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Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Fishing at Grantchester.

 "A fisherman is always hopeful - nearly always more hopeful than he has any good cause to be." Dark on the water. by Roderick L. Haig-Brown.

This was the case with me when I left yesterday morning to go fishing at my favourite still-water fishing spot, Grantchester dam on Defence farm in the Kamberg valley. How come I was fishing on a Monday morning? Well it was a public holiday, Heritage day, here in sunny SA. 

Click to enlarge photos.

Stopped along the way to take a photo of this waterfall. 

This waterfall on the Mooi River, (Afrikaans for "Pretty River") will be no more in a year or two's time. The Department of Water Affairs, is busy building a huge dam more than 10km downstream. Above these falls the Mooi River only has Brown trout, after the dam has been built, bass, yellow fish and carp will invade the upstream waters. Wild Brown trout have been in these waters for more than 120 years, who knows for how much longer. Nothing kills a river quicker than a dam. 

A little further I took several photos (about six) to make this panorama of the Drakensberg. On the far left you have Giants Castle, where the Berg turns west, south west. On the far right the Berg turns in a long curve west north west and then north, forming the famous Amphitheatre of the Berg. The part of the Berg seen in the panorama is known as the central Berg. From Giants Castle on the left (south) is known as the southern Berg. From the Amphitheatre it's known as the northern Berg. 

This is almost the same panorama as my header photo, from more to the south and not quite as zoomed in and includes more towards the north.

A panorama of Grantchester dam on Defence farm. As I have pointed out in a previous post here in the good old R of S. A, (Republic of South Africa) we also call the piece of water behind the dam wall, "the dam". All impoundments in SA are called dams, as some one has said it's one of those South African things. At this point the dam is more than a hundred meters wide. The dam extends way off to the left, (east) but to include it all would take too much space. My fly line can be seen lying on the water, where the fly line ends there is a steep drop-off into deep water.

Since I've started Blogging, (18 months ago) I have caught no trout in this still-water, yet my biggest trout, a hen of almost 24 inches, was caught here, (about 7lbs). Trout grow very fast in these waters as they are very fertile. 

I think I've read too many fancy writing about trout fishing in still-water. Back then as a novice, it was cast and strip back as fast as I could, the startled trout would grab the strange, fast moving insect before they realised it was a fake, now I use all sort's of fancy retrieves, all of which the trout have seen before. (Well I need some excuse).

The fish in this piece of water are basically wild, put in as fingerling's, (3 inches) they grow large by surviving the natural dangers a wild trout would survive. It's definitely not a "put and take", water.

Looking across the water to the Berg in the background. Still some snow to be seen on the Berg. 

The buildings are the milking parlour and some sheds. The parlour doesn't look like much on the outside, but is state of the art inside and milks several hundred dairy cows twice a day. South Africa has extremely strict laws concerning milking parlour hygiene and interior construction, (overkill in my opinion), and it has put many smaller dairy farmers out of business. 

Another view of the Berg across the water, more to the south.

The water was actually quite murky and not quite as blue as the photo suggests, (though it usually is).

Monday, 17 September 2012

Birds in flight.

Trying to photograph birds in flight, even big birds, is not easy. First you have to find them in your view finder, then zoom in while panning the camera to follow there flight. I did manage to get a couple of photos this evening, the sun was already below the horizon so the light was not so good.

Click to enlarge.

A pair of Egyptian geese almost overhead, one with the wing in the down stroke and the other up. you only reallise how fast they are flying while you are trying to follow them with the camera.

This photo was taken at a long distance, what I though was another Egyptian goose turned out to be a African sacred Ibis. (Threskiornis aethiopicus)

These photos of the Ibis were quite severely cropped so the quality is not so good when enlarged.

Will spend more time watching the sky while I'm walking so I can react faster when I see birds flying my way.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Still cloudy and cool "keeza" weather.

Woke up this morning and the mist was thicker than ever. Rained all day yesterday, soft gentle rain, although along the coat I'm told it was torrential.

