Dear YWG supporter,
We had only just circulated the November 2022 newsletter (http://www.fosaf.org.za/read-YWG-169.php.) when important news came in from Craig Hill regarding the illegal netting of yellows in Sterkfontein Dam’s two feeder streams which has escalated sharply in recent years. There is little chance that the provincial authorities or the police will be able to control this and if we want to ensure that Sterkies remains a premier yellowfishing venue it is up civil society to take responsibility. Craig has shouldered much of the cost and action recently and below is an article we received from him:
For near on 15 years the ongoing illegal netting of Yellowfish in the tributaries leading into the Sterkfontein Dam continues, and now not simply as a subsistence source of food but on a much larger scale, in fact far beyond what we ever imagined.
Well known as one of the most pristine sight fishing destinations in the world, and home to both Large and Smallmouth Yellowfish, Sterkies and its Yellowfish population are now under serious threat!
Spawning season is upon us with the first fish having come up in mid-November after the first rains and as the water began to warm. A week ago, we noticed suspicious activity on the river and started placing teams in place. Our days of early nights and lazy mornings officially over for the next five months as these crucial breeding sites now need to be managed and looked after.
I have personally been involved in trying to combat the ongoing netting within the tributaries of Sterkies for about the last three years with some success, I would like to believe. What we first believed to be small scale subsistence netting soon turned out to be large scale commercial poaching with hundreds of fish being taken daily.
In early 2022 we removed a total of over 100 nets, now here we are not talking gill nets as we know them, as these fish are so to say scooped out of the narrow river where they lie in pools in the wait to get an opportunity to swim upstream to spawn. A typical net is made of weld mesh and bird wire, crudely done as no real effort is required. Five or six guys could comfortably haul between 300 and 400 fish in an hour or so. These are then removed in grain bags and loaded into vehicles. One might now ask, “but what is the point”? Well folk, commercial gain is the point, and we are not talking small scale subsistence here. Evidence and information have proven that the fish, removed from just one tributary, have a street value of between R300 000 and R400 000 per month.
Efforts by the Department of Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (DESTEA) has seen zero impact in combatting this scourge and pretty much falls on deaf ears. Make no mistake, they do their best, but I honestly believe that their hands are tied due to some or other bureaucratic system which there is no way around.
The private landowners around Sterkfontein have now resorted to placing guards along the river during the spawning season, which is relatively easy to manage as only two tributaries exist. It however comes with major risks as you can imagine.
The reality in everything like this though is always funding, as costs quickly mount. The placing of guards, equipment and fuel etc. quickly add up. Various options are currently being explored together with various role players to see where a difference can be made and to improve on our actual on the ground operations. We are only looking at intense management of the system during the spawning season when the fish are at their most vulnerable which equates to about six months of the year, depending on conditions. This said, it would still require the cleaning up of rivers and removing alien vegetation in the low season which we are certainly looking at implementing on a much a larger scale that what we are currently doing.
I can assure you that should something drastic not be done that our children and grandchildren will never experience what we a have been so fortunate enough to have experienced. Stories of slabs of “Sterkies Gold” will be exactly that, just stories!
We are urgently appealing to any interested parties for any contribution of any sort, whether this be monetary or otherwise to assist us in combatting this absolute devastation that is currently taking place.
We furthermore request that should you ever be fishing Sterkfontein, which I am sure many of you will be over the next season, that should you notice any suspicious activity that you please report this to
For donations: Contact Craig Hill, 082 882 7055 or on firstname.lastname@example.org