Province : North West
Size : 195 000 000 m3
Surface area : 2062 Ha
Max Depth : 45m
Hartbeespoort dam. Photo - Google Earth.
With a catchment area of over 4100 square kilometers and a wall of 59 metres tall, Hartbeespoort Dam has always been one of the favorite and most visited dams in South Africa. Since it's relatively close to Johannesburg and Pretoria, it receives the water enthusiast by the masses every day and boils over every weekend. It was built on the farm Hatbeestpoort which was owned by General Hendrik Schoeman in the 19th Century but has seen a number of revisions and upgrades until it was completed and opened in 1923. It lies between the Magalies and Witwaters mountain range and the name literally means "Pass of the Hartbees."
- Sharptooth Catfish / Barbel
- Bass Largemouth
- Carp Common (Fullscale / Mirror)
- Tilapia 3 spot
- Tilapia Canary
- Tilapia Blue / Blou Kurper
The Wall is 150 meters long and was built over a gorge in the Magalies which resulted in 57km of bank all around the water. From extremely deep cliffs to shallow stretched banks for every type of fishing. The Dam still serves primarily as an irrigation reservoir but due to the size of the water surface, has quickly become the ultimate playground for all types of water fans with Yacht clubs probably being the oldest attraction to the water.
Regrettably for the fisherman a lot of these banks have seen new developments which seems to be the new quick build-to-sell money making scheme in SA, where we lost out on quite a substantial amount of fish-able locations to new high priced houses and estates with price tags only foreigners could afford. More and more speculators and construction companies target land along the water, resulting in fewer fishing possibilities with each new addition. We've received news that Rust de Winter was the next to fall and the land has already been sold.
What most people might not have heard of, is that the shoreline around Harties now has almost NO aquatic plants anymore because of these developments. These plants you might come across in most dams, play an important part in a very delicate eco system, and last we heard, an astounding 98% of a 57km shoreline has been destroyed at Harties.
Now it's no secret that Harties has some of the filthiest most disgusting water in the whole country. Apart from the unbearable smell which might put a smile on every angler's face when he thinks of all the residents who "stole" his fishing spot with their fancy houses and waterfront gardens, it just can't be comfortable paying that kind of money for a "piece of heaven" and receiving somebody's "processed" meal as a housewarming gift. Harties always had a problem with pollution but this escalated to an unmanageable capacity in the last couple of years. So much that the local authorities have almost given up.
So what seems to be the main problem here? For one, you're not allowed to blame it on any human waste whatsoever! You can come up with alternative theories, as long as you don't mention sewage. It doesn't matter who comes up with whichever theory though, the biggest problem in Harties as it is so with numerous dams in SA, IS human waste, and our local governing bodies' inability to manage this effectively. While it is by far the biggest problem it's not the only big problem in Harties.
I might mention an interesting piece of gossip I was told by one of the residents on the Harties banks who was informed of a solution which he then told us about. A certain American company contacted the authorities at Harties to tell them about this new water treatment plant or machines or system channels which would improve the water quality back to the acceptable levels in quick time. While this company offered to do this whole operation for free (as an initial offer), the local government declined this. He couldn't tell me why they didn't accept or what the terms of this offer was, but we will have an opinion on this as soon as we receive the facts. Let's hope this was only temporarily postponed, or that it was by chance similar to their own almost implemented action plan, ha ha!
We do however take our hats off to the residents who now have started their own operation which means they pay for this themselves. According to studies, the algae and the stink you smell when driving past there, is a result from diminishing zoo plankton in the water, which in turn is destroyed by fish like Carp and Canaries. Now for them to get the zoo plankton back, they need to establish enough islands or floating plant islands. With this operation, they've decided to take out 2 tons of fish per day from Harties and this fish is then given to the local communities in the vicinity. Whether they know that this fish is sold on the streets or not, I personally doubt if this should be seen as a "service" since some people are getting money for the fish, but the majority of the community has to buy it then. The other issue is when the day comes when the fish hand-outs suddenly stop. Are these recipients going to quote Douglas Adams and simply say "So long, and thanks for the fish"? I highly doubt that! And with the lacklustre way of dealing with the increasing netting problem, let's hope these folks don't miss the fish too much.
