After 3 days of pursuing big Largemouth Yellowfish on lures we finally landed a big one of 9.3kg and we could rest easy as we accomplished our mission. We still had two and a half days of fishing at the beautiful Vanderkloof Dam and we were excited to see what catches lay in store for us.
On the Thursday morning we were welcomed with very windy weather and therefore decided to target Largies via trolling in the Gorge while waiting for the winds to calm down. Marc and I caught a few Largies in the same area where he landed his trophy Largie the previous day and he was very lucky to land two more big Largies of 6.8kg and 7.3kg whilst trolling a deep-running crankbait – these fish were a nice bonus for Marc which he really enjoyed!
I managed to catch a few smaller Largies on 5 cm Salmo Hornet before the wind calmed down. We decided to head up in the dam and try for Smallmouth Yellowfish against the cliffs by spinning with 2 and 3 cm Salmo Hornets. Marc went tight with a few and I missed a few hits.
The wind came up again, so I decided to head to an area which is protected from the waves due to it being surrounded by cliffs. The cliffs blocked the wind and as we moved down the shore in search of any fish we could see, the terrain flattened out creating nice flats for catfish. In no time we saw a few black monsters cruising down the shore and I decided to have some fun. So, instead of swopping my Sensation Tactical Spin medium rod with a Okuma Ceymar 25 reel for something a bit heavier, I decided to cast with this light setup rigged with a small 3 cm Salmo Lil’Bug to a good sized catfish cruising down the shore. The catfish charged my lure before smashing it hard and I knew this was going to be a long fight on my light tackle! The catfish kept me busy for 20 minutes before Marc could net the beast. It weighed in at 9.2 kg – not a bad catch on such light tackle! I was amazed how well the Sensation rod and Okuma reel stood up to this fight, not to mention the hooks of the Salmo taking such a beating with braking.
Marc and I noticed several catfish cruising down the rocky banks and therefore decided to swop to our heavier casting setups. I used my Shimano Clarus medium heavy casting rod fitted with a Shimano Curado 200E reel loaded with 50 lbs Berkley Trilene braid and rigged with a slow sinking large Lume Lures Madpumkin. We nailed a few catfish of over 10 kg and I managed to push up my personal best on casting to 13 kg. Marc went tight with two brutes; the first one being a 14.3 kg job which was followed up with a 16 kg train. He was very impressed to catch such big catfish on sight with artificial lures.
We returned to hear that Paul and his friend PM nailed the Largies again with them landing a few Largies of over the 5 kg mark – once again they caught all their largies on Salmo Hornets and Salmo Minnows. My dad and Morris also landed a few Largies with both of them breaking the 5kg mark. That night everyone had several fishing stories to share over a tasty meal at Pride Rock Lodge.
On Friday we decided to try and see if we could get Marc on his first carp on artificial lure and maybe see if we can get him on an even bigger catfish. The first half of the day was difficult with few fish coming out as the weather was a bit colder and the wind was pumping. We went to Rolfontein and decided to wade there carp and catfish. Marc was very pleased when he went tight with his first carp on lure, landing a 4 kg job on a leadhead on a Mitchell Privilege Pro dipping rod. He saw the carp tailing in the shallows and when he dipped his lure in front of the carp, it sucked it up and he was on!
That afternoon we came across a bay with schools of carp which was tailing in the flats as well as in the weeds. I first caught a smaller one on dipping and Marc followed this one up with his first mirror carp on lure. It was my turn again and I saw a fat lunker swimming towards my under the weed line. As I dipped my leadhead in front of it I saw how its orange lips engulfed my lure and I was on! The carp gave a good fight and needed to apply a lot of pressure to pull it out of the weeds. Marc eventually managed to net the 6.9 kg bugger. He went on to miss a number of carp before he was rewarded a chunky 7.3 kg carp – his new personal best carp! This was followed by high-fives all around and two rewarding cold beers as our mission for the day and all the goals for the trip was accomplished.
We were pleasantly surprised to find several catfish in the back of this bay; at this stage it was difficult to choose between targeting the carp or catfish as there were big ones of both species cruising about in the area. Marc and I was lucky enough to manage a double hook-up with me catching a carp and him catching a catfish at the same time!
Our focus shifted towards targeting the big catfish in the area with our casting rods. As I got my casting rod ready I saw a very big catfish cruising towards me and as I swiftly pitched my Madpumkin in front of it. It reacted by grabbing the lure with force! I missed the hook-up, but the catfish remained on the surface anxiously looking for my lure. I presented my lure another 7 times and every time the catfish grabbed the lure without my hook setting! These were very stressful, yet exhilarating moments! On the next cast the catfish engulfed the lure and I was in for a hectic pull! The catfish towed the boat a bit and put up a superb fight before we could net it. It pulled the scale on 21.1 kg – my new personal best and this on a “bass rod” on sight! I remember how Marc told me that this was a really big fish as he put it down on the deck and I estimated it much smaller. When we weighed it on the bank I was totally stumped at its weight, even asked him to weigh it two times! Must admit that I was over the moon with this exceptional catch!
Later that day we decided to try another spot that has produced big catfish for me before. On arrival I noticed that the water level has dropped a bit, as the area now had a lot of submerged islands and a few new shallow bays. As we approached one of the shallow bays we noticed a lot of action in the ankle deep water. I remember telling Marc that we are bound to catch small cats here as they often gather in such shallow flats and then following this sentence up with a long cast in the middle of the action. The water was stained, so our only indication of the cats were them turning one after the other in very close proximity. As my lure his the water my line pulled straight and I went tight with a catfish that engulfed my lure. Ironically this wasn’t a small catfish…it was another monster! After another great battle, Marc netted the beast that pulled the scale on 18.7 kg! I was super chuffed to land another beast of a catfish only an hour after landing my new PB – best of all was that again it was on my casting rod!
The catfish really turned on at this stage with cats popping all over and we were experiencing a bad case of viskoors! We climbed off the boat and decided to do a bit of buddy casting which resulted in Marc landing a solid 15 kg job! Unfortunately we needed to head back to came at this stage. It was torture to drive past the monster catfish turning all-over as we idled out of the bay.
Back at Pride Rock, Paul and PM shared their fantastic day on the water with us as they nailed many Largies for the day including PM’s beast of 8 kg caught on a 5 cm Salmo Hornet. Paul informed me that his boat caught 65 Largies in the 5 days with two fish boated of over the 8kg mark and all of this on Salmo Lures – this results one will only get at Vanderkoof Dam!
On the last day Marc and I caught a few more Largies and I caught on just under the 5kg mark on a Hornet. We ended the trip off on a great note and Marc returned back home to Ghana with a massive smile and some fantastic memories.
This was one of the most epic fishing trips I have ever had! Truly enjoyed spending this time with Marc and listening to all of the adventures he has experienced of special waters across the world. Our groups final tally for this trip includes:
- Plenty of catfish over 10 kg, most caught on sight via casting Madpumkins at them. Four biggest was 15 kg, 16.3 kg, 18.7 kg and 21.1 kg
- Biggest smallmouth yellowfish was 2 kg
- Two biggest carp was 6.9 kg and 7.3 kg
- Four biggest largemouth yellowfish was 7.9 kg, 8 kg, 8.5 kg, 9.3 kg