Over the past twenty years I have had the pleasure of travelling to the Kingdom of Lesotho, mostly roughing it along the rivers and staying in the odd back packers. Lesotho has so much to offer, with rivers flowing in almost every valley. My main reason for exploring Lesotho started out as the hunt for wild spawn river fish that had been stocked in the late 1800’s. I was fortunate to have a good friend Murray Cairns, who at the time was working for a touring company and had a vast knowledge of the Lesotho Highlands and its river systems.
Trekking through Lesotho is not for the faint hearted as most the terrain is rough and the air at this altitude is really thin. Being fit is a must and safety comes first at all times. There is not much that can get you out these gorges if you have an accident, so make each step count.
The river systems vary a lot and each catchment area is totally different. The weather plays a big part in these mountains and can change within minutes. The weather is most stable in early spring and late summer and winter travel is not a wise move as high snow falls can occur at any time.
Fishing the tributaries to the Senqu River produces some quality Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout and Small Mouth Yellows. The Senqu, being the main catchment, will dirty fast and take longer to clean after a good rainfall. The Maletsunyane River been one of my favourite tributaries of the Senqu River. The catchment area is not the biggest, so within two days of a storm the river system will start to clean up.
The well-known Semonkong Lodge is situated right on the banks of the Maletsunyane and offers 6 kilometers of some of the best preserved Brown Trout fishing in Southern Africa. Bellow the Maletsunyane Falls the river has Browns, Rainbows and Small Mouth Yellows. The Semonkong Lodge is a “home from home” and offers some of the best accommodation available in the Lesotho Highlands. The Duck and Donkey Restaurant and Pub at the lodge, has a great menu and vibe after a long days fishing.
The Brown trout fishing above the falls is out of this world with fish getting up to 28” inches and bigger. Most of the big browns enjoy a proper meal so casting bait fish patterns and big dragonfly patterns works best for me. There is a small window period, early morning and late evening. Casting a dry fly can be amazing as these stunning specimens smash and sip the terrestrials from the river surface during this time.
This past season has been a real test on the population of trout in the Lesotho Highlands as the drought has set in and the rivers have dried up across the highlands. Hopefully some of the fish took shelter in the bigger pools and the locals didn’t get to the last of them. This area is in desperate need of a wet summer to help revive these river systems and the fishery.