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Thread: lesotho escarpment hiking

  1. #11
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    try now
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  2. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by WazzyP View Post
    Hey Firephish...

    I tried to respond to your PM but it says you've run out of space. You might want to clean some up.

    Cheers,
    Warren
    Tag along on this one, it's about time you and I get to fish together.

  3. #13
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    So, a few of us did this trip over the September long weekend. I always appreciate it when people provide feedback on places i'm interested in, so i figured i would return the favour and write up a decent report for those that expressed interest.

    This trip was a bit of a recce to check out the fishing potential on the headwaters of the Senqu River in Lesotho. As such, it was more about exploring than fishing, although fishing tackle was lugged up the pass into lesotho and some fishing done. This was by far both the most frustrating and satisfying fishing experience i have ever experienced ... but more on that later.

    Finding people to actually do this with me was a challenge as it turns out fly-fishers are soft and not too keen to peek out from behind their keyboards (your know who you are :P ) However, eventually i manged to connect with some hardcore crazy's. We packed our rucksacks jumped into the car and headed down to Mnweni Cultural Centre on Friday. The drive was uneventful until my turbo packed-up 40 ks outside Harrismith, after consulting Audi on the phone it was decided to carry on at a reduced speed (50km/h) ... the trip back would be fun!

    We arrived at Mnweni at around 17h30, just as the sun was setting, i would describe the accommodation here as basic but comfortable. The sight of the mountains quickly put the stress of car troubles out of my mind:



    After a comfortable night's sleep we woke at 05h00 to ascend rockeries pass into lesotho. The pass is a good 14 km hike form Mnweni, but we managed to get a lift for the first 5kms. Never-the-less, its a long walk and you are confromted with this sight as you approach the main escarpment:



    Soon after stopping for breakfast the mist rolled in and we began our ascent with almost no visibility. This was pretty disorientating as we continued trudging on and on in the wet silence. I can't really begin to describe how tough this ascent is, although i prepared my fitness was no where near adequate. It eventually took us 8 hours to make the top and even then we where not sure we where at the top because we could see feck all in the mist. Luckily, the mist lifted briefly and we saw a great wetland, out of which the Senqu tricked (barely). Afer following the river for a couple of kilometers it started to look more promising:



    As we where contemplating how far further to hike the mist started to roll in again and we decide to setup camp where we where. After a good nights sleep i awoke feeling fecking cold and could not open the zip of my tent ... it was frozen solid. Following a delicate melting operation i opened the tent and found it had snowed over night:



    It was deathly cold, i had a serious sense of humour failure until the coffee had boiled:



    Once our fingers had thawed out a bit we explored the winter wonderland, it was truly beautiful:





    more to follow ...
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  4. #14
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    thanks, waiting for the rest.
    Korrie Broos

    Don't go knocking on Death's door, ring the bell and run like hell. He hates it. (anon)
    Nymphing, adds depth to your fly fishing.
    Nymphing, is fly fishing in another dimension

  5. #15
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    Thanks for posting Michael, looking forward to the rest. Still bummed I had to drop out of this one. I guess I must be soft and not too keen to peek out from behind my keyboard
    Andrew Schlosser

    I started out with nothin' and I still got most of it left - Seasick Steve

  6. #16
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    Thanks for sharing! Loving the photos

    I remember a Vaal Ribbok hunting trip in Rhodes a few years ago during the winter months; found a new respect for the mountains! I don’t think I would even consider doing a trip like you guys did. My asthma combined with the thin air doesn't really go well together
    Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience - "Ralph Waldo Emerson"
    www.flyordie.co.za

  7. #17
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    hehe, just pulling your leg ... no doubt you're hard enough to handle some hills

