One takes so much for granted. In watching one of the ESPN flyfishing channels, it struck me that we take for granted that overseas anglers are aware of what is present on this continent. I suppose that trout in Africa must be somewhat of an anomaly, but there are many trout areas in a number of different countries especially south of the equator.
From time to time there are reports of anglers daring the trout of north Africa and tales of monsters caught. The Kenya streams, such as the Nyeri Chania in the 1930s all produced fine double figure trout until proific breeding caught up with them. Uganda too tried to seed fish as did Tanzania.
Zimbabwe in the eastern highlands has some fine trout fishing to cater for all appetities. At Nyanga, there are stillwaters that are regularly stocked for visiting flyfishers and streams such as the Inyangombe, Gairesi and Pungwe hold wild fish as well.
In Southern Africa, South Africa, has trout districts starting not too far distant from Cape Town and extending through towns such as Barkly East, Rhodes, Maclear (Eastern Cape), Underberg, Mooi River (Kwazulu-Natal), Dullstroom, Belfast, Machadodorp, Lydenburg, Waterval Boven (Mpumalanga) Haenertsburg (Northern Province).
However, there are also waters within the borders of Lesotho and Swaziland. Indeed at one time, it was thought that Lesotho could become the premier trout area in Southern Africa. It boasts some wonderful streams and with the commencement of a huge hydro-electric scheme, there was every chance that the empoundment would be self-sustaining by virtue of trout bearing rivers flowing into it. A reasonably rare sight with African trout stillwaters.
What sort of flies would one use? There are of course many adicted fly tyers around and the number of new patterns that emerges each week is astounding, but there are old favourites that have the advantage of being useful across-the-board. One selection would be : Walkers Killer, Hamill's Killer, Mrs Simpson, Black Woolly Bugger, Dragonfly nymph, Black Marabou and Copper, Red Setter, Muddler Minnow, Irresistible, DDD, GRHE, Pheasant tail nymph, Zulu, Coachman and Invicta.
To be honest, the flyfishers that moan about black bass are not anti bass per se. It's just that a.) it's not what they want to catch in a trout dam and b.) so often the bass that do take the fly are small - really small - and they can ruin the shallows which, as you know, usually provides much exciting nmphing. But, there are times when the trout are off in high Summer, that one can turn to the bass to provide some sport
I won't bore you too much with the history of it all, but for the record trout have been in Africa since the dawn of beyond. Yes, that's right, there is at least one indigenous band of brown trout cruising around in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco.
Since then, the southern portion of the continent has seen populations imported since 1875 and they are well established. I am constantly suprised when people speak of trout being "marginal", and I guess, in the wider sense I know what they mean, but the problem in many African streams and rivers is not that the trout battle to sustain their existence, but that they breed too prolifically. From the Kenyan streams to those of the South African ones, the experience has often been the same - too many trout.
South Africa, in the 19th Century, became the first port of entry as far as I know and the initial inhabitants were brown trout. Well, in those days they made a distinction between brown trout (s. fario) and the "loch levens" (s. levenensis). They did pretty well until the arrival of the rainbows which between exhibiting a more aggressive character managed to oust the browns by breeding later in the season.
However, both species have done well and have reached double figures. Only a few months back, a new South African record of 18 lb + was taken from a stillwater in the Free State. And browns up to around 15 lbs have been stumbled over, knobkerried and otherwise held up for admiration over the years.
Brook trout were introduced but have never managed to secure any sort of foothold; nor the hybrid tiger trout (brook x brown). Steenbras reservoir in the Cape many years back produced a few and the Nyanga district in Zimbabwe had a stocking policy which included them.
Over the last few years, there has been an increase in the number of "golden trout" in the Mpumalangan waters, but these are not the true golden trout of the south western USA and Mexico.
Most of the trout north of Zimbabwe are wild, but as one progresses further south, so does the popularity of trout fishing becopme evident. More and more stocked waters are on offer and especially in Mpumalanga, the incidence of commercial fisheries operating on a trickle stocking, or plain put-and-take basis, are plentiful.
Without these operations, the remaining wild stocks would be under some pressure, but the balance has been somewhat maintained and there is good angling, sometimes even excellent angling, to be enjoyed. Africa has a diversity of topography and the scenery can be breathtaking (Something which we also take for granted.)
So what can one expect? Commercial fisheries offer a wide variety of angling mostly in stillwaters and the usual catch is for a preponderance of rainbows from 1 - 4 lbs. Bigger trout up to 8 lbs are certainly not uncommon and double figure fish are caught each season. Some commercial fisheries specialise in trophy fishing where a five pounder may be close to the average. And for those who read carefully there are some exquisite wild waters which can provide angling as good as you might ever wish to experience.
In the wild rivers, the headwaters usually hold a preponderance of 1/2 - 3/4 lb fish and a two pounder is regarded as good. The middle and lower reaches offer some heavier fish with the average reaching 1 - 1 1/4 lb with trout of up to 4 lbs being present.
Not too many people come to Africa to catch trout, but put it on your list and you may be surprised.
Largemouth black bass (Micropterus salmoides) in particular are widely spread thoughout East and Southern Africa. However there are also some excellent Smallmouth fisheries dotted around. The Spotted bass is less extensive but can be found in Natal. The Florida bass strain has also been introduced.
While it is not uncommon for bass to share trout waters, much to the dismay of many trout fishers, it is in the lower lying areas, where the temperatures are warmer that many farm dams and impoundments have been stocked. The fish do well and breeding is usually prolific especially where the water level of the dams remains constant. While to the average angler a bass of 3 - 4 lbs is a good one, the dedicated bass anglers often produce specimens twice that size.
Southern Africa has a preponderance of carp - usually the full-scale and mirror carp varieties - and these have infiltrated most lower lying inland waters. Much of the turbidity of dams is said to be caused by populations grubbing along the bottom and, while coarse anglers enjoy fishing for them, only incidental flyfishing has taken place, bar one or two anglers.
This is a pity as the carp grows to heavy weights in Southern African waters ( 40 lbs +) and when hooked on fly, puts up a mighty battle. However, there would be more enthusiasm if the waters they were found in were less discoloured, allowing more spotting to take place.