The History Of South African Trout Fishing & What The Future Holds
The Rainbow Trout was first introduced to South Africa in 1897, but it was only in the 1960's that sport fishing for the Rainbow Trout started to become popular. Then trout farms and hatcheries started to develop in Mpumalanga, KwaZulu Natal, the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape provinces. These fish require clear, aerated water preferably less than 21 degrees Celsius. Flowing water is essential for breeding to take place, Rainbow Trout cannot bread in Stillwater dams.
Rainbow Trout in South Africa have a life span of only 5 years or less, this is due to the conditions of the fish and the fact they are not in their preferred environment. This is why they do not reach the sizes of the Trout in North America or Europe. Males reach full breeding maturity after 2 years. Breeding season is between June and September and is called spawning season. Spawning still takes place in Stillwater even though breeding is unsuccessful.
The South African trout season starts in September and finishes at the end of May. The best times for fly-fishing are in September and October, and then in April and May. However, many of the country's dams and lakes have no closed season.
Brown Trout were first introduced into South Africa in 1890 from Scotland and a body of water called Loch Lagan. The first successful bred Brown Trout recorded was in 1893. The Brown Trout adapted so well in South Africa that Rainbows were soon introduced as well.
South African trout waters are small by international standards, more streams than rivers, yet the average size of the trout caught is still fairly large. Most of the rivers produce fish of up to 3 kgs, and in the Barkly East area river fish up to 5kgs are not rare. In the upland sections of most rivers the trout proliferate and the waters tend to become overstocked. Good trout fishing is dependent on good rainfall and a season or two of poor rains sets the sport back. South Africa is dry, but droughts are less common in the eastern highlands than they are in the interior, and often less devastating. Just as bad as droughts is the problem of flash flooding and siltation. Trout Farms and private dams have become very popular in South Africa and the industry is growing steadily.
It is often frowned upon to catch trout using other methods except fly fishing. Trout do occur in areas where there are rare minnow, barb and other fish species, they are believed to be the reason why some of these fish are on the endangered list. Projects are currently underway, mainly in the Western Cape, to see exactly how Rainbow and Brown Trout as well as Bass have affected the indigenous fish populations…
There is concern amongst the fly fishing community as many conservationists want to get rid of the trout that occur “naturally” in rivers, streams and lakes where they are arguable killing off indigenous fish. It is a highly debated topic as a lot of people are either against or for this. Trout have been in our local waters for 120 years now and there are other things to take into consideration such as water quality, water temperature and organisms that the indigenous fish feed on… The Bass species are more likely to blame if predation is causing the indigenous fishes numbers to decrease…