    Quote Originally Posted by schloshd1 View Post
    Thanks for posting Michael, looking forward to the rest. Still bummed I had to drop out of this one. I guess I must be soft and not too keen to peek out from behind my keyboard
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  8. #18
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    Thankfully, as the sun rose, the snow melted off pretty quickly. By 10h00 it was all gone, we packed up and continued down the Senqu valley. The plan was to hike until lunch (covering about 8-10 km's), then cut into the gorge and explore for fishable water. At about the 6km mark it became apparent that the Senqu was desperately low and that none of the tributaries we passed were adding much water. This pick was taken from high up on a ridge and i was pretty skeptical about finding any trout at all:



    But as we droppped down it became apparent that even though there was only a small tricke between the pools, the pools where pretty big and had some depth:



    Not to mentioned the clarity of gin:



    Once in the gorge, it was a matter of playing spot-the-trout (pretty easy because some of these fish are easily over 20 inches ):



    Some more:



    and more:



    Soon we tired of spot-the-trout (too easy there are hundreds of trout averaging good size) and moved on to catch-the-trout - that's when things got interesting (or should i say frustrating).

    This water is gin clear, there is no flow in the pools ... so the trout cruise around. The water is generally shallow, so the trout are super spooky. The first couple of pools i approached the trout spooked at between 15 and 20 meters away! Once spooked it is game over and you don't see the fish again for an hour.

    So i leopard crawled up to the next pool with a couple of big fish cruising, hid behind a rock and made a false caste off to the side before putting out the cast. The line unfolded beautifully with the 5x tippet settling the fly gently about 3 foot in front of the leading fish. Perfect Presentation! The fish scattered ...

    This process repeated at a couple of pools, frustration levels grew, i began to doubt myself ... i have done this before right? I dropped down to 7x tippet.

    The next pool, same process as above, fly settled perfectly ... a good fish tuned and took it! as it turned i firmed up on the rod letting the rod flex set the hook ... pop ... tippet snapped. some choice words where said. I went back to 5x ...

    Damn these fish are tricky, late in the day i hit on the realization that using a "spotter" in these conditions is mandatory not optional ... i roped in my (non fishing) companion. At the next pool he climbed up the to the top of the ridge and directed me to leopard crawl towards a strategic boulder as the fish where cruising up the other end. As they returned he called out good fish right left quadrant ... i put our the cast ... fly landed perfectly and fish turned and smacked it ... fish on and a good bend in the rod. I played it carefully for a minute or two and brought it to the side ... a beautiful cock of around 16 inches .. finally a fish! At this point i looked for my net ... forgetting i decided not to lug it up to lesotho! No problem, i can handle fish. I we my had and slid it under the fish ... got him! I put down the rod and reached for the camera, fish flicks his tail ... splash ... gone ... feck. But i watched it dive under a rock in shalllow water. I am getting a pic no matter what. I had the camera to my buddy and dive in. I reach under the rock, feel the fish. Got him ... again. Lift him up for the shot ... buddy hits the power button and turns the camera off ... no problem i hold the fish back under the water while explaining to him how to use the camera. Think he's got it ... fish flicks its tail again ... gone ... sigh .. no fish porn for you guys.

    So in summary, i fished for about 3 hours with the following results:

    Number of fish spooked while approching water: 30 odd
    Number of fish spooked when fly landed on the water:15 odd
    Number of takes: 2
    Fish landed: 1 (i'm counting that one damn it ...)

    It had been a long hard and frustrating day. Would i do it again? Anytime.

    We found a nice spot to camp and setup for the night. What a privilege to be in this space:

    Last edited by firephish; 26-09-13 at 03:39 PM.
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  9. #19
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    Awesome trip, waiting for episode 3.
    Serious clear water.
    Korrie Broos

    Don't go knocking on Death's door, ring the bell and run like hell. He hates it. (anon)
    Nymphing, adds depth to your fly fishing.
    Nymphing, is fly fishing in another dimension

  10. #20
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    Great stuff! It's always tough when the water is so low. I reckon a return trip when the river is flowing nicely will get you into plenty of fish.

    Your trip is a reminder to me to get out and do those backcountry trips on my bucket list, while I still can.
    Life is a series of trout missions with that numbing feeling in between...

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