The Bokspruit rises at an altitude of 2 800 metres on the Drakensberg escarpment. As it drops down from the escarpment the gradient lessens, the river gains in volume and depth, becomes slower flowing and is not quite as exquisitely clear as the upper and source water. In places the riverbanks are lined with groves of poplar trees, occasional willows and the stream is flanked by pastures. Deep pools alternate with long inviting glides and runs and in many sections there is typical riffle water, ideal for nymphing.
Although there are many small trout in the Bokspruit – some years enough of them to be a complete nuisance – this is quintessential big trout water with rainbows of 20 to 22 inches not uncommon. Dry fly fishing is to sighted rises that invariably start later in the day down here, but nymph fishing is nearly always productive. All the pastoral beats are accessible in a saloon car.
From Bothwell downstream, the river assumes a more pastoral character, with a wider floodplain, cultivated lands and sometimes well-treed banks. The stream has a sand and gravel bed, with occasional riffle and rapid areas and some deep pools all the way down to its confluence with the Sterkspruit on the farm Black Rock.
Parking is at the house near the upstream boundary, or at the long pool next to the road. On the whole, this beat has fairly shallow water. The upper parts have boulder-strewn banks and the majority of the beat has a sandstone bedrock streambed varying from green and white to ochre in colour. There is a fair amount of ouhout growing on the banks. The long pool in the middle of the beat sometimes “boils” with rising fish in the evenings and it can be a great place to end the day’s fishing. Fish respond well to dry flies, while weighted nymphs deliver well, especially when the river is in spate.
Parking is near the farmhouse at the upstream boundary or near the poplar grove downstream. The river starts to assume a more pastoral nature here. There are long boulder-strewn pools connected by fast-flowing stretches with blue/green sandstone bedrock. This is one of the most photogenic beats with its green bedrock and in autumn, when the poplar groves turn yellow, it can be spectacular. Fish respond to both nymphs and the dry but, at times of low flow, the “plop” of a nymph hitting the water will scatter fish almost at every cast. This is the beat to fish when you want to see how shallow you can take fish.
Park near the bridge and walk downstream to fish back up. Here, the river varies between boulder strewn and sandy bottoms, and at times the stream creates an extensive network of braids. There are shallower runs and riffles, as well as deeper pools in the lower reaches. Fish can be taken on dry flies in shallower parts and respond to nymphs in the deeper pools. This used to be a well-treed beat, but since Working for Water’s eradication program, crack willow skeletons line the banks. Although esthetically less pleasing, these tree skeletons create lovely structure and you can bet on finding a decent fish in the submerged branches.
Welgemoed (Fred Steynberg)
The river used to meander through pastures under a leafy canopy, but most of the trees have since been killed. The substrate is a mixture of sandstone bedrock, cobbles and gravel and the banks are well grassed or cobbled. There are small intimate bends, riffles and a few pools. Where they are still to be found, undercuts can be very productive. Fish respond to both dries and nymphs, with a lot of smaller fish to be found in the inflows to pools or below rapids. Yellowfish are often found this far up the Bokspruit during the summer months.
Upper Hillbury (WTA)
Upper Hillbury can be fished either by following the orange markers on a gate near to the farmstead or from the bridge just below the confluence of the Bok and Riflespruits. The sand and boulder-bottomed stream weaves between willow skeletons and is for all intents and purposes a classical “little stream” with runs, rapids, glides and pools. Large yellowfish may be found in the lower, deeper pools during the summer months.
Lower Hillbury (WTA)
You can park in a shady acacia grove by following the green markers on gates when entering above the staff housing. The river generally has a sandy bottom but every kind of water may be encountered on this long beat. There are pools, rapids, undercuts and long rapids of fish-filled knee-deep water. Do not walk past the shallower runs between pools … fish them. You will be amazed at what lurks here. The cliff-side pools, bank-side undercuts and the lower sandy-bottomed pools hold some surprisingly large rainbows and yellowfish.