YWG March 2023 Newsletter

Dear YWG supporter,

Here is the latest news:



Sterkfontein Dam.

You will have seen the media reports concerning the illegal netting of spawning yellows in the feeder streams of Sterkfontein Dam and the sterling efforts of the team led by Craig Hill to control this problem. Although the spawning season is coming to an end the newly established Sterkfontein Anti-Poaching Unit has other duties including the prevention of gillnetting in the dam which has recently raised its ugly head. Funds are urgently required to keep this unit going, and these can be donated to:

Sterkfontein Anti-Poaching Unit.

Bank: FNB.

Current Account No. 6303 203 5106.

Please use your name as reference and send proof of payment to Craig Hill at 082 8827055 or qwantanigm@firstgroup-sa.co.za. Also supply your name, email address or contact number.

Vaal River Report by Chris Williams.

Everyone will be aware of the chronic Vaal flooding this year. Several of the mid-Vaal fishing venues have been forced to close down. Many buildings illegally built below the 100-year-floodline mark have been destroyed. The DWS and Rand Water have been releasing maximum water from the Vaal Dam and Barrage. We have for years been advocating a gentle and structured opening and closing of the dam sluice gates. This would prevent much of our aquatic life being washed away as well as the potential threat to human life. The authorities are eventually coming to realise this. However non-maintenance, no refurbishing or development and antiquated pipes and systems have made a structured water release practically impossible. This has ruined our late seasonal tailwater fly fishing.

The anti-invasive plant weevil breeding and promulgation programme is slowly gaining momentum despite the flood’s hindrance. The aim is to reduce the water hyacinth, water lettuce and Salvinia in our rivers. It will shortly be under way again in earnest. Breeding stations are already set up in several areas. Batches of breeding pairs need to be regularly reintroduced every few weeks or so, as they have a short life span and also get washed away with the floods. This is largely the good work of Rand Water Environmental Services and Rhodes University Centre For Biological Control. We as FOSAF/YWG have been assisting and working with these two main drivers of this vital project.

The Wits Environmental Chemistry Department have started serious research into plastic and microplastic pollution in the mid-Vaal and it’s effect on yellowfish and carp. We are meeting up with their head, Dr. Dalia Saad to give our views and suggestions on behalf of fly fishers. Dr. Saad has just returned from a few months’ research into similar problems on the Nile in Sudan so hopefully she can extrapolate her good work for our Vaal fish.

Saving Sandfish Episode 5 - Onderbek se kind

Onderbek se kind is the latest episode in the Saving Sandfish web series. The series chronicles the gritty, humorous and unpredictable quest to conserve South Africa's most threatened migratory freshwater fish - the Clanwilliam Sandfish. In this episode you will be taken on an aquatic adventure deep into the spawning rituals of the elusive sandfish. Full episode available via this link: https://youtu.be/7T0MD3ZAUZE.

FOSAF/YWG has been one of the donors for the Save the Sandfish project since 2020 and is delighted with the progress made so far.

Breekkrans River Restoration Project

The Freshwater Research Centre has recently embarked on an ambitious freshwater fish conservation project in the heart of the Cederberg Mountains - a hotspot for freshwater fish diversity in South Africa. The plan is to restore 7km of the otherwise-pristine Breekkrans River habitat by employing a team from the nearby Langkloof Community to mechanically remove invasive alien spotted bass. This will substantially increase the distribution range of the Critically Endangered Doring River Fiery Redfin and five other endemic freshwater fish species. A barrier weir will be constructed to prevent bass from re-invading the restored river reach, but the first step is to open up the river channel by clearing a passage through the thick, overgrown riparian vegetation. Project partners include the Fynbos Fish Trust, CapeNature, the Cederberg Conservancy, the Mountain Club of South Africa. The project is funded by Total Energies.

Kind regards,