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Pongola Game Reserve Fishing Report
|Water Clarity:||O% River Stretch * Main Dam – 100%|
|Water Level:||71 %|
|Fishing Area:||Entrance to main dam – Hydrilla Flats|
|Average Size:||1 kg – 2,5kg|
|Artificial Lure:||Odd spinner – red & soft plastics|
|Bait:||Live Bait, sardine, barbell fillet, and chicken liver/hearts|
|Fly Fishing:||2 kg – Chris fly|
|Biggest Fish:||5, 6 kg Kemp Landman- 5 kg’s – Swallow Fork and Alex Neves.|
|Skipper of the month:||All skippers have done extremely well.|
Hey guys, Happy New Year.
Well what a month, dirty water, extremely hot days, lots of wind and finally lots of good fish. To all our clients and skippers who persevered – it definitely paid off! We had a fantastic month with some really good fish coming out. We landed quiet a couple of 5kg buses, a lot in the 4kg range and almost a daily 2,5 kg coming out on every boat. I must say conditions were tough every now and then, some guests disappointed, but hey, fishing is fishing. We have all heard the saying “a bad days fishing is better than a good day in the office” or “you can only catch a fish if your line is in the water”. To those of you who persevered, well you got the photos.
Water clarity was really a big issue this month, with a constant flow of water coming in from our catchment area. This obviously meant dirty water, and lots of it. Our dam has risen up to 73 % and probably will get to 80% quiet soon. The mud banks and islands towards the railway bridge are finally underwater, and look very promising when the water clears up. The dirty water has basically been at the entrance to main dam the entire month and depending on the wind, been pushed either Nor S on daily basis – at least giving us a chance of still fishing in clean or partly clean water. I think due to the amount of fishing done in these areas, the tigers got used to feeding in some really unusual areas and dirty water too. We also had some good fishing where the dirty and clean come together, trying our luck with fly, spinners and drift bait.
The main area’s where we have been concentrating is,(a) in the shallow waters around Pongolwane, (southern shores opposite KZN camp site), (b)the entrance to the dam on both sides and the stretch of water going up towards Swaziland on the KZN side. The ideal water depth has been anything from 1- 3m, though that 5 m channel running parallel to shoreline has also been producing. The latter is easier fishing as there is no grass around and fewer hang ups, but the former is definitely the better but frustrating with the all the grass and Hydrilla. I just want to emphasize that our skippers have the call to say whether it’s suitable or not to fish in the main dam area or not. They have thorough knowledge of what the wind and weather can do, so please guys listen to them, as they are responsible for your safety and the reserves equipment.
We have also been trying our luck in the river stretch between the pump station and the bridge, especially when the wind was howling. I know Kevin Wells managed to get a tiger or two around the old Shayamoya drop off, and Erlo Beneke said he had a couple runs just in front of Nkwazi Lodge, but nothing much to keep you fishing there for long. Both groups were fishing with live bait set on corks. Otherwise barbell galore.
On the bait side, they have been hungry for anything. We have found that thinner fillets of sardines, tigers and barbell have been working better in the shallow water rather than chunky pieces of bait. These lighter pieces tend to sit on top of the grass instead of sinking down into it. If you however find a channel or hole with no grass, those “Jozini sandwiches” still work best. I have also been fishing a lot with the cork with sardine fillets, though a drift seems to work best instead of static fishing. Here we are using the wind in our favor, with the faster the drift the better. The bait is set at different depths and if necessary a small sinker or split shot helps to keep it at the right depth. This however minimizes your number of rods, but hell, its better than trying to fish with the boat going up and down. Live bait is still an issue – but when available works well.
On the artificial bait side of things – well, we need to try harder. Hopefully this next month or two I will get the skippers into some fish on art lure. Kevin said he did see a boat getting into quiet a couple of tigers in the Hydrilla beds using some soft plastics, where all of us were struggling to get on bait and spinners. They were using white and yellow minnows, skipping them over the beds. They unfortunately did not see anything big come out, but they seemed to be smashing them. We did however try trawling and spinning through the dirty clear water, though not as successful as I thought we would be.
We had quiet a couple of fly fisherman, return guests too, and funny enough they did not do as well as they have in the past. I personally threw a lot of feathers at them, and was lucky to be rewarded with a 2 kg for the whole morning. Richard, a client I was guiding got bitten off a couple of times, but we really worked hard. I know conditions were not ideal, but with all the work we put in I personally expected better results. I must say we had some great fun sight fishing to barbell. A couple in the 2-4 kg range were caught this way, if only those 8 kg plus’s would have taken the fly. Whistler patterns in orange/red, zonkers in darker colors seemed to get them going. I will be out tomorrow to get those big buggers slowly cruising in the shallows. Intermediate and slow sinking were mainly used, though a floating line at the moment in the shallows is a must.
Some nice catches this month were the Swallow Fork Group who managed to land a 5 kg up against the Swaziland border. Alex Neves who finally landed his biggest Jozini tiger, just short of 5 kg’s. The Milne group who caught two in the 4 kg range and the Halloway group who just could not get in the 4 kg range but did well in the 2 to3, 5 kg range. Garth Meier, who got a 3, 5 kg tiger (blind in the one eye – ha ha). To anyone else I forgot to mention, sorry, it was such a mad rush. We did have one or two days were it was difficult to land a fish, but on the other side we had days when the guys were landing up to 16 fish.
Finally it was a great December, even though we battled with the elements. I am writing this report half way into January and although things are quieting down occupancy wise, the tigers are still biting. Hopefully our weather will settle a bit and the water clean up a in the river soon. Our good bye’s to Simphiwe who is moving on, a great guide and we wish him best for the future. Patrick, an ex guide has joined us – good luck to him – I know he was fishing this dam before I was.
P.S. I anyone has some photos of tigers caught here, please email Marietjie them at firstname.lastname@example.org.