The Sabie River has been stocked with trout for angling purposes since 1912 and was controlled by the Transvaal Angling Union which managed most of the rivers in the area where angling took place. During the 1940’s the Union encouraged anglers to do away with the smaller clubs in the area and to establish one club to manage and control the fly-fishing waters in the area.

On the 19th of April 1949 a meeting was held by the fishing clubs in the Sabie area and the Sabie Trout Angling Club was established. During the 1970’s the club used to buy fish between 4cm & 10 cm in length, rear them( with the help of Mondi, who were the landowners of the southern bank at the time) till they reached approximately 25cm in length and distributed them at intervals into the Sabie River. The provincial Administration in Lydenburg also assisted with river stocking and donated fish on a yearly basis. The waters above the Sabie waterfall are proclaimed ‘fly-fishing’ waters. Trout are still stocked into the Club waters on a regular basis under regulations set by Mpumalanga Parks Board, for which a stocking permit is issued annually. A good crop of wild fish are also abundant in these waters which are suitable for natural spawning.

The Club currently holds land owner agreements to manage the river from the York Sports Grounds upstream to the Horseshoe Falls Bridge on the Old Lydenburg Road which allows access to this property to its members and day visitors who are in possession of valid permits.This relationship between forestry and the Angling club has proved to be of value and created a sense of responsibility towards protecting this precious water system.



All permits must be available for inspection upon request.

The land bordering the Sabie River- upstream of Merry Pebbles Resort is private property and is managed by the Sabie Trout Club on behalf of York Timbers and Komatiland Forests. No entry is permitted without a valid permit. Un-authorised entry will result in prosecution.

Permits are available at Big Sky Outdoor or Merry Pebble Resort.

One day - fishing permit@ R90-00/angler per day.
Three day - fishing permit@ R150-00/angler per 3 consecutive days.
One day - Access permit @ R10-00/ day. (Strictly access only- no fishing permitted).


  • Strictly fly fishing with original fly fishing devices. No other tackle permitted. Without exception.
  • Bag limit is two rainbow trout per permit holder. Brown trout & indigenous species strictly catch and release.




Expect nothing but the best from the Sabie River which is regarded by many fly fishermen to be the best river trout fishing venue the province has to offer. The trout however are not known for their good behaviour and you’ll need to be up on your game if you want to play. The fishing consists of approximately 7 km’s of river and one still water (Lake Olaf). The river has all the challenges that a fly angler would look for. Deep pools, fast runs and swirling eddies that hold true river predators. Whether you prefer to trick your trout on a drifting dry fly or fish a heavy nymph through the deep, the Sabie River holds a few surprises and will keep you entertained. So don’t rush, take your time and get to know our waters and our trout.
The club does much effort to make access easier by doing regular bush clearing along the river, but anglers should bear in mind that river fishing is a challenge and obstacles form part of the experience. An access road runs along the entire length of club waters and is mostly accessible by car; but anglers are encouraged to use a bakkie, especially during the rainy season. Popular entry points and pools are numbered and are marked on the map which is available from permit vendors on request. Although the river is mostly populated with rainbow trout, it also produces some good brown trout and is also home to the indigenous Incomati Chisel mouth ‘Varicorhinus Nelspruitensis’. This is a difficult species to catch on fly, but by no means impossible for the persistent angler.


Catch and release is a practise the club promotes on the river. Even though the Club has a top up stocking programme, catch and release simply makes fish smarter and allows them time to grow and become better river fish, but feel free to keep one for the pan.

Catch and release guidelines:

  • Use barbless hooks.
  • Do not over exhaust the fish during the fight.
  • Do your utmost not to remove the fish from the water. Catch and release research shows that a fish removed from the water has a very limited chance of survival.
  • For photographic purposes the angler should keep the fish in the water while the camera operator prepares the equipment. Once everyone is in position, remove the fish, supporting the under body, take the photo and immediately submerge the fish back into the water. It should only take a few seconds and will allow a better chance of survival.
  • Gently move the fish backwards and forwards to allow fresh water over the gills. Only release the fish when it can hold its own balance.

