The Cape Piscatorial Society in 2016

posted in: Society News | 0
Ed Herbst and trout
Ed Herbst and trout

Ed Herbst

End-of-the-year braai

2015 EOY function ride

When the invitation came for the function at the Waterfront on 1 December last year, I initially declined but my friend Sharland Urquhart insisted I attend and, in retrospect, I am glad I did.

When I later heard that 104 people had accepted the invitation and that in the ensuing few weeks our secretary, Louis de Jager had received almost R30 000 from members renewing their annual subscriptions, I realised that something profound had happened to the Society and I decided to put together this account of some of the highlights and lowlights of the past year or so.

I joined the Society in 1978 and I have never before experienced such a level of enthusiasm, so much interest and so much participation from members and I attribute this to Facebook, the enthusiasm of a new generation of younger committee members and the influence of competition angling.

A big thank you to our new secretary, Louis de Jager, and to his father in law, Lionel Schou who took the photographs at the braai that appeared on our Facebook page.

I somehow thought that Louis had done the cooking but as I saw him frenetically moving between the tables serving plate after plate of succulent meat and crisp salads and concluded with a mouth-watering koeksuster, I realised he could not be doing it all. I thus came to make the acquaintance, albeit only by email, of a businesswoman, Anita (Nita) Mouton and was told by Louis that she had done a sterling job of cooking during the junior national championships in Rhodes last year. Here is her response to my inquiring email:

‘My husband Jacques had been on two National Trips with Louis as the official driver for Team Boland. As a commercial fisherman himself, he so much enjoyed the fly fishing adventure, not to mention the friends made through this wonderful sport.

‘I do catering as a hobby as I simply love cooking. When Louis asked me if I would help with the catering at Rhodes for Team Boland, I simply could not let such an opportunity pass me by. I now could finally do a trip and also get introduced to the world of fly fishing.  

‘Rhodes was a wonderful experience. Serving two to three meals per day to 30 people for a whole week on a tight schedule was challenging, but so rewarding. I must also give credit to Haloma Roos and Tanita Erasmus, two parents who helped me keep the boys fed!

‘I am glad to hear the CPS Xmas function and the food were enjoyed by all, I would gladly offer my services again in future to this wonderful organisation’

A HUGE thank you, Anita – I had some discerning foodies at my table and they pronounced your cooking as outstanding. I have attended fly fishing functions over decades in most provinces but our end-of-the-year braai was something special in my experience and your food played a big role in making the evening the success it undoubtedly was

I thoroughly enjoyed the function as I linked up with people that I last had contact with some twenty years ago and made new friends.

Roy Muller who helped in having Piscator printed  some twenty years ago reminded me that I had insisted that he experience my recently-acquired Orvis Ultrafine 2 weight  back in the 1980s and I responded with remarkable equanimity when he informed me that on his first outing with the rod he had broken the tip! (Roger Baert from The Flyfisherman shop in Pietermaritzburg had a new tip couriered to me within a fortnight.)

Tony Biggs was there with his partner Sinead and I reminisced about my early days in Cape Town when I was lucky enough to have him as my mentor. Gordon van der Spuy was delighted to make Tony’s acquaintance and expressed the wish to watch his tie a RAB.

I also met Pamela Simpson, the only woman currently writing fly fishing articles and her husband Bruce – her article Bushwhack Babies,  about the newly acquired Beat 7 of the Smalblaar has been emailed to you.

Leonard Flemming

CPS Chairman Dr Leonard Flemming with a fine Witte brown trout
CPS Chairman Dr Leonard Flemming with a fine Witte brown trout

At a young age Leonard Flemming has made a significant contribution to local fly fishing.

He cracked the code on mullet with his sandflea imitation, so much so that catching mullet on dry fly has become routine.

His Feathers and Fluoro website is a source of endless fascination for me because it opens new worlds that I never knew existed.

But his legacy CV should highlight the role that he played with MC Coetzer in raising public awareness of the dire state of the Witte River because of farming water extraction.

I documented this in my article Trout and the Farmer on this website.

Ian Cox, the Durban lawyer who is fighting the good fight on behalf of trout in the Nemba (National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act) debate and who edits The Bobbin, monthly newsletter of the Durban Fly Tyers, posted this on the Society’s Facebook page:

Just got back from a Trout SA trip to Mpumalanga with Ilan lax who recalls being asked about this problem by Leonard and suggesting that they try the foreign standards route. He says it has been useful in keeping the forestry industry on the straight and narrow. So FOSAF and Ilan should take a bow as well. The exciting bit is that a bunch of fly fishers who care have been able to draw upon the expertise in our community and find a workable solution. This beats the hell out of just doing what one thinks is right. We are seeing a lot of that in Mpumalanga where environmental officials have thrown the rule book and the Constitution out of the window and are doing what they think is right. The result is that the economy of a whole region is seriously threatened. Win – wins sometimes require literal thinking and out of the box solutions but these are only sustainable if they fit within the rules. It seems that the CPS managed to get all these elements aligned this time. That requires a huge round of applause.

