Fly Fishing in the Drakensberg

Fly-fishing opportunities in the Drakensberg continue to increase rapidly as is happening elsewhere in South Africa. Fly fishing has become so popular in the Drakensberg due to the abundance of excellent trout and bass fishing. The many crystal clear rivers and dams in the higher reaches are regular favourites with the serious and skilled fly-fishermen as well as the growing number of recently initiated fanatics who embrace this most challenging and personally satisfying of angling pursuits.

Brown and rainbow trout occur throughout the region. Most put up a good fight and all make a very tasty meal, grilled or fried.

Our list of fly fishing venues in the Drakensberg contain essential information on each fishery and contact numbers. Accommodation at all reserves and venues can booked through the Amakulu Central Reservations. An entrance fee is payable at all parks or reserves.

Trout reach good sizes in the cool mountain waters and well-stocked rivers, such as the Bushmans and Injasuti, and produce a breed with an impressive fighting spirit; and there are trout farms at Van Reenen. The host at your accommodation establishment will direct you to the ideal spots.

In addition to fly-fishing, bass and carp fishing is found throughout the region. Game lodges and dams near all the major centres present a number of great fishing experiences. Amongst these, Ntshingwayo Dam in the Chelmsford Nature Reserve is renowned for its carp and bass catches and holds regular fishing competitions.

Hattingspruit Dam near Dundee welcomes the fisherman intent on landing carp, bass or barbel and offers the additional bonus of being next door to a brewery!

Good trout fishing is found in the beautiful Normandien and Memel road areas west of Newcastle as well as in the streams and rivers around Greytown, where Lake Merthley is a popular spot with local fishermen.

One of the benefits of fishing in the Drakensberg region is that you are always assured of a magnificent country backdrop coupled with peace and tranquillity, no matter where you choose to make your cast. It's enough to tempt even the most jaded fisherman.

 

Fly Fishing venues in the Northern Drakensberg and Midlands

Royal Natal National Park

The park is situated about 46 km west of Bergville. It shares a common boundary with the Rugged Glen Nature Reserve. Two stocked dams are available for fly fishing - the scenic 2 hectare RNNP Dam and the 1 hectare Rugged Glen Dam -. No boats or float tubes are allowed on the dams. The Mahai River provides stream fishing. Day permits for the dams (limit two fish) and for the river (limit three fish). Kept fish may not be less than 200 millimetres.

Accommodation is available at the Tendele Hutted Camp, Royal Natal National Park Hotel and Royal Natal National Park Campsite. A picnic site in the vicinity of the dam and the Mahai River provides braai facilities for day visitors. For general enquiries and campsite bookings phone (036) 438-6303.

Cathedral Peak to Champagne Castle

The area about 30 km south-east of Royal Natal is drained by twou rivers - the Mlambonjwa and the Sterkspruit. The Mlambonjwa trverses forestry ground but is under control of the KZNNCS which has an office on site where day permits to fish the river may be purchased. For details cal (036) 488-1880.

The adjoining Sterkspruit Valley is probably the most popular tourist playground area in the Berg and is well provided with hotels and other accommodation. KZNNCS maintains an office and a public campground near or at the former Monk's Cowl Forestry Station. Fishing in the Sterkspruit is not particularly rewarding.

Injasuti

The next valley to the south is that of the eNjesuthi River which has several kilometres of trout fishing. There is a daily rod fee and the bag limit is two fish. The Injasuti hutted camp lies near the headwaters, in the northern part of the Giant's Castle Reserve. It has self-catering accommodation in sixteen fully equipped units and also in two eight-bedded dormitories. A campground with hot and cold- water ablution facilities can accommodate up to one hundred people. Call (036) 488-1050 for camp, caravan and cave reservations and fishing permits.

Giant's Castle

The pretty hutted camp nestles unobtrusively among indigenous trees and overlooks the Bushman's River, which can be fished for several kilometres within the reserve. The Bushman's is, of course, one of the three Natal rivers that were first stocked with brown trout in 1890. Now after 110 years the progeny of that original batch of five hundred fry are still providing anglers with lively sport. The daily rod fee is R30 and the limit two fish. The camp accommodates sixty-eight visitors in bungalows and selb-contained cottages. A luxurious lodge is also available. It is always necessary to book well in advace to obtain accommodation. For general camp matters and fishing phone (0363) 24718. 

