The Perfect Small Stream

I have spent most of my fishing life chasing trout in small streams. These are secret and secluded places where few ever bother fishing. Here in KZN we have plenty small streams teeming with trout, but there’s a particular stream in the Cape that stands head and shoulders above the rest. 

It flows out of an inconspicuous looking kloof in one of the highest ranges of mountains in the Western Cape. You wouldn’t know it’s there as you drive past on the main road due to the river being diverted for irrigation of the surrounding vineyards and orchards. It’s what I would regard as the perfect small stream. I can’t imagine a more beautiful trout stream. It’s emerald green clarity is unsurpassed by any water I have fished, anywhere, and the fish are equally impressive. I watched a great little video clip published by Andre van Wyk in feathersandflouro called “The Stream of my Dreams”. I can highly recommend watching it, it gives you a good feel for the stream. This really is “My Dream Stream”. 

I haven’t fished it since 2005 and would love to know how it fishes these days. Back then it had enough fish to keep you on your toes, but not enough that you get bored of catching. The average size of the fish was always surprised me when compared to other Cape streams. I have subsequently heard that it was only stocked or restocked in the mid to late 90’s which maybe explains their relatively low numbers, but greater average size? I wonder if the fish size is still the same and the population still in balance? I have seen pictures and videos of fisherman up the kloof and the fish on average seem smaller but more plentiful. I am not sure if this is the case?  We used to catch between 2 and 5 fish in a day, but there were very few fish of under 12 inches. The most fish I caught was probably 10 in a day but that was not norm, unless we concentrated on the lower section which seemed to have more fish. I prefered fishing the top half of the gorge. I would usually only start fishing at the cave which is probably half way up the river from a fisherman’s perspective.  

Other than many short day trips, I spent several memorable longweekends camping alone in the cave. Those solo trips were some of my favourite days fishing that I can remember. When my best mate passed away at university, I went straight there to spend 2 nights alone in the cave and on the river. No mourning and grieving, just me and the river. I reckoned that he would have approved of my idea. It was my my happy place, where I could immerse myself in the the peace and tranquility of the kloof. This for me was fishing meditation at its best.

The kloof itself also doesn’t look like much from the open valley below, and it’s only when you actually get in the river and walk up, that the valley opens out into a little piece of trout heaven. For my liking this stream is probably fished a little too often now days which sort of spoils it for me, but it remains one if the most incredible streams I’ve fished, anywhere in the world and I would love to return one day to explore that again. 

Higher up the river the water becomes really thin, and you sometimes have to walk hundreds of meters between good pockets Like this. 

The section just below the cave.
High up the river is extremely steep and holding water very limited. Fred Davis casting into what seems like a pile of rocks, but there’s a small pocket behind that boulder that had a good sized fish.
Stalking fish in small pockets is what this stream is all about. Fred Davis setting the hook and into a beautiful fish.
The fish that Fred landed from the previous picture.
Spot the fish…  
This beast of a fish lived in this tiny pocket with a large boulder for shelter. This is one of those fish that still haunts me to this day. It would have definitely been my biggest South African river fish. Had I landed her. She must have been well over 4lbs! I managed to drift several differnt dry flies towards the fish with no luck. Eventually I tied on a large #6 Basuthu Basher (dragon fly nymph) and plopped that in the pool. The reaction was immediate! She seemed to have spooked, but after one strip she smashed my fly. After setting the hook everything was a bit of a blur as she went absolutely beserk like a caged animal . I only had her on for 5 or 10 seconds before she took me under the boulder and snapped the line. I had absolutely no chance. It was left shaking with excitement, wondering what might have been. 
Another beautiful fish cruising in one of the last fish able pools near the top of the gorge.
Craig Ventress into a feisty fish
What a catch from such a tiny little pocket!
This old fella fell for a dry fly in the big pool below the cave.
A typical fat hen fish from the Cave pool.
Looking down the gorge as we walk out after an epic days fishing.
Fred Davis and I got caught up in this thunderstorm that caught us off guard. There was no back then. You jut went fishing and accepted the weather you were dealt.


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