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Pongola Game Reserve Fishing Report
|Temp (Gorge):||20 degrees|
|Temp (River):||19-20 degrees|
|Water Clarity:||River Stretch: 100% Main Dam: 100%|
|Fishing Area:||Entrance to main dam, pump station, Nkwazi bend, Hydrilla banks|
|Average Size:||500g - 3kg|
|Artificial Lure:||Spinners & spoons - all sizes and colors, soft plastics, rapalas|
|Bait:||Sardine, chicken breasts, live bait - anything|
|Fly Fishing:||3kg - white/orange clouser|
|Biggest Fish:||5 kg - Gongalves group (Mpalane) - 4 kg - Chris - live bait|
|Skipper of the month:||Nkosinati|
Well, the days are getting shorter and weather colder and water less, oh and the beers not as great as when the weather was 30 degrees plus, but the fish are still biting and the experimentation is starting.
The water level is still receding and I have never seen it so low before. Actually quiet nice to see as it gives one an idea of underwater structures( trees, rocks, drop off’s and the river course) that we are normally fishing around and not as noticeable on the fish finder. The bait fish on the other hand are not having such a great time, as there is very little hiding area available. It’s quiet a sight to see them getting “smashed” as the barbell, tiger and croc’s come in and to feed, with the birds jumping in too.
Trawling seems to be the best way of locating the fish - specifically bigger ones- and once found, then drifting over these areas seems to be the best way of staying in the action if wanting to change strategy. I am fishing both deep and shallow water - will results coming out in both. The trend seems to be fishing 6-12 meters in the morning - not bottom but finding the thermo cline - and in the afternoon fishing the protected bays were the sun has been able to warm up the water. I have become a real doba doba fisherman (cork/float)- and by setting the bait to different depths (not more than 4 m) - the drifts become really successful.
I know the skippers seem to be targeting the Hydrilla banks - feeding spots - and fishing it regularily with success. The tigers are in general under 2 kg's, but enough to keep one busy. I on the other hand am always looking for the bigger tigers - 3 kg plus - and seem to be more successful with the above methods.
The shallows seem to be producing better for me in the afternoon- literally 1 m of water around any oxygen weed- though there are times when the reel ‘s tend to scream more on the baits positioned further out. The other evening myself, Mientjie and Nico (Mvubu ranger) were having great success when it was almost dark. Any splash on the water elicited a strike - and I was disappointed that I had not taken some artificials, specifically a popper. So the following evening I did exactly that, though throwing a fly into the deeper water and when any surface action occurred, a popper was thrown towards. Well, was it great, when finally I had to put the fly rod away and work the popper. Unusual for me, but definitely worth the while. All that was needed was a “pop pop”, a 10 second wait and the “pop pop - BANG” - not every cast though, but was close to that. I think a couple of soft plastics would have worked just as well, specifically thrown onto the bank and working it through the bait fish on the side.
As mentioned bait is still working well, though there are times when the tigers are eating with a knife and a fork, and leaving just the bones behind. The skippers trick is either to have open bail arm and work the line out slowly or to directly strike and then wait for all hell to break loose. Fillet is also working well with a hint of red string/ribbon been thrown and retrieved - here you can either use two hooks and strike directly or have a semi loose drag so when the tiger pick’s up the bait he can run with it a while and then strike it on the run by holding the spool. Terrapins and barbell are also full up at the moment, so if the tigers are not biting - they will still keep you busy.
Bream fishing is still fabulous- especially around the warmer times of the day - though my earthworm stock is non existent unfortunately. If you do want to bream fish I suggest bringing double than normal as most clients are running out very quickly. The size of bream coming up seems to be improving, though I think it has more to do with guys starting to fish slightly deeper when the earthworms buckets starts looking empty. Again start with the smaller ones close to the oxygen weed and then slowly start going deeper where the smaller ones are afraid to venture. Again, either on cork or directly on the bottom. The nice side of this is that the smaller bream can be sent out for live bait while the bream keep you busy.
On the fly side, well the arm is feeling the casting. I am still catching though strikes are few and far between. I am mainly on a sinking line working both drop off’s and shallows- letting the fly get really down there. Mientjie and Kaylim says my counting is improving (ha ha)- but one has to work all depths to figure out where the tigers are. I was fortunate to fish with some English and Swiss fly fisherman and were successful landing a couple in the 1 to 2,5 kg range. A lot of 500g fish came out too, but when guiding and not fishing yourself you have to visit the nurseries too. Colors working best for me are blue/white, olive/black, dog’s breakfast- lot of gold flash and funny enough white and white and orange. Most are tied in Clouser or deceiver patterns though the dog’s breakfast combinations seeming to do the trick best. Retrieve speeds tend to be very quick and I often fish with rod under the arm (milking the cow style) with many takes coming out as the retrieve speed is increased or just before the fly comes to the boat. I have been slowing the retrieve down in the deeper water but the tigers just seem to bump it and not come back for the famous second take.
I will be out on Sunday and Monday to scout the big dam for some winter fishing spots so will keep you posted. Generally there is a movement to deeper water in winter, but remember these can also be found in front of Nkwazi, pump station and in front of Kzn campsite. I did have an email the other day about confusion about the “pump station” area as there is also a big pump station on the southern part of the dam. As mentioned to the client was that we,PGR, operate the river stretch only and I refer to the pipes coming into the water in the river stretch ( also indicated on the map) as this area. The other pump station apparently also produces good fish and I will be giving it a bash on Monday.
Finally beware of shallow banks, submerged trees close to other visible trees in water and hippo’s whose wallows are also getting smaller. If you are unfamiliar with the dam rather come in slowly towards your fishing spots and open up your engines in the middle of river or open dam.
“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