Fly Fishing For The Papermouth In South Africa

How To Catch The Papermouth On Fly?

Bushveld Papermouth (Silverfish)

Papermouth Illustration

The Papermouth (Barbus mattozi) is closely related to the Yellowfish and Barb species of South Africa, and is known by a few other names such as the Bushveld Papermouth, Silverfish (Silwervis) and Papierbek in Afrikaans. They are a freshwater fish species that are silver in colour (Hence the name Silverfish or Silwervis in Afrikaans), and this fish species has orange coloured fins. They are found in the Limpopo River and all of it’s tributaries, as well as certain dams. Vaalkop, Hartbeespoort Dam, Renosterkop, Loskop Dam and Rust De Winter are all dams that have healthy populations of this fish. They are also common in the Olifants river and other streams and farm dams in the Lowveld, amongst other fishing venues.

The Papermouth can reach lengths of around 40 centimeters and grow to weights of 1.5 kilograms. They are an aggressive fish, that can be really fun to target on fly.

More Information On The Papermouth

Fly Fishing For Papermouth

Papermouth are similar to the Largescale Yellowfish

The Papermouth prefers large deeper pools of rivers (Where the water is a bit cooler) and stillwaters, such as dams – they thrive here and the size of the body of water does not matter. They are a very interesting fish, and their numbers seem to be declining, which raises a cause for concern. The Papermouth is predatory fish, and from a very young age as a juvenile, starts feeding on crustaceans and insects. Small fish eventually become their main source of food, and they have been known to be cannibalistic, where they eat Papermouth fry and juveniles. They also eat algae, seeds and aquatic plants.

These are a great fish to tackle on the fly gear, and once you find one you can be sure there are a few others around. During Summer, after heavy rains and flooding, the Papermouth move upstream to spawn and breed. They reach breeding age after 3 years of their life, which is quite long for a freshwater fish, and could be one of the many factors contributing to it’s decline. They can live for 8 years or so, sometimes up to 10. Handle these fish with care and return them to the water as quickly as possible, try not to keep any and practice catch and release.

How To Fly Fish For Papermouth?

The most challenging aspect of fly fishing for Papermouth is finding them. It can take a while to locate these fish, but you can generally find them around structure, drop offs, steep banks, and the inlets and outlets of rivers. A 3 weight setup is ideal for these fish, and you can use floating, intermediate or sinking line. They are predatory fish, but surprisingly they often prefer a very slow retrieve over a faster one. But both do work for this fish species. Streamers and wet flies that resemble tadpoles and fish are the flies that will do the damage here. Smaller variations of tried and tested flies will produce the goods when targeting the Papermouth.

The best flies to use for fly fishing for the Papermouth can be seen listed below:

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