Only 19km from Dullstroom and overlooking the picturesque Elands River Valley lies Little Troutbeck. The 209 hectare working farm is situated midway between Dullstroom and Machadodorp and at 1900m above sea level, it plays host as an excellent cold water environment for Trout to thrive in. There are 11 dams on the farm (including Loch Logan a 3ha dam) which are all fed by the abundant natural springs on the farm and because of this the water is crystal clear all year round. The dams are stocked monthly with Brown, Rainbow and Golden Trout.
There are some spectacular fauna and flora on the farm and you can expect to encounter species such as Wild Ferns, Water Lilly’s and Terrestrial Orchids. There is also an abundance of birdlife on the farm and especially a wide variety of water fowl.
The Managers of the farm is John and Wilma Hunter who are both very experienced and knowledgeable fly anglers. John was a competitive fly angler in Scotland for the better part of two decades and Wilma has been fly fishing since the age of 13. They are also the owners of The Village Angler fly fishing shop in Dullstroom and John also offers fly fishing tuition, fly tying lessons and his guiding services.
Little Troutbeck has hosted the Dullstroom Classic for a number of times and they have also won the prize for Largest Fish and Best Waters on previous occasions. There was a 13lbs Rainbow Trout caught earlier this year (2013) in Loch Logan and John himself said that Loch Logan could potentially deliver the new S.A. Record as he himself has seen and lost some colossal fish in the dam. Big fish are not uncommon at Little Troutbeck and 4kg fish regularly make their appearance in visitor's nets. Just a pity I couldn't hook into one them!
The guest accommodation on the farm consists of 3 lovely farm style cottages which can be serviced daily for and additional R100 per day.
Balbeggie Lodge is a 3 bedroom, 3 bathrooms fully furnished 8 sleepers and equipped for self-catering.
Ceilidh Cottage is a 3 bedroom, 2 bathrooms fully furnished 8 sleeper and equipped for self-catering.
Golden Pond is a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom fully furnished 4 sleeper and equipped for self-catering.
We stayed in Golden Pond cottage which is a wooden cottage close to the farmhouse and next to Golden Pond dam. The cottage has everything that you could need on a weekend away (or longer) and you don't even need to bring towels. The kitchen is fully equipped and there is also a braai and patio furniture outside on the veranda overlooking the dam. All the beds have electric blankets and there are also heaters in the rooms for those cold winter nights.
With more than 240mm of rain falling in the last month on the farm we knew that the fishing was going to be difficult. I did not have high hopes and I was worried that we might struggle to get into fish due to the forecast weather which would be a terrible shame considering that Little Troutbeck has a great reputation.
We arrived on Friday and we were welcomed by our friendly hosts John and Wilma Hunter. We were shown to our cottage were we unpacked our luggage after which we grabbed our gear and headed out to the closest of the 11 dams on the farm, Golden Pond. To my surprise the dam's water was not murky as I expected after all the rain but it was rather almost gin clear.
Edu (my accomplice/cameraman for the weekend) started off with a #8 Peacock Woolly Bugger and I opted for a more natural pattern so I tried a #10 Sneaky Damsel. The wind was bad but never the less we kept on fishing and with only about 2 hours daylight left we wanted to taste success before sunset. I later drifted some Buzzers but this also did not tickle the Trout's fancy. We worked the dam's bank and you could see a rise every now and again but nothing to get excited about at that stage.
We then moved onto a point on the northern shore and worked our flies around the Lilly pads. Edu got eaten with his 3rd cast and the ice was broken. I saw a huge fish turning, and I made a cast toward it. It went for my fly (#10 Peacock Woolly Bugger) but just missed it! Edu then lost a fish and caught another. After a while it was getting dark, misty and cold so we decided to call it a day.
On Saturday we were up and fishing at 05:00 AM and Edu caught another nice fish on the same spot as the previous afternoon. We then headed to Ul's Water which looked like it could hold big fish. Edu tied on a #8 Black & Green Crystal Bugger which he ties himself and always has success on. I started with a #6 Papa Roach and we started to fish the dam from the western side.
Again, Edu did not fool around and landed a beautiful fish of about 1.4kg. Shortly thereafter I was on and I could feel it was n very nice fish! We landed it and took some quick photos after which we released her back into the depths. We met up with John at Mike’s Luck and he advised us to go down to Loch Logan.
We headed out there as he suggested and with my first cast I was into a bus! The Papa Roach did the damage again and it was the biggest fish of the weekend (just over 2kg), but only a teenager by Little Troutbeck's standards. Edu got greedy again and caught another 3 right next to me. Later in the day there was a Trico hatch and the fish were 100% inactive and not impressed with any of our offerings. That evening there was just over 25mm rain that had fallen again just to make things interesting.
Sunday morning we fished Loch Logan at the boat house's shore and we both caught some very nice fish there. We also headed down to some of the bottoms dams where Edu caught another nice Rainbow of 1.2kg.
Over all the weekend's fishing was great despite the rainy weather. John takes great care in making sure that the dams are full of healthy, strong fighting Trout and I really do believe that if you want to better your PB then this is the place to do it. There is an abundance of natural food sources which the Trout feed on which ensures that they grow fast and furious.
If you are looking for a weekend away with the family from the hustle and bustle of everyday city life or if you want to catch some big hard fighting fish then don't even hesitate and make a booking at Little Troutbeck. You will not be disappointed.
Also do yourself a favour and pop into The Village Angler in Dullstroom where you can purchase any fly fishing equipment that you might need (or forgot at home). Ask for John or Wilma to show you which flies and techniques will work best so you don't have to waste any time next to the water staring at your fly box and scratching your head. They also have a newsletter with some great fly fishing info and nice give aways which you can subscribe to here: https://confirmsubscription.com/h/i/9D22FBD85D1D571C
Give yourself at least 3 days to fish as there are a lot of dams on the farm, and all of them are great to fish. You are allowed to use a float tube or kick boat on the 3ha Loch Logan, but this is at own risk as it is at all other venues. We only fished 6 of the dams due to the challenging weather and the short amount of time we had there, but we will most definitely be back to hunt one of those 10 + pounders in Loch Logan...
5wt - 7wt 9ft rod with a floating and a sinking line for Loch Logan
5wt 9ft rod with a floating line for all the other dams
Peacock Woolly Bugger, Black & Green Crystal Bugger, Papa Roach, Zonkers, Buzzers, Slim Damsels, DDD.
Have a look at the video here:
Little Troutbeck Review from Hennie Viljoen on Vimeo.