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Pongola Game Reserve Fishing Report
Festive Season 2011/2012
|Temp (River):||22-28 degrees|
|Water Clarity:||River stretch - 10% Main Dam - 80%|
|Fishing Area:||Entrance to main dam, two dead trees (Tony's spot), Elli bay, Swazi border.|
|Average Size:||500g - 3kg|
|Artificial Lure:||Spinners - fillet (shallows) - Mepps and Efzett's in variety of colors.|
|Bait:||Sardine, live bait, Jozini sandwich and chicken hearts.|
|Fly Fishing:||3.3kg - Chris - white Clouser, Clive Gajes - "dogs breakfast"|
|Biggest Fish:||5.4kg Mpalane guests, Ernie Hingham 5kg - sardine.|
|Skipper of the month:||Dumi|
Sorry for combined fishing report, but not catching much … ha ha. It was a real busy festive season that just carried on and on. Lucky enough so did the fishing and despite extreme heat waves, fishing was great, with a lot of fish in the 3-5 kg range coming out, no real big ones landed, though there were ample stories as always.
Due to the low level of dam, hot days and warm water temperatures, the fish were really hungry and one had success almost wherever you fished. Obviously we had some slow days, but fishing is fishing. The amount of serious takes and line snaps was fantastic and a great talking point around the new Nkwazi bar, though there is still no 7 kg mount to prove their stories, including ME.
The river stretch has been dirty the whole festive season, with 90 % of our fishing being done at the entrance to main dam and within 1 km N/S of the two trees (Tony’s trees). The dirty water also created a nice hiding place for the tigers and I often found myself drifting this area. Due to the low water level, not much Hydrilla is around, so it made for some easy fishing without so many hang up’s (bait fisherman). Obviously for art lure and fly, these Hydrilla patches are ideal, but with a little scratching here and there one quickly found the schools. The wind did hamper us quiet a bit, but there are always ways to make it work for you. Instead of sitting it out with sardine - drift a bit, throw a spinner, float a bait – really nice to work a bit every now and then for a tiger, even it means a little less drinking . Suppose must be careful here. I had some clients who vowed not to fish sardine after a couple of busy sessions working the art lure.
The biggest one landed from the Pongola Game Reserve, could be debated as scales were forgotten or were not working on the day, was from the Andy Hall group, staying at Mpalane. It was a bus of 5,4 kg’s and was the lucky anglers first tiger fish. Ernie Hingham, Nkwazi local, also had some great fishing with a 5kg also making his holiday. I took him out one morning, and obviously been a good guide, put him on the spot. While he casually caught about 5 tigers in the 3 kg plus range ( 2 rods), my 6 rods only landed me one, (thank god the others came off before he could see them as they were in the Mickey mouse range compared to his). He stayed with us for almost two weeks and came back daily with his quota of TIGERS , though think some of his stories also grew the longer he stayed (sorry Ernie, had too). Kemp Landman also had some great fishing, landing quiet a couple in the high 4 kg range. There were a lot of other good fish caught and one morning I remember Dumi taking out some overseas people for a quick half day fish. Well, they caught two in the 4 kg range and a couple in the 3 kg, suppose right time right place. Another great catch was by the Thoolen family, where Matthew (9yrs) caught a beauty of 4, 2 kg with Dumi. Well besides from almost pulling him in, he took a quick photo and released it. Well done Matthew.
Speaking about Dumi, I have finally relinquished my top spot to him, while a couple of our other skippers catching up quickly. Dumi’s average fish in Dec/Jan was in the 3 kg range and very rarely came back without landing some of these. The rest of us had stories, but Dumi had the photos. Dumi has gone from strength to strength and is an avid fly fisherman, as are some of his colleauges too, and if available, is a real pleasure to fish with. Jetro, his apprentice, is just as keen and on days has Dumi sweating too. In general well done to all the skippers for a great festive season and putting the guys onto fish, even if they did not mange to land them, they had great fun and surely will be back.
On the fly side we had quiet a couple of guys going out, though only a couple of nice one’s landed. I had quiet an afternoon with my eldest son, Kaylim. After some wicked doba doba fishing, we decided to do some drifting. On my second or third cast I threw in front of the Jozini monster and after 5 seconds of being ON, the tiger spat the hook, and my complete intermediate AIRFLO line, came back as a concertina. Never had this happen before, but wow, what an experience and obviously cost. Kaylim said by the size of the bow wave, must have been 10 kg’s – ha ha. Clive, also local had some great fly fishing with friend Peter Latter. Clive ties a “dogs b/fast “ fly , which is a winner , very sparse fly, with orange head, olive and beige flash plus some EPOL , but really a favorite. Will see if he will let me give out the pattern next time he comes.
