At the outset of this article I will be the first to say that I am by no means a wild water aficionado and I don’t get as much time on our picturesque venues as I would like. I further have a revered respect for those who have conquered the untamed inland bodies of water, where the carp rarely have been named.
Angling has, for the most part of 2020, been on the chosen syndicate, which Delene “Lee” Serfontein and I have targeted with goals of breaking PBs, but more on that in an upcoming article! It was early August when Lee’s dad informed us that he had booked 7 days at Klipkopjes/ Klipkoppie dam (“KK”) for the second week of September, no sooner had he spoken those words when Lee and I shot each other a look that needed no further explanation in words, as we were definitely in for the trip!
KK is a very special venue for both Lee and I, as it is by far our favourite big water in SA and is the very venue where our relationship began, so we do not need a second asking when an opportunity arises to put some time in there. We further both felt like we had a score to settle at the iconic venue as our last session saw us both blessed with numbers of fish, however, we both fell just short of the magical 40lb mark while pegs mates both had managed to surpass the sought after mark! So, with the goal clear and the battlefield set, we went about preparing for the session, with myself as always starting with gathering as much information on the venue and current form of the venue, as well as considering converse approaches that may just give us that all important edge. Good friend Neil Pretorius is exceptionally passionate about his wild venues and considering his session at the venue in December 2019, where he managed 2 x 40s and an upper 30 in two days with his nephew, I knew his advice would always be of value and assistive in formulating a plan to be on the fish in a shorter period of time. I further turned to friend of Fox SA and wild water man Erik Potgieter who gave me some guidance, as to his approach for isolating big fish and specifically with regards to our feeding. Further as ever I checked in with international big fish man, Kristof Cuderman, and spoke in depth about particles and getting the best out of a tiger nut hookbait, which further added to the planning process. All the above were instrumental in allowing me to bounce my approach off until it was refined and put into action and highlighted once more the importance of recognisance work before a session and how it informs effective decisions when taking on a tough venue.
As with all epic trips the day to depart arrived in a rush and we found ourselves packing late into the night before the day of departure, with all the gear in and the first batch of feed cooked, we were ready to leave, which was only being held back by me having to appear in Court on the morning of the day of departure. Staring at my watch waiting for my already settled matter to be called so that we may depart, the excitement was already brewing and at around 13:00 we departed JHB not knowing what the trip had in store for us.
We arrived at the venue in the late afternoon with the sun getting ready to set, with a brief chat to Lee’s parents we okayed the spot for our camp a relative distance away from their camp so as to maximise our line lay angles. The area we chose was muddied up to the worst extent I have ever experienced at any venue often sinking close to knee deep in the mud, which took weeks to wash off after the trip! We came to terms with the fading light and decided to take our time in setting up camp, as we knew we would be doing lines in the dark. Anyone who has fished alongside myself and Lee would know we always fish off the same setup and bounce runs between us as we fish as a team. We decided to put out two 3-rod pods and place our baits in a bell curve formation so as to ease pressure on moving fish that may encounter long lines. Camp up and the last line dropped at midnight, we were finally in place to take on our challenge.
Shattered from the night before and the long drive, we sought refuge in the bivvy for most of our first day, whilst lounging on the bedchair our relaxation was interrupted by a single beep, which I passed off as a liner, but was followed by a double beep which peaked my interest and whilst popping my head up to watch the rods, I noticed the tip pulling to the side and the Fox MK2 swinger standing tight. After a few more beeps I decided to take a chance and hit it, which immediately invoked a response of the fish darting off, which I brought under control and started gaining yards on, until horror struck and I could feel the mainline had become snagged. With concern as to losing the first run, we were off in the boat in a flash and eventually got on top of the snagged fish around 200m out. Right away I could identify the snag to be a bundle of broken line, which Lee and I got under control and fortunately were able to coax the bar of gold below the mess into the net. Massive sigh of relief as the fish was in the net and above all was safe from the snag infested lines! We reached the bank with the fish and reality broke that we were off the mark on day 1, with a 38Lb 08oz thick built male! Not expecting our first run to be this soon, the pressure lifted and as we headed out to re-drop the rod we knew we were now fishing!
Day 2 rolled in with us recharged and ready for the fishing ahead, being up at sunrise to view the fish activity we noticed a fish show on the far margin to the left of our most left rod, but knew we would be sticking to our rule of not rebaiting for a minimum period of 48 hours and just noted the activity. Action came that afternoon for Lee in the shape of a 31Lb common that somehow also found a snag and required us to fetch her in the middle of the lake. The following morning saw us on our usual fish spotting area having a coffee, when our most right-hand rod had a violent drop back, as it was placed along the bank using a storm pole towards a point not more than 15m from the near margin. The battle was strong but in the back of my mind I knew it was not a monster, which was confirmed when the lovely shaped 26Lber popped up. Later that day we had our first taste of getting nearer to our goal again when Lee managed a stunning 36Lb 06oz common that must be one of the most genetically gifted fish I have ever seen with massive shoulders and a wide paddle, which I truly believe will one day be an absolute tank. 4 Fish in 3 days, made us feel like things were looking good, as we knew this venue could turn its back on you at any moment, but we had more than a fish a day as a start, we were ready for what lay ahead.
