Stillwater fly-fishing for Yellowfish has grown in popularity and the most popular venue and probably rightfully so is Sterkfontein dam.I am however going to focus on two lesser known stillwaters that can provide some excellent action when the Vaal becomes unfishable or you just feel like a change of spice. First is Boskop dam which is fairly close to Gauteng and has quite a few spots open to the general public.
Boskop dam is situated on the left hand side of the Potchefstroom – Carletonville road (right hand side if you are coming from Gauteng via Carletonville) and stretches for approximately 5 kilometers. It lies some 15km from Potchefstroom and one reaches the wall by turning left just before the yacht club and the far side of the dam by turning left 5 km further on at the Rysmierbult sign and left again just after the bridge over the Mooi River which feeds it. This is a nature reserve and no domestic animals are allowed.
It is a dam with tremendous potential as a fly-fishing venue, offering superb sight fishing opportunities for exquisitely coloured and extremely powerful Smallmouth yellows. In addition it also offers the opportunity to fish for Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass as well as Barbel and monstrous Carp. In this article we will be dealing with the Small mouth yellowfish in particular.
This dam has been our backstop venue when the Vaal proves unfishable as it did for quite a few months in 2006 and often does in the rainy season. It provides any aspirant stillwater fly-fisher the opportunity to hone his sight fishing skills with dry fly and nymph in crystal clear water to sometimes finicky yellows of all sizes.
Getting to know this beautiful stretch of water takes some dedication and it is never an easy dam to fish. There are only a few spots with adequate elevation to make sight fishing from shore a feasible option and thick duckweed stretches from the shallows to a depth of 5 meters making shore angling a frustrating affair. You will thus require a boat or inflatable device to fish it effectively .Although a boat would be the best option due to the size of the impoundment, no petrol powered outboard motors are apparently allowed and this creates an additional problem as strong winds are often the exception rather than the rule. Electric motors do help a lot but do take a knife to cut the weed off the prop every few minutes.
The best areas to fish are the dam wall area as there is a lot of rock and building rubble which always attracts Yellows and Bass and big Barbel. Near the wall a steep koppie runs into the water to a depth of 6meters .There is also a submerged koppie in front of the spillway which rises to less than 2 meters below the surface in otherwise deep water. These spots also have less weed growth than the rest of the shoreline and some elevation which makes fishing from shore feasible .As the road to the dam wall is often locked it is advisable to launch at the private resort Naturama across from the dam wall.
Yellows also patrol the whole dam all along the weed beds and when there are black flying ants on the water they can be caught anywhere. The inflow area is also a favorite spot but it is very overgrown with reeds and most open spots are utilised by bait fisherman. When the dam level is very low this area becomes more river than dam with a good current providing good dead drift nymphing water similar to the Vaal River as well as dry fly fishing opportunities. At the time of writing the dam is fairly full and this makes a boat an absolute necessity to fish this water effectively.
The fish are quite prolific takers of the fly and will also rise to most well presented dry flies. They can be extremely tippet shy and it may be necessary to fish a tippet in the 5x range and quite often long leaders in the 12 to 18 foot length are the norm. This often results in break offs in the inflow area as there are a lot of snags such as reeds etc.
Although the options are probably limitless the following flies have been successful, Gold Rib Hare’s Ear Nymphs in sizes 14 and 16 as well as flashback Pheasant tails and Brown Marabou/Filoplume Nymphs. Damsel and Dragon fly imitations also prove extremely effective. Woolly Buggers in black and olive have also taken some fish with the bonus of the odd Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass also falling to them.
On the dry fly front they have been taken on Caribou spiders, Stimulators, Klinkhamers, Elk Hair Caddis and Foam Hoppers in Brown and Black. Black beetle and Ant patterns are also effective especially when black flying ants are on the wing. There is scope to hone one’s Midge fishing skills as there are periods in winter when they are clearly feeding on very small Midges and refuse all other offerings.
Smallmouths have been known to feed actively even in winter in the inflow area and a small nymph stripped slowly and intermittently on a floating or intermediate line has been successful. It is important to first find some activity such as porpoising or rising fish and to fish in those areas.
Another interesting fact is that I caught a single Largemouth yellow in this dam in 1993.It was swimming with a very large female fish but this is the only Largemouth I have ever heard of since. A mystery indeed, there was absolutely no question of mistaken identity.
The Smallmouths in this dam have the most beautiful coloration of any I have ever seen, and seem to have been dipped in molten gold. Landing one or many of theses beauties should be a challenging but extremely satisfying goal for any lover of yellows on the fly.
As with most freshwater environments in South Africa, Boskop’s fish are threatened by polluted water coming from the Mines in the Carletonville area. We hope that this real threat will be adequately dealt with.