Venue: Taung Dam
Date: 11 to 14 October 2016
The first half of our fishing trip at Taung Dam was an absolute blast with some stunning fish being caught, including a few welcome surprizes! The next morning we picked up our car guard without any problems and soon enough we were on our way to our first spot. Jacques and I decided to invest some time in trolling for largemouth yellowfish as we wanted to get some more footage of us trying for these majestic beauties.
Trolling rig for yellowfish:
- 7 ft. Abu Garcia Veracity medium action spinning rod
- 2000 Penn Clash spinning reel
- 12 lbs. Berkley Nanofil line
- 5 cm Salmo Rattlin’ Hornet Gold Fluoro Perch colour (floating)
We trolled down several cliffs as well as in the area close to the dam wall, but I only managed to catch one small smallmouth yellowfish and one small largemouth yellowfish while trolling. Jacques had one solid hit from a bigger fish which we suspect to be a largy, but he didn’t get a good hook set.
We recommend removing the front treble from any crankbaits used for largemouth yellowfish as these hooks tend to hook them in the eye. Remember that largemouth yellowfish are threatened and they rely heavily on their good eye-sight to hunt small fish. We very rarely lose fish due to bad hook-ups with the front treble removed.
We probably tried at least two hours for largies before we decided to try something different as the largies were not playing along.
Plastics rig for bass:
- 7.1 ft. Abu Garcia Villain medium heavy action casting rod
- Abu Garcia Revo MGXtreme casting reel
- 16 lbs. Double X High Abrasion monofilament line
- Size 4 Gamakatsu Wide Gap hook rigged with a Zoom Superfluke (Junebug) on a light mojo rig
We headed back to the spot where I caught the monster bass the previous day; here I noticed an island which I did see before. The island was situated almost half-way in from the shore and it was about 40 cm below the surface. We were very lucky that no one has damaged a prop on this point as we have all passed very close by it. I decided to work this island very hard to see if I could catch another solid bass in the area. After about an hour of no luck I decided to look for other species in the area. We caught some nice smallmouth yellowfish at this spot during the previous day and I also saw a few big catfish in the area which I didn’t really try for. We saw some mudfish spawning on one of the islands in the area; this didn’t interest us much. As we moved closer to the islands to see if there was any other fish around we saw something amazing! A big catfish stormed the island and it looked like it was hunting the spawning muddies. I got my catfish casting setup ready and we moved closer with the trolling motor.
Casting rig for catfish:
- 7 ft. Shimano Clarus medium heavy action casting rod
- Shimano Curado E200 casting reel
- 50 lbs. Berkley Whiplash braided line
- 7 cm Salmo Slider (treble hook replaced with a single Mustad Kaiju size 8 inline hook and an Owner split ring) (sinking)
Once I was in a good position, I pitched my Slider to drop about 30 cm in front of the hunting catfish. The catfish reacted to the splash of my lure, but it missed my lure! I immediately reeled in my lure and pitched close to the catfish again; the catfish reacted by searching for my lure. I gave a hard jerk with my rod; the movement of my lure was all that the catfish needed to find my lure and I witnessed how the brute inhaled my lure. I set the hook and knew that I was in for a great fight! Catching big catfish on bass tackle is always a treat! The catfish gave an extremely good account of itself and it gave my rod a proper bend! After about 10 minutes of fighting the catfish surfaced and Jacques netted the beast. We took a few snapshots and released the fish; it pulled the scale on 16.3 kg – but its head was huge so we were surprised that the fish didn’t weigh more.
We didn’t see any other catfish in the area and decided to work down the shore and see if we could find some carp or more catfish. The bank had a few carp tailing on the rocks in very shallow water. After seeing two feeding carp spook, I decided to rig my carp dipping rod and try my luck at catching my very first Taung carp.
Dipping rig for carp:
- 12 ft. Mitchell Privilege Pro telescopic dipping rod
- Abu Garcia Revo S casting reel
- 13 ft. Mitchell Privilege Pro telescopic dipping rod
- Sada Leadhead with large yellow Sada Curlytail a trailer
It didn’t take long before we spotted a tailing carp feeding in the shallows. The carp were feeding aggressively and it was facing away from me so it didn’t have any idea that we were stalking it. I gently placed my leadhead about 10 cm in front of the carp; it reacted by storming forward and sucking up my lure! I gently lifted my rod’s tip which resulted in a perfect hook set and the carp raced off to the deep. After a good tussle we managed to land the catch and I was very satisfied with hooking one on my very first attempt at this venue.
We then tried to put Jacques on his very first carp on lure. Unlucky for him, this didn’t work out as expected. A few carp spit his lure before the hook could be set and one carp wrapped him in thick vegetation resulting in a hook pull. With a little practice, it shouldn’t be long before he nails his first one.
I was happy when Jacques managed to catch his first catfish on the dipping technique with a textbook dip.
The carp and catfish suddenly switched off the bite and we were forced to make a change of plan. I decided to look for Koos and Evert to hear how they managed thus far. We drove up the dam towards the dam wall area where we found them. They were fishing for bass and said that they got a few good ones. They advised that we work a bank close to the wall for smallmouth yellowfish on fly as they had a lot of fun with them in the morning session. I drove to the spot they advised and could see plenty of yellowfish fins as they were spawning in the shallows. Apparently, one should look for the individual yellowfish that swims a bit deeper and doesn’t form part of the spawning yellowfish; these yellows feed on the eggs of the others and are thus more aggressive.
