South Africa has seven species of yellowfish. The Witvis or White Fish is not considered a true yellowfish(Papermouth and Clanwilliam Sawfish are included here). It’s a chromosomal thing that separates them. But they are still fly targetable indigenous fish!
Barbus Andrewi naturally occurs in the Berg/Breede River systems of the Western Cape. Once considered a pest because of their large numbers, it finds itself on the endangered species list.
There are few places left to find in a natural riverine environment. Many dams, including Brandvlei outside of Worcester, hold healthy stocks of White Fish, but habitat degradation and water extraction in their native rivers has led to a drastic decline in numbers. It’s biggest threat is the spread of Smallmouth Bass (M. dolomieu) into its natural range.
I’ve been saying for a while now that 2014 is going be my “indigenous year” and that my focus would shift towards the capture of Clanwilliam Yellowfish, Witvis and other native barbus and labeobarbus species. With this in mind, Ryan Weaver and I started planning early. River access, sampling data, records, reports and maps were all considered.
We eventually settled on this past Sunday to do a recce and see what we could see.
The river we explored is possibly one of the prettiest in the Western Cape, sporting some of the best dry fly water I’ve ever seen within our borders. There are trout higher up and I wonder if we wouldn’t find some winter risers. However, Witvis aren’t really dry fly type fish so it was to the pools with us. Ryan donned mask and snorkel while hid from the sun.
I’m ecstatic to say that we found them. We ever threw a fly at few but they shy guys and we have some legwork before we take a big one on fly. The river itself was full of galaxias, redfin and witvis. It looked, for the most part, healthy and happy.
We fished a section for short while and while trying to get a couple of photos, Ryan hooked into a bus specimen – me!
We then headed downstream to a section we had identified on the drive in. We very quickly sighted several magnificent specimens. The pool itself was difficult to fish and we hardly got a shot at them. But the positive is that they are there and we will be back 🙂