YWG December 2020 newsletter

Dear YWG supporter,

Here is the latest news:


Saving the Sandfish Project

We were hoping to have an update for you, but Dr Jeremy Shelton (Freshwater Research Centre) has advised us that the next installment on the progress of the project is not yet available, so we hope to have some news for you on this issue in January.

In case you missed the June newsletter and wish to learn more about the project the two links below will provide you with valuable information:

          Saving Sandfish web page

Saving Sandfish web series: episode 1

The VDK research project.

We have been informed that the research project has come to an end. The data is being analysed and the final report is expected shortly.  Once this is made available we will inform you.  It is vital that all the local communities benefit equitably in some way from the utilisation of this resource.  Once the report is available we will be able to assess what options are being suggested and the justification/s for these. It is possible that some kind of small scale fishery may be recommended.  However, based on the low catch rate recorded during the project it will be difficult to justify a fishery on the scale that was originally planned.  Whatever the outcome it will be vital for all stakeholders to work together to manage expectations and outcomes to ensure the sustainability of the fisheries resource.

Mid –Vaal and Gauteng Rivers report by Chris Williams.

2020 has been a year to remember as well as a year from which to learn. We will never forget it and we will never forget the life lessons we have picked up along the way.


1 - Government’s complete lack of functioning at national, provincial and local municipality level with particular respect of neither tackling Vaal pollution nor water/sewage problems. Apathy, disregard, incompetence, corruption and a total absence of uBuntu.

2 – Rising E.coli levels myriads of times beyond safe levels for humans, farm animals and all fauna including our fish and aquatic life. Rand Water’s allegedly running out of chemicals/agents in the past few weeks for E.coli testing. This is perhaps the single most important test of water health. Its conjecture whether there was anything sinister behind this or whether it was merely the usual sheer inefficiency and lack of interest.

3 – Unscrupulous criminal polluters and offenders. These include dumpers of rubbish, illegal abattoir run-off, discarded fishing tackle especially hooks, lines and nets, agricultural fertiliser run-off, Eskom/Sasol/Arcelor Mittal acid air and ground despoilation. And of course, sewage/waste water spills. 


1 – To all the organisations and individuals involved in trying to salvage the quality and quantity of the Vaal and its inhabitants, and thus improving our fly fishing experiences.  SAVE has court cases against national, provincial and local authorities as well as against individuals therein coming up for court trials next year. Hopefully the guilty will be convicted. FOSAF/YWG represents you the flyfisher on the SAVE EXCO.

2 – To all the Vaal and Vaal tributary communities who over the past year have accelerated river clean-ups and community education. If your local section of river and stream does not have a clean-up programme, create one, ask those in your area for a helping hand with gloves, wellies and Covid protection for a couple of hours on a Saturday morning. Afterwards have a boerie braai, you will be pleasantly surprised how this attracts interest! The next step is more formal interaction and education easily accomplished with the more interest you get. The ultimate goal is to minimise pollution at source.

3 – To all flyfishers and member clubs at FOSAF/YWG who spend many unpaid and unheralded hours for the betterment of all members and of the community and environment. We have been working constantly during lockdown and we trust 2021 will be better for all our friends, families, fish and fishing. Please join up or continue your valued membership for 2021. We need your support more than ever!

Dr Olaf Weyl.

It was sad to hear that Olaf Weyl passed away from a heart attack last month while fishing the Wolf River in the Eastern Cape. Olaf was a larger-than-life character and one of the most prolific aquatic scientists in South Africa. He will be sorely missed.

Dean Impson.

Dean, one of the most active members in the YWG group has taken early retirement from CapeNature. He is now a research associate at the Freshwater Research Centre and helps landowners with advice on stocking of dams and associated permit issues.


Here’s wishing you a happy festive season and all of the best for 2021.

 Kind regards,