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SSouth Africa has a thriving trout-fishing industry; abundant food in our waters means that the fish grow to impressive sizes, attracting both local and visiting anglers. But don’t come looking for them in huge rivers; you’re more likely to find them in mountain streams and still-water areas.
Trout fishing in South Africa goes back more than a hundred years – brown trout ( Salmo trutta) indigenous to Europe and North Africa and North American rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) from the Pacific North-West were introduced to local streams and rivers in the late 19th century
Today, both species can be found in certain streams, rivers and dams in mountainous parts of South Africa (in the provinces of Mpumalanga, Western Cape, Free State, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal), but government regulations on where trout may be released have been tightened up. There is an ongoing debate between the trout-fishing community and the authorities over whether these fish are invasive or not.
Nevertheless, some towns have built a whole tourist industry based on trout fishing. One such spot is Dullstroom, a village in Mpumalanga where many local establishments have dams set aside exclusively for fly-fishing.
The decidedly Scottish weather of this high-altitude town (the highest nearby peak is 2 300m above sea level) features mist over rocky terrain. Here hip waders and the Woolly Bugger lure rule. At weekends, the place is full of fly-fishers (mainly from Johannesburg, a 3-hour drive away) gathering to talk, catch and cook trout.
Another good spot is Rhodes, a hamlet in the highlands of Eastern Cape at the geographical centre of the biggest sport fishery on the continent. Here, access can be gained to hundreds of kilometres of running water that include not only wild trout but indigenous smallmouth yellowfish (Labeobarbus aeneus) as well. Rhodes is close to both Ben McDhui, the highest peak in Eastern Cape, and the Naudesnek Pass, the highest mountain pass in the country.
Up in the high streams of the Drakensberg there is abundant food for trout, so despite the fact that the water source is often just a healthy trickle, the trout grow very large. Good trout fishing can also be found in the region around Somerset East in Eastern Cape, in the Cape Fold Belt mountains of Western Cape inland from Cape Town, in other Mpumalanga mountain spots, along the Lesotho border with Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, and in the Clarens area of eastern Free State.
TTravel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Wild Trout Association
Tel: +27 (0)45 974 9290
How to get here
Because of the remote location of South Africa’s best trout-fishing spots, you’ll want to self-drive.
Best time to visit
The dry winter months (May to September) are best for trout fishing. The activity is, however, available throughout the year.
Due to the rugged terrain surrounding the best trout-fishing spots, a 4-wheel drive vehicle would be best.
What to eat
Restaurants in South Africa’s prime trout-fishing areas pride themselves on their trout specialities, especially smoked trout.