Venue: Nooitgedacht Dam
Date: 7-8 May 2016
It is funny how our plans work out some times. We plan long in advance and then something out of our control happens; then suddenly one needs to adapt and make new plans while hoping for the best.
Ironically…this is exactly the situation my friends and I found us in a few weeks back.
About two months ago Evert, Koos and I decided we would do an exciting fishing trip on the weekend of 14 to 15 May. Our first idea was to head to Komatipoort, but as the time came closer to do this trip; we realised that Komati might be a bit of a stretch to fish considering the long travel time versus time available for fishing. Our next plan was to fish at Bloemhof Dam, but due to its low water levels we decided to look at a safer option as we risk damaging our boat on this dangerous dam. Next we decided to fish Barberspan, but when we saw the terrible weather expected there on our visit, we decided that this venue would also be a bad choice.
At this stage the guys were getting anxious as we found ourselves out of options with only two days before our fishing weekend was upon us. I decided to look for possible fishing venues within 300km of Pretoria and which had the least signs of the incoming cold front expected over most of the country. As I cross-searched across Google Maps and a weather website, I came across a possible venue with the name of Nooitgedacht Dam. This dam is only 275km from Pretoria and 16km from Carolina. The name rang a bell…
I have only heard about this dam briefly. My knowledge about it was restricted to knowing that the dam has few Bass/Artlure visitors, it hosts a few of the common species found in the Highveld and it has plenty of yellowfish that can be effectively targeted on lure. The more I thought about this mysterious venue, the more I grew intrigued with exploring it. What would Nooitgedacht have in store for us?
I shared this option with the rest of the guys and everyone was keen to try it out. Evert organised a few rooms for each of us at Carolina Guesthouse. We left Pretoria early on the Saturday morning to ensure we arrive in Carolina as soon as they open their doors at 6 o’clock where we would book in. We ended up being for guys for this trip which consisted of Evert Laubscher, Jan van der Merwe, Roelof Jonkers and I. We decided that Evert and Jan would fish together, while Roelof and I fish of our boat. The weather was frisky and we could feel a cold front has moved in – at least there was no sign of rain at this stage.
We launched our boat just passed seven bells and decided to split up. Jan and Evert would fish at the dam wall side of the dam, while Roelof and I would head down towards the Vaalwaterspruit inlet and see what is going on there. Our main targets for this trip were largemouth bass and smallscale yellowfish. Carp and catfish would also be welcome, but we realised that the cold temperatures of the winter have probably already chased these species off the flats and into the deep waters.
Dam inlets are usually good areas to look for yellowfish ad therefor Roelof and I took out our light spinning rigs and commenced working up the inlet. We wanted to see how far we could move up the inlet as it would be great if we could come across some rapids or currents which yellows find favourable. My lure of choice for smallscale yellowfish is the 2 or 3 cm Salmo Hornet (depending on the size of the yellows I am targeting).
Spinning rig for targeting yellowfish:
- 7ft Abu Garcia Veracity medium action spinning rod
- Penn Clash 2000 spinning reel
- 7kg Berkley Nanofil line
- 2 cm Salmo Hornet (Hot Perch colour)
Roelof tried a 5 cm Salmo Minnow which had a long slender profile; a great imitation of our ghieliemientjie species. The river was very quiet with virtually no fish activity, except for a carp jumping every now and again. After casting our small crankbaits and also trying with spinners with no luck, we decided to move back up the dam and try the Boesmanspruit inlet. Vaalwaterspruit’s water was very murky and due to the dam only being 60% full, we could not move very far up the river.
Boesmanspruit was a much smaller inlet than Vaalwaterspruit, but at least the water was crystal clear at this inlet. We moved up this inlet while working the area with our crankbaits. This inlet looked very promising with the clear water and submerged boulders – the perfect place to find yellowfish! Alas, all we found was a big herd of buffalo grazing next to the small inlet; a beautiful sight to behold but it was not the yellowfish we were after. Seems the cold front has chased the yellowfish to the deep.
As we left the inlet and entered the dam we were greeted with massive swells and powerful gusty winds. The sky turned dark as it became overcast and we realized that it was going to be a challenging day on the water as this weather was terrible for fishing. It was difficult to stand on the deck as the boat got knocked around by the waves – suddenly, we were in for some extreme fishing! In this weather one only has one option when it comes to lure angling and that is to target bass.
