Sterkfontein Dam, which in our opinion is arguably one of the finest sight fishing still water venues on the planet, is a massive body of water which is situated some 20km south west of Harrismith on the road to KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. The area surrounding the dam is a nature reserve covering 18,000ha and is set amid some of the most magnificent mountain scenery South Africa has to offer.This enormous reservoir is some 16 km long and 7 km at its widest point and has a rugged shoreline characterised by steep kranzes, grassy mountain slopes and lushly vegetated kloofs. It is a place of rare scenic beauty, an undisturbed, tranquil environment in which nature flourishes and many species of soft-skinned game and indigenous birds exist in harmony. Most importantly it offers fly anglers the opportunity to consistently sight fish for South Africas premier indigenous freshwater fish, the Orange/Vaal Smallmouth Yellowfish (Labeobarbus aeneus).
For many fly anglers, sight fishing is the quintessential essence of all that is fly fishing and Sterkfontein offers all fortunate enough to visit her majestic waters a multitude of different sight fishing scenarios to choose from. From stalking large cruising fishing from high up on a rocky ledge to wading the productive gravel flats in search of rising fishSterkies is sure to leave a lasting impression on even the most internationally travelled angler.
Due to the immense size of the lake, the varying prevailing winds and rugged shoreline it is certainly advantageous to have the use of a powerboat to reach many of the better fishing options. The FlyCastaway guides all have intimate knowledge of the water and the conditions and will ensure your experience is both fun and enlightening.
We are able to offer our guests a wide selection of accommodation options when fishing with us at Sterkfontein. Options range from 5 star luxury lodges with magnificent views of the lake to simple yet comfortable self catering chalets on the water.
As mentioned previously, the primary target species for fly angers coming to Sterkfontein is the Smallmouth Yellowfish. These fish cruise the edges, weedbeds and gravel beds picking off various species of grasshoppers, beetles, ants, caddis and mayflies. Smallmouth Yellows in Sterkfontein generally weigh between 1 5lbs, with fish of 6 and 7lbs being considered true trophies. Even at these sizes your backing will surely see daylight on more than the odd occasion.
These fish are highly nomadic, with the breeding season and food supply driving their behaviour. Breeding occurs primarily when water temperatures are highest and the summer rains allow these fish to migrate up the three larger streams which feed the dam. This is mainly between late November and mid January. This is often considered the best fishing time for yellows but the pre-breeding period of September to November and the post-breeding months of mid-January to April can be equally good. In general, yellows feed very little during the winter from about late May to mid- August and in any case fishing during this time can be unpleasant at this high elevation (1 800 metres) with frequent snowfalls on the surrounding mountains and right down to the shoreline on occasions.
Other notably fish species which can be found in Sterkfontein include the Smallmouth Yellows predatory cousin and South Africa’s largest scaled freshwater fish, the Largemouth Yellowfish (Labeobarbus kimberleyensis). Although this fish can reach weights up to 40lbs they do not appear to reach these heights in Sterkfontein and most specimens range between 3 8lbs. Although these magnificent fish are generally caught as a by catch whilst targeting their cousins the Smallmouth using dry flies and nymphs, they can at times also be targeted using baitfish, dragonfly and damselfly imitations.
Sharptooth Catfish are another one of the indigenous fish which cruise this world-class piece of water. Although these fish can be targeted quite successfully on fly, most anglers tend to mainly target the two Yellowfish species.
There are also two major species of alien fish in the reservoir, that being the Common Carp and Largemouth Bass. We highly recommend disposing of these fish if caught for the benefit of the indigenous fish that reside here.
Cost: ZAR R2500.00 per person sharing per guide & boat per day
Single supplement: Available
Max Pax: 4 to 6 (2 anglers to 1 guide)
- 1 guide per 2 anglers (max 2 anglers)
- Boat & fuel
- Fly selection
- Lunch & softdrinks
- All travel to and from Sterkfontein Dam (FlyCastaway is happy to help arrange this for you)
- Accommodation, Meals, Drinks etc
- Visas if required
- Gratuities for guides if desired
Location: 20km south west of the town Harrismith, Eastern Free State, South Africa
International guests need to fly into Johannesburg, South Africa. They are then required to travel down to Harrismith by road which takes roughly 3 hours. Your guides for the week will meet you in town and direct you to your accommodation.
Smallmouth Yellowfish, Largemouth Yellowfish, Sharptooth Catfish, Carp
Season: October March
Temperatures averaging between 25 – 30C.
2 x 18ft aluminium boats which carry 1 x 100HP Yamaha engines along with live wells, depth finders etc.
Time difference: GMT + 2.
Flight time from the UK: 12 hours
UK, US, EU & USSR passport holders do not require a visa for stays of up to 90 days in South Africa.
Medical & Health Requirements
A Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is required if travelling from a Yellow Fever infected area.
The South African Rand (ZAR) is the preferred currency for gratuities and expenditure at the lodges.
English is the official language of South Africa. All FlyCastaway guides speak English.
There is cell phone network coverage around most areas of the dam or lodges. International clients networks can be switched to international roaming or a local SIM card can purchased.
Tackle & Gear
Single-handed 9ft #5wt freshwater outfits with matching weight forward floating lines. A comprehensive tackle and gear list along with an order form (should you wish to purchase your tackle through us) is issued after your booking has been confirmed.