30 December 2014
A few days after Christmas I saw some beautiful catches which Jannie Erasmus and his sis racked up at Loskop Dam, what caught my attention was the nice size blue kurper and redbreast kurper in his album of photos. I gave him a call to hear where the fish was holding to, this was followed with a message to Koos to hear if he wants to go catch some decent kurper. Koos was in immediately as he has been aching to get his first proper size blue kurper on lure. I have also been aching to have a good kurper session as I have not yet had the opportunity to go target decent size blues this season (the previous season I klapped them and managed to catch more than 50 quality fish for the season). Catching good size blue kurper on nests is something I hold close to the heart as it is difficult, but very rewarding fishing.
We postponed our trip to Loskop by one day as the weather looked terrible for this day, but the forecast showed that the following day looked promising. We arrived at the dam and was welcomed with a scenic view, MAN..I love Loskop! Such a scenic dam with the green mountains surrounding the dam and insanely clear water – excellent for sight fishing!
We first headed to Kranspoort to see if we could catch a few silver catfish and papermouth. This area is at the inflow of the dam and has produced many silver catfish and papermouth in the past for me. At our arrival we noticed the water was very alive with fish jumping everywhere – this got our blood pumping! We got our spinning setups ready for some fun.
Tackle for silver catfish and papermouth on spinning:
- 7ft Abu Garcia Veracity medium action spinning rod
- Penn Clash 2000 spinning reel
- 7kg Berkley Nanofil line
- Abu Garcia Droppen size 2 spinner
Though the area looked very promising we didn’t pick up any fish in the area. We tried different lures, even tried a bit of trolling with no success.
We moved on to the waterfall bay to see what is going on here. We got a few hits of bass on our spinners in this area, yet nothing stuck. We also saw some river sardine (glassies) at the back of the bay. It was nice to see the waterfall flowing again – not every dam where was has the presence of a waterfall flowing into the dam.
Next we hit a stretch of shore with a nice sandy bottom. It was clear that the water level has raised significantly quite recently as the water pushed up in the green grasses on the shore. This grass formed a barrier with a nice backwater behind it. This backwater was boiling with feeding carp and spawning/feeding catfish. The trick was to get within reach of these fish as they were feeding in 10cm deep water. Luckily, many carp and catfish fed on the edges of the grass barrier – these fish were in reach and we could target them. Many catfish also cruised in the shallows and we also noticed several of them sunbathing on the sandy bottom. This would have been heaven for most anglers as one could as many fish as you like as there was such an abundance of fish around and feeding – ready to be caught! We decided to spend only a little of our time in the area as our mission for this trip was to catch quality blue kurpers – we have had numerous successful carp and catfish trips during 2014, we came to Loskop for big blues. So, I let Koos catch a small carp just to lessen his heavy viskoors. He dipped one of the many tailing carp feeding next to the grass barrier, this fish put up a good fight for its size. He used his dipping rod to catch the carp; it was sight fished by silently placing his leadhead in front of the feeding carp and lifting once it sucked up his lure.
Tackle for carp on dipping:
- Mitchell Privilege Pro 13.6m telescopic dipping rod
- Abu Garcia Black Max baitcaster
- 20lb Berkley Whiplash
- Sada Leadhead with Berkley Powerbait Wigglers in Chartreuse colour as a trailer
While Koos was busy playing with the carp I noticed a 6-7kg catfish begging to be caught lying in front of me. I still had my Veracity rigged with a spinner in my hands, but seeing that the fish was laying suspended in the open water, I decided to have a little bit of fun. I cast my spinner far across the catfish, reeled in the spinner on the surface and then dropped it to sink onto the cat’s whiskers – I saw it engulf my spinner and I knew I was in for a big fight on my light tackle. The brute made light work of my tackle as it raced of giving me reel run after reel run! I played the fish softly and with patience while enjoying the fight. After about 10 minutes the catfish surfaced and allowed Koos to net it. I was impressed how my Penn, Veracity, Nanofil and Droppen spinner handled itself with such a big fish. Though the spinner’s hooks were a bit bent open, it still performed considering the amount of force the catfish exercised on it.
As we moved along the shore between the loads of carp and catfish we came across a good sized female blue kurper which was holding to a specific area. Koos commenced working for this blue with his spinning setup rigged with a Sebile Spin Shad (still tigged for the silver catfish we worked for at the start of the day). I kept us in position while Koos bounced his Sebile up and down next to the kurper, the flashing of the Spin Shad’s blade started hitting a nerve as Koos kept on agitating the fish. Eventually after about 10 minutes the blue gave in and grabbed Koos’s lure – ON! Koos was psyched! The blue gave a classic big kurper fight with short runs and heavy shakes. We netted the beaut and celebrated as Koos has caught his first decent blue on lure and on a Sebile Spin Shad of all lures! (Not the conventional lure for targeting nesting blues). We quickly took a few pics before carefully releasing the fish for another day. We moved further down this shore, but the blues were nowhere to be seen. Though the carp and catfish were hugely tempting at the spot we found ourselves, we decided to leave this spot and continue our search for some big blue kurpers.
