This is a short film featuring fly tyer Gordon van der Spuy, aka The Feather Mechanic. In this film by Owen Bruce, shot at the African Waters Makhangoa Community Camp in the Lesotho highlands along the Bokong River, Gordon shares a few thoughts on his fly tying and fly fishing philosophy.
Smallmouth yellowfish of the Bokong River
The film is the seminal story of the smallmouth yellowfish of the Bokong River. Beautifully shot by Owen Bruce, with a stunning soundtrack by Alun Richards, it will take you on a journey into the majestic mountain rivers of Lesotho, home to the incredible golden slabs of smallmouth yellowfish who inhabit the crystal clear waters, always ready to eat a well presented fly.
“In 2018 I fished the Bokong for the first time,” Gordon recalls. “And that just flipped my world upside down. Lesotho is a mountain kingdom within the borders of South Africa and what’s amazing about the place is that it’s exactly that – a mountain kingdom. There are mountains everywhere. And one of its major resources is water. It rains a lot.
“In the early 90s, the Lesotho government built this massive stillwater impoundment called Katse Dam. And they dammed up a river called the Malebamatsu. And when they did this, they trapped a whole lot of indigenous yellowfish in this dam.
“Yellowfish are very similar to European barbel. In South Africa we call them freshwater bonefish. Because that is what they are. It’s like this turbo-charged, crazy fish. Every spring and summer, these fish have to migrate upstream to go spawn. And there are two streams. There’s the Maliba Matsu in the east, and the Bokong in the west. And what happens is, you have this mass migration of fish every single year. It’s kind of like a salmon run. Except the runs are good. You know, they’re not dwindling.”
“This must rate as some of the best dry fly fishing on earth.”
“Every year, millions of fish are streaming into this system to come and spawn.
“Once they’re in and once they’re spawned, they stay there for the whole season. And then when they get cold again, they move out.
And the amazing thing about these fish, is that they readily take a dry fly. This must rate as some of the best dry fly fishing on earth.”
To see more of the beauty of Lesotho, and to learn more about the technical aspects of fishing for yellowfish in the mountain kingdom, and Gordon’s personal fly fishing philosophy, watch the full short film below.
Read more about Gordon and his second book, “The Feather Mechanic II – Beyond the Pattern” in issue 41.