Trout fishing is a major pass time in South Africa. Due to the abundance of food in our waterways, the fish reach astonishing sizes, luring both local and outside fisherman. However, avoid searching for them in large rivers; instead, look for them in mountain streams and still water places.
Two Trout species are found in South Africa; the Brown trout which are indigenous to Europe and North Africa and North American’s Rainbow trout. Both species can be found in certain streams, rivers and dams in mountainous parts of South Africa, such as in the provinces of Mpumalanga, Free State, KwaZulu Natal, Western Cape, and Eastern Cape.
Rainbows in South Africa eat mayflies, caddisflies, midges, dragonflies, damselflies, ants, beetles, and grasshoppers. Menu items include snails and crustaceans like daphnia. Minnows are mostly collected in October, and crabs and frogs offer local spice.
Rainbows feed and hold in faster water than brown trout, which prefer pools. They can hold 20–80 centimetres per second and supply water twice as rapidly. However, small mountain streams with few runs and riffles may only offer refuge in pools or pockets with slower and deeper water.
In midwinter, spawning begins. Fish in dams with a feeder stream run upwards until they find breeding places. Ripe adults mill around inlets and gravel patches in neighbouring dams, but without moving water, they cannot spawn and must re-absorb the eggs or milt. This always deconditions fish. Stocking is common in South Africa since few dams have feeder streams for natural reproduction. Triploid fish prevent spawning and spare adults the anguish of failed spawning.
Fly fishermen love to catch brown trout due to their selective feeding patterns and wary temperament. Self-sustaining populations in South Africa are mainly restricted to a few rivers in KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape.
Their preferred habitats are similar to those of rainbow trout, with an ideal water temperature range of 8° to 18°C. Although they can withstand water speeds of up to 90 centimetres per second, adult brown trout prefer to rest and feed in water that is moving at a rate of approximately 15 to 70 millimetres per second.
Like Rainbow trout, they eat insects and other invertebrates, while larger browns hunt fish, frogs, and other larger prey. Some fish eat ascending nymphs, duns, and spinners throughout a hatch, while others fixate on one stage. They feed most in the late afternoon or early evening, but they will feed during the day in chilly, gloomy conditions. Most large browns are nocturnal.
Besides going upstream to spawn, adults are more solitary and territorial than rainbows and inhabit the same river area. Autumn spawning brown trout have similar needs and behaviour to rainbows. They can migrate long distances to spawning grounds or winter refuges.
The province of Mpumalanga is recognised for its diversified landscape, which includes mountain vistas, rivers, gorges, and some of South Africa’s best trout fishing streams. Fly fishing vacations to Mpumalanga are ideal because of its combination of fantastic fishing and first-rate lodging.
However, several towns have created tourism around trout fishing. Dullstroom in Mpumalanga, is one such a town where local businesses have designated dams for fly-fishing. This high-altitude Scottish town experiences mist over rocky terrain, with the tallest peak being 2,300m above sea level. Hip waders and Woolly Bugger lures reign.
Fly-fishing is also well-known for being great in the Highlands Meander Region of Mpumalanga, particularly in and around Belfast. Because there are so many insects living on the reeded dams, there are plenty of rainbow trout and they don’t need to be supplemented with food.
Rhodes, a town in the Eastern Cape’s mountains that is in the geographic middle of the largest sport fishery on the continent, is another excellent location. From here, one may access hundreds of kilometre of flowing water that are home to both wild trout and native smallmouth yellow fish.
There is a lot of food for trout in the Drakensberg’s high streams. Even though the water source is often just a healthy trickle, the trout grow to be very big. Good trout fishing can also be found around Somerset East in Eastern Cape, in the Cape Fold Belt mountains of Western Cape, uphill from Cape Town, along the border between Lesotho and Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, and in the Clarens area of eastern Free State.
Most trout fishermen fish for more than just catching. One reason is seeing a trout in its brighter-than-nature colours in a drooping landing net. Other factors include bubbling water or the quiet of slow-moving cedar swamp water. A freshly fried pan-size fish is also a great dinner for anglers.
No matter what your reasons for trout fishing, the satisfaction is greater when you catch fish. The dry winter months, from May to September, are best for trout fishing.
The first month of the season is great for trout fishing. Fish in slow waters and focus on a deep, slow pool at the foot of a rapids or fast run. Small spinners should be used. Use bright colours like silver or rainbow scale in clear water. Mepps Black Furys with yellow or brilliant red dot work in darker seas.
Summer trout are easiest to catch in the first hour or two after sunrise. Rainfall is the most important thing when trout fishing in the summer. When it rains a lot, the water level goes up, the water gets darker, and big trout start to feed. Use bigger spinners in these situations. The best blades are made of copper and gold. For flash and vibration, there’s nothing better than the old trusty Mepps Aglia. Black Furys and Aglia Longs can also be useful. If you are fishing in fast, deep water, use a Mepps XD. It’s made to drop deep and stay deep while you pull it back.
Fish feast after heavy rain. Trout move from cover to food. Big trout often migrate shallow during this spree. Open water near undercut banks or other shelter and both ends of a deep hole are good feeding areas.
Wade upstream to face the current like the fish. Approach fish from their tail. Continue casting upstream and across current, moving your lure downstream or down and across. This lets it fall with the current like a fish looking for food.
Rainbow and brown trout will attack a lure upstream and downstream. However, big brown trout rarely attack a bait driven upstream by the current. Both species’ larger fish are more likely to touch a spinner tumbling downstream with the current. Keep this in mind for trophy trout.
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