Fly-fishing in the rivers near Kimberley
Did you know?
Fly-fishing for the indigenous yellowfish in South Africa started during the South African War (also known as the Anglo-Boer War) when English soldiers caught this gamefish on fly.
If you want to know about fly-fishing in the rivers near Kimberley, speak to Turner Wilkinson, who has been fly-fishing for nearly 30 years and who is one of only 15 people who have taken all nine yellowfish species on the fly.
"The yellowfish populations in this part of the Northern Cape are arguably some of the finest in the country, with world-class catches to be had in the very clear waters of the lower Vaal and Riet rivers," explains Wilkinson, who is also an experienced fly-fishing guide.
Wilkinson guides fly-fishers of all levels and decides on the best location to match their skills. "If you are a less proficient caster we focus on the smallmouth yellowfish in the faster flowing areas of the stream, where there are lots more fish. If you are a proficient caster and after a trophy fish, we head for the slower sections and pools where we can hunt the largemouth yellowfish, a worthy gamefish," he explains.
When you talk international standards of trout, most people are happy with a fish of about 1.3kg (about 3 pounds), whereas the average smallmouth yellowfish in South Africa is around two kilograms. The largemouth yellowfish is generally regarded as South Africa’s largest freshwater fish species, with trophies weighing more than three kilograms.
The catch-and-release ethic applies to all yellowfish to ensure the fish's long-term sustainability and conservation.
A favourite fly-fishing location in the district is the Lilydale Rest Camp in the Mokala National Park, approximately 70km from Kimberley. A relatively new national park, Mokala offers several different habitats with wonderful birdlife and several species of game to enhance your fly-fishing adventure.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Turner Wilkinson - fly-fishing guide:
+ 27 (0)82 881 5789
David Weaver - fly-fishing guide:
+ 27 (0)83 303 4230
How to get here
Fly or drive to Kimberley. From Kimberley take the N12 route towards Cape Town. 57km from Kimberley, on the Hayfield/Heuningneskloof crossing, turn right onto a gravel road. Travel 21km until you get to the gate of Mokala National Park on your right-hand side.
Best time to visit
All year round.
Tours to do
There is so much to do in the Kimberley area, including visiting the Big Hole diamond museum, doing the Kimberley Ghost Trail, going to the Galeshewe township, seeing San rock art at Wildebeestkuil, and staying in nature reserves in the area.
Visit the Kimberley Tourism offices or website for more information.
What will it cost
A three-day guided fly-fishing experience with Turner Wilkinson in the Kimberley area is approximately R4500 - R5000 per person, and includes catering, park and fishing fees. The guide meets you in Kimberley.
Lilydale Rest Camp in the Mokala National Park charges approximately R360 per day for a 3-bedroom self-catering unit. Mokala also charges approximately R30 per person per day for the fly-fishing fee and a daily conservation fee of R40 – R80.
Length of stay
Stay for several days if you can.
What to pack
The sun in this part of the country can be particularly strong - make sure you have a hat, even in winter.
Where to stay
Lilydale Rest Camp at Mokala National Park welcomes fly-fishers.
What to eat
Lilydale Rest Camp is self-catering but there is a restaurant. Your guide will either cater for you or you can buy provisions at nearby towns.