It is strange how much the dam has changed from when Jannie fished the dam a few days earlier as many of the spots which produced blues for him had no blues on this particular day. He also saw few catfish while we saw plenty of them through the day. My guess is that the dam level has risen significantly from when he fished the dam and with our trip – just goes to show how quickly a venue can change.
We moved to another area, it was another sandy flat – ideal for blues to make nests on. On arrival we saw schools of big blue kurper – immediately viskoors was high as these were quality fish and many of them in several schools. We started casting spinners at them with a few following the spinner, but none of them committed into taking it. I then tried Salmo Hornets which also didn’t work, followed by a jighead with a curly tail grub on it. The kurper ignored everything we offered at it – very frustrating stuff! Eventually we decided to move on past the schools of kurper as they were not playing along. Interesting that these kurper in the schools was mostly female kurper, I noticed this same phenomenon at Vaalkop a few months ago. It seems that when the males move onto nests the females move into schools. Though it seems these females are always a challenge to catch on lure, maybe they would better react to a fly presented to them?
Further down this shore we came across male blues on nests and there were lots of them! We then commenced pulling the boat out on the shore. We anchored the boat by using the outboard. When targeting blues on nests it is ideal if you can anchor your boat as you want to lay as still as possible. If your boat keeps moving you will often blow either away from the blues or over the blues which can cause them to go lock-jaw. If you anchor your boat at a spot with a few blues on nests within casting distance, you will be able to take your time working these blues (and believe me you will need some time as they usually don’t take your lure without being agitated for 10-15 minutes). The trick with catching nesting blues is to bounce your lure on the blue’s nest until it gets agitated enough to take your lure. Nesting blues are not feeding blues, the only way they will take your lure is if they believe it to be a threat to their nest. Blues are also very patient and to catch them you need to be more patient – the one of you with the most patience will be rewarded. If you can remain patient, you will be rewarded with some quality fish.
On this day both Koos and I caught all our blues by casting at them, it seemed that a bit of distance between us and the fish assited us as this made the blues stay on their nests longer. If we got to close they would often flee off their nests.
Both of us had most success with a 1/16oz Berkley Jighead loaded with a Big Bite Baits 2 inch Fat Grub in white or chartreuse colour. I recommend using this lure with brightly coloured trailer when working for blues on nests as it just makes it easier to see when the blue grabs your lure when you fish with brightly coloured lures – especially when you fish a kurper on a nest from a distance. I have found that bigger blues (1kg+) are less worried about taking bigger grubs than smaller one’s, so you can use a 2 inch grub without worrying that it is too big. Remember that nesting male kurper chase catfish and carp that are bigger than themselves off nests – so they don’t have a problem with taking big things on!
So, we casted our lures on the blues nests and hopped it back with pauses in between. Constantly we would watch the behaviour of the blues we were targeting. As we watched it we could see how their behaviour changed the longer we worked our lures on their nests. Eventually the fish would show signs of agitation like fluttering fins, fluttering their gills and chomping their jaws. When we saw this we knew that the blue was close to breaking point. Soon enough the blue will go down and pick up or even attack our lure which would be lying on their nest. It is essential that you can constantly see you lure as the blue takes and spits your lure within an instant, you don’t want to miss the take! You should react with a fast solid strike to penetrate their hardened thick lips. Your drag should not be too tight and keep tension on the line while fighting the buggers, if you bully the fish too hard the hook is likely to pull.
By following the above mentioned technique Koos and I managed to catch 13 more blue kurper between 1.2kg and 1.76kg. We even managed a double hook-up which included Koos’s PB of 1.72kg. Each of these blues were revived and released. Please release all nesting blues you catch as if you don’t you will definitely make an impact on future populations of blue kurper. I caught all my blues on my spinning setup while Koos used his fly setup to catch them.
My setup for catching nesting blues on this trip:
- 7ft Abu Garcia Veracity medium action spinning rod
- Penn Clash 2000 spinning reel
- 7kg Berkley Nanofil line
- 1/16 oz Berkley Jighead with a 2 inch Big Bite Baits Fat Grub in white colour
Koos’s setup for the blues:
- 9/10 weight Elbe fly rod
- 1000 Mitchell Avocet Silver III spinning reel
- 10lb Awa-Shima monofilament line
- 1/16 oz Berkley Jighead with a 2 inch Big Bite Baits Fat Grub in chartreuse colour
I experienced a better hook-up rate with my Nanofil compared to Koos’s mono, might be because mono has more stretch than Nanofil. We were pleasantly surprised by how well the Berkley Jigheads worked for these blues, these lures have super sharp Owner hooks which penetrate the thick hard mouths of kurper well leading to solid hook-ups.
Later on that day we came across a school of small fry in a bit dirtier water. Koos dipped the school of fry and immediately he was ON! As he striked, he accidently opened his reel to give line which led to a humorous affair as he closed his reel, reeled up the slack and fought the fish. He was pleasantly surprised by a beautiful redbreast kurper on the other side of the line. This specimen had one of the reddest breasts I have seen on a redbreast out of our local waters. This was a nice female red and it is now Koos’s PB of 540g. This red must have been protecting her fry when she decided to grab Koos’s jighead. Nice surprise to end off the day and what a way to end 2014! What will 2015 hold in store for us?