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The Holsloot River

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20 min from Rawsonville

-33.7478, 19.3356

 

+27 21 424 7725 www.piscator.co.za

The River

The Holsloot is a tailwater fishery flowing from the Stettynskloof Dam through a deep and arid gorge situated above Rawsonville. Although not as popular as the Smalblaar or Elandspad Rivers, the Holsloot produces good numbers of rainbow trout and sometimes fish close to or even bigger than 20 inches (which is considered trophy-sized in the Western Cape). It is fairly stable and flows cool throughout summer due to water released from the dam. It is the river to fish in mid-summer and later in the season (January to May), when the other rivers start running warm and low.

Please note that the river is accessed through private property and a code for an electronic gate should be obtained from the CPS at the time the booking is made. To get there, drive through Rawsonville and take the tarred turn-off to the right after crossing the lower Molenaars River. Take another right turn at the T-junction and follow the road to the electronic gate. Once through the gate, continue up the gorge on a dirt track until the end of the vineyards is reached – this is the start of Beat One and is about seven kilometres from the gate. Other beats are accessed by continuing up river on the dirt track and parking at the designated beat markers on the side of the road.

Holsloot Beat 6

This beat is situated on the “upper reaches” of the Holsloot and leads to the dam wall. It also includes a small stream, the Kaaimansgat River, which enters the main stem on the left (facing upstream), low down in the beat. The beat starts downstream of the bridge crossing, where there is ample space to park a car. Follow the dirt track down river and access the Holsloot below a large pool that leads to the bridge crossing. Trout congregate here in the early season and the first big pool should keep you busy with a number of fish within the first hour of the day. Fish often take up station tight to the bank, under low foliage, which should be taken into account when approaching this pool (and other big pools on the Holsloot, for that matter).

The pool directly above the bridge crossing may also hold a fair number of trout and should be fished carefully from below the bridge before making your way upriver on the right hand bank. Fish this pool and its inlet all the way up the right-hand bank until it becomes impassable. Head back down and access the Kaaimansgat by wading carefully across the head of the pool. Commence fishing up the valley through thickets of fynbos for as long as the daylight allows. Return to your car down the left bank (facing downstream) and fish to the evening rises in the large pool below the dam wall on the way.

Holsloot Beat Five

The beat marker indicating the start of Beat Five is clearly seen on the side of the road. Access the beat by following the small tributary that runs down a spur of high ground. Beat Five is very bushy in places, can be tricky to navigate and often demands technical casting, but there are plenty of fish tucked away in the overgrown slots and runs. Big dries (#12-14) such as Ed’s Hopper, the Elk Hair Caddis and Stimulators work particularly well on bow-and-arrow casts under the thick overgrowth that consists of wild almonds, lanced-leaf myrtles, Cape willows, honey-bell bushes and sand olives. The beat ends at the base of the large pool below the bridge crossing, which is the start of Beat Six.

Holsloot Beat Four

Parking for this beat is at the beat marker. Getting to the river involves a short scramble over the silver water pipes down to the river. The beat starts at a lovely pool, where the first rises of the day can sometimes be seen early in the morning. The water consists of long pools, runs and good pocket water.  Fish upstream using small dries and nymphs that imitate the natural insects, such as small caddis species, dark leptophlebid mayflies (prongills) and chrysomelid beetles. Yellow foam beetle patterns and a yellow Ed’s Hopper are the “go-to” patterns on the Holsloot.  Fish these flies when the river goes “dead” and no rises can be observed during the midday hours (10am – 3 pm). Leave some time to find your way back to the car at the end of the beat.

Holsloot Beat Three

This beat starts below an obvious parking area with leftover pipes from the construction of the water transport system at a very large pool. Beat Three is popular and holds some of the best water on the river. This beat has a nice variety of deep pools, slots and shallow runs, which all hold fish. As with many other beats on the river, the fishing strategy should be changed when the trout disappear in the midday hours. Switch to larger terrestrial type flies, especially hopper patterns, and cover the most likely areas for trout. I have been surprised on several outings to the Holsloot with the sudden appearance of a trout for a large yellow Ed’s Hopper when the pool seemed devoid of fish before the fly was presented.

Holsloot Beat Two

A marker indicates the parking area for Beat Two about 1,5 kilometres from the start of Beat One. Beat Two is heavily bushed in places and several large pools need to be bypassed in the surrounding fynbos. An important tip is to enter the pools from downstream with as little disturbance as possible and fish the fringes and undercuts in the tail-outs. Trout often take up station in the shallow, shaded parts under bank-side vegetation near the tail of pools. Yet again, you can’t go wrong fishing a #12 Ed’s Hopper pattern (tied with bright yellow foam) to these fish.

Holsloot Beat One

Beat One starts at the end of the vineyards (on the right-hand side driving up the gorge), just before the road elevates to run higher along the mountainside. The first beat on the Holsloot presents lovely water that demands some technical casting in places.  It often produces good numbers of trout and there are stunning sections of dry fly-fishing among green thickets of aquatic grasses that will blow your mind. Place dry flies by the dapping technique in the pockets among the grasses – numerous smaller trout hang out here. Also remember to fish larger and more buoyant caddis patterns, such as the Elk Hair, and Stimulators in the headwater of fast runs. The rainbows not only instinctively take up station in fast water, but they also show a preference to areas with elevated oxygen levels in the mid-to-late summer heat.

