Fly Fishing Fresh Waters ...

The Rhodes, Barkly East area has superb fly fishing possibilities on approximately 150km of pristine mountain steams available to anglers.  Many of the rivers and streams originate 9000 – 10 000 ft above sea-level and can be described as pristine, freestone and rock-based highland streams.  Among the most popular are the Bell River, Kraai River, Bokspruit, Riflespruit, Sterkspruit, Kloppershoekspruit, Vloeikraalspruit and Langkloof River.

Freshwater trout

Wild River Trout

Trout in the upper reaches of these rivers eagerly rise to a variety of aquatic and terrestrial dry fly imitations.  These fish average between 9 – 14 inches and are awesome fun to target on a lighter 000-3 weight outfits.  The occasional 18 – 22 inch trout lurk in the clear pools of these upper reaches, requiring extreme stealth and a good guide to catch. 

In the middle to lower reaches of these rivers, trout often also average 9 – 14 inches but more experienced fly fishermen that understand the habits of larger fish often encounter specimens of 18 – 25 inches, and these can be considered trophy fish.  (The South African record wild rainbow trout of 10.2 lbs was taken from a river between Barkly East and Rhodes.)   The trout in the rivers around Rhodes were introduced over nine decades ago and feed and breed naturally in the river systems.   Rainbow and brown trout share these rivers with largemouth and smallmouth yellowfish, minnows, ‘klip’ barble and the occasional mudfish.

Fishing Rivers

Indigenous Largemouth and Smallmouth Yellowfish

From October to March an abundance of smallmouth yellowfish can be found in the lower reaches of these rivers.  These fish come up in the summer months into the tributaries of the Orange and Kraai Rivers for their annual summer spawning run.  The more common smallmouth yellowfish average between 1 ½  – 4 lbs with the occasional fish reaching 6+ lbs.  Sight fishing to these awesome, indigenous fish in clear mountain streams can make a fly fishing trip to Rhodes a memorable experience.

Indigenous Fish - yellowfish yellow fish fishing

The largemouth yellowfish are rare and elusive and extremely rewarding to catch.  Specimens that average 3 – 5 lbs are often caught on sections of the Kraai River and tales of monsters up to 30lbs have been told in local pubs and bars in the past. 

The smallmouth yellowfish regularly take selective dry flies off the water surface, but nymphing is still the most productive way to hook and catch them.  Early in the yellowfish run, shoals of moving fish 4 to 30 strong can often be heard or seen whilst crossing rapids from one pool to another. Recently dry fly fishing to the smallmouth yellows with sawfly adult larva patterns and beetles from December to March in these rivers has proven highly successful.

Trout in Lakes and Dams

The lakes in our area contain a very high PH level and biomass.  Both rainbow and brown trout can be caught on fly and trophy fish of 8 – 12 lbs are not uncommon and tend to be ferocious fighters.  Fish in the lakes and dams feed naturally and can be caught from the banks as well as from float tubes and kick boats.

Wild River trout Wild River trout

The dams, except for one or two larger ones, average between four and six hectares.  Prolific hatches of trico, buzzers and blue damsel occur in the summer months, which is when the waters come alive with rising trout at dawn and dusk.  Trout are stocked as fingerlings and fend for themselves naturally thereafter. 

The aesthetically beautiful mountainous region of Barkly East and Rhodes is distinguished by its most pristine, unspoilt, trout fishing areas in Africa.  Many anglers leave our area satisfied and vow to return to sample more of the seemingly endless fly fishing possibilities.