Gordon van der Spuy

Our own Fannie Visagie
Our own Fannie Visagie

The arrival in Cape Town a year or so ago of Gordon van der Spuy has been a significant plus for the Society. He is a gifted communicator and someone who really enjoys imparting his fly tying skills to others. He is also a great believer in the energy which young people can infuse into organisations such as ours and it is through him that I met the Flybru guys, Matt Gorlei and Nick van Rensburg. They tie flies to my design, field test them and then I buy them at R20 a fly to give to friends. They are proving really effective. A friend who took lessons from Gordon says he learned a huge amount even though he has been tying for decades.

Here is what Ian Cox, editor of the monthly Durban Fly Tyers journal, The Bobbin, had to say about the young man:

‘Lesser mortals like most of us realise that Gordon is an artist and as such lives in a different world to the artisanal space occupied by most competent fly tyers. But artists especially ones with the communication skills of a trained actor like Gordon have much to teach artisans about the business of fly tying. I now have been on two courses run by Gordon. On the first I learned more in 2 days than I had learnt in 40 years and on the second my tying improved by 50%. The extraordinary thing is that Gordon does not just teach you stuff; he empowers you to unlock your own potential. And this is not just my impression. Dr Steven Brooks, scientist arch empiricist and fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, will tell you the same. So will artist fly fishing philanthropist and all round great gal Sharland Urquart. Hell even Ed Herbst is impressed. Gordon truly changed and is changing my skills and enhancing the pleasure I experience as a fly tyer.’

Louis de Jager

Louis and Laknevlei
Our secretary enjoying a more chilled time

‘Oom Louis’, our new secretary has been a huge bonus and justifiably earned plaudits for his organisation of the end-of-the year braai.  He has been involved in fly fishing in general for years and puts a huge amount back through his involvement in competitive angling at junior level.

He is full of innovative ideas such as the forthcoming ‘Calitzdorp Caper’  camping trip to fish the local dam for yellowfish.

He is proving as much an ambassador for the Society as his esteemed predecessors and has quickly earned the respect of members. If you have questions or concerns, Louis will help you.

Tudor Caradoc-Davies

Tudor at work on our streams
Tudor at work on our streams

Tudor, a freelance journalist, has combined his communication and marketing skills with his passion for fly tying in the hugely successful Vice Squad meetings that are held every two months. About 15 years ago I was asked if I could do a fly tying demo at the clubroom one evening. I spent a week putting together a slide show and tying my flies in various stages to assist my presentation. I addressed an audience of five.

The Vice Squad evenings are attracting about 40 people on average and I can only say that I have found them informative and humbling.

Here is what I wrote for Tom Sutcliffe’s website after attending my first such meeting:

Ed Herbst writes: On Thursday night Tudor Caradoc-Davies and Cape Piscatorial Society (CPS) secretary Louis de Jager hosted another Vice Squad evening at the Society’s office in Cape Town’s CBD.

Tudor had assembled another stellar cast of tyers, Korrie Broos tying his X-Factor CDC dry fly which I have written about before on this website; Tim Rolston tying his Monty Nymph; Ruan Neethling tying a “fishable” salmon fly – the Green Highlander and Andre van Wyk tying his simplified version of the Petersen Spawning Shrimp.

Tim’s nymph is named after Monty a much-loved cat now deceased who lives on in Tim’s memory because the Abyssinian Red/ tabby cross had a beautifully mottled coat which Tim dutifully brushed every day, carefully storing the resulting fur harvest. Tim is very much a tyer, when it comes to nymphs for dam fishing, in the Polly Rosborough Fuzzy Nymph school. His nymph also has Czech nymph influence in that it incorporates a subtle “heart.” The tail is CDL fibres, the rib is pearl flashabou which he stretches to reduce its size and because it then takes on a blue tinge. The thorax is slightly darker fur. Tim is adamant that all-synthetic materials have less appeal to fish than natural furs or a combination of the two because guard hairs make it fuzzier. He says that one of his most important tools is a strip of velcro and he uses it with a vengeance to rough up his fur nymphs.

Ruan Neethling was next up and he tied a “fishable” Green Highlanderin about an hour with Gordon van der Spuy providing the narration. Compared to the incredibly advanced Pink Floyd-inspired art flies Ruhan ties, this was an impressive feat to accomplish in an hour. To speed up the tying he uses a Norvise and that company’s automatic bobbin. He provided a fascinating insight into the early origins of the British salmon fly tying including the fact that apprentices used to spend two years just perfecting the butt! 

