Rudolph's Reel Adventures

Among Mountains, Monsters and Princes – Part 2

Venue: Lower Orange River (near Upington)

Date: 16 to 22 December 2016

Day 2:

After the first full day of spending almost 15 hours in the scorching heat, we decided to start a bit later on the second day. We headed two a new piece of water and enjoyed a braai next to the river with some lekker boerie rolls. While my dad and De Wet started a fire and commenced braaiing, Koos and I decided to make a few casts at the rapid below our braai spot. It was a very shallow rapid with the water being below knee-deep. I saw a few yellowfish flashing on the opposite side of the rapid where they were feeding next to some reeds. A local was fishing with bait a few meters downstream from us; he managed to land a small yellowfish every now and again which he kept for dinner. We decided to make a few casts towards the reeds and see if we could catch some of these flashing yellows.

Finesse spinning rig for yellowfish:

  • 7 ft. Abu Garcia Veracity medium action spinning rod
  • 2000 Penn Clash spinning reel
  • 12 lbs. Berkley Nanofil line
  • 14 lbs. Double X High Abrasion Mono line (used as leader)
  • 3 cm Salmo Hornet Hot Perch colour and Trout colour (sinking)

Within a few casts I went tight with the first yellowfish and soon enough I heard Koos’s reel sing as a yellow speed off with his Hornet intact. We managed to catch about 15 smallies between the two of us in the next hour that followed, all of them ranging between 1.3 to 1.8 kg.

Koos also managed to land one smallie with extremely thick rubber lips which the Orange River smallies are known for. He also went tight with a small catfish that was a surprise to catch in the shallow rapids.

The key to success with these yellows were casting distance as well as an extremely slow retrieve. It is situations like this where I appreciate fishing with Nanofil line as you can get that extra bit of distance which few other lines can offer. In this situation most anglers would move closer to the fish in order to reach them, but the water was very clear here and thus the fish will spook if you move closer to them. After nailing a few we headed up to enjoy the boerie rolls after which we spend some time cooling down by lying in the river – highly recommendable! While lying in the river I saw several species swimming about which include vlei kurper (on nests), blue kurper in schools, mosquitofish, schools of river sardine (glassies) and plenty of mudfish feeding all around us.

That afternoon we went to fish a different spot. Two deep pools with plenty of rocky flats and islands around. There was a rapid between the two pools which have produced quality yellowfish, but the water level was too low for this spot to produce at usually does. My dad did however hook a muddy on a 7 cm Salmo Minnow next to the mouth on this spot. After a short try at this spot we decided to focus on cats.

We first tried our luck on the islands. I decided to stand on one of these islands and wait for a big catfish to cruise by. Catfish tend to visit rocky flats and island as these make good hunting grounds to catch birds of other fish feeding on bird droppings. I saw a few small catfish of up to around 8 kg cruise by the island, but no big fish appeared.

Casting rig for catfish:

  • 7 ft. Custom Heavy action casting rod
  • Shimano Curado E200 casting reel
  • 50 lbs. Berkley Whiplash braided line
  • 50 lbs. Maxima Ultragreen mono line (leader)
  • Lume Lures Large Slow Sinking pumpkinseed with size 7 Mustad Kaiju inline hook

Koos were on the opposite side on a big rocky flat where water grass and reeds joined up close to the rocks. He once again tried the popping techniques and managed to catch several smaller cats. After a while we heard him shout with joy as he went tight with a big fish. Seeing that he was fishing from the rocks he could bully the fish away from the structure to prevent it from repeating the episode that took place the previous day when he fished from his kayak. After a great fight he managed to land his new PB catfish of 18 kg.



























After a few pics the brute was released and Koos was one happy angler. I joined up with Koos on this flat and missed a 15 kg job catfish which was cruising down the rocks at the feet of Koos. I placed the lure with the perfect pitch in front of the brute which reacted to the lure, but unfortunately for me it grabbed the lure miss.

That afternoon the water came alive with many monster catfish rising all around the four of us. Unfortunately, none of these catfish committed to the pumpkinseeds we were presenting to them or to the popping techniques which Koos tried on them. It is quite a sight to behold when these catfish start turning around you as you get to see cats of over 30 kg turn a few feet from your kayak – enough to get any angler high on an overdose of viskoors!

We soon called it a day.

Day 3:

On the next day we headed out to stock up on ice and a few other groceries as we would be camping next to the river for three days. We head to the river that afternoon. After setting up camp and prepping all our tackle and kayaks to go out for an afternoon session, I decided to take a few casts at the rapid in front of our camp. The rapid made a drop-off with a rocky reef right next to it – it looked like the perfect place to pick-up some decent yellows.

