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The Witte River

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20 min from Wellington

-33.6197, 19.0998

 

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

The River

The Witte is a free stone river situated in the Limietberg Reserve above Bains Kloof.  Its name, “Witte” or “Wit”, most likely comes from the abundance of white quartzite boulders that litter the river bed.  This river holds a historical population of the Loch Leven brown trout strain that were introduced in the late 1800s. Although shy by nature and regarded by some as the most testing trout in the Cape, there is still a healthy population of brown trout in this river.  Trout used to populate the entire length of the river but, due to higher summer temperatures and water abstraction, the majority of fish now hold in the top four beats as demarcated by the CPS.

Brown trout are opportunistic feeders and will accept most fly patterns that are presented in a natural, drag-free drift.  Large dry flies, such as #12 DDDs, RABs and Parachute Adams patterns, work well to draw fish up from the deeper pools, but a thorough selection of smaller nymphs and dries (#14-16) are recommended to those visiting this river for the first time.  Terrestrial patterns imitating beetles, moths and grasshoppers can be very effective and should be included in the arsenal of dries.

The Witte River is not an easy river to fish.  The approach to fishing pools is more technical and time consuming due to the obscure lies fish have adapted to and sight-fishing is par for the course.  A straightforward approach of wading and casting upstream will not yield the best results. First-timers to the river should consider hiring a guide, or at least get some advice from a fishing companion who is familiar with the river.  The trickiest part of this stream seems to lie in selecting the right day, weather-wise, and time of the year.

When traveling from Cape Town, turn left onto the R44 off the N1 and drive into Wellington.  Take the R301 up Bains Kloof Pass until the road summits.  There is safe parking at Eerste Tol (Bains Village) at the top of the pass, from where anglers will travel by foot on the service road and numerous hiking trials heading up the valley.

Witte Beat Six

The highest fishable stretch of the Witte River is known as Beat Six.  It is ideal small-stream territory designed for ultra-light fanatics (rods ranging from 000 – 2 wt) and is not everyone’s cup of tea.  The beat starts at the confluence of a small tributary above which there are several large pools.  As you continue upstream, the pools become progressively fewer and smaller until the beat finally ends at a prominent bedrock pool with a waterfall.  Although the fish encountered in this stretch of water are generally smaller, they are plentiful and the opportunity of hooking a trout between 14 and 18 inches is still there.  Fishing Beat Six requires a high level of fitness to comfortably cover the long distances on foot from the car park and back in a day.

Witte Beat Five

This beat is one of the most scenic on the Witte.  Once a small footbridge is reached along the foot path, make your way down to the confluence of a fair tributary (indicated as the Duck Pond on the map) where the beat starts.  A small, bushed-in valley is reached shortly after entering Beat Five; look for the large, distantly placed pools that lie hidden amongst fynbos and palmiet bushes in this area.  Higher upstream, the vegetation becomes sparser, making the lovely pools more accessible.  This means that the angler will also be more visible to the skittish trout and a careful and slow approach is recommended.  The beat finally ends beyond several long pools stacked on top of each other at the confluence of the small tributary that forms the barrier between Beats Five and Six.  A narrow footpath on the right (just before the junction pool, facing upstream, 33°40'0.67"S; 19° 7'28.66"E) will lead you back onto the trail that joins the jeep track to Eerste Tol.

Witte Beat Four

Probably the most challenging but also the most rewarding beat on the Witte, Beat Four starts at the large weir pool above a steep section of gorge.  Fish the large weir pool and commence upstream to a smaller weir.  The section between the two weirs is worth fishing in the early season, from September through to November, but is best left alone in the hotter summer months.  A furrow at the upper weir drains most of the main flow and leaves the lower reaches with too little water to be productive.  Concentrating on the palmiet-enclosed pools in the open, marshy valley above the higher weir can be very rewarding and is worth the effort and time to get to.  Above this open valley, a series of smaller pools will lead you to a large open pool with a quartzite bank on the right-hand side, where the largest of four tributaries joins the Witte in the upper valley.  Some memorable fish have come from the lower pools of this tributary and it is certainly worth a cast.  This stream will also be your exit point and the end of Beat Four.

Witte Beat Three

Beat Three on the Witte is not as productive as it used to be two decades ago, but the gorge is so beautiful and the pools so distinctly different from the rest of the river that it is still held dearly by those who visit the Witte regularly. Almost strictly an early-season beat, the flow drops rapidly in the large boulder-strewn gorge in this section of river.  Large brown trout can be approached by “leopard crawling” along the banks of deep pools, where fish have a definitive habit of patrolling the margins and resting intermittently in shaded areas.  Fishing in the company of another angler that sights the fish and instructs the cast is the best approach to fishing this beat successfully.  The beat starts a short walk from the car park, where you will make your way down to the Hut Pool past a wooden building to the left of the gravel jeep track that runs just short of the upper valley.  Fish your way through a narrow gorge until a large, nearly impassable pool, Eight Pounder Pool, is reached.  From here, make your way over the hill to the right of the river and fish the last 100 metres of Beat Three that ends at the large weir at the base of the upper valley.

Witte Beats One and Two

Although not recommended, these two beats may still hold fish (often very large trout) in the early-season period from 1 September to 30 November.  Beats One and Two are accessed by traveling downstream from the car park at Eerste Tol.  

Beat Two starts directly below the hiking trial accessing the Witte gorge at Eerste Tol.  Hike up the Witte gorge and concentrate your efforts on the large, deep pools in the rocky terrain of this beat.  Exit Beat Two at the Hut Pool, where a path on the right of the stream will lead you past a wooden building (hiker’s hut).

Beat One starts at the Bobbejaans River junction in the Witte gorge and is accessed via a hiking trail that leads to the Bobbejaans, or by following the river bed from where Beat Two starts, making your way down to the confluence. 

Similar terrain to Beat Two will be encountered and, as with Beat Two, fish can be expected to hold in the larger pools. This is one of the steepest parts of the gorge and once in it, the only way back to the car is to follow the riverbed upstream to Eerste Tol or hike back downstream to where the confluence was accessed.

GPS Entries

Witte Fly Fishing, Parking

-33.6197, 19.0998

Witte Fly Fishing, Start Beat 1

-33.6106, 19.1124

Witte Fly Fishing, Start Beat 2

-33.6191, 19.1032

Witte Fly Fishing, Start Beat 3

-33.6316, 19.1068

Witte Fly Fishing, Eight Pounder Pool (Beat 3)

-33.6431, 19.1116

Witte Fly Fishing, Start Beat 4

-33.6441, 19.1106

Witte Fly Fishing, Second Weir (Beat 4)

-33.6519, 19.1082

Witte Fly Fishing, Footbridge

-33.6594, 19.1147

Witte Fly Fishing, Start Beat 5

-33.6583, 19.1154

Witte Fly Fishing, Start Beat 6

-33.6667, 19.1246

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. 

When to go

To Do

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