Henko Austin started fishing during Covid. Desperate to get out and about, he started Bass fishing from his kayak at Stanford Lake Lodge. He loved the calm and tranquil space with mist rising from the water and birds flying by and describes the experience of being on the waters as ‘mesmerising - therapy for the soul.’ Henko says, ‘I'm addicted to the feeling of being out in the beauty of nature where it is so quiet, you can hear the birds and forest sounds all around you. Nowadays I am there almost every weekend.’
Although there are a number of lodges which offer fishing as an activity for their guests, Henko says that ‘Stanford Lake Lodge is in the unique position that you have access to the Ebenezer Dam as well as Stanford Lake when you stay there. Since my great love is to go fishing in my Kayak rather than the bank, it is an ideal spot. The beach offers you the possibility to catch not only Bass but Carp and small-mouth Bass which are stronger and more active - a fighting fish. Stanford Lake Lodge is undoubtedly my favourite spot to fish in Maboebaskloof.’
Stanford Lake is well known for early morning fishing and in the late afternoon just before the sun goes down when the fish get active again. Although Henko has been most successful at these times, he has also caught many big fish even in the middle of the day. The biggest fish he has caught was a 3.7kg Bass which he remembers as an amazing experience. Henko recommends a lure called the Finesse Grub which resembles a small fish swimming in the water. He says, ‘you can pull it fast or let it lie passively on the bottom of the lake - Bass just love them.’ He also uses spinner and jerk baits in active, warmer waters during the spring and summer seasons but always lets the fish go, catch-and-release.
Henko also participates in the Limpopo Small Crafts League where boats are 4.2 metres or smaller and are only driven by an electric motor, not a petrol motor. He explains that fishermen get to catch five fish, take a picture and measure the length. The winner is based on the longest combined length of the five fish. Eight competitions during the year take place at Ebenezer, Tzaneen or Klaserie Dam and annually, the four other leagues across South Africa come together for a national event competing as individuals as well as a provincial team.
Two years ago, spurred on by his growing passion for fishing, Henko started a YouTube Channel, Feel Good Fishing with Henko, something he never thought he would do at the age of 54. He wanted to capture the ambiance and the unique atmosphere of the lake, dam, forest and the lovely accommodation in the Stanford Lake Lodge cabins. He says, ‘it is such a holistic experience to enjoy nature and the unique opportunity to live in a house built with heavy wooden logs. I would suggest to anyone that they should go and stay at Stanford Lake Lodge and just get out there and start fishing. It is really a process of learning what works for you and to add a fishing adventure to your lifestyle.’
FALLING FOR FISHING HOOK LINE AND SINKER
‘The Magoebaskloof area has a long association with trout with the first fish being introduced into the Broederstroom River in 1904. For over 90 years brown trout, and later rainbow trout, have thrived in the ideal temperatures of this northernmost part of the Drakensberg Mountain Range.’
At Stanford Lake Lodge, fishermen can catch Trout, Bass or Kurper in Stanford Lake as well as Common or Mirror Carp in Ebenezer Dam from the beach, a jetty or from the kayak on the water. The current Men's Protea fisherman, rates Stanford Lake as his best bass fishing spot in SA - especially with Stanford Lake Lodge's affordable top of the range accommodation in their unique Cabins. He also rates the Ebenezer Dam which borders Stanford Farm, as his favorite carp fishing venue in SA.’ 079 519 9211 | www.stanfordlake.co.za
One of the prime fishing lodges in Magoebaskloof, Mountain Fly Fishing can accommodate up to forty people and offer guests five fully stocked still water fly fishing dams on the privately owned property. They have great Rainbow and Brown Trout fishing from their dam wall or jetties on a catch-and-release basis and can even organise basic fly fishing lessons for the curious visitor with a variety of flies for sale and three Explorer V-Boats for hire. 083 255 7817 | 072 698 7813 | www.mountainflyfishing.co.za
Cheerio Trout Trout Fishing & Holiday Resort has eight comfortable cottages and offers their guests fly-fishing opportunities in a private dam on the property using a fly rod with flies - no ‘coffee grinders’, live bait or spinners. R250 Fishing Permit per rod, catch-and-release or R100 per kg for fish caught (3 per day). 072 650 2366 | www.cheerio.co.za.
Magoebaskloof Getaway in the valley below the Magoebaskloof Pass offers their guests in the cabins or campsites two dams, stocked with Trout, Bass, Kurper and Carp and there is no cost to fish for those staying over. Magoebaskloof Getaway is a great part of the world for fishing, birding and hiking in a peaceful, beautiful setting surrounded by magnificent mountains.’
083 449 7024 | www.magoebaskloofgetaway.co.za
Magoebaskloof is home to the Haenertsburg Trout Association, established in 1906, and is thought to be the oldest fly fishing club in the country. If you are a member of the Haenertsburg Trout Association, you have access to a multitude of dams and lakes as well as private waters. www.htatrout.co.za.