Pictured above: The author’s dad, Alex Kennedy, on Beat 4 of the Elandspad River.

To the guides, the river junkies and the trout bums, I get it; three beats in three days doesn’t seem like a huge deal. I have been on a share of fly fishing tours where we’d fish day in and day out, maximising time on the water, although only because we were in these far-out places for a limited time so taking a break was not on the cards.

In my mind the Cape streams are a nice to have. Don’t get me wrong, they’re lovely, but they’re always available and it’s up to you to take the day off from the rat race to spend time there over the warmer open season months. Sometimes, when the fishing is really good and I can fit it in, I will go twice in a week or twice in successive weeks. But three days in a row? Never. Until now. With family holiday accommodation booked at Dwarsberg Trout Hideaway perfectly situated on the Holsloot River with easy access to the other Cape streams, Dad and I had the perfect opportunity to take the time to fish three beats in three days.

The logic here was to do the longest trek while our legs were still fresh. Making the pilgrimage to the upper reaches of the Elandspad River (beat four which includes beat five as a bonus) for the first time, Dad (61) and I (24) were stoked with the clarity of water and semi-abundance of fish. There was ample opportunity for sight-fishing. That said, it wasn’t easy.  

sight fishing for rainbow trout Elandspad cape streams
Spot the rainbow…

Day two was fished closer to home, on beat three of the Holsloot. The tailwater was extremely silted up, and the deeper pools beckoned for a suspended Zak nymph, which brought out a celebrated and sizeable fish. With raw legs from the day before, a gravel road exit was much appreciated.

holsloot trout fly fishing
Holsloot rainbow trout.

On the third day, we thought we’d go with good old reliable Prince of Rivers. Beat one of the Smalblaar, A.K.A. Picnic Beat, flows crystal clear through an assortment of boulder sizes. The typical frustration of fish rising to little black thingies ensued. Almost impossible to catch at this point. Almost… 

Para-Adams dry fly fishing
Dad’s Para-Adams.


  1. If you are not already moderately fit, you might want to train for Elandspad beat four. It’s a hectic hike, and especially tiring after a day of resisting strong torrents.
  2. Bring spare boots in the car, even if they’re 10 years old. These rivers eat boots.
  3. Move slow. Sight-fishing only lasts until they see you. 
  4. Switch things up. Dad’s new Echo River Glass 2-weight and Wychwood River-n-Stream reel introduced a new dimension to his fishing – new ways to think about casting, to present flies and to fight fish. On rivers that he’s been fishing for majority of his life, a drastic change in gear made the experience feel completely novel. 
  5. Fewer flies = less faffing. Dad insisted on using only the flies he’d recently prepared, and none of the older substitutes at the back of his box.
  6. Practice makes perfect-ish. Fishing three days in a row means that a lot of skills become second nature. Getting my eye in resulted in quicker knot tying, fewer errors, better ankle stabilisation etc. Basically our river craft was at an optimal functioning level by day 3.
  7. Patience. You’re out there to have fun. Wait for your fishing partner, don’t rush ahead. 

I’d like to start every river season with an over indulgence like this. Perhaps at least a long weekend, to shock the body into muscle memory and remember all of those lessons from the previous season at the start of summer.

River Glass 2-weight (spaghetti noodle) and Wychwood River-n-Stream (lightest reel in the world)
River Glass 2-weight (spaghetti noodle) and Wychwood River-n-Stream (lightest reel in the world)

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