He was followed by Andre van Wyk who is a regular contributor to one of the most fascinating fly fishing websites extant, Feathers and Fluoro. His account on that website of targeting juvenile tarpon on a 30-year old Deane fly rod bought from the Flyfisherman shop in Pietermaritzburg was a delight and he is part of a team which is seeking fly fishing in urban surroundings – have a look at the articles on sight fishing for carp in the middle of Paarl!

He had just returned from a trip to St Brandon’s atoll off the coast of Mauritius and one of the benefits of these evenings is the fascinating information that each tyer imparts during the demonstration. The next Vice Squad meeting will be held in late August. Subscribe to the CPS newsletter and keep an eye on our Facebook page for updates.

At the end of the evening I was left feeling humbled and elated. Humbled because it brought home to me just how confined my obsessive concentration on small stream trout was given the vastness of what fly fishing now encompasses and elated because in my 37-year association with the Society I have never experienced the dynamism and cohesiveness with which it is now functioning. Our new secretary, Louis de Jager has been very involved with competition fly fishing for many years, particularly at youth level and the arrival of Tudor Caradoc-Davies, a journalist who started the Vice Squad evenings has seen the attendance at such evenings quadruple. He joins a talented team of regulars ably led by Chairman Leonard Flemming and former chairman M C Coetzer. It is all very encouraging.’

It was at a Vice Squad evening that I made the acquaintance of Marcel Terblanche which I wrote about in an article on Tom Sutcliffe’s website:

He and I are collaborating on what, in my subjective opinion, is the most deadly dry fly for small streams extant, the ‘Bushwhack Beetle.’

I am so enthused about the ‘gees’ at these evenings that I commissioned Jay Smit to make  a vise for the society to be kept permanently in the clubroom for anyone who wants to tie with one and for use at the Vice squad evenings. The Society’s new vice is the 1349th that Jay has made and will be registered on his database so any future queries about it will be promptly dealt with.


An uncommonly hot spell has highlighted the fact that largemouth bass were clandestinely stocked into Lakenvlei Dam a season or two ago.

Lower water levels and higher temperatures saw the trout retreat to the cooler depths of the dam and small bass take over the shallows.

At our monthly committee meeting in January, Dr Andy Cockroft, a scientist with the Department of Sea Fisheries who drafted our stocking policy, said we would need to counter this by increased fishing pressure throughout the summer and stocking with bigger trout which are less vulnerable to predation in winter.

If you have a child who might be interested in taking up fly fishing, this provides an ideal venue and opportunity because members report catching a small bass a cast in January and children quickly lose enthusiasm for fishing if there are long spells between catching anything.

As the trout are now under increased pressure from the bass you are asked to release your fish or, at most, to keep one.

Significant refurbishing of the Lakenvlei hut is now underway.
Bushwhack Beat

The Society is indebted to Krijn Resoort, MD of Molopong Aquaculture, which leases the farm De Poort at the top of the old DuToits Kloof Pass. He has allowed the Society access to this stretch of what is effectively Beat Seven of the Smalblaar.

I asked Pamela Simpson, who I met with her husband Bruce at our Xmas function, to fish this stretch and to write an article for Flyfishing magazine and that article, Bushwhack Babies, appeared in the February issue of the magazine and was copied to you in an email.

I feel that this is a project where the Society can make a significant environmental difference but first we have to get the permission of the owners of the farm and so it has been decided to open it to members from 1 September.

In the interim we hope to significantly reduce the alien vegetation which infests its banks, reducing water flow and increasing water temperature. If possible I would like to get Working for Water involved.

In an article I wrote, Bio-control of Hakea, which appeared in the November 1992 issue of Piscator, I outlined the work being done by the Plant Protection Research Institute in Stellenbosch, a division of the Department of Agriculture. Over the years this unit has introduced insects from Australia that attack Hakea  and Port Jackson.

If at all possible I would like to see such insects being introduced at De Poort.

Over the years when I could still fish I used to spend about an hour of each fishing trip to the Holsloot cutting back alien vegetation on the Holsloot with my trusty Gerber folding saw which looks like a large pocket knife but has a sharp saw blade. This was my way of putting something back and I concentrated on wattles etc that restricted one’s casting. Please do this once fishing opens on the Bushwhack Beat but, hopefully, most of the deadfalls that the choke the stream will have been removed by then.

River Rangers

In the past, at the behest of Garnet Prince, a Cape Piscatorial Society group which called itself the River Rangers undertook the sometimes enervating and often unpleasant task of cleaning up the litter left behind by picknickers on beat 6 of the Smalblaar near the Worcester exit of the Huguenot tunnel. I know of no other angling group which does this and one of the singular successes of the River ranger was arranging the removal of two big rolls of paper in the section of the Krom tributary close to the 1948 tunnel on the old DuToits Kloo pass. This was the result of a truck going off the road at that point.