GPS Entries

Holsloot Fly Fishing, Electronic Gate

-33.7478, 19.3356

Holsloot Fly Fishing, Start Beat 1

-33.8053, 19.3075

Holsloot Fly Fishing, Start Beat 2

-33.8121, 19.2943

Holsloot Fly Fishing, Start Beat 3

-33.8163, 19.2897

Holsloot Fly Fishing, Start Beat 4

-33.8228, 19.2793

Holsloot Fly Fishing, Start Beat 5

-33.8279, 19.2691

Holsloot Fly Fishing, Start Beat 6

-33.8364, 19.2584

Holsloot Fly Fishing, Parking Beat 1

-33.8077, 19.3083

Holsloot Fly Fishing, Kaaimansgat Tributary

-33.8373, 19.258

Holsloot Fly Fishing, Large Pool, Dam Wall (Beat 6)

-33.8374, 19.2541

Cape Winelands

Western Cape

About

As the name suggests, the Cape Winelands is an area of vines and vineyards; the berries of which are responsible for that most delicious fermented juice of the grape: wine. The region is well known for its proliferation of estates and cellars that continually create quality wines throughout the cultivar spectrum.

This is an area that encourages leisurely meanders along its various wine routes, absorbing the natural beauty of the rural surroundings.

The region stretches northwards from the eastern outskirts of Cape Town. In the south the popular and trendy towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek nestle in the shadow of the mountains that make up the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve. To the west the popular tourist ‘Route 62’ follows the Breede River Valley. It takes in the town of Robertson, the quaint village of McGregor and continues to Worcester.

North, across the N1 highway, the historic towns of Paarl, Wellington and Tulbagh are strung out between a series of mountains. In the far north-east, the town of Ceres is a dot in a sweeping valley of fruit orchards.

Craggy mountains are a feature of the landscape, giving rise to the region also being called the Boland (High Land). The mountains include the ranges of the Groot Drakenstein, Langeberg, Hexrivier and Witzenberg. Their steep rocky peaks plunge to gentler gradients rich in fynbos and proteas, before levelling out in fertile valleys threaded with chortling streams.

In these low-lying areas, suspended between the slopes, vineyards stretch in patchwork patterns. Like an artist’s palette the area changes with the seasons - from subtle spring pastels, through lush summer greens, to the earthy shades of autumn.

Not only are the Cape Winelands a delight for connoisseurs of fine wines; the towns themselves are centres for a host of enjoyable pastimes. Many are steeped in history and have magnificent collections of traditional Cape Dutch and period architecture.

These are best viewed during a stroll along the leafy streets. The historic Church Street in Tulbagh has the largest concentration of provincial monuments in one street in South Africa. The university town of Stellenbosch, with its oak-lined boulevards, is the second-oldest town in the country, dating back to 1671. Today it is an important cultural centre with a host of galleries and museums, and the country’s oldest music school.

Franschhoek, reclining in a somnolent valley ambience, entices gourmets to sample its fare at some of South Africa’s top restaurants. McGregor is well known for its life-enriching tranquillity and Ceres for its fruit production and snow-covered mountains in winter. Besides their wineries, Robertson and Worcester are known for the production of some of South Africa’s best known brandies – Klipdrift and KWV, respectively.

The winelands is great country in which to enjoy a leisurely trip along minor roads that fade into the fynbos. They will take you into valleys and gorges, past barns stacked with bales of lucerne, and paddocks with grazing sheep and lazing cows. Around farmsteads and cottages, chickens strut their stuff and pigs wallow in slushy heaven. Dams mirror the sky and hillsides, their reflections rippled by drifting and preening waterbirds. Tractors till the land, and labourers and farmers wave to every passer-by.

For centuries the terroir here has been ideally suited to the production of great wine and today, more than ever before, it is also conducive to the making of good times and fond memories. The Cape Winelands is a region to relax in, whilst inhaling the warm, scented air and indulging in the finer things in life.

Look out for

Wine tasting – naturally this is a popular and pleasant pastime in the region. The Stellenbosch wine route, established in 1971, is the oldest in South Africa. Today other routes lead to the cellars and estates around virtually every town in the region. Many of the wineries offer tasting and sales from Monday to Saturday. Maps are available from the tourism office in each town.

Brandy tasting – this much-loved spirit is produced by a good number of cellars and specialist distillers throughout the region. There are 2 brandy routes in the region. The Western Cape Brandy Route winds through Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl and Wellington. The R62 Brandy Route goes through Robertson and Worcester. Many of these offer tasting, tours and sales from Monday to Friday.

Historical towns – the Cape Winelands is rich in history, with most towns and many of the wine estates having their own collections of historical buildings, museums and monuments. The region is synonymous with Cape Dutch and Victorian architecture. Highlights include Church Street in Tulbagh and the De Oude Drostdy Museum just outside the town. There are Zeederberg Square and the Paarl Museum in Paarl, and Klein Plasie open air Museum in Worcester. Twenty declared National Monuments are in Wellington and there is the Huguenot Memorial and Museum in Franschhoek.

Scenic drives – where there are mountains and valleys there are always scenic roads and passes to explore; here is no exception.

River rafting – the Breede River is the sixth largest river in South Africa and is a playground of fun and adventure.

Adrenalin - for lovers of the adrenalin rush, Ceres Zipslide Adventures offers 8 slides totalling 1.4km amongst the rock formations of the Skurweberg mountains near Ceres.

Art galleries – the towns are home to a host of artists and galleries. The Stellenbosch Gallery and Rupert Gallery in Stellenbosch are popular and showcase art through many mediums and genres.

Wildlife on display – the area has a number of parks that allow one to get close to a variety of wild creatures in captivity. Some of the better known ones include the Drankenstein Lion Park, Butterfly World, Paarl Bird Sanctuary and the Le Bonheur Crocodile Farm - all situated between Paarl and Stellenbosch. 

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