De Hoek

In a secluded valley on Lammermoor farm, north of Mooi River, De Hoek has two rainbow-trout dams (one of which has a boat) and five bass dams. The house, a classical stone homestead built in 1885, has five double rooms and offers self-catering accommodation. For details and travel directions, call (033) 263-2549, (033)263-2557 or 083 309 2166.

Highlands Estates

The farm is situated 10 km north of Mooi River on the R103. It offers fishing on a 7hectare dam from the banks or from boats or float tubes. A selfcatering thatched cottage can accommodate four. For further information call (033) 263-2006 or 082 573 4350.

Killarney Country Lodge

This fishery is 17 km from Mooi River on the Giant's Castle road. It has a 2 hectare dam stocked with browns and rainbows. The thatched lodge cn sleep thee doubles but day fishing is also permitted. For full details call (033) 263-2510.

Broad Moor Trout Lodge

This country lodge, about 40 km west of Mooi River, has both a selfcatering cottage and a guest house where dinner and breakfast is served. The two dams of 35 and 7 hectares are stocked with rainbows and browns. Day fishing is permitted. For information, fishing fees and directions call (033) 263-2437 or e-mail: wozane@futurest.co.za.

Tierhoek Trout

Tierhoek has one large and three smaller dams of less than 1 hectare. It has day-fishing facilities and if you wish to overnight, there are three self-catering cottages. For information on fishing fees, accommodation and travel directions call (033) 263-2439 or email: tierhoek @futurenet.co.za.

Highmoor Dams

The Little Mooi River rises in the high wetlands of the Highmoor State Forest, a proclaimed wilderness area. The river has been dammed at an altitude of 2000 metres to create two still-waters - Salmo (6 hectares) and Kamloops (1 hectare). The fishing is highly rated and KZNNCS limits it to a maximum of 500 rod-days per year with no more than six anglers daily. Float tubes are permitted but, owing to the environmental sisitivity of the area, no cars may proceed beyond a designated area. This means that you will have to carry your tube and tackle for approximately 400 metres to Kamloops and double that distance to Salmo. The fishing season is closed from 1st June to 31st October each year. The latter date is somewhat flexible as it is determined by the breeding progress of the endangered wattled cranes which nest in the area. A second closure commences on 16th January and lasts until the end of February. It is advisable to phone beforehand to confirm all dates. A day permit costs R65 and the daily bag limit is two fish per angler with a minimum fork length of 400 millimetres. The only accommodation available is an essentially unimproved campsite. For information and bookings call (033) 263-7240.

Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse

This fishery on the Little Mooi River is just below Highmoor. In addition to its own section of stream it has access to other river beats as well as twenty dams. Lodging is in seven en-suite double rooms and two suites. For full information call (033) 263-7430.

Ratsey Farm

The Ratseys are about 13 km from Rosetta on the Kamberg road. They have three dams, one of which is a trophy dam. It is a day-ticket fishery but there is a self-catering cottage. For details of fees and directions call (033)263-7024.

Riverside

The 5 kilometre section of the Mooi River, between the two portions of Kamberg, is on the farm Riverside and it is open to the public. In addition to stream fishing, Riverside also has four dams ranging from 0,5 to 5 hectares in size. Accommodation is in two self-catering thatched cottages. For information and bookings phone (033) 263-7245.

Kamberg Nature Reserve

The Reserve straddles the upper Mooi River and is the most popular fly-fishing venue controlled be KZNNCS. The total length of river available to vicitors is approximately 13 km. Kamberg also has six dams ranging in size from 0,3 to 3,5 hectares. Boats or float tubes are not permitted. A day permit is R50 per angler is required. The daily bag limit is three fish of any size per angler on the dams and ten on the river. Accommodation in the main camp comprises five rest huts, a cottage and a fisherman chalet. All visitors must bring their own food and drink and share the communal lounge, ablution and kitchen blocks. Rustic accommodation for ten guests is available in the farmhouse on the Stillerust portion of the reserve. For further information call (033) 263-7251.

