Predation is a thorny issue with fly fishermen as we all want a great fishing experience with lots of quality fish but at the same time we want to practice ecologically sustainable land management and share this beautiful environment with all the different creatures that inhabit it.
At Verlorenkloof we have a strict no cull policy when it comes to predators around the fish dams. We rather practice predator management with various methods of stocking and landscape management to try and minimise the predator’s chances of catching fish from our dams. The primary predators we face at Verlorenkloof are the African Fish Eagle, White breasted and reed cormorant, African clawless Otter and of course the two legged predators.
The African Fish Eagle
This Majestic bird is by far our most ferocious and damaging predator. The positive side is that they are very shy animals and rarely hunt when there are people around the dams. We also allow patches of reeds as well as pond grass to grow out around the dams to help the fish shelter from the fish eagle. You will see them mostly around Flycatcher dam were they can hunt in peace from the trees surrounding the dam.
White breasted and reed cormorant
The cormorants often get a bad rap from fishermen, probably because they are far more efficient at catching fish than we are. Fortunately for us Cormorants can’t catch larger fish as they swallow the fish whole and do not tear up a fish like a Fish eagle does so as long as we stock fish that are 800g or larger the Cormorants can do no damage to the fish population. We have found a fish once or twice that was caught but then it was too big to swallow and was left on the side of the dam. Since implementing our strategy of stocking smaller quantities of larger fish more often we have found the instances of Cormorant predation decrease rapidly. You still occasionally see them around the dams but they are hunting frogs and crabs and might choke on a large trout once in a blue moon.
African clawless Otter
The African Clawless otter can be quite a hassle and especially for fish farmers were there are very high densities of fish in the dams. On our dams we allow the reeds and pond grass to grow out so that there is more cover for the fish, this along with larger fish that are faster and more agile makes it difficult for the otters who are primarily nocturnal hunters to catch the fish. Otters hunt mostly by touch and if there are less fish around in the dams they have a hard time getting their hands on a fish. From the Otter scat (manure) we have observed that the otters that do come up into our dams to hunt are catching primarily crabs and frogs and only occasionally we will find a fish kill especially in the early mornings where there is more light for the otters to be able to chase the fish down .
Overall we feel that the predation at Verlorenkloof is not out of control and the nature is in balance as there aren’t swarms of Cormorants or mobs of Otters going around ridding us of fish. By managing the fish stockings and populations efficiently and finding a good balance around providing cover around the dams and making the environment as natural as possible we can efficiently live with the low levels of predation.
Winter is here and it is the season to be fishing. There is very little that compares to that splash as the fish are rising on a crisp misty morning. We have been stocking the dams with 50kg of live fish every 2 weeks to build up a health population of fish and now with the first frost we see a rapid decline in insect numbers and we hope that the fishing will improve dramatically. We aim to stock fish that are between 1kg-1.5kg as they have a better chance of surviving against predation and also it’s much more fun to fight a 1.5kg monster compared to a 400g fry. Please keep in mind that there are some really large fish in the dams that survived from last year so use thicker tippets and barbless hooks to reduce the risk of breaking off and leaving the tippet in the fish’s mouth. Also please remember we practice catch and release to help build a sustainable fishing experience.
Tactics to try
Firstly the fishing times are really important here, during the day the light intensity and the heat are both going to drive fish to deep water, the best fishing times are going to be very early just before sunrise (6am) until about 11am latest and from 4PM through into the evening. Please do not however fish at night with car headlights or spotlights etc. as these practices tend to bother the other non-fish crazed guests. Cloudy weather or light drizzle is also a good time to be out and the rule of thumb is the colder it is the better the fishing.
Fly’s that work well during this time are the Papa Roach, Damsel fly (Red eye damsel), various weighted nymphs such as a GRHE or copper John and the blood worms. All these imitate insects that you would find crawling around in the mud and on the weeds at the bottom of the dam were the fish would lazily slurp them up to maintain their bod weight. If the weather is cloudy try a white pattern as they tend to stand out better in the deep water when the light levels are low, a White death, Muddler Minnow, white/black Woolybugger and Blood Worm will work well.
Please be careful about releasing the fish as the stress makes fatalities more likely. If possible do not remove the fish from the water, always handle the fish with wet hands, never press or squeeze the fish on its sides were the lateral line lies and move the fish back and forth a few times in the water to get some water over its gills to help revive it faster.
We wish you a happy fishing season with many tight lines.
In terms of the Use Agreement, the Directors of the Share Block Company will set the fishing rules from time to time. The rules are intended to ensure that the fishing is kept as enjoyable as possible for the majority. Please would you therefore adhere to the following rules and save our staff the embarrassment of having to confront you with having breached them:
- Rod Limit: The number of rods at use at any one time should not exceed the number of bedrooms in your Croft (5 or 3 depending on the size of your Croft). Apart from the number of rods, also try and distribute your party so that you do not monopolize any one venue. Also be sure not to crowd other fishermen:
- On the dams a proficient fly fisherman can easily cast 20m and may wish to do so parallel to the bank.
- We do not have a system of booking beats. You are therefore free to fish where you like. However, do not fish a pool or run that is already occupied by another fisherman.
- Dam Limits: The policy is one of Catch and Release. You may catch as many fish as you like but please return them all alive to the water. Except in the case of fishing in Koljander Dam where a catch limit of 1 fish per angler per day.
- River & Weir Limits: The policy is one of Catch and Release. You may catch as many fish as you like but please return them all alive to the water.
- If at all possible, when releasing a fish do not remove it from the water. Wet your hands thoroughly before touching the fish, restrain it by gently turning the fish upside down and carefully remove the hook without tearing the mouth. Ensure the fish is revived before letting it go; hold the fish upright in the water and move it gently backwards and forwards to re-oxygenate the gills. If the fish will not revive (i.e. repeatedly turns “belly up”) after revival), keep it and reflect this on your Catch Record.
- PLEASE NOTE THIS IS A FLYFISHING RESORT: UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES ARE YOU ALLOWED TO USE SPINNERS, BAIT OR ANY OTHER MEANS TO CATCH FISH.
- Barbless flies are to be used at all times. This is to facilitate the release of fish and minimize the stress they undergo. With a bit of practice you will learn to keep tension on the line whilst playing the fish and should not lose many of them.
- Catch Records: Please record all fish caught, both returned and kept, on the reverse side of the form in order to facilitate the stocking programme. Please hand in your completed form at the Office before departure. If you did not fish or fished and did not catch anything this information is also of value and we would appreciate receiving a Catch Record reflecting that information.
- Minimize your impact on the fish and interference with the other fishermen:
- Swimming, float tubes and boating are prohibited in the dams, weirs and river.
- Do not throw stones or any other objects into the water.
- Do not use radios, play music or use cellular phones at the fishing venues.
- Please ensure that guests and children are aware of and obey the fishing rules. Children should be under adult supervision at the fishing venues.
- Give your fellow fishermen space.
- Please keep all litter (including cigarette butts) for disposal into a bin.
- Conversion Table: 27cm=0.3kg 31cm=0.4kg 33cm=0.5kg 35cm=0.6kg 37cm=0.7kg 39cm=0.8kg 41cm=0.9 43cm=1.1kg 45cm=1.2kg 47cm=1.4kg 49cm=1.6kg 51cm=1.8kg 53cm=2kg