept me up most of the night.
I was up before sunrise and watched how rain run-off streamed into the pools around me, adding a drop of milk to the tea-coloured water. Was I really going to experience good fishing this time around? I rigged my 5 wt XP with a floating line and headed off to a big rocky outcrop from where I could spot fish. Two Clannies came quickly from the first spot so I headed on, realising it may just be a cracking day after all.
That’s when I noticed the wings, the classic slender wings on a rock, freshly detached from a termite. A warm breeze blew them away and I looked up into the sky. There were ants fluttering down from heaven all around me; tiny black ants and termites in their thousands. “Oh my…” It was happening. Like a switch it turned on the splashes as the fish started to hone in on the insects. The odd splash at first, but gradually turning into a deafening noise of tail slaps, gulps and slurps as the fish picked up on the easy meal.
In a matter of minutes the surface of the pool was crawling with insects and Clanwilliam yellowfish were feasting on them along the windward bank. I slipped down the steep bank, positioned myself behind a clump of palmiet and flicked a fly into the boiling water.