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Pongola Game Reserve Fishing Report
|Water Clarity:||0% River & 100% Main dam|
|Fishing Area:||River strech|
|Average Size:||800g - 3.5kg|
|Avg. / half day:||Difficult as fishing sporadic|
|Artificial Lure:||Small spinners and Fire Tiger Rapalas|
|Bait:||Sardine definitely flavor of month. Live bait still working well|
|Fly Fishing:||Biggest 4 kg - Nkwazi Lodge. Mr. Warren|
|Biggest Fish:||5 kg tiger fish - Mvubu Lodge|
|Skipper of the month:||Tammy - conventional (5 kg) Simphiwe - fly-fishing|
Tiger season is getting better and better as the summer approaches. We had a good start to the month with some nice tigers coming out over 3 kg’s. Tammy (guide) managed to land a beautiful 5 kg fish opposite the Pump Station area. The average decent fish coming out are around the 3, 5 kg mark, which soon should be getting heavier as the female start increasing their numbers of eggs. Sardine is definitely the flavor of the month with most strikes coming from sardine. As normal these are fished on the bottom with no weight and are retrieved every 10 – 15 minutes. The best method still seems to let the tiger pick up the sardine and run with it for at least 5 – 10 seconds before striking.
The loser the drag and the longer the run the better. This is followed by a decent strike to set the hook, pick up the slack and then strike again. By this stage the tiger will have let you know whose boss. If you have managed to set the hook properly, keep tension on the line but don’t over tighten your drag. Remember the sneaky jump, so keep rod tip down and fight the fish with constant tension. Just remember half of the fight is still around the boat, so don’t be over eager to land it quickly. Fight it till it turns on its side and land it carefully. I have seen many decent size fish lost by the line touching the boat or landing net.
Please remember that the fish is near exhaustion after the fight, so if possible keep it in the water (net or bogo grip) and give it a minute to get its breath back. This will in turn give your fellow fisherman a chance to get the pliers and camera ready for when you take it out of the water. Live bait is still working well. The best method seems to drift them or trawl them slowly behind the boat, making sure they are swimming upright. A small running ball sinker seems to help keep the fish down when trawling. The same method of letting the tiger run applies here too. The new circular hooks is a must for live bait, as the tigers seems to swallow them and with old conventional hooks one has a problem with the hook getting stuck in the throat or gut making it almost impossible to remove. Live bait on cork is also a must when fishing off structure or weed banks. The length of the cork to bait depends on depth of water been fished.
The weather as normal is up and down. Our bad weather always seems to arrive on Friday and clear up on Monday. Murphy’s Law! Our local thunderstorms are quiet impressive, but remember can be very dangerous too, especially if fishing in the main dam. Watch out for these, and if it means sitting it out on the side for an hour, it’s worth it. We have had over a 100 mm of rain this month meaning the water is chocolate brown in the river up to the KZN campsite. Guys are still catching in the dirty water, but apparently chumming is necessary. Most of our boats are fishing in clean water closer to the main dam entrance. The annual water release has occurred. It has been the biggest release so far and the dam has dropped drastically. Old submerged trees have re appeared and for me old fishing spots have also been opened up. Hopefully with all the rain, the dam will slowly start filling up again.
On the positive side, a lot weed beds are high and dry, not giving the bait fish much cover. I have been watching the tigers, barbell and crocs feeding frantically and throwing a fly, popper or bait almost on the bank is producing some exciting fishing. Just remember there are a lot of submerged trees just under the current water level, so watch out for propeller and boat damage. Oh yes, might be a good idea to bring some gumboots too!! On the fly side of things, it’s just getting better and better. We had a group of fly fisherman in the mid month when conditions were still good in the river. They had great success on fly and landed some beauties. Two over four kg, a couple of three kg’s and a lot of smaller ones. See attached photos. We were also fortunate to have Andre Burger from “present a fly”. Conditions were not as favorable as the dirty water had already arrived. Tiger were caught, but mainly under a kg. I saw another of our boats losing a tiger well over 3 kg s just next to us. I still favor intermediate line, though sinking line probably better. The fly colors still olive, black, red and purple. Any flies containing these colors seem to work best for me. Anyway got to go fishing. Till next month.