At Its January 2016 meeting the committee decided that another cleanup was necessary after the festive season and we will be communicating with members in this regard shortly.

Our secretary, Louis de Jager who does a lot of community upliftment projects through the medium of angling will approach the Rawsonville School in this regard which makes the project even more commendable.


We would like to thank Garreth van Rensburg and his team at Torque ( for their endless patience and assistance in helping the CPS with our newsletters and email systems. Without them, keeping our hundreds of members up-to-date regarding club news and their membership status, would be an arduous task.


At its January 2016 meeting the committee resolved to appoint an ombud team consisting of Tudor Caradoc-Davies, Louis de Jager and myself to respond to the concerns of members. This was to reduce the burden on committee chairperson Leonard Flemming. You can phone Louis on 021 4247725 or email Tudor at


At the 2015 AGM I made an offer of contributing a book or a DVD a month to the library and the process got underway in December after a consultation with Dean Riphagen of Frontier Fly Fishing in Johannesburg. I first met Dean on the Elandspad about 30 years ago when he was a B.Com student at UCT. Today he is the author of two books, The South African Fly-Fishing Handbook and Stillwater Trout in South Africa which hold their own with any equivalent publications in the world and a partner in the country’s leading fly fishing shop. Dean will recommend books and DVDs from his inventory and for November and December he recommended The Best Carp Flies: How to Tie and Fish Them by Jay Zimmerman and the DVD he selected was Advanced Tactics for Emergers & Dries by Rick Hafele and John Smeraglio. I already have Zimmerman’s book and I rate it as one of the best books on fly design to have been published in the past decade. The availability of carp in the clear water of America’s great lakes has made carp fishing the fastest growing freshwater facet of the sport. There is intense competition among fly manufacturers and companies like Umqua pay royalties to people John Barr, inventor of the Copper John. The R&D is constant and intense and Jay’s book catalogues the leading patterns.  Articles on the Feathers and Fluoro website by Leonard Flemming, Fred Davis, Andre van Wyk and others detail how they sight fish for crap in clear water in the Paarl section of the Berg River – and a few less salubrious places.  Carp are everywhere and this book is the best available at the moment on tying flies that catch the.

For my January purchase Dean has recommended Matt Supinski’s two hour DVD tutorial, Selectivity Trout – The Theory & Method of Fly Fishing for Fussy Trout.

Earlier this year I donated my own DVD collection of more than a hundred titles to the Society library and Louis can email you the list of what is available. Our computer system now tracks the books and DVDs which have been taken out and after a fortnight sends you a reminder to return what you have borrowed.

Fly fishing encyclopaedia

Those of you who have attended our annual River Festivals at Merwede Lodge in Rawsonville will have received in your goody bags two DVDs containing hundreds of fly fishing and tying articles downloaded from the internet by me in the past ten years.

The collection started when I spent year living at Dwarsberg Trout Haven in 2006 and has been added to, sometimes daily, in the intervening years. It now takes up two DVDs of 4.7 gigs each.

I have decided to make it available through the Society secretary to all members but, be warned, don’t download them onto an old Windows 98 laptop. You need a fair amount of speed and memory.

Create a folder on your hard drive, cut and paste the contents of the two DVDs into that folder and then create a shortcut on your desktop which will enable you to instantly access its contents. The folders are arranged in the following alphabetical order: Ants, Arachnids, Bass, Beetles, Blackfly, Buzzers, Caddis, Carp, Casting, CDC, Clyde Style Wets, Deer Hair Flies, Dries, Ed’s patterns, Emergers, Entomology, Fibreglass, Float Tubing, Foam, Fly Tying Desks, Fly Tying Tools, Gear, Hackle, Hooks, Hoppers, Inchworms, Indigenous Flies, Knots, Leaders, Marine, Mayfly, Mending, Micropatterns, Mullet, Netwing Midge, Nymphing, Parachutes, Realistic Flies, Reels, Rhodes/Maclear, Rod building, Rod handles, Safety, Silk lines, Small streams, Snowshoe flies, Soft Hackles, Speed tying, Split cane, Stillwater, Tactics, Tenkara, Terrestrials, Toebiters, Trout behaviour, Tube flies, Tying tips, Ultralight, Underwater, Useful info, Vises and Yellowfish.

There is a huge amount of information on these DVDs and I am happy to make this yet another service which the Cape Piscatorial Society provides for its members.


The Society administers the traditional trout streams of the Western Cape and its mandate and authority to do so are derived from two main sources, the community of freshwater anglers in the province and Cape Nature.

