Carp AnglerVenues

Cathcartdrift: The Specimen Angling Haven of the Eastern Free State

by Raoull du Toit

As a teacher I don’t often have the time to fish when and, more importantly, where I want to. We have functions, sports and even more functions, leaving little time for our own pursuits. However, as you well know, nothing will stop a true fisherman! So I squeezed out the time for an overnight session at a dam that had been nothing but a mystery to me for two years: Cathcartdrift. I had heard about great catches at this dam from various anglers, but the location and the contact details of this ‘private’ dam remained shrouded in a veil of mystery until late last year. Even so, it took me three more months to finally fish the venue.

As a rule I browse the Internet for reports on fishing experiences at each venue I fish with the hopes of being completely prepared on arrival. Sadly, there were only a couple of threads posted on the all-knowing internet. However, I did learn that specimen angling was the rule of thumb for success when fishing Cathcart, which the caretaker confirmed over the phone. He also emphasised that the dam was difficult to fish. With that in mind, my wife Rozaan, my young bulldog and I set off the day before Valentine’s Day (It was her idea I swear!). After some confusion and accidentally driving into a cemetery, we reached the dam just outside of Ladybrand against the Lesotho border. We were slightly taken aback by the gravel road at the dam, because our small hatchback with its heavy load was hardly adequate to reach the ‘best’ fishing spots at the venue; in fact I would suggest nothing less than a 4×4. We eventually settled for the only spot our car could reach without falling apart. This would be a blessing in disguise.

I had brought along my inflatable to drop my lines as close to the island in the middle of the dam as possible, but when I tested the water depth with my waders I found it unnecessary. After having walked into the dam for what I guessed to be a hundred metres the water was only waist deep, thus rendering the inflatable rather pointless. Instead I mixed my cooked particles with plain bomb and fashioned it around my lead. On the micro-swivel-drop-off safety rig I used plain tigernuts soaked in banana concentrate. I then simply walked in as far as my fitness would allow and with a gentle cast, I was close enough to the island. I did exactly the same with my other two rods.

The wait was long and the weather grew ominous, but slightly after two that night Rozaan kicked me off the significantly deflated bed with “The alarm – go look! I ran out, heart pounding, only to find the right hand rod’s alarm quiet, but illuminated. The fish were mocking me. But as I turned my back on the pod, the middle alarm sounded the start of an epic fight. For some reason this carp knew the exact position of every possible snag in the dam and it kept me on my toes for half an hour in the freezing water before accepting defeat. The result: a precious 8,1kg Mirror Carp! Due to it being dark I kept the beautiful beast in a special carp sack until morning, so that I could capture it in all its splendour. I think my wife wondered for a few seconds whether I would choose her as my valentine or the fish!

I wish I could have stayed at the dam for a couple more days, because monsters up to 17kg have been landed there. I might have only caught one fish, but I was over the moon with my overnight result. I whole heartedly recommend Cathcartdrift to all specimen anglers. Another bonus is that Cathcart is also a bird sanctuary where bird lovers can take beautiful photos of various bird species and enjoy the picturesque mountain views.

The day fee is only R50 per person at the moment, which is amazingly affordable considering the wondrous fishing experience one can have at the venue.

*For more information and directions call Hannes: 082 896 8988

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