Rudolph's Reel Adventures

10 species haul at Rhenosterkop Dam

24 January 2015

(Some of the photos are for illustrative purposes only, didn’t get a pic of all our catches – was too busy fishing)

It was an early Saturday morning. The weather was great and it looked like we would experience a great day on the water. I was to fish with my dad, Bernard Venter, together we formed Team Droomvanger. All around us people were either launching their boats or queuing next to one another on the shore. This was Northern Gauteng Artlure’s third and final league (similar to Bass Divisionals) for our season – it was the decider for many anglers to see if they could still make the team representing our province at the Nationals at Theewaterskloof Dam taking place later this year. We started the day on a positive note with my dad pulling first pull-away for our team. The only down-side for us to this is that our boat is one of the slower boats currently partaking in the league so other boats are likely to still reach our first spot before we arrive there. On the up-side, we could use all the help we could get. As we raced off with the start of the comp we saw a few boats pass us on our way to a channel known by many as the “makriel spot”. As we anticipated we arrived at the spot 7th.


We rode to the back of a bay which formed a channel where a smaller river flows into the dam. Both sides of this narrow channel are outlined by a thick grass channel. Most of the other anglers partaking in the league also decided to fish this spot first so there were several other boats fishing the spot.

My father pre-fished the venue the previous weekend, but they didn’t spend a full day on the water as a huge storm hit the afternoon. This practice session confirmed that the makriel and papermouth were still available at this particular spot as my dad and Sampie both caught several fish of both these two species. Before they went off the water they also spotted glassies/river sardine schooling at the dam wall. So, in short my dad’s pre-fishing session helped us to know where to find three of the species we would need to catch during this league. The aim of most artlure comps is to catch as many species in a day as possible; each angler needs to catch one of every species available. The angler with the most species caught during the day wins. The size of your fish also counts points, but additional species counts more than a big fish. Rhenosterkop Dam has twelve species which are catchable on lure, some are easy and other are very seldom caught on lure.

My father and I both decided to spin for makriel and papermouth in the channel where my dad caught them the previous weekend.

Tackle for papermouth and makriel on spinning:

  • 7ft Abu Garcia Veracity medium action spinning rod
  • Penn Clash 2000 spinning reel
  • 7kg Berkley Nanofil line
  • Abu Garcia Droppen size 1 and 2 spinner (my dad fished the size 1 in bronze colour and I fished the size 2 in firetiger).

We fished up high in the channel before we found the schools of makriel. The makriel was holding high in the water column, close to the surface. By casting our spinners out and then retrieving it as slow as possible, close to the surface, we started picking up a few makriel. We both landed a small makriel and followed it up with bigger specimens (310g and 340g – biggest of the day). 10592679_10203285902260387_7811561182006573381_nWe continued spinning with the same setup for papermouth. Soon enough my dad went tight with a small papermouth. I cast in the same direction he caught his papermouth and retrieved my spinner as slow as possible and close to the bottom, close to the boat I got a hit and was on with my papermouth. At this stage we were both full with two species each – good start to DSCN0376the day.

I took out my small specie rig (also known as a ghielie rig) to try my luck at catching some ghielies/barbs – specifically three spot barb. They are often found in channel, especially at inflows.




Tackle for small species:

  • Shimano Exage Telescopic rod
  • Shimano Axulsa 500 spinning reel
  • 7kg Berkley Nanofil line
  • Gamgatsu size 22 hook with a splitshot 10 cm rigged above it and a small piece of pink Berkley Powerbait Wiggler as bait

I started working my lure on the bottom next to the boat with a quick jerk action. In essence the lure was being hopped on the bottom. It wasn’t 10 minutes before I was on with a good fish, the fish actually took some line. After having a short enjoyable fight I lifted a big papermouth (estimate 25 cm) which couldn’t resist my small piece of Powerbait. As I already had a papermouth I released it without taking a picture of it. Northern Gauteng Artlure decided to try a new method for the conservation of papermouth (a species which numbers has declined severely from past years and has disappeared from several venues). Anglers only needed to take a picture the papermouth they caught on the day next to their pull-away tag and show the pic to the weigh-master at the weigh-in. Thus, papermouth could be released immediately after being caught instead of being kept in our live-well for the entire day to be weighed at the scale. This new method of conservation was a huge success as there were no visible mortalities of papermouth on the day.

My father and I continued working in the shallows in grass pockets for barbs. While we were doing this the both of us picked up dwarf kurper as by-catches – yet they were very welcome by-catches! DSCN0397At our captains meeting it was decided that wading would be allowed for this comp as the dam’s water level was very low and boats could get damaged if the wind blows them against the rocks while angler try for small species in the crevices. My father had a gut feeling that there was some catfish action higher up in the channel. We beached the boat on the side of the channel and my father commenced walking up next to the shore to fish the very shallow inlet of this channel. I stayed on the boat and continued to try for barbs.