In Piscator No 115, July 1985, Roly Hutchings wrote that the then Cape Department of Nature Conservation (CDNC) was coming under increasing pressure to close its Jonkershoek trout hatchery and to spend the money thus saved on the conservation of indigenous fish species.

At the time quarterly meetings were held with all freshwater angling groups at the Assegaaibosch homestead at Jonkershoek under the aegis of CDNC. These meetings were called the Freshwater Forum and were attended by committee members such as Roly Hutchings, the then chairman, the late Ian Lehr, Tony Biggs and myself.

In Piscator no 115 Roly wrote, ‘The F.W.F. meets at Jonkershoek and all freshwater angling clubs are invited to send delegates. There is an obvious conflict of interest between bass and trout anglers on the one hand and the conservation of our indigenous fish on the other, but these meetings have resulted in all of us feeling that we are gaining the benefits of our own interests without jeopardising those of others.

‘At the meetings the Department put forward their views regarding trout and their interaction with indigenous fish populations in the rivers of the Cape.

‘We anglers must accept that it is unreasonable to expect a Department of Nature Conservation to propagate and protect an exotic species. The staff at Jonkershoek also feel that they cannot be expected to spend an undue proportion of their efforts on trout.’

In mid-1986 all legislative protection for trout was removed from the statute books

Five years later I had taken over from C Ross Munro as editor of Piscator and in my editorial in issue 122 (July 1990) under the heading Freshwater Forum I wrote:

Freshwater Forum is the name given by the Cape Department of Nature and Environmental Conservation to the meetings which are held from time to time at the Assegaaibosch homestead at the Jonkershoek research station outside Stellenbosch and which are attended by representatives of angling clubs in the Peninsula and Boland. Those who attend represent the full spectrum of freshwater angling endeavour and include bait, lure and fly fishers. The meetings are usually chaired by Dr Kas Hamman, the country’s leading expert on the freshwater species endemic to the Cape and the minutes are taken by Tony Smith who runs the Jonkershoek hatchery which is now exclusively devoted to breeding indigenous fish, particularly the more threatened species.

An item on the agenda of a recent meeting was the rapid decline in the quality of fly fishing available since the removal of the regulations protecting trout. The CPS representatives asked the others present whether they would object if the Society was given administrative control of the traditional fly fishing rivers in much the same way that the Society now administers Lakenvlei Dam and the Theewaterskloof Yacht Club administers that body of water. In support of this request the CPS contingent pointed out that while the bait and lure anglers had many hundreds of kilometres of river and hectares of stillwater to fish, fly fishing was based on a handful of streams which currently were in danger of being fished out. The bait and lure anglers proved very understanding and unanimously agreed to this proposal. At the moment government is in the process of transferring control of wilderness areas to provincial authorities. Once this process is complete the CDNC can implement the measures necessary to grant the CPS administrative control of rivers like the Elandspad/Smalblaar/Molenaars watershed, the Holsloot and Witte. This will suit all concerned. 

The CDNC feels, very justifiably, that in terms of its mandate, which is to protect and propagate indigenous species, it should not protect and propagate trout. The new dispensation will place that onus wholly and entirely on the CPS leaving the CDNC free to pursue its constitutionally determined goals which pertain exclusively to indigenous species.

At that meeting I pointed out that the Society had offices with full time staff and that tourism authorities in Cape Town referred enquiries from visiting fly fishers to it.

The consensus reached in early 1990 still stands today.

Our relationship with Cape Nature is cordial and co-operative because we both have the same goals as regards the preservation of mountain catchment areas even though we disagree about the environmental impact of trout. More than 25 years ago Dr Kas Hamman told me that we were their ‘eyes and ears’ in areas which they were not able to patrol themselves and the history of the Society which appears on this website cites numerous examples of this co-operation. A photograph I took at that meeting which was published at the time in Piscator is shown below

The juniors

Two teams with strong links to the Cape Piscatorial Society have become dominant in competitive fly fishing at junior level, Western Province and Boland.

Several Society members have played a role in this in recent years among them Tom Sutcliffe, Mark Krige and MC Coetzer but at the moment the impetus is coming from our secretary, Louis de Jager who is now Present of of the South African Fly Fishing Association (SAFA) and committee member Maddy Rich

The extraordinary level of dominance that our young members have achieved in competitions is set out in this email to me from Louis de Jager:

The Youth Nationals were held in Rhodes from 6 to 10 October 2015. Unfortunately we saw the rivers at their lowest ever recorded.

Teams from WP (2), Eastern Cape (1), Boland (3), Gauteng North (1), Limpopo (1), KZN (1) and Mpumalanga (1) entered. 5 Anglers per team. 50 Youth

Unfortunately Free State and Central Gauteng were unable to enter teams in 2015.

The hosts had to chop and change their sectors and the number of sessions were reduced from 5 to 4 due to low water conditions.

