With almost 3 000 kilometres of coastline and an abundance of rivers, streams, lakes and dams, fly-fishers are spoilt for choice. Here are some of our favourite spots to try.
1. Highlands Meander, Mpumalanga
Affectionately known as the country’s trout mecca by avid fly-fishers, this majestic stretch of the Mpumalanga Highlands has an abundance of unspoilt fishing waters and accommodation options to get you closer to your catch. Dullstroom is considered the must-fish location in the area, which was originally stocked from hatcheries in the Cape Winelands in 1916. These trout prefer the winter months and it’s best to take an array of gear, including two- and five-weight rods, sinking and floating line and an assortment of classic wet and dry flies.
2. Rhodes, Eastern Cape
In the southern part of the Drakensberg, the hamlet of Rhodes sits on the border with Lesotho and is surrounded by a wealth of trout-infested water. The scenery is magnificent; you’ll find yourself casting into bubbling streams with open fields on either side, or larger rivers lined with willow trees – it really is fly-fishing Utopia. If you’re going to take just one rod, make it a three-weight and load your reel with floating line. Smallto medium-size nymphs work best, fished with a strike indicator. www.rhodesvillage.co.za.
3. False Bay and Cape Point, Western Cape
To keep eager fly-fishers busy in the summer months the rich oceans off the Cape Peninsula offer some extreme fly-fishing opportunities. Leaving from Hout Bay and Simon’s Town, there are number of charter boats that will get you to feeding shoals of geelbek, yellowtail, snoek (although it’s more of a winter species) and yellowfin tuna. Taking any of these species on fly is a mind-blowing experience, but it’s the yellowfin tuna that’s most rewarding. Fighting this 50-kilo beast for three hours will leave you broken, yet satisfied.
4. Orange River, Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, Northern Cape
There’s nothing quite like standing waist deep in the warm waters of the powerful Orange River, the sun on your back, five-weight in hand, gently plopping a line of bead-head nymphs into your chosen rapid or eddy. Czech-line nymphing is an odd fly rig, but it works wonders on the small- and largemouth yellowfish of the Orange. With three riverfront campsites to choose from, some of the oldest mountains on the planet, a myriad birds, interesting insects and delicate succulents, catching a feisty yellow is really just a bonus. www. sanparks.org.
5. Streams of Du Toitskloof, Western Cape
Only an hour from Cape Town, the six streams which tumble down regal peaks through Du Toitskloof’s rugged valleys hold healthy rainbow and brown trout. Elandspad River is a favourite, but there are a number of beats to choose from on rivers which vary dramatically in size and flow. Don’t bother with anything heavier than a two-weight rod and floating line as this is a dry fly fanatic’s paradise. In an effort to conserve this biodiverse area, access is controlled by CapeNature and the Cape Piscatorial Society. www.piscator.co.za.
6. Jozini Dam, KwaZulu-Natal
Previously called Pongolapoort Dam, this spot has 27 species of fish on offer, but its drawcard is the ferocious tiger fish. Jozini is the continent’s southernmost dam for African tiger fish and populations have grown to the point where it is now one of the most popular fishing destinations in the country. Surrounded by bushveld and game, you’d be excused for thinking you’re on Lake Kariba or the Okavango Delta. Take a nineweight rod and an assortment of surface and deeper water flies. www.jozinidam.co.za.