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Lake Gubu - A Winter Visit

Updated on June 16, 2015
Pink and blue skies at sunset
Pink and blue skies at sunset | Source
The lake with Mount Gubu in the background
The lake with Mount Gubu in the background | Source
Another amazing sunset
Another amazing sunset | Source
Denham's Bustard - one of the largest birds in Southern Africa, a winter visitor
Denham's Bustard - one of the largest birds in Southern Africa, a winter visitor | Source
Young Jackal Buzzard catching the early morning sun
Young Jackal Buzzard catching the early morning sun | Source
Casting a fly-line in the evening
Casting a fly-line in the evening | Source
Another beautiful morning on Gubu
Another beautiful morning on Gubu | Source
Early morning fishermen try their luck
Early morning fishermen try their luck | Source
Patiently casting a fly-Warren and Miles
Patiently casting a fly-Warren and Miles | Source

Gubu is a beautiful Lake in the Eastern Cape

Lake Gubu –a winter visit.

It can only be described as a stunning evening at this 124ha lake in the Amatola Mountains near Stutterheim in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. The sunset is painting the sky over Mount Gubu a glorious pink and light blue. A group of Egyptian Geese honk their way across the water and the evening rise along the bank gently disturbs the mirror like surface of the clear winter water. I am tempted to have a cast to try to hook one of the feeding fish but I resist. It is too beautiful and peaceful a scene to destroy.

But then temptation overcomes me and I rush inside to fetch my camera and move to the water’s edge to capture the sunset. It is selfish to only record it in my mind. I leave the fish for tomorrow morning when I will attempt to catch one for my lunch. A fresh Rainbow Trout cooked over an open fire is one of those special delights to enjoy. Gubu does not however give up its treasure easily as we found out earlier when we fished seriously but with no luck. Warren and Miles twoa very talented fishermen who are also here for two nights believe that in the morning the pressure will rise and the fish will come on the bite. Warren gives us serious team talk that we need to catch some trout tomorrow as he will cook them for lunch if we do. Trout are very susceptible to pressure changes and he has checked the weather for tomorrow and it looks good.

Gubu is my little retreat from the daily hustle and bustle of life in East London. Often when I arrive here for a day or two there is no-one sharing the fly-fishing club house and so I have time to read my bible, write an article, do some birding, fish a little or just meditate in this beautiful world. On other occasions like today there are others who have also decided to do some fishing or simply some resting. Then I get to know some kindred souls or meet old friends to share the water with and debate world issues around the evening braai fire. Today it is meeting some new people who may become friends.

Thursday Morning. Again Lake Gubu is marvelous sight. The water is like a mirror and the early morning colors are a picture to be amazed at and enjoyed. It is cold here in the mountains and no-one seems to be in a hurry to venture out on the water. The resident African Fish Eagle calls its haunting call as it does its first flypast of the morning. Warren calls me to look at an Eagle in a nearby Blue-gum Tree and again I rush to get my camera as the young Jackal Buzzard is perched invitingly in the light of the sun that has recently risen in the East. It seems to be an immature bird and it is puffing up its feathers to enjoy the early morning rays.

Out on my little rowboat, predictions of better fishing proves to be true and I hook two “stokies”, fish that were released in the dam last year, now about 30 cm in length. They put up a good fight but I carefully release them back into the cold winter water and the escape back into the deep. Then I catch a keeper that will go towards the lunch table, a beautiful 40 cm. fish that puts up a great fight before he ends up in my landing net.

My bird list for the South African Birding Program is standing at 12 and with winter biting deep I know it is going to be low. Later I will do my customary drive around the dam to see what I can add. When the other boat returns after a few hours I am amazed and silently pleased to find that I have caught the most fish. A slightly larger one than my 40cm one is added to the lunch tally and there is no doubt that fresh fish cooked by someone who really knows what they are doing is going to be a treat indeed.

The new people that I have met on this trip have been a pleasure. After some interesting discussion on the difficulty of fishing at Gubu and the more pressing macro problems facing our country a brief casting clinic is conducted for the new learner fly-fisherman and woman. They make great progress and then it is time for lunch. There is no doubt that the fresh trout expertly cooked over an open fire are amazing. I make a careful mental note of how they are done and will remember to try it out in the future. Meanwhile a few more birds are added to the growing list.

Mount Gubu is apparently named after the Xhosa name for drum. According to local legend the early Sangomas (tribal healers) who climbed the mountain in search of herbs for their medicine beat drums as they went to scare off the Leopards that roamed the area.

It is sad to pack up and start the 120km trip back to East London. At the same time another visit to the great hide-away in the mountains of the Eastern Cape has proved to be just what I needed to restore my soul. The new people that I met are interesting and I will keep in contact. In reading one of the magazines in the clubhouse a comment written by a keen fly-fisher woman from Europe caught my eye. She said “I have never met a keen fly-fisherman/woman that I did not like”, I can only echo amen.


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    • Johan Smulders profile imageAUTHOR

      Johan Smulders 

      4 years ago from East London, South Africa

      Great place to spend time time your Boomer Lake.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Ah, a beautiful and wonderful respite. People also fish on my lake, too, and there are definitely some large ones here.


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