Venue: Olifants River (below Loskop Dam) and Loskop Dam
Date: 9 and 10 July 2016
It has been quite some time since my last blog post. I have done a few fishing trips which include trips to new venues, but the fishing has been tough for a while now and I struggled with a bit of writer’s block.
Luckily, I experienced some good fishing on my last trip and decided that this story is worth sharing – high time to break the silence!
A few of my good angling buddies and I have been aching to visit Loskop Dam again since we saw some fantastic winter bass that was caught there on jerkbaits a few weeks back by my good friend; Armand Heine. We were green with envy when we saw the pics of these lunkers and so we proceeded to plan a weekend visit at Loskop.
Ironically our plans changed a lot as the time of the trip came closer. At the end it was arranged that two of our boats would first fish a piece of promising bass waters on the Olifants River on the Saturday, while our one boat would fish Loskop Dam to see how the fish were biting and also get the keys for our chalet at Forever Resorts. After we have fished on the river, we would head to Loskop and meet up with the others to have a lekker braai. On Sunday all of us would fish on the dam before heading home at the end of the weekend.
Our group consisted of Ettiene Olivier and Louis Bezuidenhout (Team 1), Koos and Nelicia Bonnema (Team 2) and last but not least, Hannes Badenhorst and I (Team 3). Ettiene and Louis would fish the dam on both days, while the rest of would fish the river on Saturday and join our buds on the dam on Sunday.
I have fished the Olifants on two occasions before; mostly for yellowfish and a little for small bass on top water lures. What was unique about this trip is that we would fish a stretch closer to Groblersdal which was accessible to fish from our own boats. Somehow, someone decided to scrape open a clearing which allows people to launch their boats on the river as long as they have a 4×4 that won’t get stuck in the mud. A friend of mine told me of this spot and insisted that we try it out for bass. He also arranged that one of his friends that knows these waters, Jaco, joins us for the trip and help us with a few spots and tips for bass on this piece of water.
We hit the water by 07:00, just as the mist was rising from the water. I was surprised to see a lot of activity on the river, seeing that it is the middle of winter. Thinking back, I’m pretty sure it was mostly rednose mudfish rising on the surface. Each of us started out trying a different lure; Jaco tried his hand at a popper, Hannes decided to try a small jerkbait and I thought of kicking it off with the 9 cm Salmo Sting suspending jerkbait.
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)
The morning started of very slow as we worked with different lures through the entire stretch with no luck. I mostly focused on power fishing during the morning session. Koos managed to catch a bass of around 1.2 kg on a fluke by 10:00 which broke the ice.
At this stage we still haven’t caught any bass yet and no one has even had a nibble on their lures, except for Koos. We saw one big bass jump close to some reeds, but other than this we saw no other signs of bass. The water clarity was very good and we could see boulders and weed lines clearly on the bottom. I took us back with our Minn Kota Fortrex to a spot which plenty of rocks around and decided to see if I could entice a bass to take a crank bumping on the bottom. I decided to try a 6 cm Salmo Hornet (Gold Fluoro Perch colour) which dives down just a bit more than 2 meter on casting. We could clearly see through the shallows in the clear water, there was no signs of life around in the shallow water. Therefore, I decided to fish a bit deeper where we couldn’t see. I therefore searched for a spot where the boulders were lying in 2 to 3 m water next to a drop-off of 6 m and where the weeds wouldn’t bother me – this is where my Lowrance HDS 7 Gen 2 really helps a lot. Once I found this area I commenced working it thoroughly to ensure I cover the whole area while focusing on getting a good casting distance and hitting the bottom most of the time. In such clear waters it is very important to focus on getting good casting distance as they fish close-by can often see you and spook.
After making several casts without any success I went tight and landed my first bass which I estimate to be a 1.2 kg job which fell prey to my Hornet. We continued to work the area with different crankbaits to no avail. Next we decided to try different plastics; I decided to fish with a heavy 3/8 oz tungsten weight on a Texas-rigged 5/0 Hayabusa wide gap bass hook with a big 6 inch Zoom Dead Ringer (Junebug) as bait. Hannes tried a massive Letsibogo-sized Sinko while Jaco decided to opt for a Brushhog.
We started out by working these plastics very slowly on the rock. From here we decided to pitch the baits into pockets between reeds and fish it next to weed lines. Next we decided to work the deepest part of the river in the channel of the river bed. Eventually, we met up with Koos again and realized that between our two boats we still have only caught two bass. We tried several lures and techniques with no luck and it was clear that today was just one of those super difficult days on the water.
After catching up with Koos and sharing some intel we moved on to fish a stretch with 3-4 m deep water right next to the reeds on the bank. This was the deepest area before the water got very shallow and it seemed like the furthest point we could go on this pool we were fishing. I made a long cast that landed right next to the reeds in a shady area and left my lure dead still while speaking to Hannes. Next moment I just felt a hard tug, followed by my line going tight! I set the hook and was on with a fatty! I bullied the fish towards me as it was peeling line of my reel and Hannes was quick to net the lunker. We weighed her in at 2.03 kg and released her.
We continued fishing that stretch, fishing extremely slow – basically dead-sticking our plastics. Not long after Hannes’s rod gave a proper bent as a big bass came speeding towards him after picking up his massive Sinko. Unfortunately for him, the hook didn’t set and the best came off the hook. Hannes missed a few bites after this beast – eventually he came to the conclusion that his drag was a bit loose which resulted in his hooks not setting (we have all been there haha).
