Guiding for Largemouth Yellowfish 

As the days become shorter and you can feel the unexpected chill in the early mornings at least there is something to look forward to – Largemouth Yellowfish!

Something special happens during the autumn months to these fish that gets the adrenalin pumping to the point that the chilly mornings are referred to as “fresh” and the drive to Parys as a hop, skip and a jump. What makes this time of the year now even more special is that South Africa’s foremost Largemouth specialist, Gerrit Viljoen, has started his own guiding operation: Gerrit Viljoen Guided Fly-fishing Services

I met Gerrit in 2003 on the water around Parys targeting smallmouth yellowfish week-end after week-end making the trip from Pretoria sometimes more than 10 times a month! His passion for all things yellow eventually got the better of him and eventually he made Parys his home and honed his flyfishing skills on the Vaal to become in my opinion not only one of South Africa’s top yellowfish flyfisherman but also one of our very best fly-tying exponents. Although initially targeting smallmouth yellowfish, with a personal best of well over 5kg! The last couple of years Gerrit has focused on Largemouth Yellowfish having caught many impressive specimen including a 22lb monster.

The value of a guide is something that I have always advocated. I remember catching tiger fish around Katima Mullilo in the Caprivi and in the Zambezi with great success only to come back to South Africa to spend a miserably week at Jozini catching no tigers after having thought that I knew what I was doing. It was never going to be difficult I thought. I read Internet articles on various forums, looked at photographs in flyfishing magazine articles and tied a heap of flies resembling the ones as described on the forums and in the magazines. Despondent I vowed never to go back to Jozini as I thought it was a waste of time and must say from the reports and articles I read it seemed I was not the only one.

A few years later a friend invited me along to join him on Jozini but this time with a difference – we will be making use of a guide. Still very sceptical I accepted his invitation thinking that there is not much a guide can do to help you land more fish in a lake that obviously doesn’t have much to offer. Upon arrival we were met by our guide, Jonathan Boulton, who quickly dismissed my carefully selected flies and offered a few patterns of his own, changed my leader set-up and showed me a better knot for my haywire construction. Apparently I did everything wrong before….

Once set-up we were taken to a spot on the dam which I personally thought was the middle of nowhere – not really the place I would fish. It took about three casts in areas pointed out by our guide, using a retrieve that he suggested and the flies that he kindly sponsored to land my fist Jozini tiger. After two days my tally was around 15 tigers and also huge respect for my guide who was willing to share his local knowledge gained through experience with me. The following year my friend and I once again ventured to Jozini and with the knowledge and know-how given to us by Jono we were able to land a good number of fish, fish we would have otherwise never been able to catch if we relied on the Internet and magazines as our guide. The cost of the guide was priceless.

Gerrit currently offers guided fly-fishing trips targeting his ” Vaalriver Grand Slam” of species.

Check out his website for further details and pricing.


Gerrit Viljoen

Cell / Whatsapp: 071 629 1058