The Kraai, Sterkpruit and Bokspruit were used and the Loch Ness Dam on Tiffendell.

Once again the Western Cape Boys came out on top with WP winning gold and Boland taking the Silver.

Individually we had Luke Baker from WP in Gold and Konrad Kuehl from Boland in Bronze.

The trend of the past few years has seen the Western Cape dominating the Youth division. Boland has won the Gold Team in 2009, 2011. 2012, 2013 and 2014. WP sneaked in for 2015, but we are still amped that the trophy stays in the Cape.

Based on a two-year ranking several Western Cape boys have been invited to Protea Trials to compete for a spot in the Youth Protea Team going to Spain in 2016.

Bear in mind all the boys hailing from the Cape are CPS boytjies.

The 2016 Youth Nationals is scheduled for October and will be hosted in Pilgrims Rest. 5 River sessions.

So, at the moment, Maddy Rich’s Western Cape team is on the top step of the podium after years of dominance by Louis de Jager’s Boland protégés.

An even more extraordinary example of the  preeminent  nurturing role that the Cape Piscatorial Society is playing in junior level competition fly fishing is manifest when one looks at the composition of the Protea team which came fourth in the Junior World Championships held in the small Colorado resort town, Vail, in the USA last year. The team comprised six members of whom four were members of the Cape Piscatorial Society. So, too, were the coach and manager of the team!

MC Coetzer Coach – CPS Member

Maddy Rich Manager – CPS Member

Luke Baker WP – CPS Member

Nikolai Piotrowski – WP – CPS Member

Alessandro Lupini – Boland – CPS Member

Warwick Reid – Boland – CPS Member

Bradley Cottle – Gauteng North – CPS Member

Liam Markides – Central Gauteng

Fly tying DVDs

To raise funds for our junior teams I have decided to have more copies made of the two fly tying DVDs that Andrew Ingram and I did in 2011.

Our idea was to record innovative local patterns as tied by the originators of these flies.

The two-part series was called A South African fly tying journey with Ed Herbst and friends.

Volume 1 featured the RAB and the Caribou Spider (Tom Sutcliffe), the G&B Low Floater (Dean Riphagen), the Shuck Emerger (Fred Steynberg) and the Xmas Xaddis (Ed Herbst).

Volume 2 featured my hopper and Splitback Beetle, Fred Steynberg’s ant, Philip Meyer’s ParaRAB and an innovative inchworm imitation from Mario Geldenhuys.

I am told that the landed cost of American DVDs is about R350 and a lot sell of R500 so I have decided to make these DVDs available at R200.

If you are a fly tyer or know a fly tyer, these DVDs are good value for money.

They can, however, only be acquired through personal collection from Louis de Jager at the Society offices.


In mid-November 2013 there was a cloudburst in the catchment area of the Holsloot and the resulting flash flood caused massive damage to the stream bed. At the time I said that this was hardly the first such occurrence in the history of the valley and that, given time, the stream would heal itself.

Two years later, I am happy to report, that prediction has proved to be correct. The flood swept away much of the alien vegetation which was clogging the banks, making access easier. Although the character of the stream has changed in some places, we will quickly accept these changes. The important things is that the stream is fishing well again, two years after the flood and several members have had very pleasant outings of late. The great advantage of the Holsloot is that it is safer than the Smalblaar because it is not situated in close proximity to a major highway and that, the hottest months, the water remains cool because it is coming out of the bottom of the Stetynskloof Kloof Dam at the head of the valley

River Festival

The 2015 River Festival was a great success and, as always, a tribute to the organisers and the guides who impart their skills to newcomers. I believe there is already a philanthropic sponsor waiting in the wings  for the 2016 event and, as a raffle prize, I will be donating the Frontier Horizon LLS 1-weight fly rod and matching reel and line, a superb, reasonably-priced combination which is ideal for our streams.

Similar prizes have been donated in the past by Frontier Fly Fishing in Johannesburg and by John Yelland of Upstream and I have little doubt that they will come to the party again. With the Holsloot once again fishing well, entries will probably be limited to 40.

As always it will be held at Merwida Lodge in Rawsonville in November and, as always, a silent prayer will be directed to the weather gods to provide not torrential rain and flooded streams as has happened in the past, but good flows accompanied by a gentle upstream breeze.

You can find more information on this and other, similar events at this link:

Insect studies

While the Cape Piscatorial Society traces its origins to 1902 – as set out in the history article on this website – its present structure started with A C Harrison in 1931.