Photo taken from under a canopy of leaves, two weeks ago this mulberry tree was leafless, now you cant see the branches.

Heavy mist. 

Later on the weather cleared and at the moment the sun is shining. More rain is predicted later in the week.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Cool misty weather.

Since yesterday we have had a soft rain falling with low clouds. Took the dogs for an early morning walk and took theses misty photos.

This sort of weather is known here as "keeza", the Zulu term for soft mist rain.

Zoomed in a bit closer with the camera vertical. After the good rains we had a week ago everything is turning green.

The ponds seen in the top right corners are filled with treated, waste water from the Masonite factory in town. Because the water is stained a dark brown, (although otherwise quite fine), it gets pumped to these ponds and then sprayed with irrigation sprayers onto the grass, using the soil as a filter.  

A farmer friend of mine rents the land around the ponds from Masonite and grazes cattle there. He says the cattle get fat from grazing there without any additional "licks" or extra feed, so the water is obviously good for the grass. The cattle drink the water from the ponds with no ill effects.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Golden sunset & removal of word verification.

I've removed word verification and changed my comment settings as to who can comment, blocked all anonymous comments. Hope this will be the end of spam.

Click to enlarge.

Took this photo as my dogs and I were returning from our evening walk.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Word verification and a new header photo.

I've had to go back to word verification as a result of spamming. I don't know why these people bother because it all goes to the spam box but that doesn't stop them, the spam just keeps on coming.  The big irritant was it came up in my email to, thus my return to the use of word verification.

You might have noticed that I've put up a new header photo, a panorama of the Drakensberg. It consists of five photos stitched together.

Click to enlarge.

Monday, 10 September 2012

More snow.

The cold front and almost 48 hours of continuous rain last week, also dumped a huge amount of snow on the Berg. I was only able to take these photos this morning as the Berg has been covered by a hazy cloud since Friday when it stopped raining, so some of the snow had already melted. 

Click to enlarge.

I took several photos to make two panoramas. The one above shows Giants Castle on the far left, (the southern end of this photo). 

This one shows more of the Central Berg.

Zoomed in shot of Giants Castle, 3000 meters. Some of my favourite fishing spots lie about 15km from the foot of Giants castle and it takes me almost an hour, on good roads, to get there. Gives you an idea of how far away I was when I took this photo.

 Behind Giants Castle the Berg turns inland in South Westerly direction, then after more than a hundred kilometres turns southward again for several hundred more kilometres.

Snow on part of the central Berg at 3000 meters plus.

More towards the north, these trees in the foreground are about 45km from the mountain. Another cold front has moved in this afternoon after a balmy spring day when I went to work in a short sleeved shirt. 

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Pastor Yusouf released.

I don't know how many of you have been following the case of Pastor Yusouf in Iran. Below is a post on his release. Some of the comments are very interesting.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

First bass of Spring.

This past week we had 48 hours of almost non-stop rain, all in all more than 100mm, that's 4 inches. Walked down to the furthest pond on the farm with the dogs, they were ecstatic as with all the rain they hadn't been out for several days. The surface of the water was covered with rings of bass rising and taking emerge rs, there was also a fall of flying ants, (termites). Bass can be as picky as any trout when there's a hatch on, and today I only took a small foam popper with me. 

Usually you know when a bass takes your lure or fly, they are great smash and grab artist, but there are times when there takes are very subtle. So it was this afternoon, I was watching my popper lying on the mirror smooth water and giving it the tiniest of twitches  every now and again. Without me noticing it as bass sucked the popper under the surface and it was a long moment before I realised what had happened and tightened the line, fish on. It wasn't the worlds biggest fish, but it was the first bass of spring.

Click to enlarge.

Posed for a quick photo and international fame, next to my trusty 6 weight rod, and released again.

A bit later I walked up to the pond just below the cottage but here there was not a fish to be seen, although there were dozens of fluttering termites on the surface. The two ponds are only about a kilometer apart yet you will often catch fish in the one and nothing in the other.

