Vanderkloof under threat

Just when the newly discovered largemouth yellowfish gem was made, Vanderkloof Dam, the existence of our largest freshwater sportfish, fondly called “largies” are now under threat in this dam. Largemouth yellowfish numbers has recently plummeted due to water pollution, overfishing and competition with alien fish species across it’s natural distribution range.

In Vanderkloof Dam, largemouths have found one of it’s last safe heavens. The reason being that fishing pressure is low in this rural area far away from all mayor centers, and fishing is done by conservation minded anglers that support catch and release principles. Good water quality and abundance of structure also helps with largemouth numbers.

According to Francois Fouche, secretariat of the Vanderkloof Angling Club, Rhodes University in co-operation with the Department of Agriculture has started with a study for the approval of “sustainable netting” of the fish in the dam. Mr. Fouche says that one of the main reasons given for the planned netting is the high numbers of smallmouth yellowfish, the cousin of the largemouth yellowfish also found in the dam.

Read more and sign the petition here:

Early winter fishing at Boskop dam

At the recent casting clinic Herman and I had a bit of a chat regarding the state of the Vaal and I just mentioned that I am very keen to see what happens on Boskop in the winter.

I’ve already made up my mind that this winter I want to visit Boskop regularly to see how the cold affect the fish and if they’ll still be willing to come to fly. Boskop is not a large dam, neither is it very deep with large parts of the dam under 5m in depth. So it will be interesting to see if we can get them in the shallows in winter.

Right there and then Herman suggested that we visit the dam the next week. So there we were, on the dam early Tuesday morning, at our usual spot, but nothing. There is not a fish to be seen anywhere.
After about 45 minutes of looking for fish we decided it was time to explore the dam a bit further.

We spend the next three hours exploring and finally found a little cove, totally secluded and only accessible by boat. This peeked our interest and we went investigating, and suddenly the fish were everywhere!
We immediately cast anchor and in no time our lines were in the water.

What a frustration! We can see the fish cruising, we are casting to these pieces of gold, but they showed no interest in us or our flies.
After lunch I launched the trusty old float tube to explore the weed beds while Herman continued fishing from the boat.

The fish held a set route, it seemed that they were cruising along the outer edges of the weed beds and then went straight down the middle of the cove in the clear open water, to, presumably, start on their route down the edges of the weed beds again.

Herman stayed close to the middle to try and ambush the fish as they came by in the open water, while I worked the weed beds.
After a while I spotted a nice piece of open water sheltered from the wind, made a cast… and the water exploded beneath the DDD! Fish on!
And the fish gave a very good account of itself, what a fight! Finally, a hard days fishing rewarded with one in the net. A quick picture and back we go for more.

Boskop gold!

Nice yellow caught from the tube.

Shortly after this Herman lost a fish that took a dropper on a dry-and-dropper rig and snapped the tippet, and then, just like that, it all went quiet.

Nothing, not a fish to be seen anywhere. We spend close to and hour still looking for the fish and gave up after a while heading back to where we launched.

The wind was pumping every now and then, and as we went back we found fish in the sheltered water, at one point spotting a school of fish we estimate to be close to a 100 strong.

It was difficult finding the fish, but we learned a lot and enjoyed the day on the water. If the weather permits we will visit Boskop again this winter.