25 July 2014
Koos and I found ourselves on Roodekopjes Dam. It was a cold winter morning and we were on our way to our first spot. We embraced the sun rising across the hills – beautiful as ever! The water clarity of the dam was exceptional! The 2m visibility made us anxious about to what the day had in store for us. The plan – try to get into some pre-spawn bass until the sun is high enough to allow sight fishing. On arrival I rigged my bass setup, a 7ft medium heavy casting rod equipped with a low-profile baitcaster loaded with 12lb Seaguar Red Label fluoro rigged with a Carolina rig 3/0 Owner hook with a Tungsten weight and a gummy about 30cm above it. My first lure was a Gambler Paddletail in black (have produced for me at this venue in the past). Koos started working with a speed worm.
We worked a bay quite hard with no success. Changing our retrieve speeds; from fishing an aggressive fast paced action to a slow dragging action. I tried various other colours and lures, yet the fish kept themselves scarce. Koos had one take on a Zoom Paddletail, but unfortunately he missed the fish. As we were exiting the bay, we noticed two fair size bass hovering next two some rocks. They spooked soon after we saw them. We worked this spot for a while, still no success. While working these rocks we saw some carp cruising past us, all fat healthy fish, they were swimming in small schools – probably preparing for the spawn.
The weather was great with virtually no wind leading to flat smooth water for us to work. Once the sun was high enough to allow sight fishing we commenced perusing the shallows. We were in search of catfish and carp (nesting bass would also be more than welcome). The two of us were equipped with Blue Marlin Big Shot Calling Rods, size 200 baitcasters loaded with 150lb Berkley Big Game Whiplash braid rigged with Lume catfish leadheads (similar to bucktail jigs).
Just as we started working down the bank with our sneaker we spotted the first sunbathing catfish… Koos dipped it, but it spooked. This catfish was the first of many to follow. The shore we fished was packed with loads of cats, most were just laying suspended on the bottom. A few cruised down the shore, whiskers scanning for their prey, actively searching for something to gobble down. We found that sunbathing cats did not spook as easily as the cruising one’s – often allowing us more than one opportunity to try and drop our leadheads on their whiskers before spooking.
After missing about 10 cats (bad morning) I managed to open our account with the first cat for the day. All it took was an accurate dip which was rewarded with the familiar white flash as the cat opened its gills and engulfed my lure before dashing away with tremendous force! I had to stand my ground as this cat had a lot of oomph! After giving me a few proper runs it finally came to the net and we had the first fish for the day on board. We quickly took a few snaps followed with releasing the beast. Koos experienced a bad morning with a few fish coming off and miss hook-ups, but eventually his persistence paid off as he hooked into his first fish for the day. Fish was landed, pics taken and back the fish went for another day – smiles all around. At this stage we had already landed 4 cats, all between 3kg and 7kg each one pulling harder than predecessor!
We found that most cats preferred to lay on rocky flats and in open water with little structure. They were especially few in areas where the bottom was covered with green algae sludge. These cats were all pitch black in colour (similar to Loskop’s cats) making them much easier to see, especially when we found them sunbathing on white rocks causing a striking contrast. The cats kept coming and though we missed a lot, every now and again one of us went tight with one. The power of this venue’s fish astounds me; I personally think that it has some of the strongest fighting cats and carp in the country – testing your gear with every fight.
Another thing that also impressed me is how long the Lume leadheads lasted, both Koos and I have caught more than 20 cats on the same leadheads and their still in a good enough condition to catch fish. It’s nice when you don’t have to tie a new lure after every few fish you hook; with these lures you can probably do up to 3 trips using the same lure.
Back to the story – so eventually we came across a bigger cat with a thick head. I dipped for the brute; it spooked and slowly started swimming away. I quickly pulled my hook out, gave a swing to reach the fish. I timed the speed and accuracy of my dip to the T as my lure hit this cat’s whiskers perfectly resulting in a take and FISH ON! This cat made me work, powering away and pulling us into the deeper water. After a good tussle the fish showed itself and Koos netted it. Again it was unhook, pic and release. I watched as this 8kg job disappeared into the depths.
Soon after we came across a fatty, perfectly offered on a dish for Koos to catch. This cat lay suspended on a rock, its head pointed away from us. Koos swung his leadhead past the cat, dragged it toward it and perfectly dropped it on the cats whiskers – BANG ON! This fish tried to brake Koos’s back, pulling him to a bent position! He proclaimed that this was “like fishing for freshwater kingies”. Eventually he turned the fish and we landed the brute. This was a big one and the scale concurred with our observation stopping exactly on 9.5kg – new PB for Koos on lure! After a few awesome pics the fish was released.
We caught a few other cats. None were bigger than Koos’s PB, but they entertained us thoroughly. Our tally for this trip was 16 catfish all between 3kg and 9.5kg, average being 6kg – not bad for a winter’s day fishing! Best of all was that all fish were caught on sight! It astounds me that this dam offers shores full of catfish of up to 16kg with an average of 6kg and yet so few people go and actually try to catch these fish – come ‘on guys they are waiting for you!
Through the day we spotted a few small male bass preparing nests so I’m guessing the bass will spawn soon.
See you on the water.
Important things to take from this trip:
- It is important that you stay as quite as possible on the boat when targeting suspended catfish as they will spook if you make a noise while stalking them (even if you stomp your feet on the deck this will cause the fish to spook).
- We found that it is better to give a firm lift when striking the cats after a take, if you drop your rod tip and then give a quick strike it causes a whip-like effect and thus you will not get a successful hook-up.
- Take sludge or other plant material of your leadhead on a regular basis as this causes your lure to wobble when you dip it which makes it difficult to get your lure on the cat’s whiskers.
- Remember most of these fish are not feeding, they one take your lure when it falls on their whiskers from above as this leads to a reaction-strike.
- Again remember to lead the fish into the open water as soon as you get a hook-up as the fish will wrap you if you fight it in the shallows where structure is more abundant.
- Remember to keep you line tight during the entire fight, if you give slack during the fight this will often lead to the fish coming off.
- Lastly don’t fight the fish too far away from the boat, it’s better to fight the fish with a relatively short line as you have more control over the fish.