On the art lure side, Mepps (black and yellow) and variety of colors in the Effzett range did extremely well. Peter Latter did extremely well here again (last year got 4,5 kg on spinner) and came back daily with his quota in the 2- 3kg range. These were fished around Hydrilla and deep in other places. I also recall fishing one afternoon and a fellow angler stopping and shouting, Mepps, Mepps – unfortunately he had kept a tiger to show friends that he actually caught a fish, but said did extremely well during his stay with the spinner up against the Lebombo’s. I did not have much feedback of guys getting much on trawling this time.
Then to the Marais family who spent almost 2 weeks on the dam – hardly saw them or Nordica (skipper), well done to all the tigers and barbel and terrapin and gobies and… jokes, ha a fantastic time and even though nothing over 4kg ‘s came out over the period, just seeing family and friends enjoying themselves so much is great.
Oh, the Jozini Half million Rand Competition took place and besides for some minor confusions and misunderstandings, went down very well. Unfortunately the 7 kg was elusive as ever, so no one qualified for that prize, but a 5 kg took 1 st place where the lucky angler walked away with a boat. Gerrit and I came in 19th position but that’s still far from first place. Day 1 was almost a blow out, with most boats restricted to the river stretch in the dirty water. Day 2 was much better, and a lot of fish were caught. Gerrit and I had plenty big ones on, even close to the boat but our biggest was 3 kg’s for the two days. It was so nice to see guys trying different places in the dam and gorge, looking for that 7 kg. If I am not mistaken the winning fish came out in 16 m of water, just as you enter the main dam on the old river course. Well done to Tiger Lodge and a great competition.
Then to add salt to the wound, I saw a 6,8 kg tiger on its way to be mounted at the local Junk shop. A beast of a fish, caught from the KZN campsite from land. Well done to that angler, shows you they are around. Giving away some of my spots here.
Bream fishing has also been fantastic. Sizes all ranging in the 1 kg range (red breasted) and couple of Mozambique’s too. Earthworms fished on floats seem to work best though ground baiting also working well. We had some great snacks around the bar in January, so bring some back to the lodge and our chef’s will prepare them .
Finally Gorge Greenslade has left us, and between Nkwazi, Mvubu Lodge and Bonga (head skipper) we will be running the boats. Due to the low water level, the majority of the fleet is moving to the Nkwazi side and from now on Mhlozi and Sondaba guests will be getting on at Mpalane jetties or Nkwazi lodge. We are busy fixing extra jetties to accommodate lodge and guest boats. I ask you to try and avoid going up towards the bridge area, as the mud banks are all over, just ask Johan Stapel who thought he could drive right up to the bridge in December- sorry Johan and Dan, had too. Trees are also a danger at moment so be aware before going full speed around bends and areas where trees are visible in the water
The gill netting saga is continuing and hopefully soon will be able to give you a report what the government’s future plans are.
“Please release your tiger’s guys”
Basic list of what to bring follows:
1. Any bass rod – 6 to 7 ft ideal, rigged with coffee grinder or centre pin reel.
2. Line strength – 8 -14 lb. Braid also good if have fished with it before.
3. Hooks – chemically sharpened from 2/0 – 5/0 ( Mustad, Bass hooks, circular – best quality )
4. Steel trace – made up traces (35 cm) or roll of Stealth wire which you can make up own.
5. Bogo grip – or good set of pliers to take hook out.
6. Floats – to suspend bait
7. Ghost cotton to secure your bait
8. Leader line – 40 cm of thicker line as shock tippet (fluorocarbon not a must).
9. Sardines or any bait mentioned above
10. Sun cream/hat.
11. Competency certificate/ skippers ticket any other paper work needed.
1. Anything from 5 -9 wght rod.
2. Intermediate and sinking line.
3. Leader line – definitely 8kg plus (take off the old trout tapered leaders).
4. Flies – selection of Clouser minnows/zonkers/whistler patterns. Bring couple of trout flies too.
5. Steel trace – No 1 piano wire ideal.
6. Bogo grip – long nose pliers.
7. Gloves for stripping – unless you have some calloused hands.
8. Sunglasses and hat – safety issues.
P.S. If anyone has some photos of tigers caught here, please email Marietjie them at email@example.com.
GPS Co ordinates:
Mvubu: 27 22’ 09.26” S by 31 50’ 42.16 E
Mpalane: 27 23’17.89” S by 31 53’ 20.21 E
Nkwazi: 27 22’ 46.58” S by 31 53’54.92 E