TO THE SOUTHERN AFRICAN TROUT AND FLYFISHING DIRECTORY
BUSINESS DAY FLYFISHING COLUMN - Lake
Nasser and Nile Perch
Enchanting how peach blossoms
just appear isnt it? One minute bare boughs hold one in
Winter's grip and the next moment fragile pink bursts through.
Reminds me of one of my most memorable flyfishing trips over this
past few months. Not that there was any great flourish of Springtime,
but rather a lack of vegetation as a whole. Not a tree, not a
branch, nor even, if I come to think of it, a blade of grass.
But then, thats Egypts Lake Nasser for most of the
Its been my privilege to
visit many intriguing fly fishing waters over the last thirty
years (Have three decades really gone so quickly?). The vast majority
of these venues could have been described in varying shades of
wondrous green, but the gargantuan Lake Nasser which backs up
the mighty Nile river through a fair proportion of Egypt and down
into the Sudan, has no vestige of even drab olive in its makeup.
It is a vast ocean of clear water bordered by the great Sahara
. And as most deserts are inclined, it is bound together
by an impressive quantity of rock and sand.
Clear water in abundance is one
thing, but what makes it especially attractive to a flyfisher
is not the mere fact that Nasser holds Nile Perch (Lates niloticus)
in weights approaching 400 lbs., but that its topography lends
itself to the effective presentation of a fly.
Excessive depth is usually the
flyrodders bugbear in Nile perching, but while Nasser has
its bottomless pits, it has also sprawled itself across what once
was called Nubia and so reveals countless islands and lonely outcrops
which dot the horizon. These islands are natural homing areas
for the perch, which, by the way, resemble a monster black bass
and which share some of the ambushing tendencies of Micropterus.
Which means that they enjoy flitting in and out and over and under,
the submerged rocks lapping your very feet.
Which also means
that they are eminently within range of a reasonable caster and
indeed, there are times when one can be faulted for trying to
despatch a cast too far. Rather take the time to stalk, even though
the perch may not always be visible (though often they are in
plain view) than stand and deliver into the yonder.
Such a close range invitation
once extended is not easily forgotten. So often the fly launched
some fifteen metres out is drawn back, invariably up past the
fringe boulders. Every now and again, if you cast a leery gaze
behind your offering, you may find the pulse tracking a touch
faster than the perch eyeing your Clouser.
If you can slow the beating heart
and continue a sink-and-draw action, there is every possibility
of an acceptance. But the perch is deceptive, for it never moves
beyond a leisurely glide. No lightning acceleration, but the bulk
simply slides forward and inhales the about-to-be-withdrawn fly.
It all happens before your eyes and if you ever had trouble chanting
"Nkosi Sikele iAfrica" to a dry fly-supping trout, then
the perch will test your patience even more considerably. Let
him turn over on it...then tighten on him.
And what size are these fish,
you may be wondering? The first that sailed graciously up from
the depths to drag the fly back down weighed around 12 lb. A mere
babe, granted, but I settled for that quite amenably. Thereafter
they improved in weights to between 20 - 30 lbs successfully landed.
And the sight of even one of those wallowing on the surface waiting
for an opportunity to shake its head on a lunge, is a vision not
to be easily erased from the memory banks.
To some degree we were a pioneering
group. Not the first at Nasser, but more than likely the second
and while we would have greatfully accepted more of the 10lb+
fish with a sprinkling of curious 40 - 50 lbers thrown in, I believe
those will come with advances in technique. Certainly we came
within an eyeball of such specimens. Heavy grey-silver fish that
nudged the fly, but then turned and fled when something alarmed
We elected to hunt them with
convenience rather than muscle. A 10/11 weight with some backbone
worked more than admirably, though a fish that plumbs for the
structure after being hooked, always has a chance of scouring
the leader and your flyline against the rock face before departing.
Yet its exhilarating angling.
Hard work at times, until one becomes accustomed to bunny jumping
from rock to rock under a debilitating sun. Dont think that
just sunblock and drinking water will save you - take along some
rehydration sachets. Remarkable how much better you feel and how
the headache disappears - a worthwhile tip to remember when you
play your first Nile perch.
Flyfishing in the middle of a
desert; sleeping under the light of a full moon and being reminded
of a civilization that once was. Who could ask for more?