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Fishing the Sabie River

Michele du Plessis

Wisps of morning mist curl leisurely over the river, touched and gilded by the rising sun. Luminous, yet not clear, softening the world around you. Peaceful solitude with only the song of the river… gurgling, flowing, a melody of nature’s sounds. Then, the rise and fall of the fishing rod, the line and hand-tied fly gently touching the water, luring the rainbow from the water. There can be no greater peace than at the water’s edge.

Norman Maclean, A river runs through it, wrote: “Poets talk about “spots of time,” but it is fishermen who experience eternity compressed into a moment. No one can tell what a spot of time is until suddenly the whole world is a fish and the fish is gone.”

Rising on the slopes of the Mauchsberg and Mount Anderson catchment area, the Sabie River flows alongside the town of Sabie. From where the Horse Shoe and Lone Creek streams meet just 9km outside the town of Sabie down to the Sabie Falls, the river is proclaimed as a fly-fishing-only river area.

“The Sabie Trout Club (STC) has for the past 70 years successfully managed and controlled approximately 8km of fine trout fishing waters – considered by many a fly-fisher to be the best river fishing venue in Mpumalanga. We are working in close cooperation with forestry and STC has been granted access to the property bordering the Sabie River, enabling members and visitors to fish these waters,” Werner Wessels, Chairman of STC said.

“Unfortunately, as with all good things in life, it cost money to maintain the area. Once a month, we hire 4 guys for three days to clean the banks of the river, ensuring access. That costs more than R3000 per clearing. That amount does not include fuel for brush cutters, protective clothing nor other consumables. To stock the river with trout costs approximately R2500 per month. We buy the fish from Nooitgedacht Trout Hatchery in Lydenburg. Most of our funds are generated by the permits and the membership fees,” Werner said.

“STC is not a competing club, we are a social club. We do have members that are SA Angling team competitors; three of the ladies will be competing in New Zeeland and the gent in Czechoslovakia. We do have club competitions and social outings where we fish, for example, the upper Blyde River and pristine waters such as Maggsleigh dams at Hendriksdal.

We also believe in helping our community. A while back we supplied one Sabie resident with a fishing rod and fly fishing tackle, sponsored by Solly’s Angling Shop in Nelspruit, and we taught him how to fly fish for trout. His membership was also sponsored by the club. We offer introductory fly-fishing clinics for beginners, promoting the sport and our beautiful area as well.

A day spent on the banks of the river with family and friends, picnicking, fishing, children playing in the water, is a balm for your soul. Fish Deep Pool, Jacob’s Pool or Poacher’s Pool, relax while watching the sunlight dance on the water, tell stories about the one that got away and just be. That is the magic of nature and our river. Come and experience it for yourself,” Werner said.

And in the process, catch a trout or two… then release them back into the river because “a trout is too valuable to catch only once”.

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