Bouncing between his studies at Stellenbosch and his favoured stomping grounds in the estuaries of the Western Cape’s Garden Route, Luke van den Heever is kicking ass (mainly grunter, but other species too). Judging by the photos of happy clients and their fish, he has a long career ahead.

5 best things about where you guide?

  1. The easy accessibility. As long as one is willing to put in the effort, there is some incredible water right on our doorstep.
  2. The sheer diversity of the fly fishing options in the area.
  3. The flats and the sight fishing opportunities. The Garden Route is riddled with incredible flats both in the estuaries and along the coast line.
  4. The quantity and diversity of other aquatic life that one can encounter in these estuaries.
  5. The endless possibilities of a once in a life-time catch. As with any saltwater fishery, you never know what you will encounter.

5 fishing-connected items you don’t leave home without before making a mission?

  1. Twice as much water as I think I will need.
  2. Decent sun block, a cap and Maui Jim sunnies.
  3. REEL flyfishing orbital vice. You never know what will happen and sometimes, on the trip you need to tie a few patterns that will get the job done.
  4. Walt fishing shirts. Comfy, lightweight and effective.
  5. A plan of action and two backup plans based on possible changes in conditions. Always go with a plan, even if it changes in the first ten minutes, at least you have somewhere to start.

5 bands to listen to while on a road trip?

  1. Anything produced by Nico Efstratiou
  2. The Palms
  3. Glass Animals
  4. Bon Jovi
  5. Long Distance by Sam Gellaitry. This track sets the vibe for any fishing trip.

5 things you are loving right now

  1. Devil’s Peak Hero beers.
  2. Stellies student life. So much to do, so little time to do it. You never get bored.
  3. Tex bars.
  4. Good fresh food and cooking. There is nothing like preparing a good meal. Whether it is chilli mudcrab or a simple pasta, good food always slaps.
  5. Time to myself. The older I get, the more I appreciate the time I get to spend away from everything, free of distractions where I can really appreciate what surrounds me.

Luke van den Heever with a spotted grunter

5 indispensable flies for Garden Route saltwater?

  1. Grey over white clouser.
  2. Grey over white sparkle foam crease fly.
  3. Marabou soft hackle
  4. Dumb Blonde baitfish
  5. Flexo crabs in marsh crab or shore crab colours.

5 indispensable flies for freshwater?

  1. Strawberry milkshake (thanks Lyle).
  2. Cream coloured blob.
  3. Black cdc bugger with a gunmetal bead.
  4. Missing link. Gordon van der Spuy’s hackle-less version.
  5. Marabou-tailed bloodworm.
Luke Leatherbarrow and Luke van den Heever with a yellowfish double
Luke Leatherbarrow and Luke van den Heever with a yellowfish double

5 favourite fly fishing destinations across South Africa/ Africa?

  1. The Garden Route estuaries.
  2. A little river that flows south into the Vaal River.
  3. The Crocodile River system above the confluence with the Jukskei River, especially the very upper regions.
  4. Upper Eerste River, small stream dry fly heaven.
  5. Blyde River around Pilgrims Rest. Yellows, chisels and rainbows in the thousands with the chance of the odd brown surprise.

5 favourite fly fishing destinations globally?

  1. Tongariro River in New Zealand. Everything in that country is beautiful, except the weather
  2. The Knysna lagoon. It deserves its place on the global circuit.
  3. Any Colorado trout stream.
  4. Snake River, Wyoming
  5. Otava and Vlatava systems in the Czech Republic. The country literally has brown trout and grayling in the rain gutters. So imagine the populations in these rivers.

5 of the best things you have picked up from guiding?

  1. So many stories of incredible places, fish and people, I wish that I could tell them all but that would be a whole other article.
  2. The excitement of an incredible experience and shared memories.
  3. A better appreciation of our fisheries and fish. There is nothing like hearing anglers who have fished all over the globe rave about the fishery that you have worked on figuring out for many years.
  4. Experience, both on the water and from the clients, you can always learn something new.
  5. The sense of happiness watching someone else land a beautiful fish and knowing that you helped him or her achieve their goal.

Read the rest of Luke’s High 5s in issue 27 of The Mission below. As always, it’s free.



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