With all the planning completed a few weeks before the annual trip was to take place, there was not much to do but lie and think about all the things that were out of our control. Would the weather be favorable, would the rivers be running clean and so on and so on. With 2 weeks to go, it snowed to the point where the "Ol' Timers' up in the berg were saying "not since '62 have we seen snow like this". Of course the gear was unpacked and the snow gear (a fleece jersey here in SA) was added to the bag instead of just a long sleeved shirt. On Tuesday prior to departure I called one of the hotel proprietors up in Rhodes that I have met on occasion and the news he passed on was grim, "The rivers are unfishable and the weather is poor and going to stay that way...". However, there was no chance of cancelling, with hunting clients arriving at the beginning of September and my first child on the way in the middle of September, this was the last chance of getting away for myself this year. So when Thursday morning arrived, I began calling my fishing pal, Jakes, from about 10am on wards, "What time are you getting on the road" every hour, even though it was arranged for a 1 pm departure. The sun was burning hot at home and it was the perfect day here at the Hotfire Homestead, not a breath of wind. As Jakes arrived at my place to pick me up the banter began about the perfect fishing weather but in the backs of our minds we knew that the 300km to the chosen waters could bring about alot of change. The ride up was uneventful and as we got to the top of the Barkley pass and the sun was still shining and the wind was down, a feeling of relief passed over us. As we pulled into our cabin on "the secret dam", the stress from the past few months disappeared and the calm which a fishing adventure offers passed over me. We enjoyed a couple of whiskeys and a nice red with our BBQ and settled down for a night that seemed too long. Friday morning we awoke to bright sunshine and not a breath of wind, quickly packed our lunch and filled the hip flasks (Just in case it turned cold) and proceeded to fish in the dam. It took a while to figure the pattern out but once I figured it was a #16 PTN on floating line dead drift, it was fish on, I landed a lovely hen first and then alternated between cocks and hens. Jakes got stuck into 2 real beauties, a great cock fish and a monster hen. It was still water fishing at its best. Around lunch time it was decided it was time to get onto the river for some real fishing. To our amazement, the river was up but clean and the weather had held. We spent the afternoon working a section which I have fished a number of times and as we made our way to my favorite hole, we got stuck into a whole whack of good sized rainbows. Finally at 7pm we called it a day. Another night with a couple of whiskeys and then to bed. As the sun was about to peak its head out from behind the mountain the next morning, the wind began to stir the leaves on the trees and it blew with such ferocity that I was worried we might have a day of sitting inside. But being the addicted fisherman type, we decided we would work a section that is sheltered by some really high cliffs and steep banks, though we fished hard, the shelter was still not enough and we where forced to put some very inaccurate casts in. It was the first session I had ever had on the Sterkspruit where I was skunked and this only firmed my resolve to make the after lunch session a real success. So with this frame of mind we went back to my favourite hole and low and behold, it was the most sheltered spot on the river. We fished hard there and finally I was rewarded with two more above average wild trout and was happy to call it a day early as the wind had peaked with gusts upward of 90km per hour. After a lovely trout dinner it was a quick whiskey that put us to bed for the night. Sunday morning was as expected the perfect morning for fishing, clear skies, the wind was gone and the river had cleared up beautifully. The chap whose ground the river was on made mention of his secret spot and with out any hesitation we made our way there. It is a big pool with an inlet from another stream, I slowly made my way around the bank without getting my shadow anywhere near the water. Jakes decided it was going to be a one man spot and wondered off up stream. Unfortunately the sun was at such an acute angle that it would have to be a long cast. It took me a good fifteen minutes of reading the water till I had figured out where the cast would have to go. A shepards crook with a slight upsteam mend, out around 45 feet (not my favourite distance to be fishing at in a stream), as the ZAKS nymph, trailed by a tiny Pheasant Tail hit the water I knew the cast was spot on, it slowly drifted down past the undercut at the inlet and the tip of the flyline stopped dead, I lifted and knew that I was into a beauty, my 4 weight sage bent over and the g loomis real was singing as the fish dragged the line upstream as quick as lightning. Finally after what felt like an eternity I had a gorgeous 18 inch wild rainbow in my hand, the biggest the Sterkspruit had ever offered up to me. Now I was in a bit of a conundrum, my best sterk rainbow and no one around to snap a pic for me, I tried the old self pics but nothing came out clearly, I really didnt want this fish to ever have to lie on the ground so all I have is a memory, seems to be the way it is with all my lifes best Trophies. No proof that the fish ever got caught. After releasing her back into the water I felt completely satisfied and the next two fish I pulled out of the same spot, even though they were both 14 inches, just could not compare to the first fish and how perfect the whole experience had been.