Vrederus – fly fishing’s "paradiso"
By Ed Herbst
Vrederus provides the best of all worlds for the visiting fly fisher. Farm owners, Donie and Juan Marie Naude somewhat hesitantly first built a small rondawel in the hopes of attracting fly fishers to their dam. The combination of the beauty of the area, their hospitality, and the farm’s proximity to several outstanding streams quickly made it obvious that more accommodation was needed. A second and bigger rondawel was built and, as the visitor’s books in both dwellings indicate, most guests have either been to Vrederus before or have every intention of returning.
The dam provides outstanding fishing from the bank and more specifically from float tubes or the boat that the Naude’s provide. If you can bring yourself to wake at sunrise you will find that there are lots of early morning rises and trout can be spotted feeding hard in the shallows, sometimes with their backs out of the water. Sometimes at twilight there is a rise to midges that can make your hair stand on end. Your nerves get shot to pieces as fish feed madly all around you and lots of midge patterns and some form of light pinned to your vest are essential because trying to tie on another fly with shaking fingers after you have been broken for the umpteenth time is immensely difficult and immensely frustrating.
For small stream, light-line fanatics, Vrederus comes close to heaven. Bigger streams like the Tsitsa and Luzi are within an hour’s drive of the rondawels and the Tsitsa gorge, in particular, is a spectacular setting for a day’s fly fishing. The Swith stream, a tributary of the Luzi, is one of my favourite venues. As with most streams in this area it can only be reached with a vehicle that has a lot of ground clearance but I doubt if it sees more than a dozen fly fishers in a year. This is surprising because it is an exceptionally beautiful place to fish.
These are not streams for those who seek fish that are measured in kilos rather than centimetres. But with one and two weight rods and small flies they provide memorable angling. Not that the region lacks big fish but the bigger fish are to be caught in the bigger rivers of the area and, for me, they lack the tree-cloistered charm of streams like the Swith.
If you wish to introduce someone to fly fishing on streams, there can be few better places than the Swith or the Tsitsa. Both are full of trout that rise with alacrity to dry flies and take a nymph drifted below a strike indicator with conviction. During the course of a normal day a beginner will see lots of action and gain invaluable knowledge on how fish take a fly and how to react to that.
Edoardo Ferrero, the captain of the Italian team in the annual World Fly Fishing Championship, visited Maclear two years ago and described the area as “Paradiso!” but it is also a paradise for bird watchers and those who are fascinated by bushman art.
Vrederus is aptly named - rest and peace it has always provided but, in addition, it has provided some of my best fly fishing memories. I cannot wait to return.