17 Feb Fly-Fishing in the Midlands
The Natal Midlands is quite a well-known destination for fly-fishing, perhaps not quite as much as Dullstroom in Mpumalanga, though there is no reason why this should be the case. There is a large range of venues and locations in the Midlands, enough to satisfy the needs and interests of a range of fishermen, from beginners to experienced and specialists. Many are located on farm dams, which have been stocked by the farmers and in some cases by syndicates and trout-fishing clubs. There are too many venues to mention many specifically but these cover a wide area including Rosetta, Nottingham Road, Curry’s Post, Karkloof, Kamberg, Dargle and the Loteni Road. Once you proceed down to the lower elevations towards Howick in the south or Estcourt in the north, conditions become unfavourable for trout due to higher water temperatures during the summer period. There are also a number of rivers in the area that are stocked primarily with brown trout. Many of these were stocked as early as the 19th century, the Mooi River being a case in point. Other stocked rivers include the Upper uMgeni, the Little Mooi and the upper levels of the Bushmans towards Giant’s Castle. Some of these waters are private or syndicated, but many are open to the general public or via various clubs such as the Natal Fly-fishing Club or commercial operations. Some of the dams are substantial in size; exceeding 50 hectares but most are much smaller.
Most if not all are in surroundings which highlight the beautiful Natal Midlands and some of the settings are absolutely world-class. Examples of the latter include Le Souer’s Dam, Lake Lindhurst and Highmoor. Each of these three were constructed literally on top of mountains as they are all located on top of the Little ‘Berg at elevations of well over 6 000 feet. The Ezemvelo Reserve at Highmoor is one of the lesser-known gems of the Drakensberg, is little used by the general public and is a mere 25 minutes by car from Giant’s View Estate. Although the dams here are reasonably well-known amongst the fishing fraternity it is not usually particularly difficult to book them (via the Highmoor office). As a friend of mine once said; it is not the end of the world if he doesn’t catch fish; the main thing is that he likes the places where the fish live! In this author’s experience Highmoor is not always an easy fish but it definitely produces some superb specimens, in excess of 4 kgs in some cases. At these altitudes one can fish year-round although for waters at lower elevations in the Midlands the best times would traditionally be in the springtime and the autumn. Winter fishing is also certainly quite feasible, when the “midday rise” can often be productive. Many of the dams have extensive patches of weed along the banks so it is generally desirable to have a flotation device of some sort and in my view a kick-boat is an excellent option here. During the winter of course a pair of neoprene waders is an essential addition.