Makhangoa Community Camp: Trek 1 2019

This week marked the first trek with guests to the higher section of the Bokong for the season. It would be the first time a lot of the fish have seen a fly in almost a year as we headed up higher than Brent and I did. We were lucky enough to be joined by some awesome guests, being the Macduff brothers and the Fitzsimmons twins. These gents have actually been on a trek before so they were very prepared, in terms of after fishing activities.

After packing 8 donkeys to the rafters, in order to accommodate all the necessary extras and a lot of beers, we were all set to head for our first campsite, Willow Bend.The campsite is about 14km up river, through a couple of very welcoming villages followed by unwelcoming hills. We dropped down from the N1 Donkey Trail to the river a few kilometers before and started hunting some Yellows on dry, similar to the lower beats, the parachute hoppers and the Balbyter were performing the best as there were a large amount of terrestrials around. We arrived to a beautifully set up campsite with the fire blazing and the sun setting. That evening Humus and I learnt a bit about what all the extras were. As suggested by Roger, every night all of them had to give a gift to the group. These gifts proved to be very creative as the trip went on and often became the highlight of the evening.  They ranged from a kite imitating a Lammergeier to recited fishing poems and even asorted G&Ts.

The next morning, we woke to a large amount of yellows cruising around the campsite and the lads couldn’t even wait for breakfast without getting a line wet first. After we dragged them off the water with the delicious smell of a fry up, it was time to start fishing up to the next campsite at Angel Falls. As expected, the higher we moved up, the less Yellows we saw but we were still getting shots and more importantly entering Brown territory so no one was concerned. Something we noticed early on, was that the Browns were often in groups of two and while targeting the one, another would spoke out of a hidden crevice. Due to the low water level, the Browns were really on edge so a stealthy approach was crucial. After a long day on the river it was decided that evening, that attaching the kite to the new 4 weight Echo River Glass and flying it around the amphitheater of Angel Falls would be a great idea, followed by an Afrika Burn inspired dress up and riding around on donkeys.

We spent two nights at Angel Falls as there was plenty good water around, it’s hard to find a reason to move. When we did decide to move up to Camp 360, we saw Browns left, right and center but unfortunately with a lot of gusty wind disturbing the casting, they had the better of us. However, we did arrive at one pool that was no bigger than 3m wide and 10m long but it held 3 beautiful Bokong Browns over 20 inches and the one was so hidden that only a tail could be spotted peering out from under the rock. Humus and I were spotting from a cliff above and after swinging a dry over with no response, we changed to a dropper. First well placed cast and we watched this fish drift out and inhale the fly but unfortunately with a ferocious head shake the fly was dislodged after a couple of seconds.

The team still was having some great fun with the Yellows on the fiberglass rod and it was amazing to see how high some of them had pushed up. After a night at camp 360, we had the chance to fish unique water for the first time in almost a year. This upper section resulted in two black eagles, a lot of Lammergeier and 20 plus big Browns being spotted, which is unheard of but even after spending an hour plus on some fish, we couldn’t get one to the net. This was only a minor detail for these gents as every new pool and bend takes your breath away, throw in some good food, great company and a lot of laughs and it turned out to be an unforgettable experience and it sounds like we will be accommodating these four on another Trek in the near future.

Until the next one,

James Martin

Video edit: James Kirsten