Venue: Richtersveld (Lower Orange River)
Date: 1-4 January 2019
Photo credits to Jacques van Wyk
We were up bright and early on Day 3 to see what the morning could produce. Everyone went in different directions to get a few casts in while breakfast was being prepared by our guide.
Ironically, the fishing was a bit off on the spots that produced the previous day. All I managed was a random mudfish that decided to take on my 5.5 cm Rattlin Hornet – crazy bugger!
Fishing was slow and we decided to quickly gobble down our brekkies and head to the next spot.
We passed some incredible scenery while paddling down the river. We passed one big pool that looked like a perfect for targeting big catfish. Yet time was against us, so we continued on with our journey.
Next up we found one very nice spot. It was a deep run carved in between two stone walls. The flow speed was relatively fast and the depth was around 2-3 meters – ideal waters for big Largemouth Yellowfish! Koos and I fished the middle section of the run, while Jacques and Armand focused on the head-end of the pool, just below the rapid.
Yellowfish spinning rig:
- 7 ft. Medium Action spinning rod
- 2000 spinning reel
- 15 lbs. Nanofil braided line
- 10 lbs. Fluoro leader line
- 5.5 cm Rattlin Hornet (Yellow Holo Perch and Red Crawdad)
Both Koos and I was onto fish from the get-go. Koos went tight first and landed a beaut of a Smallie after a solid fight.
I followed up with another brute of a Smallie and then got another surprise as I hooked up with another mudfish in the mouth – what are the odds of catching two in the mouth on big cranks on the same day?!
Armand and Jacques also had some success at the head of the run with Armand also landing a legal-caught mudfish between the yellows.
Some trophies were caught be both of them on the 4.5 cm Rattlin Hornets.
Again our technique for fishing this pool was the same as during the previous two days. We would cast upstream, reel up slack as quick as possible to make contact with the lure. As soon as we make contact, we slow down with reeling and just keep tension with the lure as it runs down against the current. It is important to follow your lure with your rod tip as it runs downstream. The yellows tend to hit your lure as it runs passed them.
Yellowfish will lay behind rocks in fast flowing water and wait for prey to flow pass them which they can then ambush from behind these rocks. The rock acts as a shelter which allows the yellowfish to stay in the strike-zone without having to use a lot of energy of swimming against the flow. It is also important to note that they generally lay with heads facing upstream. If you can manipulate your lure to run pass promising boulders as the pace of the flow, you will often be rewarded with a catch.
So, when fishing rivers for yellows, it is more important to focus on letting the flow do most of the work, instead of you as the angler doing the standard cast and retrieve.
The spot died down and we decided to move on. Our next stop looked very promising, but it was actually very dead. We wasted a lot of time by hanging around this spot for hours with very little success. Eventually, we told the guide we needed to move on to a better spot.
The sad part was that we passed some excellent spots as we needed to make it to our next camping spot before the sun went down – tip for readers, if you wish to do one of these fishing tours down the river, ask your guide to move if they set up camp on dead water and do it sooner than later. We wasted some quality fishing time by not speaking to our guide earlier.
Luckily the move was a great idea. Once we arrived at our next camping spot, we quickly put up camp in order to make a few casts before the sun went down. A few casts in Koos went tight and all hell broke loose! Koos was on with a BIG fish. It gave him a few insane runs!
The runs were so intense that Koos asked me several times to head back to camp to get one of the kayaks so he can follow his catch downstream on the boat. I headed back towards camp as we needed the big landing net. Luckily, Jacques saw the battle from afar and came towards us with the big landing net. Eventually the fish showed himself, it was a brute of a Lower Orange catfish – classic massive head on this bad boy.
Koos had to fight the fish until it was very tired to allow us to net the brute. As the fish was netted by Jacques, Koos gave a sigh of relief.
This was one of the most insane fights he has experienced to date. Catching a 16 kg + catfish on medium spinning tackle with 15 lbs. braid and 10 lbs. leader is no joke.
A few snaps were taken before the brute was revived and released. Night fell and we were treated to a lekker dinner. After dinner, we washed our hands with our head lamps on. We saw a few catfish cruising in the shallows; mostly small ones, but a few big ones were present. The sight of these cats was too much for Armand; he decided to cast his Rattlin Hornet towards these cruising cats and immediately he was rewarded.
It must have been an interesting experience to fight the catfish on light tackle in the darkness. The cat pulled the scale to 12 kg.
While Armand was fighting his catfish, a bigger catfish bumped into him as he was wading and the catfish decided to lay dead still on his foot. Armand couldn’t believe this behaviour, he instructed Koos to try and catch the catfish lying on his foot while he continued fighting with the catfish on the other end of his line. We estimate the catfish on his foot to be around 20 kg – a big fish! Sadly, the current pushed Koos’s Pumpkinseed passed the cat’s whiskers which prevented him from hooking up with the monster. This funny scenario came to an end when we netted Armand’s catch and the one on his foot suddenly decided to make an escape.
Another eventful day came to an end…
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