Jerkbait Setup for bass:
- Abu Garcia Villain 7 ft Medium Heavy casting rod (fast action)
- Abu Garcia Revo MGX casting reel
- 12 lbs Berkley Trilene 100% fluoro carbon prof. grade line
- Salmo Sting 9 cm Suspending jerkbait (Silver Chartreuse Shad)
We got out our jerkbait rods and commenced working down a rocky bank. Roelof didn’t take long before he landed the first bass and soon after I went tight! I was on with a decent bass which gave a good account of itself! I was stoked to have caught this bass on the 9 cm Salmo Sting jerkbait, seems the bass couldn’t resist the flash this lure makes when jerked erratically through the water. I released the 1.5 kg fish for another day.
Roelof managed to catch another bass a bit later. This greedy bugger had a small decomposed yellowfish stuck in its mouth. Our jerkbaits are a good imitation of this small yellowfish; thus we our confidence in our offering grew with this find.
The bank we were fishing was at the bottom of the wind; this made it very difficult to work the bank thoroughly as we could only get a few casts in before we needed to start our Suzuki and use it to move away from the bank to avoid our boat being smashed against the rocks. I decided to try something new as we weren’t getting any more bites on our jerkbaits. I decided to cast a 7 cm Salmo Minnow which is a deep-diving lure which I fished on my yellowfish spinning rig as the lure is a bit light to cast with a casting setup. As we moved down the same bank which has produced all of our fish up to now, I took a few casts before something big took my lure! The fish gave heavy headshakes and made an impressive run! At one stage the fish came up which made me believe for a split second that it might be a big bass. This believe didn’t last long as Mister Whiskers came up next to the boat after a few runs. I estimate this catfish to be about 7 kg; not a bad by-catch at all!
Temperatures were dropping and the weather was miserable. The shallows produced no bites anymore and we were forced to fish deeper and slower. When we met up with Evert and Jan they were already fishing the deeper waters and managed to catch some bass on jigs and flukes fished slowly on the bottom in 6 meter water.
Roelof swopped to a Texas-rigged fluke while I tried a heavy Tungsten weight with one of Lumé Lures Spanky’s also on a Texas-rig. We came across a drop-off found right next to the shore which looked promising. The drop-off fell from 3 meters to 8 meters. Within about 6 casts we caught 3 bass on the spot by dragging our plastics slowly on the bottom.
The weather was getting worse and a light drizzle fell over the dam. We could see the clouds were building up and soon enough a proper storm would be upon us. Therefore, we called it for the first day to enjoy a lekker braai at the guesthouse before calling an early nighter.
The next morning we hit the dam at dawn. The rain came down hard during the night as we were eager to see what the effect of it would be on our fishing. We decided to change tactics with Evert and Jan hitting the inlets while we try the dam wall. Roelof started out with a 3 cm Hornet while I again tried the 2 cm Hornet. The weather looked very promising. Roelof didn’t take long before hooking up with a decent bass on the 3 cm Hornet. We were actually trying for yellowfish against the dam wall, but ended up catching about 9 bass. Most of the bass were taken on bigger lures; they seem to like the Salmo Rattlin Hornet and 4 cm Hornets the most.
After about 1 and half hours of fishing against the dam wall with no luck targeting yellowfish, we decided to try for bass again. A cold wind appeared out of nowhere and it seems like the weather was turning once again. We started working down a stretch with a few rocky ledges, once again casting with our jerkbaits. Roelof made a long cast to place his lure next to a point and with his second jerk he went tight with a good fish! The bass tried to shake his lure twice with some impressive jumps before I netted the beaut. It was Roelof’s new PB bass of 1.83kg! We took a few snapshots before releasing the catch.
During most of the rest of the day we fished similar structure and landed a few bass between 1 to 1.5 kg of which all was taken on jerkbaits. I was very impressed with the quality and amount of fish taken on the 9 cm Salmo Sting – this lure has potential! The jerkbaits worked the best on shallow rocky flats, especially where waves were smashing against the rocks.
Jan managed to catch a 1.5kg bass early in the morning which also took on a 3 cm Salmo Hornet intended for yellowfish. Most of their other catches were on flukes and jerkbaits. Evert also managed to land some bass on the Salmo Sting.
At the end of the day, both our boats decided to try fishing deep and slow with paddletails on a drop-off. At this stage Roelof and I stood on 20 bass caught between the two of us – a lekker day indeed! Evert was unlucky to be broken off by a big bass, but he did land a few smaller at the drop-off. Roelof and I also landed two more bass on plastics before calling it a day. So, our trip to Nooitgedacht came to an end. We were all pleasantly surprised with the fishing at this venue; it was pretty good considering that this was a new venue for all of us and the weather was cold and windy most of the time. All of us agree on one thing; Nooitgedacht will see us all again soon!
(Source: Stywe Lyne Tight Lines Julie 2016)