The year has been a very active one for the club committee and there have been excellent returns over the last two months from all the dams.
The decision to open up three new dams has proved to be wise. George Smith’s and Table View have produced remarkable returns both in numbers caught and their size. These dams were stocked for the first time in August 2016 with a follow up the week of Christmas. They also had a boost this year in August with 20 kgs of yearlings each. Fish of 55cm have been caught in both dams recently. George’s also produced the first yellow fish of the year.
The Molteno dam was stocked at the same time as the other two with the addition of 4000 fry from Ventnor in November last year. We are looking forward to returns from that dam soon. In Feb this year the records indicate the same growth as George’s dam.
The Birds River complex has proved to be excellent as usual. All four dams have been full since March this year and have provided class fishing both in fighting spirit and size. Andrew Junior’s 3.8 kg hen from the bottom dam brought to light one of the Sandile fish four years down the line.
The committee had a hard working day clearing the dam wall of Quarry at both ends. The white stinkwood trees discovered in the thick bush were left to enhance the bank. It now looks very inviting and allows for some creative bank fishing. Special thanks to Charles who organised a team of chain saw cutters who did sterling work. We would have cleared far less without them.
Pine Grove has filled well with the 100mm last month and we expect more inflow with the current rain. The returns from there are also as good as ever. 20 kg of yearlings were added in August and these have proved to be good fighters alongside the trophy fish for which the dam is renowned. Snowdon Trophy and the small dam also were stocked in August with the same 20 kg. The trophy dam has also filled up quite a bit with the October rain.
The vision we have been working on as your committee has been to develop three nodes of dams for the club; The Indwe area with Pine Grove and George Smith’s dams; The Birds River and Snowdon dams; and the Molteno area. Charles and I looked at a new dam just 4kms out of Molteno on the Steynsberg road. This is a long established dam of some 2 hectares and would be a potential trophy dam. Never been stocked and accessible from the side as well as easy launching for float tubes. This would complete the Molteno group. Andre and I also looked at other dams in that area. However, we need to see some action on the dams if we are to continue to stock there.
Junior worked hard to get new signs for all the dams made up. We are grateful for sponsorship from Green’s Sawmills and Buffalo Spur which helped to cover most of the cost. Some of the signs still need to be put up and that is being followed up.
The present paid up membership is 85 which is an increase of 20 on last year’s numbers. We have new applications each month which is encouraging. It is healthy to have the steady influx of new members as the older section of the club sees departure due to infirmity and death.
Our club offers probably the best fishing in the country and not just the Eastern Cape. Hence the steady increase in numbers which is encouraged by the Facebook and Whatsapp pages. The gallery of fish caught is impressive and we own Junior a vote of thanks for all the work he puts into maintaining these windows on the club activities.
Queens College Junior is working with Darren Boucher. He has gathered a group of about ten enthusiastic youngsters who have had several outings to the Birds River dams. It is very encouraging to see the keenness of young people taking up our beloved craft of fly fishing. However they also need to catch some fish as most outings have drawn a blank!
Accommodation at or near by to dams. We have begun the process of creating a new accommodation section of the web site. There is a beautiful cottage at the water’s edge on George Smith’s dam ready for use. Linky Mortlock has opened Willow Farm on the way to Birds River to members which is very convenient. Snowdon has a small cottage available. And Pine Grove continues to offer excellent facilities for fly fishing with its own accommodation.
The club web site: This continues to be the main hub for communication for membership details and for information about our dams.
The site needs to be developed to show case the town and surrounds somewhat more. The sponsors of the Gathering for instance should be noted and acknowledged on the site. We are looking at a section of places at which to eat.
Emails: Otherwise emails are the most direct way of linking members. The number of apologies for this AGM illustrates this, as noted on the Attendance sheet.
Newsletter: These are produced as occasional round ups of our activities.
As always we need to express our gratitude as a club for the continued support of all our landowners and managers. It is a great partnership which has benefits on both sides. All our landowners and managers are a wonderful group of supportive people. They often go out of their way to assist members and visitors to give directions and permission to access their land to fish.
The new communication effected by Junior on a separate Whatsapp group with all the landowners has proved a very positive means of keeping all landowners up to date on who is fishing where and when, and has been embraced by all.In a world where ethics and morality seem to be eroded at every turn we decided that GPS details will not be published on the web site. These are available from the land owners when booking waters. If there is a problem then contact the Returns Officer.
Our Gatherings have developed into regular 2 day affairs with free fishing on the Sunday. The first evening Martin gave and excellent illustrated talk on the genetics of his thrift strain of fighting trout. All were encouraged to have the massive tails displayed in their photos of fish caught.
The Gathering was up this year to 20 entrants and we decided that we would use the Birds River dams for both days. The Juniors were sent to George’s Dam where they would be guaranteed good fishing. Some great fishing was enjoyed by all participants. However, the wisdom of stocking at the end of May 200 fish into each Birds River dams was born out by the fact only stockies were caught.
Martin Davies very generously took a group from Jburg to Thrift for Sunday. All caught large fish and one a personal best. They returned home very happy having experienced typical Eastern Cape hospitality.
Our sponsors for this year were Jacksons Delta and they were very generous in supplying a new banner and donating R 5000.00 towards the Gathering. Over the two days Rocco was in full attendance with an endless supply of biltong and dry wors and liquid refreshment.
The second day as is traditional, concluded at Aloe Grove for an excellent meal and prize giving. Our sponsors in the very tough economic climate came up stars and the prize table was a wonderful sight. Every entrant went home with a collection of prizes.
A very grateful vote of thanks to all the committee who shouldered all the work involved.
Then to our sponsors another vote of thanks for continued support and generosity.
Harvesting fish eggs
Due to Martin Davies leaving the Fisheries Department at Rhodes University the Hatchery has been under considerable strain with changes in staffing and other essential st6aff leaving. FOSAF Easter Cape has been working with the Department to try to ensure the hatchery continues to function for the benefit of the University and for the Eastern Cape fishing clubs.
Quite late in the day we were approached by the Chairman to ask if we would be prepared to harvest eggs for the hatchery on the basis of 42 cents an egg hatched and in return be able to collect the same value in fish. The idea seemed good and we agreed to have a go.
Well it was a learning curve of note. Pete Britz from Rhodes came to the Ed Clarks top dam to set nets and various members of the committee agreed to monitor the nets and to harvest eggs from hens caught. In the foulest of August weather both cold and extremely windy we checked nets and finally Charles and I were able to harvest eggs from two hens and fertilize them from milt form an 8 lb cock in full colour.n Those eggs went to the hatchery and grew well.
Then we decided to get other people together and try at Pine Grove and George’s dam. Lots of fish but all were past their prime as far as eggs are concerned.
The thoughts for next year are around an internal club competition with some good prizes and all fish caught kept on stringers or in keep nets for harvesting eggs. The time needs to be mid – July.
We are keen to keep this going to support the hatchery and get a good supply of eggs delivered so that other clubs can be supplied.
In the meantime Martin Davies has built up the Ventnor hatchery on Matthew Morgan’s farm in the Winterberg. We will be collecting fish from there for our main stocking this year.
Gathering 2018 5 – 7th July.
This will be a two day affair again. The amount of work involved in a one day and a two day event is very similar and with the distances people have to travel two days and even a third on the Sunday makes the event attractive.
We have secured a new main sponsor for the Gathering for next year from Joburg. More details will be available nearer the event.
To the club committee my thanks for a well-run year with new horizons established.
Reg Morgan, CHAIRMAN. 15th November 2017