Natal Scalies On The Umkomaas

With Leo heading for the UK we decided to do one last outing with the fly sticks prior to his departure. Our chosen quarry was the Natal Yellowfish, aka the scaly, on the Umkomaas River just outside of Richmond.

We had a great turnout with 6 of us making our way to Hella Hella via the mandatory coffee stop. Although I’d fished the Umkomaas on multiple occasions it was the first time I’d been to this particular stretch, and I was suitably impressed. Hella Hella boasts a beautiful section of river, nestled under looming cliffs and running through thick indigenous forest (complete with far too many thorns).

The conditions were good, although not perfect. It was perhaps a little chilly with the air temperature measuring 12 degrees on arrival. I unfortunately didn’t measure the water temperature but it was definitely colder than I would have liked. The river was crystal clear with a lot of algae growth on the rocks, making the river extremely slippery, especially as the day wore on and we all got a little tired.

I was the first to take a fall just minutes after stepping into the river. Thankfully it wasn’t too bad a fall as I landed on dry rocks, meaning I wasn’t cold and wet for the remainder of the day. Some of the others were less lucky and by the time we left that evening everyone had taken at least one fall, normally into the drink. Amy’s hip waders served more use a canteens as they spent half of the day full of water. And Leo took out his frustrations at a slow start by head-butting a rock in a rather manly fashion (well that’s his story).

Warren Prior with a Natal scaly on the Umkomaas
Warren Prior with a Natal scaly on the Umkomaas

Fishing was initially tough (although Keegan did pick up a small scaly on his first cast) as we tried to locate the fish. Being winter they had not yet moved into the rapids and we were forced to nymph the deeper, slower sections in search of fish. As we perfected this approach we started picking up fish frequently and probably landed between 30 and 40 fish throughout the day.

All fish were picked up on nymphs, with black and purple being the colours of the day. Keegan probably picked up the most on a 3 nymph rig fishing mainly Czech style. I fished a New Zealand setup and bounced between using and not using an indicator (although I must admit that more fish were produced without an indicator).

We finally left the river at close to 5pm, wet and exhausted. Despite the cold weather it was a great day out and we managed a few decent fish among the rats and mice.

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