About an hour later my dad returned with his rod in the one hand and a small catfish in the other. Catfish are generally a difficult species to get at this venue so we were both excited with this catch! I left the boat and also started wading up in the channel to reach the shallow waters where my dad caught his catfish. He stayed put at the boat and tried to catch a barb. He caught his catfish by casting an Extra Small Lume Madpumkin over an area where a lot of catfish were turning and then retrieving this lure at a slow pace – this small pumkin gives of a nice vibration when retrieved unlike its bigger brothers. Once I reached the spot where the catfish were turning, I started casting and copying my dad’s technique. I made several casts with no luck. They area had a lot of vegetation which made retrieving a madpumkin quite difficult. I moved farther up in the channel to an area with loads of catfish turning in approximately 20 cm deep water. I made a few more casts with no luck. Seeing that there were many catfish turning in the area and that they water clarity was bad as the water was murky, I decided to try the calling method. I dropped my lure on the water surface a few times to create a splashing sound. After dropping the lure about 9 times on the water surface I saw a mud cloud rise next to the area I was calling. I let my lure sink in the area I was calling and gave a few jerks to allow the lure to give of some vibration…jerk…jerk…zzzzzzzzzzzzz! The catfish was on and it was running me like crazy! The catfish was a nice size specimen, especially taking into consideration that I was using DSC00086a spinning setup. After a few short runs I pulled the catfish closer, as I went down to grab the fish and pull it out on the dry land my hook pulled and the catfish dashed off! After uttering a few swear words, I walked on a bit and repeated my action which just delivered a fish. Again, after splashing my lure a few times on the surface a mud cloud appeared and after I jerked my lure up and down in the area I went tight again! It was a smaller specimen, so I bullied it out of the water as soon as I got a proper hold on it I commenced walking back to the boat. On my return I was informed that my dad has managed to catch two barbs while I was trying for catfish.

Tackle for catfish on spinning:

  • 6ft Abu Garcia Veritas medium heavy action spinning rod
  • 2000 Abu Garcia Cardinal STX20 spinning reel
  • 20lb Berkley Fireline
  • Lume Madpumkin Extra Small Fast Sinking in Carp colour

I tried to no avail to catch a barb, only managed to land some undersize blue kurper. We decided to move on to another spot to try for the remaining species. I wasn’t happy with leaving the river without a barb, but time was ticking and we left the river with my dad on 5 species and 4 for me – we had a great morning!

We headed to a bay where the plan was to target carp and vlei kurper, once we fill up on these two species we would try for bass. The bank we would work down had some vegetation on it, but it was more open than most areas of the dam as most other places are overrun with vegetation. I decided to keep a vlei kurper rig handy for in case we came across a school while my dad had his dipping rod to target tailing or bubbling carp.

Tackle for vlei kurper on dipping:

  • Sensation Prince III 7/8 weight fly rod
  • Shimano Axulsa 500 spinning reel
  • Berkley Triline Maxx 8lb monofilament line
  • Mustad size 16 hook with a splitshot 10 cm rigged above it and a small piece of pink Berkley Powerbait Wiggler as bait

Tackle for carp on dipping:

  • Mitchell Privilege Pro 13.6m telescopic dipping rod
  • Abu Garcia Revo S baitcaster reel
  • 20lb Berkley Fireline
  • Sada Leadhead with large yellow Sada Curlytail a trailer

As we moved down the bank surveying the shallows for carp I decided to drop my lure in grass pockets to see if there are some vlei kurper around. On my first dip, to my surprise, I was on with a big vlei kurper! Unfortunately it shook me as I was lifting it out of the water. Later on the same thing happened. At least this informed us that there some vlei kurper in the area. We also didn’t take long before seeing the first tailing carp. The carp were feeding very shallow. Most of them didn’t blow bubbles or stick their tails out of the water which made it difficult to spot them – they camouflaged very well on this bottom so we had to up our game and really focus hard to see them early enough before the wind would blow us over them. The time window for presenting the lure to these carp was very small. My dad missed a few spooky carp. The wind was blowing from behind which made it increasingly difficult to spot fish as we had little time to survey an area before the wind blew us over the spot. As we worked down the bank I spotted a school of vlei kurper. The school saw us and fled to a close-by grass bed. I dipped my lure next to the grass and immediately a vlei kurper attacked my lure. Strike, on and my vlei kurper was landed. It was an easy size specimen as it was 12-13 cm (size is 10 cm for vlei kurper). The wind blew us over the spot, but luckily I remembered the spot. We quickly turned around with the sneaker motor and I told my dad exactly where to dip as he had not seen the spot or the school of vlei kurper. He picked up and was also on with a size vlei kurper – we both had vlei kurper full!


