Springtime Bushmans Scallies Trip Report

On the weekend of 11th to 13th September 2015, Bertu Barnard and I went headed to my “home” waters on the Bushmans River at 3DMashona to hunt some Natal Yellowfish aka Scaly on fly. The weekend started off early on the Friday morning with us both leaving our homes long before sun rise with the hope of meeting at Bushmans River Lodge at 7am to give us a whole day on the water. We were fishing on the Riversdale farm as other farm was booked out for guests. After a 3:30min trip I arrived at 6:55am, almost perfect timing, with Bertu nowhere to be found. Cellphone coverage is limited and as I was waiting and chatting away with Oom Stompie, the Farm Manager, I received a sms that I have a voice mail.

My first thought was that I should expect some bad news and it was, Bertu’s car broke down 20km outside Estcourt. After a few phone calls and waiting for a tow truck and then meeting up at the dealers workshop it was decided that the fishing will take precedence and we packed all his gear over to my vehicle and headed to the Lodge before hitting the water. The idea was that the Mechanic contact us for updates on the vehicle if and when we get cellphone reception during the course of the day.

After a unpacking at the Lodge we headed to the river. The plan was to fish the Taylor’s Folly area for the morning session and then head further down the river to fish the river in the vicinity of the River Campsite. The road down to Taylor’s Folly is best done by a high clearance vehicle and preferably one with a diff lock or 4×4 if you intend heading up the same pass you come down, alternatively one can drive along the river up to the River Campsite which is a bit of a longer route.

Bushmans River - 3d Mashona

Our session started out slow as we tried to locate the fish. We slowly fished from downstream from the riffles to shallow rock runs and eventually to a small inlet to a pool. This area has procudes a lot of 4lb fish for me over the years and I was hoping to put Bertu into a nice fish to make up for the morning’ events. I left Bertu to fish the inlet whilst I prospected the rest of the pool for fish, to my amazement I spotted numerous fish slowly feeding in water no more than half a meter deep.

With the thought of one of the many discussions on the way to the river, Bertu mentioned his hope was that we would have an opportunity to sight fish for a scaly. I called him over to get the first shot at these fish. It was almost as if he had summoned these fish to be there with his talks of sight fished Scallies as these type of opportunities do not happen often. The river was exceptionally low, probably the lowest conditions I have ever fished the river in.

Rigged with a tandem rig on a long leader he made his first cast, terrible, and let it drift through the fish. Yellow fever got him! They were still feeding. Second cast, third, forth and fifth… fish on! The fish headed down stream hoping to get into the next pool that’s separated to the next by two large boulders. There was just enough time for Bertu to giggle like a naughty young school boy after he has seen the wind blow his crush’s dress up for a moment before the fish was off.

The fish where still in the vicinity but now moved off the shallow bank to a little deeper water, but still feeding. It was no more than 5 casts later when he landed his first Natal Yellowfish of the trip. Many more followed that day and I am sure it made up for the car troubles that were long forgotten by the time we ended our fishing session that day. Between the both of us numerous fish were landed that day and most were taken on small black mayfly imitations.


Bertu's first of the trip

That evening we enjoyed a few beers and a bushveld braai before we were off to bed a bit later than expected. The next morning we planned to fish a part of the river I have never fished due to access constraints with my earlier vehicle a Nissan Xtrail. She is now in some workshop being fixed before being sold off to some unsuspecting person after a taxi rear-ended me a few months ago. Fortunately after the insurance settled my debt I was in a position to buy my new baby… 4×4, 147kw and 470nm… offroading, no problem!


Our destination was the old farm of Andries Pretorius, I am not sure if it the same Andries that led the Battle of Blood River or one of his offspring, that was left abandoned many years ago. But the road to this area is not traveled often and I lost the road a few times having make a path over small thorn trees to get back on the main track.

Andries Pretorius House Remains

We arrived to a beautiful stretch of river that had mostly rock bottom and a few holes with sand in the slower stretches.

Bushmans RIver - 3d MashonaBushmans RIver - 3d Mashona

The fishing was amazing to say the least. We landed close on 30 fish between the two of us and a few over 4lbs! I believe with a bit of extra water in this stretch of river the fishing will be even better. The fish was in either pre or post spawn as some of the smaller males had shown their trademark on our hands and some had the typical bubble blisters on their heads.

Natal Yellowfish - 3d Mashona Spawning Natal Yellowfish - 3d Mashona

After our Saturday session we did not really have any time left to fish as I had to take Bertu back to get his transport back to Pretoria early Sunday Morning. But I close this trip report with a few landscapes from the day. How I wish to be back there, just a fishing buddy and a few Bushveld Scallies to keep you company!

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