The Jan du Toit’s RiverEnquire Now
20 min from Worcester
+27 21 424 7725 www.piscator.co.za
Arguably one of the most beautiful rivers ever to have been stocked with rainbow trout in South Africa, the Jan du Toit’s is popular with many who are fit enough to hike its boulder-strewn gorge. It is not divided into beats and should preferably be fished over a few days on a hiking outing. Situated in the Waaihoek area of the greater Hex River Mountains, it is exposed to large temperature fluctuations and strong winds and clothing should be selected carefully before embarking on a trip.
Due to the fragile nature of the reserve, CapeNature and the CPS offer limited slots for the season on a raffle basis to CPS members only. The slots are two weeks in duration, which provides anglers with more than enough time to plan a trip; and even reschedule if weather conditions become unfavourable. It is important to note that the river is accessed through private land, including the parking area, and that the owner should be notified well in advance of a fishing trip. Contact details of the farmer and directions for the Jan Du Toit’s River can be obtained from the CPS. Please note that access to the river is monitored and strictly controlled and that trespassing will not be tolerated.
The Jan du Toit’s is not a big river. The higher you go, the thinner it gets; and the upper reaches, which take anywhere from two to three days to cover, are a small stream par excellence. The stream conditions are very suited to grow large trout and fish bigger than 20 inches have been landed. But it has to be mentioned that rainbows of this size have not been caught recently and the CPS, the Federation of South African Flyfishers (FOSAF) and CapeNature are currently working on a translocation project to possibly restock this river.
To fish the river comfortably, it should be split up into at least three full days of fishing. Fish the lower reaches from the first left bend into the gorge until a large overhang camp is reached on the right-hand side of the river (facing upstream). This section is fairly long and can be squeezed into a day with an early start. Use the next day to fish from the camp upstream in your own time and return to the overhang for the night. The morning hours of the final day should then provide enough time to commence fishing all the way to the top waterfall, which is also the end of the trout population range.
You may find it ironic that not all the pools hold fish, which still surprises me when I take the time to examine some of the fine but barren pools I come across. The rainbows also seem to move around quite a bit and one’s favourite pool may not hold any fish on the next outing. I prefer fishing a heavier rod, such as a 2 wt or 3 wt, with a fast action on the Jan du Toit’s, mainly due to the size of the fish and strong headwinds often rushing down the narrow kloof.
Sight-fishing is the norm, with rainbows that behave like browns in their mannerisms frequently patrolling and lying right in the tail-outs of large pools. We have even found fish lazing on shallow gravel beds far from the main flow, which is very unusual for rainbow trout in local streams. Successful fishing on the Jan du Toit’s can therefore be time consuming, another reason why a few days are recommended to cover the full length of its water properly.
It is hard to find a balanced leader construction for the Jan du Toit’s. A short leader provides accurate snag-free presentation in the overgrown areas but longer leaders allow for softer presentations with less chance to spook wary fish. Simply change the make-up of the tippet (by adjusting the lengths of 3X-6X) to best suit the circumstances of individual stretches and pools on this river.
Fly selection is the fun part on this river for it is not often that you get to observe a large trout either refuse or gently accept your dry merely a few feet from your ambush point. Hoppers and Daddy Longlegs patterns are hard to beat, but a thorough selection of small dries and tiny nymphs will see you through challenging periods. Anglers have even reverted to flies as small as size 24 ants to entice fussy Jan du Toit’s rainbows.
Jan du Toit’s Fly Fishing, Parking
Jan du Toit’s Fly Fishing, Start of Footpath
Jan du Toit’s Fly Fishing, Start of Fishing
Jan du Toit’s Fly Fishing, Large Overhang Camp
Jan du Toit’s Fly Fishing, End of Fishing
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.