On the second cast I went tight with a small yellow and that was enough to pursue the rest of the guys to join me in making a few casts on the spot.

We caught a few decent yellows on Hornets. In between all of the action De Wet went tight with a big largemouth yellowfish that took his size 3 Mepps spinners right at his feet before speeding off with an explosive take!



The fish put on up great fight with several long runs. He was delighted with the catch as it was his new biggest on lure at this spot; a beaut of 7.3 kg.

After a few photos the fish was revived and released.

Koos and I paddled down the river to explore the new waters and look for some other promising spots to target yellows. My dad and De Wet walked upstream to fish below a rapid that has produced exceptionally well for him in the past. We paddled passed a long deep pool with reeds and weed beds all over – a good spot for catfish.

The wind was pumping so we decided to mission on against the wind until we came across a very nice looking rapid with rocky flats that form a wall on both sides of the rapid. The walls created several gullies next to the rapid where yellows can lay and wait for a prey to ambush. There were also a few loose boulders in the rapid which created still waters behind them which are perfect for yellows. We immediately caught a few small largies and smallies.

I noticed that a vague scum line formed on the surface; I followed this line downstream to see where it gathers as this will be the place where the most yellowfish will be. The scum line gathered below a few rocks that broke the pace of the current and formed a deeper pool next to the fast flowing rapid.

As I saw this spot, I knew immediately that this will be a hot spot! Koos and I situated ourselves so we could fish this pool as effectively as possible, just below the pool within casting distance. We would cast up stream, quickly reel up the slack of our cranks and then reel extremely slow – basically just keeping tension with our cranks as it swims downstream at the pace of the current.

Finesse spinning rig for yellowfish:

  • 7 ft. Abu Garcia Veracity medium action spinning rod
  • 2000 Penn Clash spinning reel
  • 12 lbs. Berkley Nanofil line
  • 14 lbs. Double X High Abrasion Mono line (used as leader)
  • 4 cm Salmo Hornet Real Identity Perch colour (floating)

Koos swopped his Nanofil for Double X High Abrasion 10 lbs. mono which seemed to work very well for fishing in the rapids (even though I still prefer Nanofil with a short piece of leader). I decided to try the 4 cm Hornet at this spot as there were several boulders around which my 3 cm Hornet (sinking) could get stuck on – the 4 cm Hornet floats so it doesn’t get stuck so easily, plus I wanted to see if the bigger lure would produce bigger fish.

Koos also tried a new lure, he opted to use the 4 cm Sparky Shad (sinking) which is one of the new lures which we are testing for Salmo to see if it works in our waters.

From the get-go we went tight and for the first time on this trip we managed to smash trophy size yellowfish on a cast for cast basis. It was mostly smallmouth yellowfish; a few of just over 2 kg, but most were over 3 kg. We probably landed around 20 yellowfish between the two of us in two hours of fishing.

These fish gave proper accounts of themselves in the current – it was great fun! Koos managed to catch two yellows of 3.6 kg which was his new PB and I also maxed out at 3.6 kg. Koos absolutely loved the Sparky Shad and has he stated it was his “favourite Salmo”.

We also managed to catch a cool double-up of a 3 kg smallmouth and largemouth yellowfish.

It was getting late and we decided to paddle back to camp. Once we were close to camp, we decided to stay on the water and wait for the catfish to switch on. Koos almost fell asleep on his kayak as we were getting pretty lazy while waiting for the cats. The cats didn’t switch on that evening so we decided to paddle back.

When we arrived back at the camp, we noticed that the rapid that we fished earlier was much stronger – the water level has gone up for some reason! Plenty of fish were turning below this rapid and the river was suddenly alive with fish everywhere. Koos managed to catch several small largemouth yellowfish in this rapid. I also managed to catch a smallie of about 2.7 kg and a small catfish of about 4 kg that gave me a proper revving on my spinning rig and stuffed up the one treble hook on my 4 cm Hornet.

Koos went tight with a big fish on the Sparky Shad and after one hell of a fight he managed to land a 5 kg carp that decided to take his crank. It was already nights at this time and even though the fish was still on the bite, we decided to call it a day.

That night we saw numerous small catfish hunt in the shallows as we shown with a torch over the river. We also heard big catfish hunting right through the night. The water level kept on lifting through the night and this led to us all going to sleep with high aspirations for the next day of fishing! We were convinced that the next day would be epic!

If you are interested in fishing these waters you can contact De Wet Niemann to arrange a guided fishing trip with him, here is a link to his Facebook profile, just send him a PM and he will get back to you.

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