Not the best news for fishing the Western Cape streams

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Posted on 13th January 2011 by admin in News

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Jean from the CPS just sent out the latest newsletter and it’s really not the best of news for all of us avid fishermen. Take a read none the less, if anything, it’ll keep us aware and encourage us to spread the word about looking after our streams:

I would have to confess that I am not in the best frame of mind this morning, , I recently wrote a piece for the Argus on the state of South African Rivers and it is a sorry tale. The Vaal is currently in raging flood with the river spilling its banks all through Parys and Orkney and the Vaal Dam overflowing in impressive style. I suppose that if one tried to look on the positive side it may help to flush out all the rubbish and raw sewage that keeps being dumped into the place.

If you have ever been on the Vaal when there is a hatch of mayflies or caddis flies you will know what a magnificent waterway it is and how productive. South Africa’s largest river and quite majestic flowing across most of the country to Alexander Bay, but used much of the time as an open sewer for domestic and even industrial waste.

I did a walk in the upper Holsloot valley recently to and to drive over the lower Smallblaar in Rawsonville and see the damage done to the stream bed by the gravel dredging there is enough to make your heart break. That anyone can decimate a mountain stream and turn it into this kind of superheated desert is beyond comprehension to my mind.It may have been going on for a long time but that doesn’t seem to be a particularly good excuse. One assumes that somehow this activity is legal but I would have to question if it could ever be viewed as moral, the place looks like a disaster zone and has to affect the water temperatures and flows lower down.

I have been out in the mountains for some walks of late but not any real fishing, in fact it seems to me that our fishing is under so many threats that one has to wonder how long it will maintain itself. Mike Spinola was telling me that there are barbel on the Elandspad at least as far up as the weir pool. I am not sure how long they have been there but it isn’t great news. The trout are probably not going to be that badly affected but it is a threat particularly should they reach far enough into the system to affect the spawning of the trout..

Then I got a phone call from Ryan Weaver this morning to say that there was a fire burning up through the upper Elandspad Valley, it has burned before I know and might have even been due for a fire but it always leaves such a mess and makes the walk up to the river less pleasant. I was only noticing recently that there was a great deal more bird life on the river over this past season, at least to my mind and one suspects that if the vegetation has been burned out fishing trips are not going to be accompanied with much bird song again for a while.

The hottest days over the recent past have reduced water levels quite considerably too and certainly one shouldn’t be considering fishing the lower beats for anything more than the early morning, even the flows on the Holsloot seemed reduced. The only plus is that apparently the fish farm on the Smallblaar has curtained its operation through the summer and at least there isn’t any additional stress from the filth that they wantonly pump out into the stream.

All in all not the best time for fishing for trout one suspects I think that I might have to get out my saltwater gear and get back into trying some of that again. It has been a long while since I tried any saltwater fishing at all but it does provide an option of casting a line on the hottest days of summer. .

In fact I think that my next foray will be looking for some carp, they love the warm weather and provide some great entertainment value not to mention that they seem to thrive in all manner of water. There is the added advantage that the powers that been seem pretty ineffectual at controlling them so they could provide us with sport well into the future..

To be perfectly honest it drives me crazy that we are inundated with carp and barbell, the rivers are over abstracted, polluted and as in the case of the Berg, dammed up and yet Nature Conservation constantly harp on the damaging effects of a few trout in the only remaining relatively pristine waterways that we have left. Where I grew up this is called “putting the cart before the horse” and one can’t but help wonder why the trout receive so much attention when there is so much else wrong with the way we look after our rivers.

I don’t know what started the fire up on the Elandspad but you will recall my warning some time ago that access control on the trout streams wasn’t only about looking after the trout but also about keeping out people who don’t look after the environment in general. Mike also mentioned to me that the lower Elandspad is a sea of Quart Beer Bottles, which one can only assume isn’t coming from the anglers and the dedicated nature lovers It sounds as though there needs to be another clean up party up there pretty soon.

To be fair, Nature Conservation where checking permits in the car park recently when I was up there and turfed out two or three “anglers” kitting out with beach casting rods and massive lead sinkers but it is all too little and too infrequent and there never seems to be any action or prosecution of offenders. I have to mention once more that it seems grossly unreasonable that we are required to have angling licenses permits and Wild Cards and all that goes with it but our interests aren’t taken seriously, and with that the interests of looking after the environment in general.

Certainly this problem is always worse in the hottest days of the holidays but then that shouldn’t be a surprise to the authorities either. Over the festive season there are always people swimming in all the pools and dumping their rubbish on the banks.

So after my rant if you are not too depressed to pick up a rod, I would suggest a visit to the salt or a trip after some carp is the way to go until things cool down.

Sad news :(

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