Team AOW Climb Four Spots On LBT Log

The third round of the Lowveld Bass Trail was hosted at Driekoppies Dam on Saturday 12 April 2014. Driekoppies, a 1870ha dam, was in the past known for its population of colossal lunker largemouth bass. During the past few seasons, however, these big fish have been on the decline, and the dam is teeming with small juvenile bass. Expectations weren’t too high, but despite the fact that the dam was 100% full, and quite stained overall, the 27 boats that entered had some respectable fishing.

Two bass over 3kg hit the scales during the weigh in. 126 bass were weighed with a combined weight of 46.114kg. The average weight was a mere 0.366kg, the lowest for the LBT so far this season, testament to the overabundance of undersized bass.


Above: The top three teams at Driekoppies.


The biggest bag and biggest bass were caught by Nicky Stapelberg of one-man-team Team Bullet with a fish of 3.475kg and a bag of 4.340kg. Charl Carey and Michael Cronje, of Team Angling & Outdoor, caught a five-bass limit weighing 6 pounds, 7 ounces (2.935kg) to finish third, bumping them up the overall log from 16th to 12th out of 48 teams, and back in to contention to fish the final at Maguga Dam, Swaziland, in October. Early in the morning, the team farmed an estimated 2.5kg bucketmouth hooked on a Natural Red coloured Spro Bronzeye Baby Pop. The bass annihilated the topwater bait as it was twitched over some floating grass, but seconds later it was off after a disappointing line break. Had the fish weighed, it would’ve probably pushed Team AOW’s bag to around 5.1kg. Heartbreaking, but that’s fishing!


Above: Nicky Stapelberg with the biggest bass of the day, 3.475kg.


LBT Results Top 15. Round 3. Driekoppies Dam:

  1. Team Bullet: 5 fish, 4.340kg, 11.340 points.
  2. Conway Marine: 5 fish, 4.255kg, 11.255 points.
  3. Angling & Outdoor: 5 fish, 2.935kg, 9.935 points.
  4. Bent Rods: 5 fish, 2.360kg, 9.360 points.
  5. Go Fa: 5 fish, 2.270kg, 9.270 points.
  6. Brayshaw: 5 fish, 2.145kg, 9.145 points.
  7. Hazyview Midas: 5 fish, 2.041kg, 9.041 points.
  8. Rugged: 5 fish, 2.040kg, 9.040 points.
  9. Visarend: 5 fish, 1.960kg, 8.960 points.
  10. Aligator: 5 fish, 1.893kg, 8.893 points.
  11. Long Tom: 5 fish, 1.880kg, 8.880 points.
  12. Pumba: 5 fish, 1.850kg, 8.850 points.
  13. Mattador: 5 fish, 1.680kg, 8.680 points.
  14. Bass Stalker: 5 fish, 1.575kg, 8.575 points.
  15. Ambassadors: 5 fish, 1.495kg, 8.495 points.

After the event, Michael Cronje commented, “We were hooking pecker snots all day, and must’ve boated at least forty. The key to catching the bigger keepers for us was throwing spinnerbaits with the correct skirt and blade combinations. We were catching them off shallow grass clumps in bays in the main dam. We were looking for reaction bites. Instead of soaking our baits in one spot for an extended period of time, we moved quickly to get dialed in on the bass’ preference.”

The next round is to be held at Kwena Dam, Lydenburg, on Saturday the 10th of May 2014. As the season changes steadily from autumn to winter, as of round 4, fishing will start at 7am with captain’s meetings starting at 6:45am.

Lowveld Bass Trail Log after Round 3 (Top 15 only):

  1. Pumba 30.305 points.
  2. Team Bullet 28.785 points.
  3. Midas Sport 28.015 points.
  4. Aligators 26.113 points.
  5. Hazyview Midas 25.051 points.
  6. Brayshaw 24.77 points.
  7. Chomp 24.375 points.
  8. Rugged 24.375 points.
  9. Sakkie Boerewors 23.12 points.
  10. Imbongolo 22.905 points.
  11. Conway Marine 22.365 points.
  12. Angling & Outdoor 22.129 points.
  13. Thermocline 20.44 points.
  14. Boeta 19.495 points.
  15. Go Fa 18.800 points.


Above: Michael Cronje with the two biggest fish of Team AOW’s bag.


Team Angling & Outdoor would like to extend special thanks to Angling & Outdoor World, Suzuki Marine SA, Netbait, Salmo, JJ’s Magic, Penetrator Hooks, Pro Tungsten, Goya, Seaguar, Halco SA, Lowrance SA, Big Bite Baits, Spro, Norman Lures, Strike King, Z-Man, Mustad, Berkley, Abu Garcia, Okuma and Rod Glove, whose products are making fishing the LBT this season a pleasure.

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


Fish Talk with ….. Daniel Factor

by Michael Cronje

Today I continue my fortnightly column with a look into the fishing career of 24 year old flyfisher, Daniel Factor. Currently the sales manager at Stealth Fly Fishing, Daniel comes from Johannesburg and represents Gauteng North in competitive flyfishing circles. In fact, he has captained this provincial team since 2011. He’s competed in three senior and one junior World Championships and one Oceania Championships. On top of that, he’s fished three youth, and six senior South African Championships, winning individual Gold, Silver and Bronze plus six team medals. At the recent 2014 SA Fly Fishing National Championships he took individual Gold and team Gold. Let’s get stuck into the questions then.


Q: Can you describe how you developed your love for fishing? What was the catalyst that started it all for you? MC
A: I can’t put an age on this, but I would guess I was seven years old or so. All I can remember was it took one fish and then the rest of my future was decided. I think it was the excitement and uncontrollable tension that hooked me. I am not proud to say that my first fish on fly was in a breeding pen at a trout farm with fish fighting for my fly but we all have to start somewhere. DF

Q: How long have you been flyfishing? MC

A: I started flyfishing around 6 months after I started bait fishing, the catch and keep rules at trout farms got really expensive after I figured out trout eggs and a sinker. DF

Q: With such a demanding schedule, how often do you get to fish? MC

A: I try to split up my time on the water and go through stages depending on the domestic and international tournament schedules. I spend at least 150 days of the year on the water. I really do believe that there is no better preparation than just being on the water and developing that sixth sense. For about 8 weeks before a tournament I spend as much time trout fishing as possible. In between championships I enjoy largemouth yellowfish and saltwater flyfishing. DF


Q: Who is your biggest inspiration outside of angling? MC

A: I don’t know much outside of angling (laughs.) DF
Q: Tell us about some of your favourite Mpumalanga fishing spots. MC

A: I would have to say Verlorenkloof in between Belfast and Lydenburg. This spot has the finest trout river fishing in Mpumalanga. DF

Q: Has there been an epic battle with a particular fish that stands out in your mind? MC

A: I would say the three monster fish at Loch Logan a few weeks back. I landed three fish on light 5lb Airflo G3 fluorocarbon. This was the toughest sector at the last SA National flyfishing Championship. I had to step down to get these fish to commit to the fly. These fish helped me win individual gold at the championship. DF
Q: How do you feel is the best way to excite South Africans about flyfishing in the years to come? MC

A: Go with the guys that know their stuff, and the waters. There is nothing more boring than not catching fish and getting it wrong. Learn as much as you can and increase that catch rate. DF


Q: What’s your go to summertime fly for trout when nothing’s working? MC

A: The Copper Hopper. DF
Q: What do you consider your primary fishing strengths? MC

A: European nymphing and CDC dry fly work. DF

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

A: I do enjoy some bait fishing. Sliding out heads for sharks is top of my list. DF