Latest update: 2019-01-24 – BIG NEWS!! Check out the chalet section
I caught my very first fish here by accident while I was practicing casting my fly-fishing rod. Out of nowhere a nice sized bass took my woolly bugger and just like that the bass and I was hooked. He was hooked for about 3 minutes, but I’ve been hooked ever since. 4 years later and Rietvlei Dam still and will always have a special place in my heart.
Since that day we’ve probably visited Rietvlei close to 200 times. It’s so close to us that we got ourselves season passes, and during early spring (spawn) we try to go 3 or 4 times a week. It’s a wonderful place, a hidden gem, and very rewarding if you know what to do.
On this page we’ll share (and continually update) our accumulated knowledge of Rietvlei Dam, our second happy place.
Rietvlei Dam has a deserved reputation of being very tough. Especially for carp. We’ve blanked many many times but even though this was frustrating at times it turned out being a blessing in disguise. It made much better anglers of us by forcing us to try all kinds of different strategies. Here’s what we’ve learnt so far.
Bass fishing at Rietvlei Dam can be mind-blowing one day and dead the next. No-one can tell us why. We looked at the weather conditions, water temp, air pressure, full moon etc., nothing has explained this to us. We just take a chance each time, drive out there and hope for the best. But we are rewarded more often than not. Here’s a couple of bass caught over the years.
My previous pb (and Martin’s current pb) were both caught at Rietvlei in the last couple of years. Here’s my 3.2kg I caught way back in 2015.
As always every single fish was safely and quickly released.
Bait \ Lures
As stated before we’ve used almost everything at Rietvlei Dam with mixed results. Starting from the most successful, here’s a list of our favourite lures to use:
1. Flukes – Our goto lure in most situations and once again deadly at Rietvlei, especially junior flukes. Most colours work but by far the most successful is junebug. In fact any very dark colour with some kind of flash like a black fluke with silver glitter works well.
2. Worms – Senkos, trick worms etc. also work well, again junebug is popular but we’ve had a lot of success with watermelon red too.
3. Other plastics – From grubs, craws to brush hogs we’ve had a lot of luck with all plastics. Twintail grubs especially is another favourite when imitating frogs.
4. Cranks – Using cranks isn’t always possible because of the grass that covers most areas but there are rocky areas where using a crank is very productive. In fact my monster bass above was caught on a lipless crank (bass pattern).
5. Jerkbaits – We’ve had limited success with jerkbaits, the grass again a factor, but we’ve seen many other anglers do well when fishing these fairly fast (not our style).
Less productive – Other baits have proven to be less successful for us, these include spinnerbaits, jigs etc. Also we’ve had almost zero success with topwater baits.
We always fish very very slowly at Rietvlei. Cast your fluke or worm out there, let it drop, wait for it to settle and then slowly retrieve, twitching it every now and then. We’ve caught probably 90% of our fish this way and it’s actually super exciting. Seeing your line suddenly rise violently is exhilarating.
For cranks obviously make sure they hit the bottom \ rocks, and for jerkbaits a faster retrieval seems to work.
1. General – We’ve caught most of our bass next to the reeds. Almost every spot at Rietvlei has some form of reed wall bordering it and retrieving along those reeds can be very lucrative.Wading makes this even better because you can reach the front of the reeds where you’ll have a better chance of a bigger fish.
2. Camping area – In terms of actual spots we’ve had a lot of success near the island (where road ends). Anywhere in that vicinity is productive. From there another hotspot is the open rocky spot where the road comes very close to the water. Lots of fish here. Then of course the “sloep” (start of fishing area), is also very popular.
3. Chalet area – This is only accessible if you are actually staying at one of the chalets. Here the water is a lot deeper, especially in front of the first couple of chalets. We’ve stayed there a few times and have had some spectacular success including my previous pb (above). The chalets have unfortunately been out of commission for a while now but they are starting to reopen, more on that below…
2018-08-29 – Hippo warning!: We visited Rietvlei today for the first time this season and were met by not one but two hippos roaming the entire fishing area, from the island to the “sloep”. So we won’t be wading at Rietvlei Dam for a while, lets hope they move on when the grass is gone.
It’s a well-known fact that carp fishing at Rietvlei Dam is extremely tough. No-one can dispute that. At the same time it is a favourite among specimen anglers because if you do manage to hook a carp there is a very good chance it’s going to be your new pb. The carp at Rietvlei are massive and if you have the equipment (and patience) you will be rewarded handsomely.
Because of this we very seldom target carp there. On the few occasions we did try we managed 2 in total, but we were fishing conventionally (papgooi) and Martin struggles to cast further than 100m 🙂 Nevertheless here is one of the catches, a nice 5kg Rietvlei “baby”.
1. Conventional – Floaties work well and popular flavours are banana, pink sweets, pineapple, peach and perdeby. Any fruity flavours for that matter. Add earthworms to the mix if your not getting any action.
2. Specimen – Tigernuts always do well and pineapple is an especially effective flavour. For boilies any fruity flavours, like cherry, should work, also stronger flavours like fishy.
1. Time of day – In general the carp at Rietvlei Dam seem to be more active at night, and very early morning. That’s when most fish are caught.
