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Pongola Game Reserve Fishing Report
|Water Clarity:||100 % River Stretch * Main Dam – 100 %|
|Water Level:||77 % - though busy releasing to 64 %|
|Fishing Area:||River Stretch and entrance to main dam|
|Average Size:||500g – 3,5kg|
|Artificial Lure:||Drop shot – and soft plastics (jerk baits)|
|Bait:||Live Bait, sardine, chicken hearts|
|Fly Fishing:||4.9 kg – Jonathan Boulton|
|Biggest Fish:||6kg – Jacques (old guide)|
|Skipper of the month:||Dumisani|
Hi all. Unfortunately I did not catch the big one during the competition, but in general everyone had a great time. The winning fish was a 5, 72 kg, caught off the pump station area. Apparently it was his first tiger too! Otherwise there was a 1, 7 kg difference in size between the winning fish and 20th place. Out of the top 20 prizes, 15 were caught and released. Fantastic guys.
The only representative from the Pongola Game Reserve who did well was Kemp Landman, whose fellow crew member caught a 4, 2 kg. Well done Kemp! There were apparently 370 boats entered into the competition and about 1600 anglers. Well done to Sodwana Angling Club for a well organized competition, though we hoping that the boat entries won’t be as high again.
Otherwise fishing has been slower than normal, though we have been catching some beauties. As far as I know, three fish over 6 kg‘s have come out of the river and a lot in the 4 – 5 kg range. I was fortunate to get a 5, 3 kg two days before the competition too. The water temperature is still around the 20 degree mark, and I think one of the reasons why the fishing has not gone in full swing yet. Our day time temperatures have been great, with a couple of days reaching high 30’s, but then the normal weekend cold front brings the water temperature down again.
On the bait side, sardine is becoming a favorite again. There are plenty of small fish around so to prevent been harassed by them we have been fishing with a full sardine. Hook placement is critical and on some occasions a second hook is necessary. I am definitely finding inside out sardine working better than silver side out at the moment. As mentioned the smaller fish are plentiful, so we are also fishing a lot of deeper water – up to 10 meters. These areas basically tie in with the old river course and if you prepared to chum and sit it out a bit, really worth it. Chicken livers and hearts are also a must at the moment with some sessions only them been preferred.
Live bait is and always will be best, if available. I am slowly building up stock, so if I have available I will supply. It can be fished in any way, (a) on cork set to correct depth (taking into account water depth fishing in (b)free swimming – that is casted out without any weight and (c) been trawled behind the boat. Numerous fish have also been caught on dead bait, so don’t throw them away.
On the fly side of things, well are always good. I have been fishing for them almost everyday on fly and can’t remember a day I did not catch. The tigers still seem to prefer the darker colors though don’t rule out some bright bold flies. With all the smaller tigers around, it is quiet a challenge to land anything decent. Almost every cast is a fish or strike, so it’s again important to target drop offs, structure or rising fish. I can’t stress the importance of the retrieve, meaning that anglers are not taking into account the drift and slower retrieve speed. If you drifting don’t cast ahead of the boat and retrieve as you losing retrieve speed, cast to the side or behind you. Try also retrieving parallel to the shore where possible. I have also been targeting the cliff faces in front of Nkwazi, especially around our jetty area and have lost some beauties. Remember the water is up to 15 m deep, but they are definitely around this cliff faces in late afternoon.
Bream and barbell fishing has eventually started too. The bream have started spawning so the easiest way to target them is with irritating spinners or artificials. Remember they more interested in spawning than eating, so they will chase anything away from their nesting sites and this is where the spinner comes in. I have been getting my earthworm stock’s up at Nkwazi Lodge, so when checking in, just ask anyone were you can find them. I must add that one of our new clients was really surprised this weekend when he landed a 2kg bream on sardine in about 5m of water.
Some exciting news is that Wild Fly and Inside Angling were on Shayamanzi Houseboat for a couple of days. I was fortunate enough to get out with both groups, showing them around. Keep a look out for the programme which should be coming out in the next 2 months or so. Maybe you will see my face for a change.
I just want to congratulate Kevin Wells on his 5, 2 kg tiger he caught in the beginning of September. He lost the fish on fly in the morning, the afternoon was my turn to lose it on fly too and finally the following morning he landed it on live bait. Just to give some of our return clients some hope, it took Kevin 12 years to finally land the big one. He was my first client years ago and he has been coming back religiously since then. Most of his friends and clients have come to fish Jozini through him and most of them have landed some good fish, but Kevin (not sure if on purpose) finally landed it after all these years. Well done again Kevin and Mark.
I am not quiet sure how to word the last bit, but here it goes. Simphiwe and Dumisani (Nkwazi permanent guides) have really taken an interest in fly fishing. I am really trying to get them into it and if anyone has an old 8/9 weight rig or two it would be greatly appreciated. I think after “waving the wand “for a year now, has really turned their views. Secondly, if anyone knows anyone who wants me to test the durability of fly lines please give them my number. I fish everyday and my fly lines seem to be lasting 2 months. I will be quiet happy doing a write up and mentioning a couple of names.
Finally to those guys who think tigers make good fish cakes or good for there cats fur, tuna chunks from Pick and Pay are much better, and don’t have bones either.
P.S. Thanks to all the fisherman who has phoned when locating gill nets. Our weekly patrols are locating virtually no nets which are great. Well done.