Picture this: 9 km of river with big, crystal clear pools full of big sandfish, yellowfish and sawfin feeding on bedrock and sand…Drool, drool, drool. This image of a magic fly fishing destination could become reality with the Saving Sandfish conservation project.
The possibility of a weir in the Biedouw River Valley, that will make that dream fishery a reality, is closer than ever. Aiding this great cause on were: More funding obtained from National Geographic and other smaller stakeholders, including a Horizon Rods donation*, and two landowners giving up their farm dams to be used as ‘grow-on’ sanctuaries for juvenile sandfish to reach bass-proof size.
The two dams (one at Mertenhof Farm and another at Enjo Nature Farm) were recently rotenoned by CapeNature (a partner in the project) to kill the alien invasive bluegills that were present in extremely high numbers in these dams. A follow up fyke-net procedure will confirm whether this initial treatment was successful.
*See details below to donate money to this special cause that will secure water and fly fishing for your kids (you are investing in your future and every bit helps)
Here is a summary of the most recent Saving Sandfish activities as prepared by Dr. Jeremy Shelton, the project leader:
“Saving Sandfish: Project update 15 March 2020
The first few months of 2020 has focused on creating new habitats for young sandfish to grow safely to adulthood in the Biedouw River Valley. We identified two dams for potentially stocking young sandfish in spring, but both dams contained bluegill sunfish. We met with land-owners, surveyed the dams and removed bluegill from two dams. (Note: we had planned to return to confirm the success of the bluegill removal, but this trip has been delayed due to COVID-19).
Bluegill removal from farm dams
Last week’s field trip was successful in treating both the Enjo and Mertenhof Dams with rotenone. We estimate about 20,000 bluegill were removed from the Mertenhof Dam, and we will go back in a few weeks’ time to set fyke nets and confirm successful eradication. We removed and buried as many of the dead fish as possible, and support from Barry Lubbe at Mertenhof was amazing. Enjo dam was drained by Guy Bradley (Enjo Farm owner), who is also very supportive of the project, leaving just had a puddle which was treated and about 10 bluegill eradicated. Hopefully both dams will be ready to receive sandfish in October this year, provided they spawn again. Thanks Riaan van der Walt and Leonard Flemming for coming through for the day and Leonard for bringing the boat. Thanks Dean Impson and CapeNature for leading a wellplanned and professional rotenone application.
Otto Whitehead has been hard at work filming and editing the Saving Sandfish YouTube video series, as well as the 360 short film for land-owners. It’s looking incredible I’m really excited for you all to see the first episode which we are aiming to launch mid-May.
Cheers for now,
This project was made possible by the Freshwater Research Centre (FRC, based in Kommetjie)
To donate money towards this special project (and similar FRC conservation projects to protect rivers) to save a river and its riparian zone to protect endangered species (and thereby conserving water and fish populations which are also of high angling interest):