Harrison noted at the time that there was virtually no research being done on Cape mayflies and in March 1949 wrote the introductory article to a series on subaquatic insects. When I became editor of Piscator in the early 1980s I  requested and was given the money by the committee to commission two articles on important insects that AC  had not  covered and I  first approached the Albany Museum in Grahamstown. In the March 1989 issue of Piscator, Dr Ferdi de Moor wrote what remains the definitive article on Black Flies from an angling perspective – ‘Lord of the Rapids’. In 1992 the committee agreed, again at my request, to commission Shirley Chinn of the Natal Museum in Pietermaritzburg to write an article on a second important aquatic insect on Cape streams not covered by AC and ‘Net-winged’ Midges of South Africa appeared in Piscator in July that year.

I subsequently requested Bob Crass, chief scientific officer of the Natal parks Board to give me his articles on trout diet in Natal and that article ‘A preliminary report on the food of tout in Natal’ appeared in the November 1999 issue of the magazine.

All this information, however, remains locked up in back issues of Piscator and needs to be placed on our website for universal access.

I realised that the catch returns with their analysis of trout stomach contents  which were published in Piscator in the 1970s could contain valuable information and so it proved. They were transcribed by hand by Denise Hills and showed that in autumn, April and May specifically, the trout stomachs were packed with grasshoppers and alderfly (toebiter) larvae. Two articles are available online which explain those findings ‘Why fish hoppers in autumn?’ which is on Tom Sutcliffe’s website and ‘Trout in the Fynbos biome’ on the Society website. They contain important information which will help you increase your angling enjoyment.

In the coming year I hope more such information will be placed on the Cape Piscatorial Society website so that the findings of people like A C Harrison, Bob Crass, Ferdi de Moor and others can be made available to a wider audience than the few hundred people who have read Piscator in the past.

In so doing the Society will be true to a 115-year heritage of service to fly anglers.


Tudor Caradoc-Davies is working on the next issue of Piscator and, as always, its production depends on article submissions from members.

I edited Piscator for more than a decade and there were some years when I hardly got any contributions from members. I wrote a lot of the articles myself and used a lot of articles from other locally-produced club journals when they were only accessible to members. Today they are published online so that source has largely disappeared.

Piscator is what you make it so please give us your assistance in this regard.

The Witte 

2016 will be a crucial year for the Witte and our hopes of restoring to what it used to be. The Society will continue to build on the concessions achieved late last year and will continue to seek publicity for this worthy cause. You can read about this in my article Trout and the Farmer which appears in the blog section

Women on the committee

Sharland Urquhart, who is passionate about promoting the role of women in fly fishing, has pointed out something that I am unable to counter – there are no women on the committee. I can but appeal to our women anglers to make themselves available for nomination.

The year ahead

In 2016 the committee will focus on the acquisition of new fishing water and increasing the number of functions like the Catlitzdorp Caper in which members can participate.

Social media and email protocol

In the past few months one major news agency after the other has taken the decision to drop the comments section below online articles – first Business Day newspaper, then News 24, then IOL and, most recently Daily Maverick.

Their reason for so doing is simple and obvious. Internet trolls who never state their position but only attack the position of others have chosen, instead of seeking to enrich debate, to use their internet access to denigrate those who hold different views to their own.

The Cape Piscatorial Society has not been immune to this phenomenon and, as a result has had to revise its social media protocol. This has been published on our website.

Committee members have in the recent past been the recipients of unpleasant emails and Facebook attacks and some have chosen to resign from the committee or to step down as chairpersons rather than to be the continuing victims of a vendetta orchestrated by a small coterie of our members:

  • • First MC Coetzer stepped down as chairman
  • • His successor, Darryl Lampert, resigned  by email with immediate effect after a vitriolic email attack at a time when everyone knew his life was in crisis because of the failing health of his elderly parents and his own very serious health concerns which, in his own case,  have fortunately been  allayed since then.
  • • Late last year his successor, Leonard Flemming, experienced a defamatory Facebook attack which implied, at best, that he was a person lacking in ethical probity or, at worst, that he was corrupt. The post was hurriedly taken down because it hugely failed the legal test for defamation in that it was not true, it was not in the public interest and could not be proved – precisely because it was not true. It was taken down with a manifestly insincere apology to avoid litigation but what struck me very forcibly was that not one of those who have been most vociferous in their Facebook attacks on the committee saw fit to distance themselves from this defamation with a ‘not in my name’ disclaimer. This was an astonishingly vicious and utterly unjustified attack.
  • • Also late last year Stephen Dugmore resigned with immediate effect after receiving an unpleasant email which singularly failed the test of acceptable email protocols. Stephen has been a stalwart of the local fly fishing scene for many years, is well known for the excellence of the split cane rods he builds but, most importantly of all, he helped negotiate our return to the upper Jan du Toits stream. That someone as innately courteous as he is should experience such unpleasantness is disturbing.