2. Distance – This is a hot topic since most locals will tell you to always go very deep, over 150m (hence all the baitboats). But we’ve been hearing of nice fish being caught much shallower. It all depends on the spot. As a rule though try to fish at around 100m and you’ll give yourself a good chance.
1. Camping area – The carp seem to also like the same spots as the bass. So again people have a lot of success near the island (where road ends). Anywhere in that vicinity is productive but you’ll need to get your lines in over 100m. The open rocky spot, where the road comes very close to the water, is also useful. Again you’ll probably need to cast quite deep. Then of course the “sloep” (start of fishing area), is also very popular, depth less of a problem.
2. Chalet area – This is only accessible if you are actually staying at one of the chalets. The water gets much deeper much quicker, especially in front of the first couple of chalets. There is a large willow tree in that area and either side of that is productive. The chalets have unfortunately been out of commission for a while now but there are rumours that they will be opening again, more on that below…
We mainly target bass and carp at Rietvlei Dam but here are some other species that may or may not be available.
There are some monster barbel in Rietvlei. We always see them playing, especially on the chalets side where there are many rocky areas. We tried for barbel once using crab and when the rod eventually ran we had no chance stopping it. It simply broke the line when we attempted to stop the run. Earthworms, platannas will always get you a few bites. And crab, which can sometimes be caught along the shoreline, is another barbel favourite. Friends tried the popping method once with zero success.
KURPER \ tilapia \ bream
There are kurper in Rietvlei and we know people catch them using earthworms. But we’ve never seen any, not one, ever. If anyone reading this can give us some advice on how to target them that would be really helpful. But we can’t confirm that they are out there.
Because we’ve never seen one at Rietvlei we really doubted that they still exist there. But recently there’s been quite a few caught by carp anglers. So they are still very much active in the dam and we’ll be targeting them the next chance we get. As evidence here’s Rikus van Vuuren showing off his 3.7kg yellowfish he caught a while ago. It was caught on a hasbeen tigernut of all things. Nice catch Rikus!
There is a large stretch of shoreline available for camping at Rietvlei Dam. As you drive in by the gate you turn left immediately, drive around the bend and you’ll see the first ablution block. From there to the end of the road is the camping \ fishing area. The area around the first ablution block is called the “sloep” and where the road ends is the island spot. You camp literally 50m or less from the reserve fence which means you often see some of the animals (including rhino!), and at night you hear them…
1. First come first serve – There are no marked spots \ swims, so you can’t really book in advance, you get there and find a spot. In general though the reed clusters form natural channels \ spots. Just find an opening and start unpacking. But it does start to fill up very early on Fridays in summer…
2. Electricity – There is no electricity at Rietvlei currently. But there is talk of it being installed…
3. Ablutions – As with most government run institutions these are not great but I’d like to think they are better than most other places. There are enough of them to go around, just don’t expect to have hot water…
4. Boats – No boats of any kind (canoes, kayaks, ducks) are allowed. Baitboats are definitely allowed, if you have one bring it, you’ll be in good company.
5. Drones – drones are not allowed.
6. Caravans – caravans are welcome.
The chalets are perfectly located and quite comfortable. They make a large ideal fishing area accessible. Unfortunately for the last couple of years they have been out of commission, standing empty. It’s a massive shame, they have such potential but I guess the thousands of rands collected each weekend are spent elsewhere…
They have started reopening, we’ll update this space with any news we receive.
2018-01-24 – Update: We have confirmed that the chalets are reopening officially on the 1st of Feb 2019! Initially it will only be the 3 chalets in the middle (#12, #13 and #14 I think). But it’s a good start. And we’ve been told that the units will go for R850 / night. Many thanks to Stuart Nicholson who alerted us to this development.
2018-11-25 – Update: Apparently the renovations on the chalets have started so hopefully they’ll be operational in the new year.
2018-08-29 – Update: We visited Rietvlei today for the first time this season and to our surprise the whole chalet area has been fenced off and gated. This is good news. It means staying there will be even safer, but more importantly it looks like the chalets should be operational again soon. It does however mean bass fishing at the chalet side is not possible anymore unless you are staying in the chalets.
Touch wood but there has been zero incidents for at least two years at either the camping or chalet side. So it’s one of the safer places you can go. At this point the only real threat are the hippos 🙂
Here are the rates for 2019.
So if you are 2 adults who want to go fishing for the day you will be paying R59 x 2 = R118.
If you are 2 adults in 1 car who want to overnight\camp you will be paying (R123 x2) + R48 = R294.
That’s how we understand it anyway…
The chalets are starting to reopen and we have confirmed they will be R850 / night. Ignore the stupid price on this photo.
Bass – slow and low along the reeds, junebug flukes work well
Carp – perdeby floaties (papgooi), or pineapple tigernuts (specimen), 100m distance at least depending on spot
Barbel – earthworms and crab, (and very strong line)
Other fish – no idea 🙂
Camping – get there early, don’t be squeemish
Chalets – let’s hope all of them are up and running again soon
Early in 2019 the bass were scarce, here’s a video of one of our attempts.
Here’s a quick video of a late afternoon bass fishing session which turned exciting. Still don’t know what is was, monster bass or barbel? You decide…