It’s a “secret” valley high up in the Southern Berg that I have written about several times before. I even named my blog after the stream. I have decided that there’s no point trying to keep places like this a secret. It’s too remote and inaccessible for 99% of people to venture up there. I have realized that people are generally not as adventurous as they think. The fish are also pathetically small so it doesn’t matter if I mention the name or not. The upper Mzimkhulu River is some of the most remote trout fishing in Natal. This is what makes these little tiddlers so special.
On my GPS it was a 16km hike to the last pool on the Mzimkhulu River that held trout. That means that it’s a more than 30 km hike to fish this beautiful water. What’s best about this gorge is that it’s off the major hiking trails and you are unlikely to see another soul. In my opinion it also happens to be in the most spectacular area of the foothills of the Drakensberg. The unexplored sandstone gorges and and forests make this one of the best places for the adventurous stream fisherman.
This last weekend I had initially planned to climb to the top of the Drakensberg and fish a small stream in Lesotho for the day as training for a 65 km trial run I plan to do in April. My mate who is running-fit pulled out so I roped in Andrew Descroizilles, my regular fishing buddy for a less strenuous trip involving only a 32 km hike.
The fish we caught were ridiculously small. Definitely smaller than those we caught in April last year. I’ve never caught anything much bigger than what you see in the pictures, but the majority of 4 to 6″ fish that we caught in April, were now replaced with 3 to 4 inch fish. I presume this means that bigger ones have moved down stream and left their offspring up top? The numbers of fish up here at least bode well for the fish stocks lower down which are depleted after the drought of 2016.
I will let the pictures tell the rest of the story of our amazing day out.
When fishing these streams I usually only take my Tenkara rod. It’s probably the most effective and certainly simplest way to fish these streams, especially if you are planning on doing a training run while you are at it.
Andrew hooking into a fish. Yes that is a fish jumping out the water, not his fly. Most fish were small enough that they landed on the bank behind us with even the most delicate strike.
I call this tiddlers pool. It’s always got heaps of fish but always tiny.
This is my favourite section of the river. The valley opens out above the gorge. The fish are generally bigger up here too.
Above the junction the river literally flows through a cave.
The junction pool. There are fish for about 1km up each fork before the river’s get too steep.
The biggest fish I caught all day, and it was caught in the last pool that held fish on the Mzimkhulu.
The last pool on the Mzimkhulu held two monster 10″ fish. Just up around the corner is a significant barrier and there didn’t seem to be any fish higher up.
The last pool with fish on the southern fork of the Mzimkhulu. I don’t know the name of this stream but it looks even better than the Mzimkhulu. From here I walked out the valley and up onto the top of the ridge to take the scenic route home.
Looking up towards where the Mzimkhulu Cave is. This section was devoid of fish.
Sandleni Buttress in the background with the fork in the Mzimkhulu River down below. I climbed out the gorge up from the bottom left corner of the picture.
This photo is taken from the top of the spectacular cliffs in the first picture.
Once on the top of the mountains, there are these stunning valleys which just cry out to be explored. The high peak in the distance is the north eastern face of the Rhino Peak.
Sandstone sculpted by mother nature.
Another hidden valley high up in the foothills.
Looking down the Mzimkhulu valley. I followed the ridge on the right of the picture all the way back down to my meeting place with Andrew. Needless to say I got sidetracked up here and it took me a bit longer to get back than I anticipated. The mountain at the far end of the valley, in the sunlight is Mvuleni mountain, near Castleburn.