This is a massive loss of skill, commitment, corporate memory and institutional knowledge which no organisation can afford. In the process we have suffered reputational damage, financial loss and our fishing on Beat Six of the Smalblaar has suffered.

The latter was the predictable result of a post on our Facebook page which suggested that the Society has no mandate to administer fly fishing on the traditional trout streams near Cape Town. I was appalled. In my subjective perception this was deliberate sabotage because in all of the public attacks on the Society in recent years, the option of confidentially raising concerns with the committee by email or telephone call – instead of going public on Facebook – existed. I have dealt with the origins of our mandate earlier in this article.

Leonard Fleming immediately approached Cape Nature. They were perturbed and acted swiftly because they see the Society’s regulation of the number of anglers fishing this area as vital for its conservation and value its role in this regard.

The internecine warfare thus unleashed on our Facebook page prompted concerned fly fishers elsewhere in the country to ask why the Society was allowing the esteem in which we are held to be diminished in this way – an example of the reputational damage which we have suffered.

I was so worried that I called a special meeting of the committee but the attacks continued and it was remiss of us not to have acted sooner. A subsequent intemperate email attack on Bob Holden, the water bailiff at Lakenvlei and copied to his employer, the Hex River Irrigation Board saw the Board, in response, insisting that we start paying rent for the Lakenvlei hut at the rate of R500 a month. By now the Society has had to unnecessarily pay out some R12000 – and counting – which could have been spent on stocking the dam. We are just fortunate that the Hex River Board did not terminate our tenure at the dam altogether – something that could easily have happened.

Each of the above-mentioned committee members has sacrificed time and provided individual expertise to promote the common welfare of fly fishers and each of them has, undeservedly, been seared by this vendetta. In the process some of them have been sworn at, either verbally or in emails.

Fuelled by animus and devoid of grace and kindness, this vendetta against the Society, from within the Society, has betrayed trust and with that betrayal of trust has come concomitant damage to relationships. One expects members of a common-interest group to act in the interests of the group and not against the interests of the group. What was very revealing to me, as a journalist and someone linked to the Society for 37 years, is that when Dr Leonard Flemming went on to the Society Facebook page to announce that, finally, there had been a breakthrough in the Witte River impasse – see my article Trout and the Farmer on this website – and that, at last and after decades, one of the country’s finest trout streams might be restored to its former glory, he was immediately attacked on that Facebook page! He was attacked by someone who had never spoken a word or lifted a finger to counter the water plunder which had reduced the flow of the Witte River below the weir to a trickle. For me, that said it all.

In response to these attacks all the committee has done is to issue two warning letters despite the fact that the Society’s constitution makes provision for the expulsion of members who bring it into disrepute and that this has happened in the past. It has also revised its social media protocol.

Fortunately the vast majority of our members recognise this process for what it is and they are not buying into it or supporting it. Within a few hours of Louis de Jager announcing the yellowfish camping trip to Calitzdorp almost three dozen members had indicated that they wanted to participate. More than a hundred people attended the end of the year function and more than three dozen people are coming into the CBD at night to attend the Vice Squad evenings. I can thus say with absolute conviction that, in my experience, never has the Society been stronger, never has it done more for its members, never has it been in such a good state financially, and never has it been better led. It follows, therefore, that there has been no justification for the vendetta against its committee which has seen so many of its valued members either resign or step down as chairperson.

I would thus appeal to members to continue giving us your support and I can give you the assurance that your support is not only valued but it will be rewarded because there are some more exciting developments in the pipeline. If you have concerns, contact Louis or Tudor Caradoc-Davies and between the three of us we will attempt to allay or resolve concerns as quickly as possible.  The matter will also be placed on the agenda for the next committee meeting. I attend most committee meetings and this happens as a matter of course under ‘Correspondence’.

Gordon van der Spuy has, very much from the heart, written an article in this regard, ‘Community’, which was first published on the FOSAF website and will be published shortly in the  next issue of Piscator. I commend his sentiments.

Let me close, therefore, with a quote which I used on the back page of the 1999 issue of Piscator.

“I guess it is important to remember that intelligence, humanity, courtesy, skill and heart exist whether one carries bamboo or cutting edge graphite, and that the spirit with which we practice fly fishing means as much – even  more – than the tools we use. And that reminds me somehow of what Sir Walter Raleigh said as he was prepared for the axeman. Asked if he’d like the block to face the east, whence his soul would shortly travel, he replied in his last words: ‘What matter how the head sits, if the heart be right.’”

Nick Lyons, A Flyfisher’s World.

The heart of the Cape Piscatorial Society has never been stronger and it continues, now more than ever before, to work for the greater good and to the benefit of fly fishers. Please, therefore, let your future communication with and about the Society be characterised by the humanity and courtesy of which Lyons speaks, rather than venom, vindictiveness and the desire to humiliate and hurt.