Vlei Kurper or Banded Tilapia as they are better known have become the most widely distributed fodder species for Largemouth and Smallmouth across the country, however they are considered invasive in the Western and Eastern Cape. The hardiest of our Tilapia species, Vlei Kurper largely inhabit slow flowing streams and rivers but find themselves right at home in shallow weedy dams across the country, with high concentrations found in watersheds in Mpumalanga and Limpopo. Their ability to survive extreme water temperature as low as 6°C has also seen them distributed across colder parts of the Highveld as well.
Characterized by a deep body and blunt snout, they are the perfect profile size for bass to readily prey upon with most individuals not exceeding 12cm, although specimens in excess of 23cm have been recorded.
The colouration of Vlei Kurper range from almost completely black, silver or a deep olive-green depending on the clarity of the water. In ultra-clear water males will feature up to 9 dark vertical bands across the flank, with females appearing lighter with a tendency to metallic silver. During the spawning season both males and females become more vibrant in colour with the dorsal fins and tails of the males tipped with red. Juveniles however are much lighter with very subtle barring on the flank.
Similar to bass Vlei Kurper spawn on hard bottoms such as gravel or rock around shallow vegetation and breed from mid spring all the way to the end of summer. Both males and females exhibit extreme aggressiveness toward intruders, with numerous anglers having reported being warded off by breeding pairs in shallow water while wading in the shallows. During the spawning season Vlei Kurper are also most vulnerable from attack by bass due to their smaller size.
One commonality of all Tilapia species is their pronounced eyes; Vlei Kurper too exhibit large eyes with dark pupils and gold rings around the outer edges. When selecting a Vlei imitation be sure to select baits with highly visible eyes, or draw an eye on it using a black marker.
TILAPIA IMITATIONS AVAILABLE LOCALLY
Moss Craw, Yellow Perch, Perch, Pumpkinseed Metallic Gloss.
Soft Plastic Jerkbaits
Black Green & Gold, Watermelon Red Magic, California 420, Watermelon Pro Blue.
Paddle Tail Swimbaits
Bold, Golden Roach, California 420, Ayu, Bass Magic, Watermelon Red.
Bluegill, Black, Green Pumpkin Black, Hot Gills.
Beaver Style Baits
California 420, Watermelon Magic, Tramp Stamp, Green Pumpkin Green, Late Nite Gold.