12 – 22 December 2014
So, we were back on the water after a day filled with both up’s and down’s. The previous day we managed to catch some big catfish, but didn’t get pics of the three biggest one’s due to a few mishaps. We were greeted with a magnificent view; the full moon gazing upon us and the sun slowly creeping over the hills from afar. (You know you’re on the water early when the stars are still out as you are launching your boat).
Our plan of action for the day was to try and catch some quality largemouth yellowfish on lure. We decided to hit the water as early as possible to see if the bigger largies prefer hunting at dawn. On most of the days thus far we have landed a few nice specimens, but nothing massive. My father and Morris have caught largies of up to 5kg, but we were looking for bigger fish. Our biggest largie up and ‘till this point in time was 4kg.
Tackle for largemouth yellowfish on trolling:
- 7ft Abu Garcia Veracity medium action spinning rod
- Penn Clash 2000 spinning reel
- 7kg Berkley Nanofil line
- Sensation Minitrap in Peacock colour
We trolled on idling speed. All around us moggel were jumping. We were trolling in quite deep water, averaging 8 meters. My lipless crank was actually trolling rather shallow in the water column, but this specific lure has produced several quality fish for my dad and myself, so I have a lot of faith in it to produce the goods. Eventually after trolling quite some distance I got a hit and was on with a small largie – the ice was broken. We trolled up and down this specific area where I picked up the fish several times with Sampie and I both picking up several small largies – seems they were concentrated in the area. This area was around a bent with a major drop off. As we went down the stretch once more, I got a hit – a BIG hit! My reel exploded as the fish peeled the line of my reel! The fish gave an intense initial run followed up by several more decent runs, it was a big boy! Small largies give a run on the take and then commence fighting their way towards you as you reel it in, big largies give insane initial runs and then keep on running you in the direction they want – you have to keep up with them. All largies seem to come up during fights, thus you can see their silver flashes as they run along the surface, as soon as you bring the closer to the boat they start diving down to the deep. It is one very entertaining battle that keeps you busy for quite some time. Eventually the fish surfaced and Sampie managed to net the beaut, a nice 6.2kg beast! I was amped to have caught such a quality fish; this is my third biggest largie to date. Sampie and I celebrated, took a few pics and revived and released the beaut for another day. Our mission was half way accomplished, now to get Sampie on to a dawg of a largie.
Interesting that such a big largie would take a lure which doesn’t run that deep in deep water – I conclude that they hunt close the surface even in deep water (8m) in the early mornings. Later the day I think they hunt lower down in the water column (P.S. this was later confirmed when Sampie caught a 5.5kg largie on a DD22 in mid-afternoon).
We trolled down the same stretch, but it became too quiet, so we decided to move to another spot. Once again we came across some nice hills in the “Groot Water” and decided to troll in the area. We used the same setups as we did on the previous spot; Sampie was also trolling with a medium spinning rod loaded with Nanofil and rigged with a Sensation Minitrap. As we started trolling down the bank Sampie’s reel started screaming – he was ON with a BIG ONE! Again, as with my fish, the largie commenced running Sampie in several directions – he was anxious and viskoors was every present! He fought the fish with a soft drag and a lot of patience. Eventually we managed to land the dawg – a new PB for Sampie weighing in at 6.1kg! Sampie was very satisfied, his words was “now…my trip is made, I can go home now”. We gave each other a celebratory high five – mission accomplished! These two beasts we caught on this day was the biggest largies caught by our group of people for this trip.
We spent the rest of the day hooking onto several smaller largies and a few smallies.
Fish care tips for largemouth yellowfish trips:
- Remove the front treble hook from your crankbaits, this hook usually hooks largies in the eye which blinds them. Largies rely on good sight to hunt and will struggle to survive if they are blinded in one eye. At Vanderkloof you easily catch between 10 to 40 largies a day and therefore you have to remove your front treble hook, otherwise you will be doing a lot of damage to these yellows. We found removing the front treble hook from your lure does not affect your hook-up rate negatively and it actually makes it easier to release the fish quickly as you have fewer hooks that can get stuck in your landing net.
- Take a landing net with a rubber net, these nets work way better when fishing with crankbaits as your trebles don’t get tangled up in it. Berkley has some nice landing nets with these specifications.
- Get a landing mat or wet a towel to put the largies on when you want to put them on your deck. Your boat’s deck often gets hot during the day and if you place a largie on it, it will burn. The deck also takes off the protective layer from the largie which protects it from infections.
- Handle a largie as quick and gentle as possible, the longer you keep it out of the water, the weaker its chance becomes to survive. Take a few pics, revive the fish and then release it once it has enough power to swim away strongly.
- Never hold largies in their gills or from their gills. Also don’t hang them from lip grips as it will tear their soft mouths.
- Weigh largies using a weigh-bag.
- Remember that largies are a threatened species which by law needs to be released asap after being caught. Also note that they take 7 years before they can spawn (that’s about a 3kg largie). So, please handle these fish with respect and practice sustainable fishing practices.