In 1897, Rainbow Trout were introduced from North America, a species that grow faster than their Brown cousins and two years later they were being successfully bred and introduced into rivers in the Western and Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and of course Natal.
Due to their ecological niche, only being able to breed in cold, clean, well-oxygenated rivers, viable Trout fishing areas were few and far between. And by 1909 the Midlands of Natal was becoming known as a prolific Trout fishing destination and traveling by horse-drawn transport many a fly fisher first visited The Nottingham Road Hotel.
By 1926 Trout were well established and in these early years, a man kept what he caught and the rivers of Natal became known as trophy Brown Trout waters with Notties growing in popularity as a gathering point for anglers to boast about their fishing prowess. In 1947, the Natal Parks Board took over the administration of Trout fishing in this province, establishing hatcheries to supply fish.
By the 1960’s Trout were being commercially farmed and the pastime of catching a fish on fly was generally reserved for these naturalized species. The sport became quite popular in the seventies, resulting in the Natal Fly Fishers club being formed in 1972 to give recreational anglers access to productive Trout fishing waters.
In 1986 The federation of South African Fly Fishers was formed – FOSAF – to unite fly fishers and engage authorities on water quality, conservation and promote the sport of fly fishing.
And over the next decades what was once a pursuit reserved for titled gentry became affordable and accessible to any passionate angler, resulting in the hosting of the Kamberg Trout Festival and the Nottingham Road Trout Fair in 1997, laying the foundation for the fly fishing festivities that this area is renowned for.
CATCH & RELEASE PIONEERED BY WILDFLY
At the turn of the century, the concept of catch and release only fly fishing was pioneered by WildFly, a club created to manage the local fisheries and conserve the quality of Trout waters in the Natal Midlands
In 2001 the Corporate Challenge was born as a mechanism to fund the necessary stocking required to manage these dams effectively. The atmosphere of the legendary Notties coupled with the caliber of fly fishing resulted in this growing from a single event, into one held over three qualifying legs and a grand final in the Winter season. Over the proceeding years, WildFly’s fishing conservation initiatives have grown to include a television series that is now broadcast around the world showcasing the myriad of species that can be caught on fly.
The catchment waters of the Drakensberg remain an important sanctuary for Trout and at the heart of WildFly’s commitment to protecting the Wild Fisheries of South Africa.