Smallmouths on the Rietrivier

Fishing on the Rietrivier can either be exhilarating or infuriating.  The two times I have been there, the water was crystal clear and you could see Yellowfish swimming around and feeding all around the rapids. This can be great – if you manage to catch any of them.

But more often than not its infuriating as you can see the fish refusing whatever you throw at them while you cycle through every pattern in your box.  The first time I was there it was bordering more on the infuriating with me catching just 3 smallish Smallmouths in two days.
At that stage I have only really fished for Smallmouths in the Vaal and stealthy approaches and hiding behind structure was not really high on my priority list. Our visit earlier the year to Luneberg with the club made me appreciate the value of staying out of sight with fish in clear water.  With my second visit to the Rietrivier I wanted to explore and experiment as much as possible and booked a stay of 5 days (actually my wife booked it for us as a birthday present to me).
This strategy paid off and I was rewarded with probably the best small-mouth fishing I have ever experienced.
In several of the locations on the Rietrivier I could stand a few meters from the bank just out of sight of the Yellowfish and see small schools of them cruising and feeding with a really large fish interspersed every so often. The clear water and beautiful surroundings in a national park is really something special.
On my third day I got a spot and method that worked really well and caught 10 good Smallmouths in less than an hour. This was also an opportunity to introduce my wife to Yellowfish fishing on fly and she caught her first yellow on her second cast with a GRHE – some people just have all the luck.

2Kg Yellowfish

The yellows in the Rietrivier have a beautiful deeper yellow colour than what I’m used to in the Vaal.

Flyrod bender

This is the largest yellow for the trip, 2kg on the dot and quite a handful to get out of the rapids. There were much larger fish cruising there so I can’t wait to go back.

Is there anything nicer than having a Yellowfish bend your fly rod in such a beautiful environment?


My wife’s first yellow on fly – quite a decent sized fish.


 Getting distracted by Smallmouths in a pristine rapid while I should be targeting Largemouths .

We tried a bit of Largemouth fishing with the ark but I got distracted by another pristine rapid where I saw loads of Smallmouth feeding. In the end we probably only fished for an hour for Largemouths and caught nothing. But the structure and river looks good for them – I’m sure you will find them if you are prepared to put in the time and effort.

My wife with her first barbel on fly

Our final day on the water arrived far to quickly, and the Mudfish started spawning due to the rain – this made the fishing difficult as the yellows and barbel were nearly all focusing on eating the eggs in the shallows. Brilliant for watching fish (I saw barbel with their whole body out of the water in the shallows going after the eggs) but not so good when you want to fish and avoid spawning beds. I managed a last couple of yellows and my wife caught a nice barbel in the rapids on a Hotspot PTN.

– Tiaan Dercksen