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The Golden Mirror Carp of Klaserie

Words: Eugene Kruger, MBG Media. Images: MBG Media.

Just below the iconic Blydepoort Canyon on the northern Drakensberg Escarpment runs the Klaserie River which feeds into the Kruger National Park. It was dammed in 1965 to provide a much-needed water reservoir for the surrounding farmers and was named Jan Wassenaar Dam, better known as Klaserie Dam. It is situated inside the Greater Kruger Park area surrounded by private reserves with abundant wildlife, including the predators such as lions.

The Klaserie Specimen lakes – the Klaserie Caravan Park lake in the foreground with the much larger Jan Waserman (Klaserie) Dam behind it.

Before the dam was built a farmer, Louw Roux built himself a private little dam on one of the tributaries of the river where he could one day retire. This little dam was stocked by Lydenburg Fisheries with a few species, including beautiful Mirror Carp apparently descended from Romania which turned this little dam into the breeding ground for some of the most amazing mirrors that South Africa has ever seen. This amazing strain of Mirror Carp made its way downstream into the Jan Wassenaar (Klaserie) Dam and with an abundance of mussels and other natural food sources in the river it took only a few years to produce the SA carp record of 63lb 15oz in 2001.

The author nets another Klaserie carp. Note the jumbo-sized landing net.

Unfortunately in the drought of 2004 the dam ran almost completely dry and reached only 2% which caused the death of most of the big fish although some were rescued and moved to a nearby dam. Fortunately the big mirror strain was kept alive in the small dam, which is now known as Klaserie Caravan Park, while the big mirrors in the Jan Wassenaar (Klaserie) Dam are on the rise again after 15 years.

Klaserie Dam can be a very difficult dam to fish. Some anglers strike it lucky and smash a PB on their first trip. Others spend years in search of that magical Golden Klaserie Mirror, but in the end, once that fish slips in the net it makes the years of searching so well worth the effort!

THE DAM
The Klaserie Dam is around 6 square kilometers in size which makes it a favourite spot for Lowveld anglers, boaters and watersport lovers to enjoy. The main camping area is truly beautiful with its almost island-like feature in the middle of the dam from where anglers can fish from the inside out. Green grass, tall trees and crystal-clear water greets you as you enter the main area. Each swim has been named and most of them have a dedicated braai or built-in braai area and power outlet. There are also chalets that can be booked for anglers who enjoy a bit more luxury. In the middle of the camping area is a clean ablution facility and a small tuck shop for forgotten items such as wood, ice and other day to day goods. Weekends can get quite busy with boats and campers, so to enjoy the tranquility that is synonymous with Klaserie it is best to visit the dam in mid-week or during winter.

Author with a 11,8kg Mirror caught at the Caravan Park lake .
IMAGE: Marco Tetteroo

STRATEGY
Like at all venues finding the fish is top priority. Once you have seen them crashing you will have a good idea of where to set up and almost every swim will spoil you with a beautiful view of the Drakensberg mountains. Most of the swims on the island have steep drop-offs right in front of them. The contour drops from 2m to 4m and then to 9m in a very short distance, probably around the 120m range, then it evens out all the way to the far bank where it picks up again on the other side. Fishing at short range can be very productive at Klaserie as the fish patrol all around the island. On my most recent session there most of the bites came on the 4m plateau (about 50m out) during the day, while at night some success was achieved on the deeper 9m drop-off.

Alex Willers with a typical Klaserie Golden Mirror Carp in the 20 pounder class.

BAIT
A large number of barbel and kurper are also present – in the warm summer months it is therefore advisable to use only freshly cooked tigernuts and hemp as ground feed, with a flavoured tiger as the hookbait. Feeding maize and boilies in summer will leave you frustrated as the barbel can be ruthless at times. In winter you can add more boilies to your approach for those big ladies. A good tigernut hookbait flavoured with sweetcorn or fruity flavours can be deadly. Feed 2 or 3 handfulls around your hookbait dropped over your spot. The sandy bottom makes every drop-off feel like a winner, as long as you place your bait either on top or below a drop-off.

Alex Willers and the author with 20-pounder Klaserie Commons.

* Accommodation Contacts:
Klaserie Dam: Frik 078 273 6915 /  Tersia 072 463 3148.
Klaserie Karavaan Park: 081 758 7293

The Drakensberg Mountains keep a watchful eye on the carp of Klaserie.
When you visit this amazing dam there are a few small things to remember – make sure you relax and enjoy the views – make sure you have complete confidence in your hookbaits, rigs and your drops – and make sure the camera is at hand to capture the incredible sunsets and sunrises and of course the beautiful Golden Klaserie Mirror Carp!
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