NOTE: Visit and read the interesting article on catch and release statistics.


Sabie offers year round trout fishing. No closed season.

High water season. Nov-March

  • High rainfall season with frequent afternoon thunderstorms which can cause river to swell and water to get dirty. Usually clears quickly depending on water volume.

Mid water season. April- July

  • Water conditions stable with good water volume. Start of trout spawning season.

Low water season. August- October

  • Water low and clear. Sight fishing to visible fish. Stealthy approach is essential.


  • Light weight rods between 2-4 wt, fitted with floating lines. Leaders and tippets should be long (+/- 12ft) and as light as what the angler can handle. Regular stream patterns in natural colours are recommended. GRHE, Zaks, pheasant tails, Prince nymph, Adams, stimulator, Humpy, RAB etc. The local fly shop is always a good source of information.
  • River fishing requires stealth and a careful approach. The golden rule is “Stay out of sight”. Always spend a moment reading the water and looking for signs of fish before casting. In clear water conditions a pair of polarised sunglasses will remove the glare from the water surface and enable you to see into the water and spot fish. If you can see into the water and do not see fish, you should then target the darker areas that you cannot see into or the faster broken water. This is where fish will feel safest from predators. Learn to identify the feeding lanes which carry the fish’s food. River fish will always face the current as they wait for food to drift their way. It is from this position (behind the fish) that you want to plan you assault.
  • Roll casting is a technique essential to river fly-fishing. It is a technique which allows forward casting without any line reaching behind the angler which may get the fly caught up in the brush. It is a simple cast and be mastered with only a little practice.
  • Make the first cast count. If you have managed to stay out of sight and can neatly and accurately place the fly (limit false casts) in the target area, you are almost guaranteed to get a reaction from an unsuspecting fish. Always remember that river fish are very tuned in to their environment and any change to this calm setting will spook them.
  • Cast up stream against the current and allow the fly to drift back towards you at the same speed as the flow of the current, this is known as a dead drift. Pick up any slack line on the water and keep your eye on the end of the floating line which can be used as a strike indicator. Any un-natural forward movement of the line should be acted upon by lifting the rod tip firmly.
  • Fishing at the right depth. The depth at which the fly is fished is an important factor when trout fishing. The majority of a trout’s diet is taken near the bottom of the stream bed, however during the early morning and late afternoon fish are more comfortable to feed higher up in the water column and this is a good time to fish a dry fly on the surface. As the day progresses and light intensity and temperatures increase the fish will go deeper or move into the faster flowing broken water. Lead split shots or internally weighted fly patterns will assist in getting the fly deeper.
  • Rigging flies. Tandem rigging (two flies) is a well-practiced method on the river. The most popular being the New Zealand rig. The first fly is the bigger of the two flies (referred to as the dropper) and is tied onto the tippet section of the leader. Another length of tippet +/-30cm is tied to the hook bend of the first fly and tied directly to the eye of the second fly (referred to as the point fly). The second fly is usually a smaller nymph pattern. To fish deeper water a split shot can be added directly in front of the larger fly (dropper). The idea behind this rig is that the larger fly is more visible and attracts attention and also carries the weight which pulls the naturally sized fly down to the fish’s depth.
  • Hooking the fish. Should a fish be hooked, remain stealthy and out of sight. Play the fish downstream and away from the hook up area. This will allow you another cast in the same target area should there be another fish holding there. If the fish has been hooked, but manages to free itself, have a few more casts, but do not thrash the same spot endlessly. Move along the river and return later when the fish is relaxed again.
  • Wading. The club section of the Sabie River is not that wide that it requires wading. Always bear in mind that stealth is the river angler’s most powerful weapon and unnecessary and careless wading will only spook the fish. This said, a pair if waders are not essential however a comfortable pair of hip waters will keep you dry and also protect your legs from any creepy crawleys. Chest waders are cosy in winter but will soon make you hotter than what they are worth.