For those who have heard of the authorities (sure it's still DWAF) that now have started another project called "Metsi a me" which is now in full operation, we honestly hope this works as it all sound very promising. While this might sound exactly like the program the residents have started, Metsi a me doesn't stop here.
First off, we all understand that sediment unavoidably builds up over time in any dam, and even if the dam has these weirs to dispose of some of the sediment, it only temporarily moves the problem, it doesn't solve it. While this sediment not only takes up the place of the water it traps nutrients which are vital to the Eco system of the dam which in turn eliminates some of the algae growth.
Also that there are now plans to pump these algae out of the dam in certain sections is good news for all. Isn't it nice to hear some good news for a change? The question we would like to know is, how much algae are we talking about here, and how long will this take?
Some more good news!
Since the sediment layers on the bottom of the dam trap all kinds of good and bad elements, plans are to pipe into these sediments to get to the good stuff and release it, like nutrients which in turn will improve the zoo plankton growth. Also it's been proposed to look for any idea how to utilize the sediment to somehow turn it into profit, thus not only lowering the percentage level these layers occupy, but to create a continuous offset for this pumped resource.
Back to the fishing in Harties.
Taking out fish in Harties or not, the fishing has always been substantially good. While some say it's a bad idea, there are others that is of the opinion that there's too many smaller fish which would result in bigger fish if you get the balance right.
Harties has never been a shy dam when it comes to big Carp. Mostly the full scale Carp but big Carp! I don't think there's another dam in SA that has seen more 16 footers in its life than Harties. With quite a few popular fishing venues around Harties, it remains the anglers' choice where he would like to target these fish. Apart from technology that has shorten the length of the 16 ft rods, the distances now reached has improved which normally results in decent bags of fish. However the last few years has seen these numbers go down quite dramatically with more and more people telling me that they blanked for a whole weekend. It has become nothing unusual if an angler didn't get a single bite for a day, but a whole weekend might break the poor man.
Personally I don't fish Harties if I don't have to. It's just one of those dams where it is imperative to have at least 2 spools of backup line as you are guaranteed to get hooked up, stuck or broken off with at least 1 out of every 3 casts if you use your normal 2-hook rigs. One always have to make some alterations or compromises when fishing at Harties.
If I can offer a few pointers, either catch with only one hook, or use dart bombs for sinkers. (Those plastic ground bait support that weighs almost nothing.)
What I also found that works for me, is if you reel in like a man possessed! Try and break the world line retrieve speed record. This somehow keeps your rig of the bottom which I am sure should look like a busy barber's floor in this day and age. Since fishing line doesn't disintegrate over time, I'm positive the banks around Harties contains more lines than the script for Othello.
All the conventional bait applies to Carp in Harties, it's a matter of what works for that day. From flour dough being the most used to mealies and worms, Carp in Harties take worms throughout the year.
Barbel is the one fish in Harties you can always rely on. No matter what the conditions you will always be able to catch a few. Normal bait applies too. Livers, crabs, worms, small fish, everything!
Kurper on the other hand has become quite a novelty in Harties as it is not seen so much as it was years ago. Even its size has declined over the years, but this we could probably write down to the selfishness of the average angler (not putting the fish back) combined with the effects of pollution and the impact of the Bass that has been in Harties for years now.
We do however see decent Three-spot Breams from time to time but it's been a while since we've come across a decent size Blue Kurper.
What you can bank on during the summer months are those aggressive Canaries which can provide hours of fun on spinners, worms and other smaller fish, or even small pieces of their own kind.
Bass on the other hand is a regular in Harties and I can remember us catching them on quite a few occasions. Those days we would still risk it and cook one of two but I think even medical aids these days stipulate on their contract prior to you joining that it would exclude Harties fish. Their numbers grew over the years but I won't go as far as saying that they're abundant in Harties, although I might recommend one popular place to maybe revise the venue name and change it to something more suitable, like Baars Hoekie or Bass Corner.
Harties gets its water mainly from 2 rivers, the Crocodile River and the Magalies, which also has some decent fishing around those rivers up to the intake at the dam. While there are still a few places to fish around Harties, one can however drive around the entire dam, including those places along the river in one drive as the road circles around all of them.
- Nature Reserve
- Holiday resorts
- Hotels (vicinity)
- Bed & breakfast
- Camping sites
- Private Venues
- Caravan stands