Watersong

This property, on the headwaters of the Nzinga River, borders the Mkhomazi Wilderness Area. Fishing is in five smallish dams covering 4 hectares in total. Day tickets are available. There are two self-catering cottages. For full details call (033) 263-6812

Rawdons Hotel

This well known country hotel is 4 kilometres south of Nottingham Road on the R103. It has seven dams with easy fishing for hotel guests right on its doorstep. There is also a small tackle shop.

Zuivergoud Farm

This day fishery is twenty minutes drive from Nottingham Road on district road D290. The 17,5 hectare dam holds rainbows and browns. For full details call (033) 263 - 6159

Bramleigh Farm

This day fishery is near Excelsior off the Loteni road. The 3,2 hectare dam is well managed and said to harbour trophy-sized trout. No accommodation is available

Drayton

This 6 hectare dam is not far from The Bend Country House in the Mooi River valley. It is a day ticket fishery, well known for its trophy fish. A new dam of 3 hectares is under construction. No accommodation is available.

Hemyock Farm

A large dam with good weed growth ensuvres that the brown trout achieve excellent size and condition. You may also fish the Mooi River. This is a day fishery it has no accommodation.

Oakbrook Farm

This dam, set deep in a valley, consistently produces trophy rainbows and browns. Fishing is challenging, due to an abundance of natural food sources in the dam. It is just off the Loteni road about 6 km from the Nottingham Road Police Station. This is a day fishery and there is no accommodation.

Rosetta Farm 

A very dood dam of 3 hectares and 3 km of the Mooi River are available to day fishers. A cottage close to the dam has been renovated recently. This is a working dairy farm close to Rosetta so please observe gate etiquette.

Spring Grove Farm

This trophy dam of 13 hectares is not far from the Nottingham Road Police Station off the Loteni road. Spring Grove is a day fishery and although there is a cottage at waters's edge, it may only be used for shelter, and not for accommodation . A guide is mandatory.

Stoneyridge

Stoneyridge is on the Bloukrans River in the Thukela Biospere 21 km from Colenso. This is a put and take fishery and you can only fish it during the winter months when the water is cold enough for trout to survive. Board and lodging is provided in a tented camp. For full information call (036) 354-9080.

Fly Fishing in the Southern Drakensberg

The Southern Drakensberg of KwaZulu-Natal affords a greater variety of fly fishing opportunities than any other district in South Africa for here flow the lyric Mzimkhulu, Pholela and Mkhomazi, the Ngwangwane and Ndawana, the Mzimkhulwana and Mkhomazana to mention but a few. Into this well-watered mountainland of towering peaks and tumbling rivers, are set the twin villages of Underberg and Himeville; long the hub of a trout-fishing mecca that extends from the Lotheni River in the north-east, to the Ndawana, and beyond, in the south-west . This is the district where, from rivers, wild-spawned fish of up to 4 kilograms are taken and, from the dams, fish of 5 kilograms. 

Fly fishing infrastructure ranges from the casual, such as at the large resorts where fly fishing is simply one of several recreational opportunities, to the dedicated and highly specialised establishments that provide fly fishing only. The spectrum of fly-fishing opportunities ranges from stew-pond put and take concerns that charge by the kilo, to those that harbour wild spawning self-sustaining trout population.

Copious accommodation and resort facilities are available, ranging from the hutted camps of the KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation Services (KZNNCS), to rustic farm cottages or to fancy resort hotels with their picturesque golf courses set in the foothill approaches to the mountain wilderness. Many farms in the district have visitor accommodation, with access to better than average fly fishing on rivers or dams or both.

The character of the contryside and fishing undergoes a great deal of seasonal change. During summer, with its afternung thundershowers, the fish are often most active at first light, though the larger, deeper lakes can fish well throughout the day. Dragonflies, caddis, trico and baetid mayflies, and many midge species are all common. In winter the nights are bitterly cold and the days bright and clear under brilliantly blue skies. Best fishing during this period is often at last light, when the water tends to bie at its warmest. Hatches are most likely to come off at dusk. Active foodforms are smaller than in summer - mostly baetid mayflies and microcaddis. In the gin-clear water, size 16 to 22 flies are often the only producers.

