YWG June 2022 newsletter

Dear YWG supporter,

Herewith the latest news:


Saving the Sandfish Project.

Dr Jeremy Shelton reports that they now have a total of 7 dams to serve as sanctuaries mainly for sandfish and also other threatened native fishes in the Doring system. One dam in the Biedouw valley has been treated with rotenone to remove bluegills and this dam will be netted in Spring to check that it is totally free of bluegills. If so, it then will be ready for the next Spring/Summer netting of fry/fingerling sandfish from the 2022 spawn. The second new dam is in the Northern Cape in the Oorlogskloof catchment (also part of the Doring System), and this has been stocked with older sandfish and Clanwilliam sawfin from the river itself. The reason for this relocation is that this river has been threatened by drought and alien/invasive fish.

Another project his team have started is to replace the many fences spanning the Biedouw River with fish-friendly fences. The reason for this is that some of these fences tend to have a small mesh size and are rigid thus impeding the migration of sandfish.

See images below.

The Vanderkloof Dam research project.

Last October we reported that the final report on the experimental fishery had been tabled at a meeting of the Advisory Group. This report will be used by the Northern Cape government in consultation with the stakeholders to map the way forward. As yet there has been no news from the NC government on what decisions have been taken.

Lowveld branch of the YWG.

In April the leader of this team, Louis Wessels, reported that their survey had been delayed by heavy rains and this happened again in mid-May when the rivers came down in spate. However, they have been able to do some preliminary work on the Elands where they found that the huge flooding of the river early in the year had resulted in major changes to the course of the river and the riparian area where much of the vegetation had been washed away. In addition, they were fortunate to be given anchovy nets by Norse Nets of Vredenburg when they found that the ALNET nets which were also donated did not have a small enough gauge. Louis’ team plans to return to the Elands this weekend as they have now been issued permits to enter all Sappi properties in Mpumalanga. Dr Gordon O’Brien is also arranging for his team working in the KNP to provide some training.

The rivers they are targeting in addition to the Elands will be the Blyde, Sabie, Crocodile and Assegai.

If you wish to give Louis Wessels a hand, please contact him at 0824641971 or louis@tunica.co.za).

The Vaal River pollution crisis by Chris Williams.

Although there have been promises of concerted action by the authorities very little has changed since I last reported on this matter and pollution of our most important river continues unabated.

An important event to watch will be that of SAVE having its day in court at the end of August. The river flow has suddenly dropped to 20 cusecs having been at least 1000 cusecs for several months or more. We have complained to DWS/Rand Water about these sudden changes in flow which has an adverse effect on the fish. In the meantime, we hear that they are working on the sluice gates in order to prevent these sudden floods in future.

The Fishing

Once the rains commenced in the summer rainfall area much of the fishing ceased, especially in the Orange /Vaal system and KZN where most of the rivers were in flood and flows only eased off towards the end of May. Exceptions were up in Lesotho where flyfishers enjoyed a bumper season on the Bokong River in Lesotho (Makhangoa Community Camp) and at Sterkfontein Dam which became quite crowded as most of the rivers were unfishable. David Weaver’s report on the Sterkfontein season makes for interesting reading. You can read it by clicking here. With the onset of winter weather cooler many of the yellowfishers switch to trout but in the south eastern corner Mpumalanga the season has started where Horst Filter focuses on the small and largescale yellows of the Phongola and Assegai where conditions are now perfect and will continue until the onset of the spring/summer spawn.

Kind regards,



Fences in the Biedouw valley needing replacement


Sandfish sanctuary


Sandish sanctuary