The Catfish Joe’s wilderness  raft fly fishing experience.
Catfish Joe's Fly fishing South Africa is the oldest and specialised calm water raft fly fishing for yellowfish and monster catfish and low intensity adventure rafting company On the lower Orange river in South Africa in the same area as the annual Kalahari Augrabies extreme marathon. We were the first to design rafts based on the Alaskan raft fishing methods and operate mainly on the Lower Orange river and other concessions in private areas in Southern Africa. Most river rafting companies with small rafts normally doing white water advertise fishing as activity but don’t be fooled if you are a serious fly fisherman into these low budgets, paddling experiences that are very nice but not for the discerning fly fishermen.
We believe this is an exclusive experience as it is nicely balanced between safety, infrastructure and remoteness and wilderness. It is definitely one of the more scenic habitats hugging a river one can find anywhere on the planet. In South Africa it cannot easily be beaten. Catfish Joe's Wilderness Adventures is your gateway to this beautiful and pristine wilderness area. For over 15  years we have been leaders in  specialised Wilderness raft fly fishing Adventures on the lower orange river and surrounding Kalahari and Namaqualand scenery.
Joe Lategan felt the draw of this beautiful and safe area years ago on his quest to hunt for monster fish in Southern Africa’s wilderness areas. It is a fact that the more remote a river is the more wild it is including the numbers and sizes of fish. This area is steeped in history and lore from Koi, Hottentots, Boers, Missionaries, adventure seekers, outlaws and poachers to recent stories told around the campfire. The area of the Orange River we operate in has been selected for many reasons but the most important were that we didn’t want to do white water rafting but wanted to cater for the more mature client and also to allow for the older person that need to explore parts of the country they will never be able to with other means as no roads give access to the sections of the river we operate in. The rapids are thus fun to glide over as they normally are the productive zones for yellowfish on fly.
The Orange River obviously has areas that are great for white water rafting along its course but we leave this for the people that specialise in this adventure activity. We rather take our time to marvel at beautiful rock formations and narrow canyons edged by towering cliffs, or to stop for the bird watchers or kudu or leopard along the river. Along our tranquil 60 km river adventures we will allow you to see some of the great biodiversities along the Lower Orange river.
The habitat.
Leopard, Kudu, rhebok, klipspringers, river otters, huge leguanes, fish eagles, giant herons and other birds amongst others that find the green bushes along the river the only green areas in the otherwise longest mountain desert in the world. You will definitely enjoy your pristine wilderness adventure on the largest river in South Africa. All along the river there are short to long hiking trails that are inaccessible to others as well as world class mountain bike routes but most unknown by the general public. There are also potentially world class photographic opportunities if one books a photographic rafting trip or include it with a fly fishing or other raft adventure. The mountains change colour throughout the day due to the geological makeup. This mountain desert changes into most colours of the rainbow as the sun wades overhead during the course of the day.
Now also part of the Augrabies falls National Park certain sections are protected by law. The Orange river starts its journey in the northern border of Lesotho, also named Africa's mountain kingdom, and meanders southwards all the way through Lesotho and most parts of South Africa making it the largest catchment area in South Africa. (Ad were , through what towns , how long etc) We do private remote camping or make use of exclusive and luxury accommodation during the rafting trips. The choice is yours. You can also make use of a chopper to transport you to the fishing spots while staying in one of our exclusive lodges.
 A few typical examples of the logistics of Catfish Joe's Fly fishing South Africa wilderness raft trips would be:
1. You can fly to Upington airport where you can be picked up or chartered with a chopper to our operating area or lodge or you can fly to private landing strips at our 5 star lodges in the desert. You can drive in as part of your larger tour or overland experience.
2. The first night on arrival you can stay in a luxury lodge and get transported to the river the following morning where food and beverages are packed on the rafts and you can fish the whole day. You can decide to camp one night in the wilderness along the river or travel through on the rafts to the next lodge and sleep both evenings in comfort. The following day you can again travel down river to the last lodge along the river. This can be extended to as many camping/lodging as you desire.
In summary you choose to either make use of the lodges as basis while fishing various spots or travel down river where you can camp next to the river or sleep in the following lodge down river.
3. Make your fly fishing or rafting trip part of our world renowned best of both world trips. This includes visiting the Kgalagadi National park and Namaqualand, the world greatest flower spectacle.
4. We also have various 4x4 routes along or as part of the wilderness rafting experience.
5. You can thus combine 4x4, trial running and mountain biking fly fishing, photography, white water, game viewing and many more adventure activities all at once.
6. We do exploration trips on request that could and normally would be different than the products listed above.  These are normally to more remote areas with the objective of discovering new fishing areas or to specially selected or sensitive areas. 

 Rafting/ floating  for fly fishing for yellowfish on the Orange River with Fly fishing South Africa?
At Catfish Joe's Fly fishing South Africa we utilise inflatable rafts with small outboards engines (2.5 and 5 hp) designed specifically for the remote Orange River to get to remote areas that hold more and bigger fish due to less interference by man.  Kayaks are towed with for the sake of mobility from the remote rafts for individual anglers wanting to get to remote corners.  There is little reason to use rafts or any water crafts if one can get access to a river by foot or vehicle. The down side to this is when there is easy access to a river there is without a doubt more traffic on and along the river and pressure on the fish and habitat. A location then also loses its exclusivity.