The lonely swallow I posted a photo of about a week ago, has been joined by it's mate.

An interesting sunset to end the day with.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Spring rain.

At the moment we are having our first Spring rains. This year the rains have arrived about a month earlier than usual, normally we can expect the first rain in October, but no one is complaining as it's been a dry winter. The rain started during the early hours of yesterday morning and for 36 hours it has not let up. According to the weather man we should see some sun on Saturday with more rain next week.

My foot is coming on nicely and I hardly have any pain, I just have to be careful how I walk, or it lets me know that all is not quite right yet.

I have had to reactivate word verification, as I have been getting a lot of spam. Don't know why these people bother as it goes straight to the spam box. The only real irritant is that I get it in my email, and I'm really not interested in escort agencies in Paris or any where else for that matter, or to buy some obscure medication without prescription from India.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Update on injury.

Took myself of to Howick to see the Dr and had my foot X-rayed. Seems that apart from severe bruising I also have an "undisplaced fracture of the fith metarsarsal", (your guess is as good as mine). Actually it's one of the long bones that run the length of your foot to your toes, this one joins to the small toe.(the fracture runs lengthwise and not across). Not much can be done about it but it will heal with time, takes about six weeks. In the mean time I may not take part in rough physical sports, such as rugby, kick-boxing, etc. (All my favourite sports ~;)) I can still go fishing though, as long as I wear supportive boots. (I was wearing them when I hurt my foot!).

Herewith picture of my cute feet. Just to prove that I'm not bluffing.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Opening day and first day of spring.

Well I booked a stretch of water on the Mooi River at Reekielyn and went fishing yesterday. All I got to show for it is a wrenched left knee and a badly sprained and bruised left foot.

I have a very high tolerance to pain but when my foot twisted under me, (I actually heard something crack or snap), and all the weight was put on to my right knee twisting it inwards I just sat down thinking I would never be able to get up without help. For about 5 minutes I didn't move, then I thought maybe, just maybe it might not be so bad and using my cane wading staff as a crutch I stood up gingerly. The pain was intense but I managed to hobble to the water and dunk my foot wading boot and all into the water letting the cold water ease the pain, while I rubbed my knee. 

For a moment after I collapsed from the pain I thought to myself, "This is where I turn to "biltong", (jerky) under the African sun. No one knows where I am and I might not be able to walk out of here". Fortunately I did manage to hobble out.

In spite of my pain I decided to continue fishing, hard to concentrate with a throbbing foot and aching knee. I was wet wading so the cold water on my foot did help, but even with a wading staff hobbling over loose boulders did not help. After about two hours I decided to pack up, apart from one strike when I let my half drowned dry fly drift under a overhang, I saw neither hide nor hair of a trout, not even one trout rising in one of the pools. I did some photos though.

Click to enlarge.

When I walked out at 6am to pack the car the moon was just setting as yellow as butter behind the railing along the N3 highway.

Due to the late winter snow of last month the water level was quite good. This pool in the foreground good be a good place for trying a streamer,or old fashioned wet-fly, fished down and across. 

In summer most of these rocks are under water. The broad pool in the background is wide and quite deep, with a flat sandstone bottom. Almost impossible to wade though, as it is pitted with potholes which are difficult to see. 

Nice little cascade.

A beautiful cascade with nice pools above and below.

The waterfall at Reekielyn, below the fall there is a beautiful pool and with the low water it was quite accessible,  but with my bust foot there was no way I was going to get there.

After I painfully hobbled out of the gorge, I saw why no trout showed themselves.  A very visible cold front was approaching from the south accompanied by a freezing wind. Down in the gorge I was protected from the wind, but the trout knew. The photo above shows the Kamberg, (Comb mountain) and advance clouds of the cold front starting to cover it. Drove home through a heavy cold rain, it might have been the first day of spring but winter hasn't given up yet.

Will have to go and see my Dr tomorrow, see if he can patch me up. If it was my head all he would need is vinegar and brown paper. Through continuing to fish I don't think I did my foot and knee any favours.