FishTalk… with Preston Dale

by Michael Cronje

During this installment of FishTalk, we’ll spend some time chatting to renowned bass angler, and proprietor of Goya Trading, Preston Dale. It’s fair to say that Preston can hold his own with a rod and reel in hand, and his fishing achievements include the following. Zimbabwe Junior Bass Colours. Zimbabwe Presidents Bass Colours . Western Province Colours – SA Nationals. Inanda Bass Classic – Team Winners. BETT – KZN Tournament Wins. BETT – KZN Top 10 Finalist (two years running.) Let’s find out a bit more about how and why Preston does what he does.


Q: Everyone has a “secret” fishing hole. What’s yours? MC

A: Having been fortunate enough to fish on many of Southern Africa’s most sought after fresh waters for many different species, this is one tough question. Bass fishing venue’s that hold a special place for me would include Darwendale Dam’s topwater zara spook and buzzbait bite (Zimbabwe), Goedetrouw Dam’s powerful and rugged largemough (KZN) and not forgetting Clanwilliam Dam’s feisty and acrobatic smallmouth (CT). Heartfelt tiger fish venues would include spinning the Black Rock region of the Zambezi, and drifting live bait, spinning and trawling the magnificent Kariba Dam. Although only spending a limited amount of time on the ocean, Bazaruto( Mozambique) or Pemba (Kenya) would be my preferred return venue’s to target. PD


Q: How is fishing in the above fishing hole different from other places you’ve fished? What makes it special? MC

A: The quality of the respective fish found in these fishing hole’s is a major part of what makes them so special to me. The surrounding landscapes, wildlife/birdlife, sunrises and sunsets of these venues are also major contributing factors for the need to return to these special spots as often as life allows. PD


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

A: competent team of staff in each of the respective fields and product innovation is without doubt, two of the major keys to maintaining a successful business in the highly traded Sportfishing industry. Continually offering innovative, new, tried and tested, market driven product lines keeps one ahead of the competitors. As a tournament bass angler, the keys to my success would include – confidence in being able to fish most techniques fairly successfully, as the seasons and present fishing conditions affect the bass. PD


Q: What do you like about fishing tournaments? MC

A: The mental challenge it brings, as it is always changing. Tournament fishing is not about ‘beating’ the next angler, but rather putting my angling skills against the fish found in the dam – hopefully managing to adapt/pattern/work out the fish on that day under present conditions, better than the rest of the competition field. Tournament fishing does bring an adrenalin rush. The start of the event when all the boats are lined up waiting for take off, the first few casts of the day, landing a kicker during the day as well as the final weigh-in if you are in close contention for top places. PD


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

A: 15.8kg (34 pounds, 12 ounces) is the biggest limited I’ve brought to the scales during a tournament. PD


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

A: Highlight of the 2013 season, was taking a break from fishing the local tournament circuit and giving myself the necessary time to focus on testing new products and gaining confidence in new techniques new to SA waters. Although not having fished the tournament circuit during 2013, I did still spend many days on the water. For 2014, probably look to fish a few select open tournaments to get the adrenalin going again and to learn more. PD


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

A: Weightless ‘Senko’. I started tournament bass angling in Zimbabwe, during the time when the weightless ‘senko’ style baits very first entered the tournament market (many years back) and hence have spent time alongside and learning this technique from the very best of the best bass anglers in Africa. It is a highly versatile bait! One can adapt the weightless Senko style of fishing to most tournament waters (Finesse/heavy. Big baits/small Baits. Dark colours/natural Colours.) It is a great bait for catching assorted size keepers and 90% of the time when fishing weightless, I will choose to fish a weightless Senko style bait over a weightless fluke style bait. PD


Q: Everyone’s got a “one-that-got-away” story. What’s yours? MC

A: There have been many over the years, but a trip to Goedetrouw Dam during 2013 is one I will touch on. I was testing out a new soft swimbait and made a long cast which landed up sitting inside a small thorn bush, which sat in about four feet of water. As the cast was a lengthy one, my fishing partner jumped on the trolling motor to get a little closer to free the bait. The bait was sitting 30cm or so from the water surface and I was shaking the bait in the tree as we approached to try and free it, when suddenly a monster fish breached the surface in an attempt to eat the bait which sat in the little bush. When suddenly the fish came up, it’s head was almost as big as the little bush that the bait was hooked in. Unfortunately, the monster did not connect with the lure when it breached, but it did show half its body which left both myself and my fishing partner gasping for air and in a state of awe. We both have personal bests over 5kgs and this fish was just huge! I was only fishing 12lb line (schoolboy error), so needless to say the fish would have made short work of breaking me off in the brush, even if it did hook up. PD


Q: What advice would you give to an aspiring bass tournament angler? MC

A: ‘Learn The Bass.’ This means, spend your time and resources learning how bass adapt and move with each weather season, each type of water, different baitfish found in tournament venues. These days, the internet has helped speed up this learning process considerably with having more information freely available on bass, but nothing beats personal time on the water. The top of the range tow vehicles, boats, rods, tackle and finders do make for comfortable tournament angling, but it is not a major factor in participating and being a successful tournament angler. ‘Learn The Bass’ and you will find your way to the top of any field of anglers you compete against. PD


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

A: Through the Sportfishing tackle industry, I have been fortunate enough to have visited all three of the major world wide sportfishing shows (ICAST, EFFTEX and ChinaFish), meeting personally with many of the worlds most recognized anglers and companies. Shared a dinner and drinks with Dean Rojas during an ICAST show and got to pick his brain for hours on end about tournament bass fishing… a true gent of the sport! PD


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