Are there advantages in using raft/float for fly fishing for Yellowfish and other species in  the Orange river? 
As with trout fishing, fly fishing for yellowfish, without a doubt have many advantages in a raft in a river the size of the Orange River. The inflatable rafts are able to cover distances effortlessly, and position yourself at the top of remote and prime fishing pools or rapids are highly advantageous. In fact, most productive fishing areas exist that are not accessible in any other way. The mountainous terrains hugging the river in most areas are even inaccessible to choppers.
Fly fishing with rafts in The Orange River in South Africa is not that much different from the New Zealand or North American counterparts. In North America, occupants of a raft or drift boat will be casting to likely water while drifting in the raft. In New Zealand Rivers, they have been successful in approaching feeding trout with a raft in only a few circumstances. For the most part, we all use the raft as a vehicle to access distant and remote pools, where we can affect our approach on foot. In most cases, trout will be spooked by an approaching raft long before they are within casting range. The same applies in South Arica especially the lower Orange or Orange River for that matter. If the raft floats over a rapid it spooks mostly largemouth yellowfish. Catfish will be actually attracted to the raft.

Rafting/floating the  perfect method of fishing for the not so physical or mobile or aged fly fishermen.
Rafting and fishing is particularly advantageous for anglers who are unable to walk very far or walk at all but it also cuts on downtime for even extremely fit fly fishermen. Accessing distant fishing over a slippery rocky riverbed is strenuous stuff, and not everyone is up to it. This is where the raft comes into its own. By using the raft, we can put an angler on more fish, with less effort on his/her part and cover large sections of the rivers if need to. It also creates a very different feel to the fishing experience.
 What is further a great advantage is that the fly fisherman’s partner that doesn’t fish can travel with between fishing zones and have a base to operate from. I.e. one can transport a chair cool boxes, towels etc for the ladies and they thus are part of the fishing experience. While hubby walks the rapids they can take photos, tan, read a book do bird watching, take short walks etc. Always using the raft as the base.
Inflatable rafts make it easier to sneak up to quiet areas where largemouth yellowfish hold and can thus be approached without noise. We use the rafts mostly to get to the areas of fishing that can normally not be fished due to the size of the river and the distances. In long quiet pools the small outboard engines are used to move through if there are no fishermen targeting large catfish or largemouth yellowfish holding along the reeds on the deeper sides of the river.  
The inflatable’s have been individually designed each with attachments to take small 2,5 and 5hp outboard engines . Outboards are rarely used however as most fishing trips are carefully planned for each day and worked (drifted) downstream.  Flat decks make it easy to stand and cast for between three and four fly fishermen per raft depending which size raft is used. It can take between 6 and 8 people with camping gear. It is not a requirement to make distant or long casts either from the rafts or from the banks as 'short shots' are sometimes more productive for the smallmouth yellowfish. Generally, smaller tributary rivers are easier to fly fish (although they generally require more hiking). Rewards from the larger rivers can come in impressive packages though. Including the size of the fish.

Risk management descending. Low intensity rapids of maximum grade 2
Some specialised or requested adventure rafting trips involve negotiating rapids, but not our general products mentioned above. We have developed the concept of 'Risk Managed' descents. With this method, anglers are never actually in the raft for the roughest spots. Rafts are either run through empty or portaged around the more difficult rapids. (Only on exploration trips) Many of our rafting trips involve only gentle safe maximum grade 2 passages.
The raft is also a tremendous advantage on camping trips. Because our camping gear is self contained, and fits into the raft, we are completely mobile, and therefore able to move to a new area of the river each day. 
Inflatable rafts are basically the only method of exploring the river with the least effort as the rocky river beds make wooden, fibreglass or other watercraft basically impossible to navigate. The river also changes its habitat annually thus making it extremely difficult to memorise or mark dangerous shallow areas, rocks or other obstacles.
Not only are the rafting trips an excellent way to access remote and private fishing pools, but they are also an excellent way to enjoy the scenery. Lower Orange river valleys are some of the most beautiful places on Earth.                        Many ladies or non-fishing partners choose to accompany their fishing partners to also enjoy  the scenery, remoteness  and inspiration that comes from the true wilderness of the area. day on the river. 
The inflatable’s have many advantages in fly fishing remote wilderness areas. Sometimes rafts must be launched in very steep areas and they can be dropped slowly by rope where any other craft would have been badly damaged or impossible to port due to the weight. It is also not as heavy making it easier to manage in the river while the fishermen explore the rapids. They can be pushed or pulled around quietly by guides to maximise casting abilities for clients inside. They are easier to paddle and can handle rapids if they should.
They can be pulled over most rocks when the water is very shallow. Patching or fixing holes are also much quicker and easier. At the end of the days fishing it is easy to load them to the trailers or roof racks and transport them to the next launch site. 
They are thus very light to transport around along the river. Fishing mobility, manoeuvrability, durability, portability, paddling, quiet drifting, shallow water movement, carrying capacity amongst others make inflatable rafts the preferred vehicle for exploring the wild parts of the Orange River.
To me and many clients’ there’s no better place to be.

 Sustainability and Fly fishing South Africa.
Catfish Joe's wilderness raft/float fly fishing has been involved in various aquatic and yellowfish conservation projects since inception.  As a matter of fact one of the main objectives we decided to operate in logistically the most difficult part of the Orange River or in South Africa for that matter was indeed to be able to provide some form of social surveillance on the quiet section of the river.
Catfish Joe Productions has been the first private company to get involved as a sponsor in the very first yellowfish telemetry research done on the Vaal River. We practiced catch and release policies since inception and assisted through various TV programmes public awareness of the yellowfish species and water conservation. Catfish Joe Productions was the first company to film and broadcast on International TV the spawn behaviour of the smallmouth yellowfish.  We stick to a four week fishing season per area (50 kilometres) in a calendar year to least interfere with the habitat.