High on Fishing

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My little brother swamped by mayflies My little brother swamped by mayflies

A memorable trip fly fishing along the Dragon's Back (Drakensburg) in South Africa.

Highmoor - As the name suggests is high up in the Drakensberg mountains. The highest camping spot in KwaZulu-Natal actually.

For those of you that have had the pleasure of fly fishing in the Drakensberg – "the Dragon's back" – you will have heard stories of Highmoor. Of wild trout that will rip the rod out of your hands, snap your line in an instant and stories of the best catches of your life.

Me, myself....Well my story is one of these. Looking back now it seems like an amazing few days that I spent up at Highmoor, but I know I have forgotten most of the hardships. Hardships such as being wet and cold for 3 days, sleeping in what can only be described as a river in my tent. Getting up early and fishing all day without so much as a bite. At the time I must admit it wasn't a pleasant time at all. But I guess that is exactly what Highmoor is about. It's a tough place to stay and fish.

The campsite is literally in the clouds (as seen from Google maps www.whoppa.net/content/high-fishing-highmoor), so it's damp - always. It's cold, always. The dams, which are an hour's walk away, are big and unforgiving. There are no manicured banks. There are no jetties. The dams are as wild as the trout that they harbour. And these trout are wild!... wild, wise and beautiful.


My Grandfather used to tell me stories of how they used to organize what can only be described as hunting parties to go up to Highmoor and search for these magnificent beasts. During those days Highmoor was so remote that it was only accessible by 4x4 and the hardiest of people. To try put this into context, I have heard of stories of people losing their lives up there. If your waders filled with water or you got lost, during those times you were your own rescuer. Nowadays it's a little more civilized. You have a hot shower and ummmmm ........ well yes there's a hot shower. But on the other side of the coin there are reasons you go up there, and they are wonderful, amazing and out-of-this world reasons.

On the 4th day...the sun shone. After a 3-day initiation I was rewarded with one of my most exhilarating days fishing I have ever experienced. The sun came out and with the sun came mayflies. Millions of mayflies. Clouds so thick that they darkened the sky. Now being bullied out of your fishing spot by millions of lust-driven mayflies isn't a bad thing. You know once their song and dance is over it is time for yours. They lay there, dead bodies on the waters surface. And with this the water came alive. It was literally boiling. Boiling with a feeding frenzy. Trout where gobbling up mayflies in the hundreds. And with those mayflies... my own fly.

Now I must admit, compared to the other fishermen who obviously had seen this before and were prepared, I didn't catch a lot. But I did catch. My brother lost one of the biggest trout he says he's ever seen, when a take so hard snapped his line. I lost a beauty of a fish when it literally jumped over a metre of the bank where I had landed it, back into the water. Such is the nature of these trout. They are fighters, they are monsters, they are legends. So even though I didn't catch trout numbering in the double figures, the fact that I caught just one of these trout was humbling enough.

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dundee, winforton

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