Later on that day we tried a bit more on the rocks. Hannes was now trying a jig. I spotted a nice bass cruising in the shallows, but this fish was not interested in our offerings. We moved on and commenced working the pockets again. Most of the areas we targeted was shallow; as I didn’t see any bass in these areas, I decided to cast away from the bank towards the deeper waters. As I spoke to Hannes, I suddenly felt a bump and set the hook on another good size bass. After a lekker pull I managed to land a 1.86 kg bass.
It was getting late, but we saw a few more bass in the shallows. We also saw plenty of small catfish cruising in the shallows, but they were too small for us to lead us into the temptation of targeting them. We missed about three more fish before meeting up with Koos; he has since added another 1.2 kg job on fluke to his arsenal. We decided to try one more stretch where we saw a few bass lying in the shallows, but we received no bites and decided to call it day.
That night we had a lekker braai with the other guys and found out that they managed to land a 10 kg + bag which included a 3.2 kg (on a Venom Lures Beast) and 2.2 kg bass caught by Louis – two awesome catches! One of our other buds, Evert Laubscher also fished the dam for the day with Jan van der Merwe, they also managed to land a 10 kg + bag which included a 1.5 kg and 2.2 kg bass caught by Evert on the Salmo Sting jerkbait and a 3.4 kg donkey taken by Jan on a squarebill crankbait – well done Jan on the new PB!
Hearing of all the big fish caught during the Saturday on the dam; all of us were very keen to see what the dam would produce the next day!
On Sunday morning we were on the water by 06:30 and headed towards the spot where Evert smashed his two big bass the previous day.
The weather looked perfect when we started, but after a short while on the dam we were greeted with an exceptionally cold breeze. Koos and our boat worked this area hard with jerkbaits with no luck. The only action we experienced at this spot was seeing plenty of rednose mudfish activity on the surface – it was clear that massive schools was moving through the area. I personally believe that these mudfish form an integral part of the monster bass in Loskop’s prey. These fish are abundant and a very filling treat for these monster bass. They can easily take one of these fish and then be stuffed for a few days – a much better choice in the winter, than spending a lot of energy hunting on small barbs, silver robber or kurper.
We decided to move on to work a different bank which looked promising as it had steep cliffs with 3 meter water next to the shore, plenty of rocks and several lay downs. I continued to work down this bank with my Salmo Sting, while Hannes worked with several different deep-diving crankbaits. Eventually Hannes managed to catch a greedy little bugger that took his DD22.
Went continued working down the bank and then witnessed the most awesome thing! A giant kingfishers was sitting in the tree and he swooped down on my Salmo Sting three times, forcing me to jerk the lure away from him to prevent a catastrophe. It was amazing to see how this lure managed to even fool the kingfisher into believing that it was an injured fish! I continued power fishing down the bank; packing in as many casts as possible and then the moment I was waiting for arrived…jerk, jerk…ON! It felt like I jerked my lure onto a solid brick wall as my rod bent and the line peeled of my MGX! The bass surfaced and tried to throw my lure, lucky for me the lures stayed intact. I bullied the fish towards the net and Hannes followed up with securing the catch. Success! We weighed the beaut tipping the scale to 1.93 kg – my biggest bass on jerkbait! I was super stoked.
The two of us made hundreds more casts on the same stretch with no success and found out that both the other boats were also struggling to land something. The only action we heard of was a brute of a bass that gave Ettiene a proper run before his hook pulled. By the Sunday afternoon, we swapped to fishing big plastics in deep water on pinnacles. After this also yielded zero results we decided to see if we could find some catfish lying in the shallows. The wind went to rest and sun was baking down on us – perfect weather for catfish!
Catfish on dipping setup:
- Blue Marlin Big Shot calling rod
- Penn Fathom 12 Star Drag reel
- 100 lbs Berkley Whiplash braid
- Lume Lures Catfish leadhead 25 g
We tried a few spots and came across a few cats sunbathing on a flat where rocks and sand met. I saw a fat catfish lying perfect still and commenced dropping my leadhead on its whiskers…the catfish engulfed my lure and stormed off to the deep water peeling about a 60 meters of line before I could turn it! What a strong fish! It commenced giving a few more runs until it was finally subdued. The funny thing is that it came up next to the boat with the tail-half of a mudfish sticking of its mouth! We netted the greedy brute and pulled a big 1.5 kg half-decomposed mudfish from its mouth. It is incredible to note that the catfish took my lure after it had such a big fish decomposing in its stomach. This was one very fat fish, I estimate it about 8 kg without the mudfish’s weight. We took a few snapshots before releasing the brute. Hannes tried for his first time to catch a catfish on this technique and he had a few very close-calls, but time got the better of us as we needed to call it a day.
It’s ironic to see how fast the dam changed; on Saturday everyone caught quality fish and on Sunday only one big bass came out among 6 anglers of which 4 anglers blanked. That just goes to show why they call our sport fishing and not catching. Personally, I think that the cold breeze and schools of rednose mudfish that was so active had a role to play in the difficult fishing. Maybe the cold weather put the bass of the bite or maybe the bass had a feeding frenzy on the schools of mudfish that were so active in the morning which led to them being to stuffed to eat anything during the rest of the day.
Until next line…