In the southern Drakensberg Kwazulu-Natal Nature Conservation Services (KZNNCS) controls access to the headwaters of the Lotheni, Mkhomazi, Pholela, Mzimkhulu, Mzimkhulwana and Ngangwane Rivers. The upper reaches of these streams lie within the Drakensberg Park, which stretches in an unbroken line for more than 200 kilometres along the Drakensberg Escarment. All have extensive stretches of gravel and enjoy prolific recruitment from spawning and, as may be expected, in these wild mile-high headwaters the trout are plentiful but generally small.

Loteni Nature Reserve

Situated on the Lotheni River about 15 Kilometres north-west of the Lotheni bridge on the road from Himeville to Nottingham Road. The Lotheni runs through the Reserve for about 8 km and carries brown trout. Da permits are available, but you can camp, or stay in one of many cottages. For more information contact the camp office at (033) 702-0540.

Vergelegen Nature Reserve

This reserve, on the headwaters of the Mkhomazi, is one of the most unspoiled wilderness areas within the Drakensberg Park. There are no facilities at all and although it is generally closed to the public, you may enter it by prior arrangement with the local ranger. The access from the main road is in poor condition and not suitable for passenger cars. This ensures that there is very little rod pressure, hence this section of the river may reward you with surprisingly large wild brown trout. For information and an update on road conditions call Cobham Forest Station at (033) 702-0831

Himeville Nature Reserve

This small reserve in Himeville has two dams which are regularly stocked with rainbow and brown trout by the Underberg - Himeville Trout Fishing Club. The leak in the bottom dam was mended and the dam produced some fine fish throughout the 1998 and 1999 seasons. The shallow and rather weedy top dam fishes well on a dry fly and has yielded catches in the 3 kilogram range. Boating is permitted and rowboats are available for hire. An entrance fee is payable at the gates which are open from 06:00 to 19:00. You can overnight in the campsite. For reservations phone (033) 702-1036 during office hours.

Underberg Himeville Trout Fishing Club

Wherever you might stay in the Southern Drakensberg, angling available through the Underberg Himeville Trout Fishing Club (UHTFC) is never far away. The club controls the fishing rights on 62 dams and approximately 160 kilometres of frontage on five rivers.

Visiting anglers may fish certain of the dams by prior arrangement. The UHTFC offices in the Unterberg Country Club are open from 08:00 to 10:00 daily throughout the year. The Club Manager, (033) 701-1042, can provide all the necessary information.

Giants Cup Wilderness Reserve

This reserve, a registered Site of Conservation Significance forms an enclave within the Drakensberg Park. It has a 25 hectare lake on the Mzimkhulwana River with a self-sustaining population of rainbow and brown trout. The lake has produced fish touching 5 kilograms. Accommodation is offered in two self-contained thatched units with a third under construction and schedulded for completion in January 2001. For reservations and travel directions contact (033) 701-1511.

Penwarn Country Lodge

This well appointed facility has a complex of nine dams (the largest covers 40 hectares) containing trout and bass, as well as access to 8 kilometres of frontage on two streams. It also offers other recreational facilities. You can stay in the main lodge or in self-catering cottages or log cabins. Penwarn is on the Bushmans Nek road. For bookings and directions call (033)701-1751 for details and directions.

Coleford Nature Reserve

Long a favourite family destination for trout fishermen, Coleford has reopened under new management and is now privately run. It is an ideal venue for Families and beginners. Besides five smallish dams, that are easy to reach and fish, Coleford has a prime stretch on the confluence of the Ngangwane and Ndawana rivers. Call (033) 701-1982 for information on fishing and accommodation. 

Trout fishing Information:

For trout fishing and general information about fly fishing contact Amakhulu Central reservations or Underberg Himeville Trout Fishing Club on (033) 701-1041, 08:00 to 10:00.

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