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Old 01-27-2007, 01:33 AM
chris williams chris williams is offline
Registered User
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: gauteng south africa
Posts: 9
Dear Juro

Thanks your kind message.

To give you a brief synopsis of the wonderful and varied flyfishing we have here.

It really kicked off in the late 1800's with the British soldiers bringing their gear over and hankering after a bit of fishing like 'at home', and trout being introduced in the Cape and Natal. I believe only the Atlas Mountains in North Africa have indigenous African trout. The Western Cape (around Cape Town) is home to loads of wild streams, pretty acidic so the trout ('bows and brown) aren't huge, but generally as the waters are so clear it really calls for ultra-light tackle and a stealthy approach. This really is rugged fishing. Then the eastern backbone of South Africa is the mighty and impressive Drakensberg mountain range, with the myriad beautiful rivers and streams being born here. This range stretches from the Eastern Cape upto KwaZulu Natal, parts of the Free State and Mpumalanga. No doubt Multimap will assist you on these names/places!!! The rivers vary greatly between mountain brooks to mighty wide rivers like the Umzimkulu. In KZN and Mpumalanga, the water is less acidic so there is more plentiful aquatic life than say in the Western Cape. There are also some great artificial impoundments here with 'bows upto around 18 lb being caught recently. The one area nicknamed the Trout Triangle in Mpumalanga reminds many of fishing the Scottish Highlands. The few 'stew ponds' there attract the yuppie brigade who want to be seen with all the right clothing and gear rather than using it, but mostly you can fish real waters without seeing anyone else all day.

There are quite a few smallmouth bass in the Western Cape rivers, these however are competing and winning over various indigenous species there, so that is a problem to be solved. Many farm lakes or dams as we call them, have largemouth bass which provide sport for many with otherwise no access to fishing. I also enjoy flyfishing for carp and catfish (confusingly called barbel here). I catch monsters in my local stream and dam at sunset using a saltwater outfit and 3/0 black Zonkers whilst wading. Freshwater equivalent of "Jaws' waiting to happen!

The famous Tiger fish are found in our north/east sub-tropical belt. They're a story in their own right, suffice to say unless your flies are on the best ultra-sharp hooks, using wire instead of tying thread and a simple synthetic hair streamer body, you won't see it after the first fish! We generally use some of the new non-steel teeth/abrasion resistant 4'' traces instead of the old wire ones, and get a lot more strike-ups.

Perhaps the greatest freshwater revolution in our country has been the populist trend to fishing for our indigenous yellowfish. These are truly magnificent fish. There are over half a dozen species, several endangered. The fish closely resemble the English barbel, i.e. like a streamlined carp but with a helluva load of sleek muscle and incredible power - like a golden freshwater bonefish. They knock spots off trout for fighting qualities, no pun intended and no offence to trout whom I also dearly love! There are two main types and ways of fishing for them. The biggest is the largemouth. They are generally found in the lower deeper reaches of the Vaal-Orange river system. Fishing for them is generally with heavier tackle with baitfish or similar style imitations. Most of the other species including the most popularly-angled-for smallmouth, have underslung mouths, rather like the English barbel and European grayling. From this you can deduce they feed mainly at on close to the bottom, but they do come up to rises, especially evening caddis. Fishing for smallmouth yellowfish one really needs to 'match the hatch'. Most flyfishers simply put on any ol' caddis pupa without too much thought. We have the hydropsyche species - OK you and we all know what they looks like and how to fish it in various stages. Then we have what locals call a 'green rockworm'. Most happily go imitating your Rhyacophila pupa which look like green soccer balls glued together, thinking our 'green rockworm' is the same as yours. We don't in fact have the Rhyacophila family at all in South Africa, - our green caddis larvae are the Macrostemum Capense Signatum - thinner, streamlined and with blotches of brown above the lighter green body. I'm busy conducting a study on these things - must catch a real life sometime! In shorthand this species is only found in the Orange-Vaal river system worldwide. The only other similar species is in Central Africa. The reason I bore you with all this is that I tie Czech nymphs to specifically imitate our dudes and get a lot more fish than if using an erroneous non-matching-hatch American Rhyaco green rockworm imitation.
Czech nymphing works wonders on these fish but our rivers are generally rock-strewn so careful wading is required. I usually use a 10' 5wt T and T specially made up with the usual three fly Czech system and a 20/25cm length of greased 30lb fluo braided backing i.l.o. a strike indicator, latter making too much 'plop' and uncomfortable to cast. I also use subdued-coloured floating line and devarnished rods with as little flash and bling on my person as possible. No blue shirts - blackfly (Simulidae) go for this for whatever reason. Yellowfishing is easily accessible to all in the Johannesburg area, the usual first port of call for overseas visitors, hence why I go into a bit of detail on this.

Freshwater aquatic life - depending on the area, mayflies mostly Beatidae, dragons/damsels, caddis, midges, blackfly, stonefly in more remote areas, terrestials (e.g. ants, bettles, hoppers) - these especially important in acidic waters like in Western Cape where other insect life sporadic.

Saltwater - South Africa is at the divide of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans so we have a diverse fish life. Similar to Florida Keys where you have the meeting of two water types/temperatures? The colder Atlantic west coast hosts a variety of fish and shore-based anglers can catch huge 'elf' (bluefish) in season. Offshore there are yellowfin and the like. Moving up the coast leerfish, springer can all be caught on poppers and surfacy baitfish imitations. Smaller bluefish (called 'shad' on the East coast) are great fun in season off the shore, where in the warmer waters pompano, grunter, kingfish and the like can provide great sport off the beaches. At sea, barracuda, dorado, kingfish, queenfish, various tuna, sailfish and the odd marlin can all be caught. All your usual Clousers, Lefties, surface poppers will all work.

If any of you are coming over to our wonderful country for a visit, feel free to drop me a line and I'd be happy to advise in further detail of fishing prospects in the area you're planning to visit, and maybe hopefully be able to give you a few useful contacts or even join you myself for a bit of a fish and a yarn or two!
I'm also president of our local flyfishing club so anyone's welcome to visit - warning, the members tend to talk too much and it makes for thirsty work listening to them! We are also trying to do our little bit to developing the sport amongst youngsters, and to training guides in the wilder areas and to educate and promote our great sport and environment for all.

Outside of the sub-tropic areas, most of South Africa is malaria-free, but sun-block is a 'must' and I'd recommend citronella-based anti-mossie stuff to keep you calm and collected in the evenings.

Hope above of some use and look forward to hearing of the f'fishing in your area?

Chris Williams,
Stithians Flyfishers,
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