Fishing in South Africa

Take it as it comes, one day its good the next day its bad but still, a bad day at the water is better than the best day at work. (a bit of local phillosophy)

Hi, my name is Brian du Toit. I live in Gauteng Province, South Africa. I have been fishing for what seems like a lifetime (I am 39) but still, I never get bored, fishing is still a passion, a way of life.

I started fishing at my local lake. Victoria lake in Germiston was a mine dam and contaminated chemically due to use by local mines. Local authorities saw fit to clean the waters and after a few years of hard work, a lake which could carry life was born. If I remember correctly, there was a lot water grass, and getting the fish out was quite a challenge. I was only about 13 years old when I caught my first carp here. It was small (about 3 pounds I think) but it carried impact. Yup, I hooked a little one but it hooked me for life.

I played hookey VERY VERY often due to the fact that I had to ride past the lake on the way to school. My fishing gear was in a spare bag and I kept a rod hidden in the numerous reeds around the dam :-). This lake carried good fish. With time the averages increased and I remember catching 10 fish a day with all of them being over 10 pounds and the largest running 35 pounds. We even once had the Belgium national team come out to South Africa and on a social day they fished at MY lake. Their lines were quiet and I landed 6 biggies. All I remember was them taking my picture and admiring the fish. Apparently they didnít often get big fish like these.

Time passed and I grew to want to compete against other anglers. I joined a club and was given a thorough thrashing by the more experienced anglers. I remember a fellow walking up to me and saying " HA HA, your going to catch fish like that! You will never amount to much HA HA!" This hurt and I didnít get very much further with competitive angling with that club. I then joined a club called Eland and whilst still making the same mistakes, my fellow anglers at least made an effort to speak to me. Still, their closely guarded secrets eluded me and I never featured. Then it happened, totally fishless after 4 hours and the other guys were doing well, Johan Keet (he represented our country's angling team and was well thought of) walked over to me and gave me a quick lesson in basics and the bait he was using that day. I didnít win, I didnít come second, I did however catch a good few fish and made a friend. To say the least, I have never looked back. Those secrets are now mine as well, I too have represented my province, I was even offered the opportunity to fish for my country against a European team. The birth of my first child ensured that I turned the opportunity down but still, I had done enough to be offered this honour.

With this background in place, I want you, the reader, to understand that I know both sides of angling, competitive and social, for fun or to win, pleasure and pain. I feel this has given me a balanced view to fishing and I will thus set out the following maxims for angling success.

1) Angling is for fun, when winning means everything, give it all up! Donít ever forget the pleasure of fishing.

2) Attitude is so very important, there are two frames of mind that count, positive and negative. If you view the day positively you will always do better than if you start out negatively.

3) The most important belief I have is to share information. If you can beat me with my bait then your the better angler. Why hoard all this information and fool yourself into believing your great. I was hurt by the guys in the beginning and only the joy of angling kept me going. If we are to grow our sport, we have to share, teach, and encourage.

Bank Angling

Competitive. Venues are announced in the week of the competition so practicing the venue isnít possible. Prefeeding isnít allowed neither. Arrival at the water is organized by drawing numbers. Number one gets a head start to go and find a spot and so on. Peggin the bank is only usual in provincial events or prize competitions. The normal setup here is for the angler to go for carp with catfish and mudfish being other options. Normal kit would be 2 large boxes on stands, 1 containing flavours, colours and baits, the other containing tackle. In addition a large bucket of boiled and crushed maize is on hand as well. We fish with 2 rods, either fibre glass or graphite. Rods are normally 12 to 16 foot long. Reels are more personal but a common choice here would be a one to one ratio centre pin reel. I use the Orlando minor which was made by Grice and Young (some guy in South Africa since bought the moulds and theyíre now made locally).

At the start of the competition a hooter blows and its lines in. The guys will usually stick tennis ball sized bombs of the crushed maize on the sinker and cast a few dozen in to create a feed spot. They stick a hook into the ball of maize and I suppose it could be argued that this constitutes a bait. I havenít heard of anyone being fined for breaking no feeding laws.

Traces are quite simple the main 2 being the Rietvlei and the Paternoster. These have variations but the main theme is the same ie. 2 hooks and 1 sinker. A ball of crushed maize is always placed on the sinker other than when extreme distance is needed when a nice large pear sinker is the order of the day on the paternoster trace.

Baits, flavours, colours

OK, can I write a book? hee hee. The guys are mad. Totally mad. They often have as many as 100 flavours and variations in that box of theirs. I donít see how they make head or tail of a day. It must be very confusing. Still I once owned such a box and will tell what I know. Hook baits include tinned corn pips, flour dough, brown bread, maize meal, doughballs, worms, flying ants, other worms and bugs, frogs, chicken, some others that I am not aware of. The norm though in competitive angling is worms or dough on the hook with a brown bread backing on the shank. Baits are generally neat and small. Hooks are normally from size 4 to 8. Most common hook is probably the VMC 9555.

