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Post Posted: Sat Mar 29, 2008 2:16 pm    Post subject: AFRICA on a budget - Part One - South Africa

I have written this to help anyone who is thinking of traveling to Africa on their own and wants to catch a fish. It can be done on the cheap if you work hard at it. We camped nearly everywhere and ate local food mostly. The only tour we did was in Namibia, and that was a mistake – we could have done it all on our own.
A couple of years back - 2005 - I experienced some surprisingly good angling while backpacking in Africa. Every time I wet a line I managed to score fish, from Largemouth Bass to Nile Perch. Hopefully some of the lessons learned will help others who prefer to fish without paying big dollars for a fishing safari.

South Africa
Befor leaving Darwin I marked all the relevant pages of Tina’s travel guide with a capital ‘F’ (for fish) in thick black texta. On a few of these pages were references to trout fishing. We predictably soon found ourselves parked near a stocked dam at the foot of the Drakensburg Mountains. This was a pay to fish dam – a bit artificial, but good fun anyway. It is mentioned in Lonely Planet.

My six weight fly rod soon had a little trout jumping around. The fishing was pretty good and I ended the session with twelve solid fish caught on a mix of wet and dry flies, nine of which were released. Lemon herb trout that evening tasted too good.

A few weeks later also I caught some miniature wild spawn trout near Blyde River Canyon (another LP guide book recommendation) on nymph imitations. However, it was the Western Cape Province that turned up a real surprise in the form of Florida strain Largemouth Bass.

In many of the backpacker hostels throughout Southern Africa there are free accommodation and activity guides produced for tourists. Occasionally – very occasionally – there will be a reference to fishing. These were gold.

Pippins Bed and Breakfast in the wine growing region of the Western Cape offered free fishing in nearby farm dams, and it turned out the fish available were bass. Walking the edges of dams casting Squidgies through lily pads and around culverts added another to my species list. Most were small, though a couple might have cracked the kilogram mark. I can see why Americans like them – they are like giant Mouth Almighties and look stupid enough to eat anything. They were good fun though, and jumped when hooked. (photos soon)

Note: Freshwater fishing in South Africa appears to be heavily regulated, either officially or unofficially, with every scrap of water and turf owned by someone. Dams, lakes and rivers are often stocked, and many attract a fishing fee. The fees must be paid, and club boundaries must be respected – poachers are dealt with harshly. I accidentally walked into a no go zone while Bass fishing at a golf course nearby and was nearly shot.


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