Orange River – Boegoeberg and Groblershoop

Boegoeberg and Gorblershoop area – Easter Weekend 2013:

This trip was a spur of the moment knee jerk reaction to a phone call from Brian Nell who fishes the area fairly regularly. Long time bucket list item for me and Tinus and we decided to head to the land of raisins, dessert wine, crazy names and family bird nests, and hopefully, HUGE Largemouth Yellows!

We were graciously accommodated by Nico van Zyl on his farm about 15 km from Groblershoop and we decided to follow the camping route, next to the river which at first sight was stunning, with lovely rocky structures on our doorstep. No amenities and some free roaming “free range pigs” as company, what more can a man ask for!

Onder seekoeibaard

We arrived at about 10h00 am and hit the water at about 11am and decided to head upstream. It was evident that the flow on this river is very deceptive, it was moving at a steady 70 cumecs which on the Vaal, would have meant a disastrous fishing trip! We were still optimistic as the visibility was adequate to good and there was some fish movement. We managed four smallish Largies and a nice Smallmouth with Botox lips to die for. One Largie might just have pipped the 8 pound mark and we were quite positive about the next day’s prospects. Interesting aspect was that the Largies were not hugging the rocky structures but were mostly caught next to dense reed beds. That night it rained and it was clear that our weekend had coincided with a frontal system with a wet prognosis.

Botox Smallie

Botox Smallie


The next day followed the same pattern ,some small Largies next to dense reedbeds and a few Smallies off the ledges, again no Largies off the Ledges. Two nice Barbel also sent our hearts racing till we realised they were not big Largies but whiskered Highveld Steelheads instead!

Next day we headed to Boegoeberg dam from the famous ancient Afrikaans song “Boegoeberg se dam is n baie lekker dam” fame! The turnoff to the farm is marked “Onder -Seekoeibaard” roughly translated this means “under the beard of the Hippopotamus”? I told you, this place has some weird names!

The trip there was worth the effort, 4×4 country! Beautiful rocky terrain with Koedoe and even Boerbuck, gone wild and roaming the surrounding hills. Classic, semi dessert foliage with huge sand deposits next to the river.

Brians poor Toyota Hilux 4×4 had to endure the brunt of the abuse and after getting stuck in the loose sand we endured about half an hours digging and sweating before we were able to hit the water. We were on the river for two minutes when Tinus got a small Largie and I followed suit with another baby Largie which led to a huge spike in our anticipation. First big underwater structure we hit and I make a long cast which lands perfectly next to a protruding pinnacle, my line straightens as expected and I am into what I and everyone else believes to be a monster Orange river Largie, which unceremoniously strips line off my reel and takes me into my backing in a split second. After managing to coax the fish within 20 meters I however realise that I had hooked another Highveld Steelhead and I was despondent!

We failed to attract any Largies from the ledges and decided to head to the fast water below the Boegoeberg weir overflow which, by the way, is a spectacular construction of 900 meters in length spanning the river and built during the great depression. Tinus jumps out of the boat and slams two small heavily weighted Woolly Buggers down behind a big rock and is immediately into a feisty 8 pound Largie, beautiful fish which erupts out of the water and only succumbed after a spirited fight.

Tiens O

We land countless Smallies in the fast water, what a great stretch of river, unspoilt with fish galore.

Largies have big hearts

Largies have big hearts

Ominous clouds gathered while we were enjoying ourselves and instead of running for our lives we continue tempting fate by catching Smallie after Smallie, and then the storm hit. To say that this was a near death experience would be an understatement, we were electrified thrice while sitting in the water ,and when we took shelter under some reeds a lightning bolt hit a tree 100meters from us making it glow red for a second or two. To make matters worse it started hailing which made the ambient temperatures drop considerably! Fortunately we survived the incident and even managed to nail a few nice Smallmouths and a small Largemouth after the storm passed by.


The next day we fished the farm again and it was a repetition of the first two days, some small Largies this time on sinking lines but also a number of Smallmouths as we headed downriver and fished some fast pocket water and under the shoreline trees which produced some good fish.

That evening it rained non-stop and we decided to pack up in the incessant rain the next morning.

This was a great trip and I would love to return when this river flows at 40 cumecs! Thanks to Brian and the van Zyl family!


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