FishTalk… with Garth Liefeldt

by Michael Cronje

A lot of people I know love fishing, and I mean really love fishing. However, not many of these people can claim to have a passion for angling equal to that of Garth Liefeldt. He’s one of those guys that gets you itching to go fishing just by talking to him. Garth is the sales and marketing manager of Thornveld Angling Tackle Distributors, and a first-rate social and competitive, fresh and saltwater angler to boot. He’s received Natal colours for artificial lure angling, and has spent 22 years on the competitive bass angling scene, securing over 50 podium finishes in the process. Garth has fished socially in the USA, and is recognized at clinics and seminars around South Africa where he loves sharing the knowledge and skills he’s learnt over the years. Here are nine questions I posed to Garth recently to dig a little deeper into his angling psyche.


Q: Can you describe how you developed your love for fishing? What was the catalyst that started it all for you? MC

A: I would definitely have to say my Dad! The first time he took me angling I knew then that this sport was going to be a part of me for the rest of my life. Funnily enough my first angling experience was in salt water, as a youngster I did a lot of rock and surf angling and going forward this sparked a flame in me to try all disciplines of angling both salt and fresh water, so I moved onto fly fishing and that progressed onto the Artlure seen which is really where my freshwater career all started, once I had learnt all I could and achieved my provincial colors in Artlure I moved onto the social and competitive bass circuits and to cut a long story short here I am today making a living out of my passion and what I love to do. The sport of angling is not something I just do, it is a part of who I am. I never look at a body or piece of water without wondering what lies below the surface and if it is catchable. GL

Q: You obviously really enjoy your fishing. How often do you get out? MC

A: I try and take every opportunity to get out on the water both fresh and salt, but as I am sure most of you will agree, once life starts to take over, getting married and having children, one can very easily fish yourself single!! Prior to all that I would fish anywhere from once to at least four times a week! I am however very fortunate to have the support of my family and this allows me to balance my career in the tackle industry and my angling, even though I don’t go as much as I would like to, or fish from sun up to sun down as I used to. I am grateful every time I do get the opportunity to get out and the most rewarding part of this, is that I am able to, as a father, share and pass on my knowledge to my two children and hopefully have them experience the outdoor life style, the sport of angling, all the awesome places it has taken me around our country and abroad, and all the amazing people I have met along the way. GL


Q: What do you believe to be the keys to your success as a tournament bass angler? MC

A: Practice, Practice, Practice!! Spending time on the water is definitely the most important piece of advice I can give. As with any sport, the more you spend time doing it the better you will get at it. I also had the good fortune of having Mr. Grant Hewitt as partner for many years. His knowledge and fishing styles definitely had a big influence on my career and we are still close friends today, and still enjoy time angling together! At seminars and talks I have done and when spending time in stores and in general, people always chuckle and ask why or how do you practice for fishing. It’s simple. As a competitive angler you should know when you hit the water on tournament day, you have a game plan and through practice you would have dissected up the body of water you are about to fish, by this I mean you would have figured out where your primary spot will be or starting point, where your back up spots will be and which parts of the lake or dam are not holding fish. I also never let things I have no control over effect my day. Things like weather, time of year, dam levels, boats on my spot etc. I apply the theories and what I know about the piece of water and try and use all this to my advantage rather than see it as a disadvantage. Be able to adapt on the day no matter what is going on around you. Local knowledge and info from other anglers definitely do not hurt either. GL

Q: What do you like about fishing bass tournaments? MC

A: Let me paint you a picture. Early morning, sun about to peak over the hill, you are prepped, confident and good to go, a lineup of sleek colorful and powerful machines, the banter amongst fellow anglers and friends, not a thought of the long week you had prior, your mind is clear of all else, the butterflies from excitement as you start up your outboard for the race that is about to proceed and when all your effort comes together and you drive that first strike home and the water erupts in front of you, only an angler will understand the emotion that runs through you whether you are a competitive angler or not. GL


Q: What’s the biggest five-fish limit you’ve ever brought to the scales? MC

A: Heaviest fish in an event was 4.995kg. Heaviest one day bag round the 16kg mark and heaviest 3 day bag in a competition was around 32kg. GL

Q: What has been a highlight for you in the 2013/14 fishing season? MC

A: To tell you the honest truth I had a bit of an average year last year on the bass scene. The only real highlight of 2013 was a real nice GT I got off Durban, and an epic Garrick season! I kicked off this year with one of the best days fishing in a competition I have had in a long time! It was our first event at Inanda Dam in Kwazulu Natal, and we managed to pack in round 11kg but still only came third! The fishing was awesome, and that has set a good platform for the rest of the season. I also got my first yellowfin tuna around the 30kg mark. A really nice way to break the ice with tuna and add another game species to my growing list. GL

Q: Without giving away some tournament secret, what lure/rig is the first you tie on in new bass waters and why? MC

A: As anglers we can’t resist buying lures and most of us have tons of them. This can become confusing! What I tie on does normally depend on what I have practiced or figured out prior to an event, but I will never launch without a wacky rig, lipless crank or jerk bait tied on. For me these baits will often put numbers on the boat when I need it most! I will normally also throw a jig before tying on a plastic bait as well. I like to think of myself as a power angler and like to go find fish and target fish that want to bite or look for those reaction bites, so I apply those types of lures that are going to get those fish to do just that. I try not to get too complicated or over-think things, especially with the volume of baits that are available, things can get confusing. I tend to stick to the basics and will keep myself up to date with new products and baits and if I feel that something new is going to help I will definitely add it to my collection. I will also certainly take luck over skill any day of the week. GL


Q: Who is your angling hero, if you have one? MC

A: For me it has to be Mr. KVD (Kevin Van Dam.) This man has achieved, developed and put so much into the sport of bass fishing. I have had the fortune of meeting him. He is a humble man, passionate about the sport of bass fishing and his business life. I apply a lot of his theories and techniques to my fishing today. His name is synonymous with the sport of bass fishing and has been for many years. GL

Q: What’s something few people know about you? MC

A: I think the fact that I am not only a bass angler. This normally surprises people when I tell them. GL

The End.


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