A few months ago I received an email from Marc Towers. He contacted me all the way from Ghana and wanted to know if it was possible to fish Vanderkloof Dam. I offered to guide him on this dam for a few days of fishing; our target would mainly be a 5kg+ Largemouth Yellowfish on artificial lures and if time allowed it we would also look for Carp, Catfish and Smallmouth Yellowfish on lure.
Marc has fished all over the world and has been fortunate enough to land several monster fish including famous species such as Golden Dorado, Arapaima, Alligator Gar, Goonch Catfish, Sturgeon and Golden Mahseer. If all went well we could add a trophy Largemouth Yellowfish and some other species to his tally.
We arranged to pick Marc up at the Braam Fischer International Airport in Bloemfontein on our way to Vanderkloof. We stayed in the townhouse of Pride Rock Lodge and they arranged lunchboxes for us to enjoy whilst fishing as well as dinner when we returned after a long day on the water.
We would have 5 full days and one half day session to fish the dam and we did it from my dad’s new Ruffnek Boat. Boat, Caravan & Camping in Nigel made sure that the boat was ready for action and installed our new Lowrance HDS 7 and Elite 5 Chirp fishfinders which proved to play a detrimental role in our results on this trip.
The first day on the water was a pleasant day as we had virtually no wind and sunny hot weather. We decided to troll a few spots which have produced fish in the past, but except for a few small fish it didn’t produce much. Marc was lucky to land his first Largemouth Yellowfish on a Salmo Bullhead shortly after we started fishing and on he followed it up with his first Smallmouth Yellowfish on the same lure a short while later.
I picked up a better size Largie of about 3.5kg a while later; slowly but steadily we improved on the size of our catches. As we were trolling down one of the shores we noticed some moderately sized catfish cruising on the surface. Marc couldn’t resist casting at them and as can be predicted he went tight on one of the catfish on his relatively light tackle. He was using a 3 cm Salmo Hornet and was very lucky that the hooks didn’t bend open and that his Nanofil line could take the pressure. After quite a tussle he landed an 8kg brute.
He caught a few more catfish on the same rig before we came across schools of Smallmouth Yellowfish feeding on gravel beds in the shallows. We decided to take out our finesse spinning rods to target these feisty buggers. My setup consisted of a 7 ft Sensation Tactical Spin medium spinning rod fitted with a Okuma Ceymar C-25 spinning reel loaded with 12lb Berkley Nanofil and rigged with a 3 cm Salmo Hornet. Marc fished with the smaller 2 cm Salmo Hornet. Within a few casts we went tight with a few Smallies and the two of us enjoyed it thoroughly as these fish hit hard and give a very good fight pound for pound. We also managed to land a few small Largies in between the Smallies on the Hornets. Most fish were caught on sight by casting our Hornets past them a retrieving it with a steady retrieve which was often followed up with a solid take! Both Marc and I was lucky enough to get one kicker Smallie with Marc’s one topping the scale at just over 2kg – a good catch for this species!
At the end of the day we had a very enjoyable first day on the water and found out that the other boats also had a superb day out. My dad and Paul du Plessis fished together on this day and they managed 6 Largies over 5kg on this day with the biggest being a 6.9kg Largie – my dad’s first catch for the trip! The Salmo Minnow 7 cm DR in Hot Perch and Green Tiger delivered all the big fish for them.
The next day we had a bad day with only being able to land small fish, but Paul’s boat landed a few trophy Largies again on Salmo Hornets and Minnows – seems like these lures just kept on producing the goods!
Wednesday morning we found ourselves on the water again with a promising looking morning ahead of us. My dad joined us for this day of fishing and we were hoping that he could assist in getting us on some proper Largies.
We decided to troll down some cliffs. We had four rods out while trolling with a different lure on each. The morning started off with us catching a few small Largies, but it wasn’t long before Marc went tight with a big fish! The fish gave an incredible first run and we immediately knew that this fish was a decent size. Marc played the fish very carefully and after a few minutes we netted his catch – a 5.5kg Largemouth Yellowfish and his new personal best! We celebrated this catch as this catch was the main reason for Marc’s visit to Vanderkloof – mission accomplished!
We continued trolling with our spirits lifted. As we trolled down the cliffs my dad informed us that we just went over a stone reef which held some fish as indicated by our Lowrance HDS 7. We kept on trolling on the same route, but then my dad and my reels screamed as we hooked on to the reef we passed over. As we stopped trolling with the outboard to turn around to loosen our crankbaits, Marc got a solid bump followed by an intense run and then we saw a BIG fish break the water surface behind us! It was Marc’s catch and this fish was a monster! He played the fish softly and we trusted that his Nanofil line would be able to take the punishment. After a few nerve-wrecking moments he landed the beast – it pulled the scale to 9.3kg! This was the biggest Largemouth Yellowfish landed on lure at Vanderkloof that we knew of to date and needless to say Marc was thrilled!
Throughout the day we landed a few smaller Largies and even caught a few more Smallies on Hornets as they were feeding in the shallows again. My dad was lucky enough to catch a 5kg Largie on a Sensation Megatrap before we decided to call it a day. Now that we have gotten Marc on a trophy Largie it was time to try put him on some fair sized catfish and maybe if we were lucky, we could get him his first carp on artificial lure.
Look out for Part 2 which is next to come…