To be honest, I wasn’t really amped to take out my fly rod at this stage. Normally I enjoy a bit of fly fishing on the side, but at this stage it didn’t tickle my interest. As I sat on the deck enjoying a sandwich and drinking a beer, I watched the fins dancing in the water of the numerous yellowfish in the shallows. After a lekker break I decided to see if there were a few bigger specimens cruising down the weed lines next to the bank. I had my spinning rig ready, but just as I started working down the bank on my trolling motor, I saw to 10 kg+ catfish cruising passed me. It looked to me like they were preparing to spawn. I didn’t move far before I saw another two brutes cruising in the shallows and as I looked down the bank, I saw several big cats either swimming or lying still in the shallows. I first made a few casts with my Slider rig, but the catfish spooked when the Slider fell in front of them – these catfish preferred the stealth approach! I therefore decided to take out my calling rod rigged with a leadhead to see if I could catch them on the dipping technique.
Dipping rig for catfish:
- 12 ft. Blue Marlin Big Shot calling rod
- Penn Fathom 12 Star Drag reel
- 100 lbs. Berkley Whiplash braided line
- Lume Lures Catfish Leadhead (34 gram)
I saw a really big brute lying dead still in about 30 cm deep water – basically lying right against the shore! I turned down the speed on the trolling motor and moved closer to the catfish while remaining as stealth as I possibly could. Once I was within reach of the catfish, it suddenly began to swim towards me. I gently placed my lure in the water without making a noise and then quickly moved it above the cat’s whiskers before giving slack. The lure dropped down in front of the cat, just touching one of its whiskers which resulted in the catfish vacuuming in the lure! I set the hook and it was game on! When I set the hook the cat lifted its head out of the water for a split second; this allowed me to see the actual size of the fish’s head – it was much bigger than I expected! The fish towed the boat away from the shore and I just had to hold on while the beast pulled me where it wanted to go. I must say that this was one of the strongest catfish I have ever hooked, it pulled the sh*t out of my rod!
At one stage the catfish swam into one of the many submerged trees in the area and I could feel it wrapped my line around some branches. With a little bit of luck, some patience and experience coming in to play, I managed to lead it out of the structure and eventually it surfaced to be landed. We weighed the brute two times and I was very pleased to see that this was my biggest catfish to date on the dipping technique and on a leadhead – it was a 19.5 kg brute! The fish was full of wounds, most likely inflicted during the spawn.
I was relatively tired at this stage, though I was psyched to land such a quality catch. I decided to try my luck at another one. Jacques managed to shoot the whole shot of my approaching the catfish, the dip and hook set, the fight and how we landed it, all on his drone. To play it safe, we would now try to repeat the same shot, but this time he would take the footage with his hand-held camera.
I went back to the spot after the previous brute pulled us far away from the shore. Once again I came across another brute lying dead still in the shallows. With another accurate dip, I went tight and it was like déjà vu. After another epic fight, I was out for the count. This time I was rewarded with a 16.8 kg beast. Though I was exhausted due to the amazing strength of these fish; I couldn’t help but smile as this was the best catfish session I have ever experienced as I caught three catfish over 16 kg on the same day and all three was sight-fished – doesn’t get much more epic than this!
Jacques tried his luck with these catfish, but after the previous one there numbers were low and it seemed that the spot was over-fished for now. It was scorching hot at this stage and we decided to call it a day by 15:00.
That night we had a lekker braai and there were once again some pretty awesome stories to be shared around the fire.
On the final day, we decided that we would just do a short morning session. The aerial footage which we took the previous day during my tussle with the 19.5 kg catfish did not come out well because of a glitch. Our aim for this day was to try our best to get a great drone shot of a big catfish on dipping. We first tried for yellowfish in the morning, once again trolling down a few cliffs. Evert joined us on the boat for this session and we once again were hoping to get a shot of a largemouth on trolling.
Though we didn’t get a big one, Evert did manage to catch a small largemouth yellowfish on trolling with the 4.5 cm Rattlin’ Hornet. He also managed to catch a proper smallmouth yellowfish on the same lure while trolling. Unfortunately, the big largemouths were a no show.
Next we tried for bass for about an hour on one of the spots that produced for Evert and Koos during the previous days. The spot consisted of a 3 meter drop-off next to a rocky point. Evert tried with a big paddletail for the bass while I relied on a leeches tail plastic worm (watermelon red colour) on a light mogo rig. Evert was a bit unlucky to miss a good size bass and shortly after this I managed to catch another solid bass for the trip, a nice 2.7 kg model.
We ended the short morning session with Evert hooking up with a 12 kg catfish on dipping which Jacques managed to get great aerial footage of. We were very lucky as Evert landed the beast just as Jacques drone starting beeping to warn that it is low on battery power. So came the end of another epic fishing trip.
Even though we took a huge gamble to fish a venue we didn’t know very well and the decision was taken at the very last moment, no one could doubt that our gamble played out very nicely!
Until next line…