By Brad Mclachlan
So what was a short and last minute planned trip ended up turning into a fishing trip myself, brother & two close mates will remember clearly for the rest of lives. With an unpredictable weather forecast for the weekend we were all left unsure what to do and where to fish!
Naturally a few beers into Friday night we all agreed to brave weather and not be fair weather fisherman. As a result we had a group of loud friends packing the bakkie just after midnight excited to hit the river.
So after a long drive down the Vaal and setting up camp, we all knew we were hitting prime waters and knew we were all in for some good fishing. It wasn’t long and everyone was on the Score board, and had been picking out good slabs of gold between dodging classic African thunderstorms.
My brother Keegan had pulled out some real trophy SM yellows and a new PB, plus I had picked up a Largie while nymphing through the day so there were already smiles of success all round.
With wild storms all around us we decided to go pack up camp and start coming to terms with heading back to the the City of Smog and plastic tumble weed. Two big storms had just missed us while packing, leaving us with tranquil and prefect looking river…
Deciding we had enough time for one last short session off the boats. We rowed out quietly where Steve and I dropped anchor in front of some deep riffles and agreed to fish up into the main channel with some basic indicator rigs.
Only a few casts in and on a decent long cast that indicator smoothly pulled under and natural reaction took over and I set! What followed was a bone chilling wake that shot off through the deep, already putting my poor 5wt under some serious strain and the feeling that I was possibly under gunned for whatever I had just hooked! The fish turned and came to the surface revealing a massive and distinct Dorsal fin. While I was still gasping at the sight I had Steve start screaming the words out right out of my mind… “It’s a Largie bro!!” A chilling realization followed by a massive swirl as this giant steamed up river while managing that classic panic with even weaker knees! The rush of pulling up anchor seems like an eternity while you have that fluorescent backing peeling off your reel… somehow we got it done and chased up river!
After getting my line back we were at loss for words at size of this fish… while tensions were high, net ready and my mate Steve stressing with net duty and really not wanting to mess this one up with this fish only being hooked with a #16 Caddis Pupa the pressure was on!
Netted successfully! This led to screams of pure joy and excitement between all of us on the water as we all knew this was a special catch and one that will remain fresh in my mind for the rest of my life. A few quick pics and safely released. A catch of a lifetime with waves of many emotions shared with my brother, Keegan and a few close mates. What a privilege! So cheers to the river where memories are made!