Recently I decided to drop in on a new piece of water that’s been haunting me. Blueliners will know how unknown possibilities can chip away at you. You just gotta scratch that itch. The water looked small , thin and off colour due to rains. Doubt started welling up as I “trekked” downstream to a suitable starting point. Per fact there should be fish in this stream…But is there? I surveyed the head of a pool and crept into position trying to get a feel for the place since I couldn’t see into the water. I dropped a tentative cast in there. The fish took the nymph on the dropped and my click-n-pawl sang like a morning canary…SURPRISE!

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Now a fish on a first cast can be a bad thing at times if your’e the superstitious kind .The rest of the morning  panned out superstitious free and a couple more followed. Some were strong fish in thin water, hunting ‘trikes’ (trico-nymphs).

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I got a solid take in a bucket between some boulders that held promise. When I brought the fish to hand, I got my biggest SURPRISE. I noticed that it had an odd-looking mouth. There were no signs of  injury and it looked like this could very well be an Incomati chiselmouth (Varicorhinus nelspruitenis). It could also be a deformed smallmouth yellowfish, because this fish is very much outside of the chiselmouth  distribution. But the more I study the photos (I’ve included all below) ,the more I’m convinced it could be a chiselmouth. I would appreciate any feedback from fish fundi’s  and anglers familiar with chiselmouth?

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Note the olive dorsal colouration with white belly and darker olive edged scales along the lateral line
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Note the single short barbel

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Herman Botes

Herman Botes

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4 Responses

  1. Hi Herman, I agree with you that the mouth-parts, head and colour of the fish looks a lot like that of the Incomati chiselmouth. Do you perhaps have a clear photo of the whole fish (full length)? Great catch if it’s what we believe it is!

  2. Looks like a deformed yellowfish, chiselmouth are found with smallscale yellowfish. The Vaal won’t have it.

  3. These are unfortunately the only pics , as I assumed it is a deformed smallmouth.Guess I will have to go back in Spring to see if there is more

  4. A Chiselmouth is called that as it has a straight underslung mouth which is quite wide compared to that in your photographs.
    The fish you caught is a Smallmouth with a deformed mouth and definitely not a Chiselmouth.
    Target Chiselmouths in Upper Sabi river around Pilgrims Rest / Graskop area.

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