The yearly Region 5 tests between SA and Namibia were about to start and the water was opened for the teams to start their preparations. We also had a change to test the waters and we were keen to do so. Keetmanshoop and surroundings are pretty dry and Naute Dam was also not filled to the brim. The bank is desolite, rocky and dusty.
On the first day we chose a spot to the left of where the seniors would fish, with a beautiful landscape in front of us. I set up and started plumbing to determine depth and decide on distances. It was a bit of a let-down to find that at 70m it is still only about a meter deep. No significant depth changes were found up to 95 meters. Not knowing the dam or what to expect, I fed a few cages on 50m with some chopped worm to see if the muddies would come in. The other rod I hooked a single corn and a cage with a few loose corn kernels in and chucked it at about 90m plus a bit, no line clip.
Fishing the closer spot quite hard, in an attempt to instill some activity, the deeper rod was not worked or changed and after a good 45 minutes, I just saw the tip bending round and the reel started running. As I picked up I could feel it was a good fish and it took some line. A good few minutes later the first Naute Dam carp was in the net – a good quality fish with great growth potential.
Annetjie started off with similar distances on normal bank angling gear and after an hour or so she started getting a few nice carp on the deeper line. They seemed to prefer the single corn and the larger ones took the clean bait without any dips. Her shorter line never got going properly and only one or two fish were caught there.
The shallow line started producing after about two hours of fishing, with a few young carp and then good quality muddies. The deeper line was slower, but quite productive although the landing success was only about 50% due to heavy snags. There were rocks and some small tree stumps that made it quite difficult to get them out.
The Naute Dam is just outside Keetmanshoop about 50km Nothwest in the Karas region of Namibia. It was built between 1970 and 1972 as an irrigation dam and holds 69 million cubic meters of water. It is the third largest dam in Namibia and is situated in the Löwen River, a tributary of the Fish River. It dams quite a rocky river close to the wall and pushes back into the sandy flats, where the big carp and barbel seem to enjoy the warmer shallower waters.
Our destination for day 2, a small secluded bay where the main dam just fingers through between two hills – I christened it “Skeleton Coast” for obvious reasons as can be seen in the intro pic. Annetjie chose the spot next to the reeds with access to the reedbed to the right and the deeper channel right ahead. The pile of rocks to her left did not only claim the skeleton of an Oryx, but also did some serious damage to Annetjie’s hand later in the day when she picked up a big carp stripping meters of her reel and she ran left onto the rocks to keep it out of the reeds. She slipped on the algae-covered rocks and fell onto a very sharp rock edge. The rest of the Sunday afternoon we spent getting her to the doctor and having her hand stitched up again. That was her fishing for the week.
When I profiled the bottom in front of me, I was confronted with a few intricate decisions. To my left (Spot 1), there was a shallow muddy bay with little activity in the morning, but I was sure it would hold fish later. Here I tried something completely new and different – I soaked BTS carp pellets, a high-protein fishy type pellet, which I fed in about 10 large cages into the shallow water and left it for about 3 hours.
Ahead of me, the drop-off to the riverbed was at about 25 meters from where my platform was, dropping from 1,5m down to 3,5m, then further to about 5m deep to my right at about 45m. This was ideal, as I could target the carp in the deeper water (Spot 3), the muddies in the bay on my left (Spot 1) and maybe a mixed bag just on the edge of the drop-off or slightly down (Spot 2). I started by feeding a few large cages with a lot of chopped and whole maize, maybe 10-12 cages, and then put the rod in with a normal cage feeder, long hooklink and single corn on Spot 3. Within the first hour I picked up two nice carp, but only managed to land one, the other being cut of against the sharp rocky edge of the riverbed. I fed Spot 2 with fine feed and chopped worm, just above the drop.
Annetjie also started one rod in the deep section and caught one or two smaller carp there on corn or a large banana floatie. It then went quiet and she changed to worm – two on the hook, applied with the worm needle. Within 15 minutes of her first cast with worm, the reel started singing. A beautiful common of around 6kg landed in the net. This repeated itself several times, but the reeds and the rocks took some heavy tax.
I started fishing spot 2 with worm and after about two hours got the first bite, a nice muddy of around the kilo mark. Two more came to the net and I was happy to get them going. I was fishing my 11ft Sensation Medium feeder rod on 0.30mm Platinum+ right through, with 7lb hooklinks.
The next “muddy” I hit just smoked me onto the clip and the hooklink was broken before I new what happened. The next cast was almost a repeat, but I managed to get the clip out. A few minutes later a nice carp of about 4kg was landed. I decided to just mark the line with a waxpen (on 22m) and not risk the clipped accuracy. The next two hours was just an emotional rollercoaster with adrenaline pumping as the reel just kept screaming and then when it dove into the deep water the disappointment as the line was cut on the sharp rocks time after time. I tried lifting the rod as high as possible and fight it hard from the start, I tried letting them run out for 30 meters and then fighting it softly to get it up – all tricks in the book. Eventually I landed four good fish out of 12 runs.
When I ran out of hooklinks, I decided I had enough of that spot and would go for the slower approach. I put a method feeder with a boilie on the deep line where I fed in the morning and put the rod on the side, with no intention to change it frequently, while I focussed on Spot 1 in the shallow bay for muddies. Here I put the BTS pellets earlier and thought is was possible to pick up a cat or two as well. I started fishing it with worm and straightaway the sizeable muddies came out. Amongst them I also caught a few 2-3kg carp.
I was playing around with the idea of fishing small boilies on the method feeder, and wanted to try out the Zero’s of Fish (A pop-up boilie in 8/10mm and various flavours) and the Jawbreakers of Feedertech (Essentially 6/8 & 10mm Wafters in fairly strong flavours). In the last two hours of the session, which ended abruptly when Annetjie fell and cut her hand badly, I had four runs and landed two fish.
To use the boilies effectively on this rig, it is essential to use a small simple D-rig made by using a #2 or #3 hook, snelled normally and the tag end taken back through a boilie spike or sting, then melted with a lighter to form a small stopper. The hook with the bait is then simply put back into the mould and then the groundbait compressed.
The Jawbreaker wafter just rises a bit and is almost at neutral buoyancy. The orange eucalyptus version performed the best.
The Zero’s are pure pop-ups and lift the hook aggressively, making hooklink length selection critical. This however allows the angler to decide exactly where in the water column to place the bait. The best performing flavours were the garlic and the cinnamon.
A perfect hook-up.