Day 4 passed by without a beep! We had a slight uneasy feeling as we knew we had to stay on the fish, which at this point it is easy to start chopping and changing tactics, however, we stayed true to our plan. Kept the hook baits small and the feed to a minimum, in fact trying even to reduce it beyond the tiny amount we were feeding, remembering the words of Erik: “if you feel like you have fed too little, you have probably fed enough”. Low and behold whilst making coffee the morning of Day 5 a violent take occurred almost ripping the rod from the pod and thankfully saved by the Fox Black label snag ears. The rod was placed on the spot we had identified on day 2 where fish had been seen on occasion to graze the surface and after restructuring our line lay, we were on with what felt like a gas bottle. After a great scrap it finally gave up and slipped over the net cord. One look into the net had me hopeful that this fish would have been goal achieved. With bated breath we placed the sling on the scale and watched the needle stop on 40Lb 04oz! Goal achieved for me and trip made with my first KK 40 and a moment I was blessed enough to share with Lee. This was a moment that had me smiling from ear to ear and a small part of me knew we still had time for more in the session.
Good friend Morne Small sent me a message congratulating me on the fish and subtly said: “you know the next run is Lee’s” this I knew to be a dangerous set of facts as she had a knack of nabbing something very special, which I reminded her of as the sunset. Day 6 sparked to life with another violent take from the same rod that produced the 40 of Day 5, which had Lee caught up in battle with what we immediately agreed was a good fish. Whilst wading out to net the lump I mentioned to her that I had told her so and knew this fish was going to well surpass mine of the morning before. 44Lb 14oz is where the scale rested and confirmed a new common PB for Lee, as well as her first ever common 40Lb+ carp! The session had truly been made beyond doubt as both of us had crossed the magical threshold that we set out to attain and as a carping Couple fishing together we had now taken two 40s from the session, which exceeded our expectations completely!!!
I think most seasoned anglers have had that uneasy feeling whilst being on the bank after a good hit of fish and somehow just knowing something was going to happen. Whilst messaging Kristof and funny enough talking about my former PB, this aforementioned feeling was intensified. 12:15 with the sun high in the sky a single beep on the right-hand Rod, and a dropping swinger. No further movement until another beep a slight bump on the swinger and the rod tip starting to arch. I just knew it was time to set the hook which after pulling solid started to move, at first slowly and then violently up and down the bank. The battle persisted for a prolonged period with the fish kiting all over the area in front of us, until a large gold slab appeared just below the surface. The bar of gold stayed on the surface pretty much right into the last moments of netting and Lee turned to me and said: “it’s a bus!” Looking into the net I thought wow easy 40 but had no Idea a new PB of 48Lbs was actually what had just been netted. I have seldom seen such pure elation on Lee’s face than when she realised, she would now get the opportunity to give me a PB bucket. Pictures taken and a video recorded whilst I felt the lukewarm water cascade over me and feeling of pure achievement rested upon me whilst I watched the beast return to her watery home!
With fondness I contemplate the memories of the session and cannot believe the results, which we could never have been greedy enough to have even wished for! Even though we manged to go on and lose our last two runs of the session, we left with a warm sense of accomplishment.
I often in my articles talk about responsibility and I would be derelict in my duties I feel I hold as an angler in not noting a big negative experienced at the lake, that being the amount of broken off lines. As with our first fish and then on a later rod we took out we found heaps of lines cut off in the water, spanning easily in excess of 50 meters, one still having a tiger hook bait which was a massive threat to the safety of the fish population. The major concern for me was the anglers who seem to not have the requisite gear for taking on the venue and still go anyway, as I found mono of around 10lb attached to a known brand leader and in another instance, we found braid attached to a safety clip system that could not safely eject the lead, rendering the use of the clip useless! We appeal to all anglers out there, who wish to take on a venue known for big fish, to please be mindful of their approach and to rather stay away if they are unable to use the required gear for taking on such a venue. Any person who is unsure on the required gear are welcome to contact any of the Fox SA Squad, who will be able to point them in the right direction when it comes to fish care and safety.
We recently met up with good friends and relayed some of the tales of the trip, the highs and lows and in all, although we intend on heading overseas in 2021, we cannot help but already feel that we need to include another trip to the special venue to “Find em,’ Feed em’ Fox em’!” in our upcoming fishing plans!
About the author:
Jonathan “Jono” Steyn
Common PB: 21.7Kg (48lb)
Mirror PB: 19.5Kg (43lb)
Favourite Venue: Klipkoppie Dam and My Syndicate Venue