Largemouth yellowfish, Orange River, South Africa

Fishing the edge of the Kalahari for largemouth yellowfish

Largemouth yellowfish are South Africa’s most sought after game fish. An indigenous predator, the largemouth are a hard fighting fish and are true apex predators. Sitting deep and amid structure, they are a worthy adversary. It is a true wilderness experience, fishing on the edge of the great Kalahari. The rocks echo back the cry of soaring eagles, baboons call from their rocky perches and birds dip and dive around you. In the depth, largemouth yellowfish and smallmouth yellowfish await.

Trophy largemouth yellowfish on the edge of the Kalahari

The Kalahari Largemouth Yellowfish Conservancy is the first of its kind on the Orange River. With small groups, fully guided catch and release fly fishing the aim of the project is to create and protect a sustainable fishery. Hand in hand with Caleo Capital Environmental Investment and with the support of local land owners and conservation bodies, this 70 km stretch of the Orange River offers a truly world class fly fishing experience.

Largemouth yellowfish are South Africa’s most sought after game fish. An indigenous predator, the largemouth are hard fighting fish and are true apex predators. With an average size of 5 lbs – 8 lbs, this river does grow monsters with fish over 30 lbs waiting to be landed. Largemouth yellowfish in double digits are not uncommon and lifetime fish in excess of 18 lbs are a very realistic possibility.

Smallmouth yellowfish are present in good number, and good size in this stretch of the river. Trophy smallmouth in excess of 8 lbs are landed reguarly on streamers when fishing for largemouth. If you want a break from fishing streamers, it is possible to target the smallmouth in the faster, shallower water on dry flies and nymphs.

Fishing from a raft, the guides work the boats using anchors and oars to hold the rafts in position enabling you to target drop offs, deep undercut banks and bedrock shelves. Both largemouth and the larger of the smallmouth yellowfish sit in deeper water, close to the bottom and tight to the structure. A quiet rolling motor moves you silently through quiet spots and on to the next section. A strict beat rotation is adhered to and as trips are run bi-weekly, the pools are well rested between trips.

Sleep under the stars

A mix of accommodation gives you a true taste of both the African wilderness and the luxury of the African safari lodge. Your trip starts at the deceptively simple and very comfortable Desert Farmhouse and finishes at the tranquil luxury of Tutwa Desert Lodge.

The real jewels of the trip are the nights camping on the banks of the Orange River. Each day, camp will be set and ready for you when you come off the river, a hot drink or sundowner ready for you as you arrive. With no light pollution save the flickering embers of your campfire, Africa’s canopy of stars are a stunning background every evening and a magical ceiling to sleep under.

Remote and wild, on the edge of the great Kalahari

The Orange River is the longest river in South Africa with the river basin extending into Namibia and Botswana. Rising on the western slopes of the Drakensberg Mountains in Lesotho, it flows over 2,250 km west through South Africa to the Atlantic Ocean. For most of this distance, it flows through semi arid desert landscapes and for its last 450 km, forms the border between South Africa and Namibia. The river was named after the Dutch Royal House although you could be forgiven for thinking that the red sandstone reflections on the water influenced its naming.

Within that length, a 70 km section of the Orange River forms the Kalahari Largemouth Yellowfish Conservancy.

A worthwhile visit post fishing is Augrabies Falls, the 8th largest falls in the world. Rising 184 feet, this cascade waterfall rivals Niagra Falls in spate volumne and with a gorge depth of 240 metres and 18 km in length, it is an impressive example of granite erosion.

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