Hypothetically the guy will bait each hook slightly differently to determine the bait of the day. SO for example I would cast out a corn pip with bread backing and a small flour dough with bread backing on one rod and a flour dough with bread backing (again yes) and a worm with bread backing on the other rod. Now for the fun part. We dip these baits into colours and flavours. I personally have refined my choices to maximum 15 odd variations but as I said the other guys have a huge array of numbered bottles with a typed list of contents in their box. Bait basics apply though and the more common dips are almond, banana, bunspice, caramel, cherry, cinnamon, custard, garlic, honey, onion, orange, peppermint, pineapple, raspberry, rum, strawberry, vanilla. There are loads of variations or these especially with just colour added. The 3 most common colours are egg yellow powder, polonye red powder, flouroscene powder. Pheeeeeeeew, My personal choice is as follows (in order of preference):

1) Flourescene bunspice mixed with liquid glucose
2) Vanilla concentrate
3) Caramel concentrate
4) Almond concentrate (usually yellow)
5) Strawberry concentrate (usually red)
I built a good set of results out of these 5 dips.
Hope they serve others equally well.

We fish many different ways but with so much bank noise we usually cast 100 yards or more out. I like to wind my line up tight and put a small piece of brown bread on the line about 5 foot in front of the rod tip. I use 2 telescopic stands per rod and usually have the rod about 4 foot above the ground. If the bread starts dropping I catch up the slack and if its still moving I strike because sir carp is swimming towards me if he swims the other way, you hear the sweet sound of a running reel :-)

In competition, fish usually donít run very big, 10 pound fish are the exception rather than the rule. I have had days where 15 pounders were the norm and some fish over 20 pounds were taken but that is not the norm.

When fishing privately, and with a prefed spot of say 2 buckets of cooked maize (corn) pips the philosophy changes slightly. Hook sizes are slightly larger and corn pips are the norm as hook bait. Maize meal is also used in place of bread as a backing on the shank. Catches of big fish take place and at the right dam and the right spot big fish can rule. Say 15 pounds to 35 or 40 pounds.

We do have some guys who are boilie fishing here and they are really getting BIG fish. Not so many but very very big. 40 to 50 pound carp are taken quite regularly by these guys. My PB is 16 KG which is I think just over 35 pounds. I havenít tried specimen fishing though and stick to my "catch a lot" style.

Boat fishing

I gave up competitive bank fishing about 10 years ago and joined a young angling facet called Light Tackle Boat. 2 guys to a boat, 2 rods per head, 4kg IGFA line (thats 8.8 lbs). We either drift for catfish or anchor for carp, catfish, mudfish, and bream. Anchoring comprises 2 ropes each 60 yards long with an anchor at both ends. We simply drop the 2 ropes parallel to each other, put the boat between them (facing the chosen direction and then tie up front and back really securely. Spread-eagled like this the boat hardly moves an inch and carp angling is now very possible. Due to possible rough water and such, we mostly use deep v hulls with "self draining wet decks".

Our rod stands are mounted on the transom (back of boat). We still use small bread indicators to indicate bites.

Traces remain the same but number 4 hooks are far more common than the smaller sizes. Baits too are the same but the prepared bait on the hook is bigger and rougher. We no longer need to cast in those balls of bait because we are allowed to prefish the venues and usually put down a good few bucket of maize pips on our chosen spot. I also like to put down a rumavite block (cowlick made mainly of molasses and a little salty). We sweeten the spot by hand when we get there on the day of the fishing competition or social trip. We get big fish, lots of big fish. At the SA Championships held at Bloehof dam about 4 years ago, 3 guys got bags over 200kg each in one 8 hour day. Thats over 400 pounds worth of fish!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Its not strange to run 15 pound average like this. The fish are big and strong and very difficult to bring to the surface whilst next to the boat. Anchor ropes really make for interesting times. :-)

A strange technique :-) And my favourite at that

A guy called Fritz Beumer introduced us to a technique called "Hollandse Dobber" or "Dutch Float". Basically you anchor on top of your angling spot (its right under the boat). The thin float has 2 eyes on it, one at the bottom one in the centre. You thread the main line through those eyes (middle one first hee hee and attach the end of the line to a baby shoes rig. This is basically 2 swivels 2 foot apart with a small sliding sinker in between. On the bottom swivel (a treble swivel) you attach 2 small hook lengths (max 2 inches long). You let the sinker fall till it just touches bottom. You mark the line where it touches the water and tie a small piece of cotton or floss onto the line thus acting as a stopper knot for that sliding float. Viola you can fish 10 foot down 15 foot down 20 foot down. All that changes is the stopper knot. This is a very sensitive method and hooking a biggun 15 foot from your rod tip is explosive action. Its very fast and incredibly accurate. You fish 100% on your feed spot. I have caught more than 100 fish a day like this. Its fun, really good fun.

Drifting. When going for catfish here we sometimes anchor but more often than not we fish on the drift. We drag a frog about 20 to 30 yards behind the boat on a simple 1 hook rig. A small number 2 ball sinker and a size 1 to 4/0 hook attached to a swivel which is attached to the main line. We drift at speed 1 on a trolling motor and I in addition put out 2 drogues to slow the boat down further and also to stabilize the drift direction. The bite is usually a tap when the catfish hits the bait to stun it. I give slack so the fish can eat its meal and then set the hook. Our cats run as big as 80 pounds but my biggest is nowhere near that. The average size is good and runs in excess of 10 pounds in most if not all dams.

Just a small site I found giving a little detail on local fishing is .....

My ICQ number for chat is 47688921 under the name of Bigbear.

I am online from 9am to 4.30pm @ GMT + 2 hours.

Tight Lines

By Brian du Toit, Jan 2000, South Africa

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