Another dam that shares its water between provinces in terms of borders and in this case, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and the Freestate province. The Vaal Dam is officially South Africa's 2nd biggest dam in terms of surface area and the 3rd largest by water capacity or volume. While this dam marks the end of the Gauteng border, it does for all practical purposes finds itself predominantly withing the Freestate province thus would be found when searching dams witin Freestate province borders.
The Vaal Dam. Big enough to need more than one satellite photo. - Courtesy Google Earth.
With a side earthfill and a concrete wall the original plan was completed in 1938 but has been built and rebuilt a few times. The 54.2 meter (177.8 ft) wall raised to 60m (197 ft) in 1960 but was again raised to 63.5 m (208.3 ft) in 1985 to meet the high demands which now offered a maximum capacity of 2 536 000 000 cubic meters (89 560 000 000 cubic ft) of water. The dam spreads over a 322 km surface area. (120 square miles) and has a fishermans dream of around 800km shoreline! The dam lies within the Vaal Riverbut can be fed from the Sterkfontein dam if the water levels drops too low.
The size of the dam will of course accommodate all water sports, with a number of boat- or yacht clubs and launch areas all over the dam, it is probably the most visited and enjoyed dam in our country.Accommodation:
- Nature Reserve
- Guest Houses
- Self Catering Units
- Private properties
- Bed & Breakfast
With the long shoreline for choice, we get all kinds of banks but a large portion of this shoreline tend to be on the shallow side. It is well known that some of the more popular fishing venues need some walking into the water to rest the bait on the deeper more suitable floor.
This is not to say that this dam might be a shallow dam overall, in fact it is measured in some areas to be as deep as 47 meters which means there's enough room to enable the fish to grow into those monster sizes we sometimes dream about but never catch. Stories about Barbel around the dam wall that's so big it just lies there with its mouth open, have all been heard of but again, we'll leave this to everyone's own imagination. But in retrospect all fish including the Barbel can only grow to it's maximum size which falls considerably short of any campfire tale or ghost story. But let's not discourage our potential adventurers, the Barbel specifically do however grow to immaculate sizes in the Vaal and is regularly caught well over the 20kg range which in my opinion still qualifies as a monster.
As for the Carp species in this dam, fish over 20 kg might not be a frequent occurrence in the Vaal although I will contribute this to the extensive amount of anglers that swarm upon this dam on a daily basis. It is to my understanding too, that even for a fish that has made it past the first couple of years without getting caught and taken out, you don't get to be big by not being clever. And with a Carp that has somehow managed to reach the 20kg+ range, it might just be outright intelligent.
But as far as intelligence in fish goes, technology always seems to decrease this gap with continuous inventions and improvements that yet again hands the recreational angler the upper hand in this Vaal dam duel.
Other species you might find in the Vaal are fish like Mudfish, Small- and Largemouth Yellowfish and in selected areas the new addition, Largemouth Bass, Although the Bass anglers might need a boat to get to these fishing spots. As far as we know there aren't any Tilapia species in the Vaal as the temperature is not suitable, but we do know of Grass carp that is regularly caught all along the banks. And if people would stop releasing their Koi fish into the Vaal, we will stop catching those every now and then.
- Carp - Common, Mirror
- Carp - Grass
- Yellowfish Smallmouth
- Yellowfish Largemouth
- Bass Largemouth (Black)
Places that we might want to mention are Deneysville which is to most, the last "big" town close to the water, although places like Oranjeville might suffice as a quick stop for everyday needs. While the dam lies towards the south when driving from Johannesburg it is just over 50km, however everybody would rather shoot straight for Vereeniging or Vanderbijlpark as their last stopover before aiming for the Vaal.
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