Sunday, 13 April 2014

The Angler and Antelope Guesthouse Review


This was a trip and review way overdue; I had been threatening to visit Alan Hobson in Somerset East for quite a while.  During last year’s Getaway Show at the Coca Cola dome I finally met Alan at their exhibition stand and we decided there and then to arrange a date for a review. We decided to do the review during December last year and I couldn't wait to explore the hidden fishing potential of Somerset East.

The town is situated approximately 150 km north of Port Elizabeth and 100 km north of the well know Addo Elephant Park. For the newcomer fly-fishermen out there Alan and his wife Annabelle owns a 4-star guesthouse in the town and provides access to various fly-fishing venues in the area. These venues provide fishing in both rivers and dams with various fish species such as Largemouth Bass, Bluegill Sunfish, Carp, Sharptooth Catfish, Smallmouth Yellowfish, Moggel, Mullet, Blue Kurper and trophy Rainbow Trout. Alan recently caught a Rainbow Trout of over 6kg in the Little Fish River which just proves what quality fish this area can produce with its good quality water and healthy ecosystems.

Alan guiding me on the Little Fish River during high flows

Alan is a highly skilled fly-fisherman, a REFFIS registered fly fishing guide and he is also registered as a field guide with THETA. I can highly recommend his services for both novice and experienced anglers, as he has a great knowledge of fly-fishing in general and a lifelong knowledge of the fishing on offer in and around Somerset East, including the well known Thrift Dam.


The Angler and Antelope Guesthouse is 4 star rated and consist of 3 buildings, the main guesthouse, a self service cottage and an old historical church building converted into a bar, restaurant and a fly-fishing shop. The church building is the ideal place to tie some flies on a rainy day or enjoy a drink while swapping elaborate fishing stories.

The guesthouse is centrally situated in the town of Somerset East and is the ideal base for fly-fisherman looking to explore the fishing on offer in the area.  The rooms have various comfort features such as heated flooring, air-conditioning and free WiFi. For more information about the rooms please visit the website at
The restaurant in the old church building offers guest breakfast and dinners, the ideal arrangement for fisherman that would like to spend the whole day on the water. They have a delicious menu that uses ingredients from local suppliers such as Karoo lamb and beef.

The Angler and Antelope Guesthouse
Somerset East is surrounded by various parks such as the Addo Elephant Park, Camdeboo National Park and Mountain Zebra National Park. What really surprised me about the area is the wide variety of vegetation that rapidly changes from open grassland, Karoo shrubs to forests in the mountainous areas. This makes fly-fishing so much more exciting in this area and just driving to your next fishing spot can provide you with a mini game drive.


The fishing around Somerset East can only be described as fantastic and adventure filled! We spent 4 days in the area and barely scratched the surface of the fishing potential. Unfortunately during December fly-fishing can be temperamental in South Africa due to thunderstorms and the rivers where un-fishable in the area.

This was however not a problem, there was endless other fishing options to be explored. On the first afternoon we fished at the nearby Glen Avon Farm that offers both Rainbow Trout and Largemouth Bass fishing. The specific day was fairly hot and we experienced a significant thunderstorm earlier the day that seemed to put the trout of the bite. The bass on the other hand was feeding aggressively and I got smashed on almost every cast with a green deer hair popper.

Glen Avon Farm Dams - Managed by Bankberg Troutfishers Club
Vlei Dam - Glen Avon Farm Dams
Mill Dam - Glen Avon Farm Dams
Mill Dam - Glen Avon Farm Dams
Bass Dam - Glen Avon Farm Dams

On our second day we took a drive up to Mountain Dam with Alan Hobson. The dam is situated on the mountain that overlooks Somerset East. It is a beautiful looking dam surrounded by indigenous shrubs and has various features from deep rocky drop offs to shallow weed beds. It was not long after we started fishing that Alan was into an average size trout, the dam has an average of 750 g to 1.5 kg Rainbow Trout at the moment. The fish in this dam has a great growth rate due to good water quality and food sources, and should have some trophy fish in a year or two.

Getting ready with Alan Hobson to fish Mountain Dam
Mountain Dam, Somerset East

Alan had some good success during the day fishing small nymphs with a quick retrieve just below the surface and with his great local knowledge easily out fished me. I caught my first Karoo Rainbow Trout on a weedbed with a large size 4 dragonfly pattern.  Later the day I managed another fish on the same fly on the opposite bank fished slowly of the rocky cliff. Soon afterwards we called it a day when it got fairly misty and cold.

On the third day we took a break from serious fishing and Alan drive us around to explore some of the local rivers. As previously mentioned the rivers had high flows and was unfishable. It was still worth seeing this area as Alan caught a 6kg+ Rainbow Trout in one of the pools a month before. I will definitely be back to explore this river in the future.

On our final day we explored a dam that has various species such as Largemouth Bass, Blue Kurper, Sharptooth Catfish, Carp, Mullet, Moggel and Smallmouth Yellowfish. The amount of fish in this dam blew me away and at various stages during the day I found myself surrounded by schools of Carp and Sharptooth Catfish. It was difficult to decide what to target and after an hour chasing carp to no avail, I decided to target catfish on a 9 weight setup. I fished a double fly rig, a BBB and Carp tugger combination. I caught around 5 catfish between 3 to 10kg and all of them took the carp tugger on the calling method.

Fly-fishing for Sharptooth Catfish in the Karoo
My first decent catfish in the Karoo
We booked two nights at Thrift dam over new years after our visit in Somerset East. Before we left The Angler and Antelope, Alan gave me detailed advice on techniques and flies to use at this iconic South African dam. Alan knows this dam like the back of his hand and it is well worth arranging a guided trip with him or to one of the other trophy dams in the area. During my stay at Thrift dam I caught my personal best Rainbow Trout, a specimen of 27 inches! I caught the fish from a float tube of a weedbed with one of Alan’s flies, a Hobson’s Original Tadpole (HOT fly).

Cottage at Thrfit Dam
Rainbow over Thrift Dam
A storm brewing over Thrift Dam

Moments before my first fish on Thrift Dam

Last fish from Thrift dam

The Angler and Antelope Guesthouse offer a unique fly-fishing experience with endless options. The fishing ranges from trophy trout fishing in both rivers and dams, Yellowfish and Moggel in rivers and a variety of others species in dams. Alan also offers a fly-fishing guided service that I can highly recommend, he has a great knowledge of fly-fishing in general and also the fishing in the area. The guesthouse offers a very relaxing and comfortable stay and is the perfect base for fly-fisherman that would like to explore the fantastic fishing on offer in the area.

The Video

The Angler and Antelope Guesthouse Review from on Vimeo.

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