I also got a carp dipping rod handy as we continued working the bank for carp. About an hour later we saw a carp feeding nicely. My dad swung his leadhead past the unsuspecting carp and let it sink in front of the carp; as soon as the lure hit the bottom the carp stormed the lure and sucked it up. My dad lifted his rod and was ON! He bullied the carp into the net as it was a smallish one. We celebrated the catch as my dad was now on 7 species, while I was 10818270_856357111082082_801011582490337353_o (1)on 5. About twenty minutes later I spotted a carp feeding in ankle deep water among some vegetation. I quickly swung my leadhead past the carp and pulled the lure closer on the surface. I dropped the lure in front of the carp, but it didn’t react, so I gave the lure a subtle jerk…immediately the carp sucked up the lure and I was ON! The fish raced away, but I applied a lot of pressure to shorten the fight. The fish was netted as we had carp full!

Now it was time for bass. I rigged up a plastic, while my dad decided to cast a jerkbait. Again my dad was fast to catch his bass as he landed his bass on the jerkbait just as I finished rigging my bass setup.

Tackle for bass on jerkbait:

  • 6ft Abu Garcia Veritas medium heavy action spinning rod
  • Abu Garcia Cardinal STX20 spinning reel
  • 20lb Berkley Fireline
  • Rapala X-Rap Jerkbait

I continued working with the jerkbait as it has just delivered a bass up. I worked the jerkbait with a very fast action. We saw small bass hitting some fry in the area, but I got no hits when I worked the jerkbait on these spots. After about an hour I got a hit and was on with a small bass. To my dismay the bass was one centimetre undersize. Three casts later I was on with a bigger
bass which easily made size.

Now I was standing on 7 species, while my dad was on 8.

At the back of the bay we were working we saw several boats go in and out on a spot. We decided to investigate. Both my dad and I waded in the area. I worked down the one side of a bank while my dad worked in the opposite direction. On my side I only saw a few size vlei kurper hiding in the 10562574_856357544415372_3864305503308629623_o (1)shallows under the grass beds and I also saw one estimate 2kg bass. We were looking for size blue kurper in the area so I fished with my Vlei kurper setup which I mentioned earlier. After a few minutes my dad called me and said he caught a nice big three spot barb on his vlei kurper rig. I went to the spot where he caught the barb with my small specie rig. I didn’t see any action or signs of barbs in the area. I splashed my lure on the surface to get the fish’s attention and then commenced hopping my lure on the bottom. A few hops in and I was on with a big three spot barb – yay! I also now had 8 species!

Next we moved to fish the dam wall where my dad spotted some glassies/river sardine the previous weekend. We found large shoals of glassies swimming just under the surface in front of the dam wall. Using a small Owner Tenago hook we both quickly caught a glassy – now we were full with 9 species.

10629301_856357581082035_2038666645005085798_o (1)Now the only species left was blue kurper, leadfish and yellowfish (last two are seldom caught at this venue). I told my father that I spotted a few undersize blue kurper at the launch just before we pulled away in the morning, so maybe there would be some size blue kurper around as well. As we moved closer to the launching area I got my small specie rig ready and just my luck we spotted a school of 5 size blue kurper laying just next to the shore. I dropped my small piece of Powerbait next to the school, immediately the entire school followed my lure as it dropped past them. I waited until one of the blues sucked up my lure before I striked – ON! I had my 10 species landed for the day; this was my best ever specie session at this venue! I was very excited! Unfortunately the wind blew us over the school of blue kurper which caused them to spook.

DSCN0382We spend the remainder of our time to get my dad on to a size blue kurper. Though my dad has a size blue on, it came off. I managed to upgrade on my bass while working the jerkbait through some bass as they were smashing the glassies next to the dam wall. We ended the day on 10 species for me and 9 species for my dad. I took 1st place and my dad took 3rd place, what a great result for our team!

Until next line…

2 thoughts on “10 species haul at Rhenosterkop Dam

  1. Sylvia

    Hey Rhudolf I’m Sylvia from a rural area in Allemanssdrift c by Rhenosterkop Dam and I just wanted to let you know that I enjoyed your article about this dam. I hope to read more of these articles in the future.

    Keep well and please come through, again!

    Kind regards

    1. Rudolph Post author

      Hi Sylvia, the sad thing is that Rhenosterkop has been very low for the past few years, too low to fish from a boat. Hopefully this rainy season will be good enough to fill up this amazing dam. Feel free to read some of the other articles on my blog. Regards

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Follow this blog

Get every new post delivered right to your inbox.

Email address