Go where the wild things are
Spring is just more than a month away, and if you are keen to target some serious river smallmouth, now is the time to get ready. One of the most obvious, but probably most important strategies for big bronzeback, is to fish the best water. Go where the wild things are.
The best chance of sticking a fly into a trophy smallie is to fish trophy water. It’s no secret that the Western Cape has some of the best smallmouth rivers in the country. The lower reaches of the Olifants and Breede River systems have long been considered prime smallmouth water and some true beasties are coming out of the Bulshoek, Clanwilliam and Brandvlei-Kwaggaskloof Dams every year.
One of my favourite smallie spots is the inlet to the Clanwilliam dam, best fished from a float tube. In the early season this water is fished like a large river, since the strong current pushing through the numerous palmiet channels creates a myriad of eddies and current seams that smallmouth bass love.
The key is to know when to fish which water, especially during the early season. As a general rule, the Clanwilliam area has a much warmer day temperature in the early season, making it an obvious early season choice.
If there is late snow on the mountains, the Breede will stay unfishable until quite late spring (cold water temps and high water levels). But it can be quite good in early summer, when the other catchments have very warm daytime temperatures, causing bigger bass to become nocturnal feeders.
The Brandvlei / Kwaggaskloof dams can be very productive from mid-winter until late spring. The Brandvlei inlet is a sure bet when the inlet is still active, and the gravel bars in the many bays near Nekkies usually become very productive with spawning activity of early spring. Kwaggaskloof damwall is a good post-spawn option. Thereafter it becomes quite difficult fare for the fly angler as the bigger fish moves off to deeper structure out of fly reach.