Barkly East Angling Society
Barkly East a plethora of characters
and spectacular scenery
To purely give a historical and factual account of the Barkly East Angling Society would be an injustice to
its rich history and spectacular surrounds.
According to the local newspaper’s archives, the Society was officially started in January 1928, but only
one meeting was held. Finally on Saturday 20 September another meeting was held and the Society as
we know it, was established under the name of “Barkly East Trout Angler’s Association”, with strict ethics
and rules, a gentleman’s club.
Many years before the establishment of the “Association”, in 1894, brave “piscatorial enthusiasts”, as
they were called in the newspaper, fought for the introduction of trout to the area. The journey for
fingerlings by rail and oxwagon from the Newlands Hatchery, some 1200 km, would have resulted in
extremely heavy losses. These heyday strategist were undaunted and waited for trout ova to become
available. Their first application for ova in 1905, received favourable consideration, but it was only many
years later that the valuable ova (£1 per thousand), arrived. By this time the ingenious enthusiasts had
constructed “breeding boxes” that were painstakingly tended by “planters” until the fish hatched. And so
began the story of trout in Barkly East.
The ethic’s of the day were very different to those of today, with the practice of “catch and release”
unheard of, and there were many tales of catches. The first river fish caught was recorded in January
1912. The fish was about ”a foot long”, and caught in the Sterkspruit. It was surmised that the fish was one
hatched from the ova placed in the Diep Spruit, and must have made its way to the Sterkspruit via the
Kraai River.
The Angling Society has evolved into more than just a club for elite “piscatorial” gentlemen trout anglers,
to a family and conservation orientated society that has great respect for all the fish species occurring in
the region. The Society is always striving to instill the highest ethics in all its members, from the youngest
to the oldest.
Visiting Barkly East is about a lot more that just fishing the approximately 60 km of South Africa’s finest
angling streams, more than just the exhilarating feel of a yellow fighting for freedom, it is about Barkly
East in all its splendour. The peace and tranquillity while surrounded by the splendour of majestic
mountains, the call of a jackal buzzard, the sight of a Lammergeyer or Cape Vulture, a refreshing drink
from an unpolluted spring, a dip in an icy cold stream or safely walking to a restaurant in town after dark.
While the anglers pursue their gentle art, their families can explore the quaint shops in town, or visit the
surprisingly well kept museum, play a round of golf, bird watch or cycle. There a at least two groups of
craft groups who make and sell their handcrafted goods.The area boasts not only some of the most
scenic drives, but also many of the highest mountain passes in South Africa, the highest being Ben
McDhui (3001m). Coming in third is the Tiffindell-Tenahead Traverse (2720m), followed in fourth place by
Naude’s Nek (2590m), and so the list continues. The area is a photographer’s paradise, streams,
mountain flora, stone bridges, caves, rock art and the ever present mountains begging to be captured, so
much so that the town has even hosted the Cape Photographers’Congress.
Speaking of Tiffindell, where else can you ski and drink “Upside Downers” while hanging upside-down
from skis.
You are sure to meet some of the local characters at one of the pubs, guest houses or restaurants.
Although the summers are warm to hot, springtime mostly pleasant, the locals will tell you never to leave
home without a jersey or jacket, as the weather can change in an instant. Although there is no fishing in
winter, it is still worth a visit. If you are lucky enough to experience a snowfall, you will witness the truth of
the old cliché, “winter wonderland”, as the scenery is transformed. But beware, you will also learn a new
meaning to the word cold. Come prepared, thermal underclothes are a worthwhile investment.