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Saturday, 2 April 2011

Yellow Fish

There are nine species of yellow fish in South Africa, Genus Labeobarbus

 Vaal-Orange Largemouth yellow fish, as the name suggests these fish are native to the Vaal-Orange river system. These fish are considered a threaten'd species you may not keep one of these fish if you should manage to catch one. Largemouth grow quite large and 20 pound fish are not uncommon. SA angling record for this fish is 22,2kg. Yellow fish are rocket propelled fish on steriods. Pound for pound they are considered to be twice as strong as trout, some say three times as strong. Large mouth do well in dams but prefer running water.
typical yellow fish water

Vaal-Orange Smallmouth yellow fish, also a native of the Vaal-Orange river system, but with a wider distribution  in tributaries. These fish prefer clear flowing water in large rivers, but is also found in large dams. SA  angling record 7,837kg. Smallmouth yellow fish have been trans-located into into several other river systems.

vaal river, upper reaches.
small mouth yellow

 Vaal River, Kora KhoiKhoi, (Hottentot), name Tky-Gariep, translated as drab river. The Afrikaans name Vaal means the same, especially when the river is in flood and carrying a heavy silt load.  The Vaal river supplies water to 12 million consumers in mainly the Gauteng province. I've been told if you drink a glass of water in Gauteng it's been drunk by seven people before you. The Vaal river is 1,200 km long, flows south west, and joins the Orange river just south of Kimberly, the centre of diamond mining in South Africa.

This huge population leads to severe pollution problems which are a threat to the survival of yellow fish!

A famous venue for sight fish to yellow fish is Sterkfontein dam. This dam forms part of the Tugela-Vaal water transfer and hydro-electric scheme. Water is pumped up from the Tugela river in Natal to the top of the Drakensberg into the Driekloof dam, near the town of Harrysmith in the Free State province. The pumps used to pump the water to the top of the Berg, also act as turbines when the flow is reversed. So at peak electricity usage these turbines generate electricity that then flows into the national grid. The rest of the water flows into the Sterkfontein dam, then into a tributary of the Vaal river.

The water in the Sterkfontein dam is crystal clear, it looks like the fish are floating in the air. You can see the fish but they can also see you! You have to keep a low profile and stay out of sight. Dry fly fishing is the order of the day here, with light tippets, the fish a very leader shy. It's amazing to see the fish approach your fly take it, you tighten up, don't strike, then watch the fish head for the horizon, stripping backing off your reel. Only when the fish stops do you start trying to recover line. When you eventually land your fish, you hold a slab of gold in your hand. Truly a beautiful fish.

Other species in this dam, carp, sharp tooth cat fish, large mouth black bass and some rainbow trout. All can be caught on fly. To fish this dam effectively you need a boat, a big boat with a powerful motor. The storms on this piece of water needs to be seen to be believed.

 This dam is less than two hours drive from where I live, I don't make enough use of it.

More about the other yellow fish next post.

Sterkfontein dam


eileeninmd said...

Interesting post and info. Neat to see the yellow fish.

Gaelyn said...

I'm pretty sure I hiked to the Sterkfontein Falls from Monks Cowl. Pumping water up hill to allow flow down hill sounds rather counter productive. That fish is a golden beauty.

Shoreman said...

Hey Phillip. The small mouth yellow looks quite similar to the carp over here.