A Long Weekend In Underberg

A Long Weekend In Underberg

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times…no long weekend should ever go to waste. And since it had just been Nick and Tarryn’s birthdays, we decided to do a family trip to Underberg for a little fishing and relaxation.

Sadly my Jeep was in the shop so I borrowed my mom’s Corolla and quickly packed it on Friday morning before the 7am departure time. Amazingly it almost seemed to fit in more than the Jeep and we easily packed all my fishing equipment, including my float tube, as well as Emma’s pram and various other bags. I was truly impressed.

View over a misty Lund's Dam
View over a misty Lund’s Dam

We met up with Nick, Tarryn and Mila at our usual garage on the N3 and then headed for Underberg, coffee in hand. The weather was dire with most of the trip being spent in either rain or mist. This meant that rushing for a water was futile since our wives and daughters would be left sitting on a bank in the rain.

So instead of rushing we stopped off at the Pickle Pot, found a table close to the fire, and enjoyed a cooked breakfast and a few more cups of coffee. Rain ran down the windows as we enjoyed the heat, but eventually we paid our bill and got back onto the road.

Our first stop in Underberg was at Alan’s house where he greeted us with yet more coffee. We sipped on the warm cups while discussing our fishing plans for the next few days.

With the weather being a little miserable, and the families therefore not wanting to sit in the mud while we fished, we decided to check in first and to then to head out fishing. Being the adventurous types we also opted to fish a new dam in the form of Lunds which we’d always heard great things about. Saturday’s plan was then to fish Lake Ringstead since Nick was yet to fish it properly. And finally on Sunday we decided to fish one of the dams heading out of town, probably Turner’s Cottage or the Grange.

Nick with a rainbow trout
Nick with a rainbow trout
Warren with a small trout
Warren with a small trout

At 12pm we headed over to The Old Hatchery since they’d kindly allowed us to check in early. The venue itself is fantastic with a lovely small dam (which is apparently stocked, but we didn’t fish it), a restaurant and bar, and varying levels of accommodation. It is also all interlinked with wooden walkways which are always a scenic favorite.

One of the minor downsides of the venue is the distance between the fisherman’s cottages and the parking area. This meant several trips along the wooden walkways and narrow bridges carrying babies, prams and sterilizers. That said this wouldn’t be a problem on a boys only fishing trip.

Once we’d unpacked the families and had settled in it was time for the fishing to commence. We said our goodbyes to the ladies, climbed into the Terios, and headed for Lund’s. Thankfully Alan had given us a map as the route was a little confusing – especially since we had to drive right through the saw mill buildings.

However once we made it to the water’s edge it was truly a sight to behold. The water was calm with a scenic treeline running along the one edge and a derelict old jetty left rotting in the water which once lead out to a small island. There was a slight drizzle with pockets of mist over parts of the relatively large water. It looked mystical and magical and in need of some fisherman.

We decided that, since it was going to be a relatively short session, we would fish off a boat together rather than setting up our tubes. This turned out to be a fantastic idea and soon we were rowing out towards the wall, rain running down our jackets.

I got into a fish on my third cast and had soon landed a rather sluggish stocky. Feeling the water indicated it was perhaps a little cold and the fish were appropriately lethargic. We then noticed swallows skimming the water and headed over to the area where I picked up another small stocky. Then the real fun began when Nick and I doubled up with a nice pair of 2kg rainbows.

From there the fishing improved as we found a hole near a weed bed which produced fish almost cast for cast. Sadly all the fish were a little lazy but we made up for their lack of enthusiasm in sheer numbers.

View from The Old Hatchery
View from The Old Hatchery
The Fisherman's Cottages at The Old Hatchery
The Fisherman’s Cottages at The Old Hatchery

As the sun set and darkness fell we rowed back to the boat shed where packing up was an absolute pleasure thanks to the decision to not inflate the tubes. Soon we were heading back to The Old Hatchery, ready to jump into the pub and watch the Sharks game. Sadly it was at this point that Nick realised he’d left his phone back in the boat house. Rather annoyed we stopped in at the Himeville Arms to ease the pain, and then headed back to Lund’s Dam.

Amazingly we still arrived back at The Old Hatchery in time to watch the rugga. Alan met us there and we had a quick shower before heading to the pub. It was at this point that the power in our chalet tripped due to it being linked to the kitchen. Thankfully Alan knew the owners and sorted it out while I finished off my shower in the dark.

In the pub the sharks game against the Griquas was a little disappointing. Alan therefore decided to head home while we walked back to our cottages to braai instead. As per usual it was an over-catered affair consisting of rashers, woopsies, steak, garlic mushrooms, roasted vegetables and more. WOW!

We’d heard from Alan that the fishing didn’t pick up until later in the day so the next morning we enjoyed a skottled breakfast rather than rushing out at the break of dawn. Strong and fill we then headed over to Lake Ringstead where Alan met up with us as we were paddling out onto the water.

Again I picked up a few stockies in the early stages of the session. Nick was meanwhile left sulking about the lack of fish. This however soon changed when, after an hour or two he picked up a lovely 2kg cock fish. I then had a run of bad luck when a bus of a fish snapped my braided leader (the bastard). After that we landed a few more fish before things quietened down and we eventually left that water at around 4pm.

Frozen spider webs
Frozen spider webs

The plans that evening were to braai at The Old Hatchery. Sadly however there was an issue with the water pipes and as such we only had a trickle of cold water, while Nick and Tarryn’s unit had no water at all. Thankfully Sharon had bathed Emma during the day (and I opted for a cold shower) so we were all good. Nick and Tarryn were however left stranded having not bathed Mila. They therefore headed over to Alan’s place to shower and braai while Sharon and I relaxed in our cottage.

We headed to the restaurant for dinner but found them fully booked. Thankfully however they were kind enough to prepare our meal and to bring it to our cottage. So a big thumbs up for the service.

The next morning we again opted for a slow start since the fishing had been better at around midday. Sadly this didn’t seem to be the case on our final day as we arrived at Turner’s Cottage at 10am and rowed out. I immediately picked up three stockies and Nick got into one. Things then quietened down and eventually, at around lunch time, we opted to call it a day.

We picnicked under the beautiful trees lining the bank, chatted to a friend who arrived for a visit, and then called it a day and headed back to Hillcrest. The end of yet another successful weekend’s fishing in Underberg.

It won’t be long until we head back once again.