Fishing the Orange
The ideal location for the large mouth yellow fish and large catfish. Popular fish to catch in the bottom Richtersveld section of the Orange River that we raft are big-mouth yellow fish, small mouth yellow fish, tilapia, catfish, bottom feeders (mudfish) and carp.
Here is a clients fishing story about his rafting tour with useful tips:
Fishing is surely about catching fish, the endless pursuit of the next big one and the skill to outwit that fish. But on the Orange, there is actually so much more to fishing. The friendship out on the water, the dramatic scenery and views that we saw.
It turns out that in fact the fishing can be very good, with the target species being Large Mouth Yellows, Small Mouth Yellow’s, Mudfish, Barbel, Carp and Tilapia. I knew little on how to catch these fish, but I am a fisherman right, so how hard can it be?
There is very little packing space and you are pretty much encouraged to only take one set of clothes for the river (wet clothes) and one for at night (dry clothes). A blow-up mattress and a pump are a must, believe me. On my boat obviously my fishing gear takes priority.
Fishing up-to Hammerkop is slow & uneventful, but there are few expectations at this stage. The experience of just being on the river overtakes everything.
Every afternoon you pull up to the most beautiful campsite in the world with huge towering mountains on each side. It’s a quick set up of the tents and then lots of time to fish until the setting sun. Some are just happy to laze around camp, bathe in the river and take it easy. The fishing is just incredible, after a few days honing our skills we were into the Yellows almost shot for shot. I had always heard how strong these fish were, but for some reason had discounted them. Well I was in for a lesson. They fight better than those prized Tiger Fish that we love to catch. I quickly learnt that I should have brought a 6# or 7# rod. I bust off more hooks that I ever have done and often my fly returned straightened. We would fish well into the dusk and return to camp every night with wonderful tales of fish that got away. If it wasn’t for the odd photo I think the other folks on the river with us would have had their doubts in us.
Entrance Exam Rapid looked perfect for fishing and we raced off to fish it until dark. On arriving we noticed thousands upon thousands of Mudfish spawning on the opposite bank in the very shallow rapid. We then noticed that below the rapid was a huge heaving mass of white water and fish. It was all Barbel, but huge Barbel. Bigger than any I had ever seen. Many were trying to climb the shallow rapid to get at the Mudfish. The Mudfish would ultimately have to try and pass this mass of open mouths once they had spawned. It was a sight to behold.
Fly rods where not going to cut it, so we used the spinning rods. Light was fading fast aand we knew we probably only had a few casts each. Well shot for shot we would cast across the current, hit the rocks on the other side and be into a monster Barbel. Time and time again my heavy spinning rod with 40lb braid and Saltiga reel where no match for these huge fish in the current.
We broke split rings, hooks, lures, the lot. We both hooked at least 5 fish each and only managed to get 3 out, these being the smallest of the bunch. We eventually ran out of light. Walking back to camp we could not wait for first light.
The next morning, after we completed the rapid, we pulled off & went fishing. The fishing did not disappoint and although the Barbel had moved off and the Muddies where not spawning as prolifically, the fishing action was incredible and we landed Large and Small Mouth Yellow’s aplenty, plus the odd Muddy who is also a strong fighter on fly.
Fishing gear & tackle to take on the Orange River Fishing Expedition:
Fly fishing is probably the best way
6 to 7# weight rod
Good reel with lots of backing
12 to 15 lb Leaders a must
Good well tied flies on good hooks.
Flies- Small mouth yellow
Caddis patterns well weighted with tungsten beads
Hots spot pheasant tail nyphms
Hairs ear nymphs
Large mouth yellows
Sizes 4,6 and 8
Small hooks, swivels and sinkers
Whole Kernel Corn & vanilla essence.