FISHING REPORT -
Doringdraai Dam, Sterkrivier, Limpopo
Date: 9 October 2016
Weather Conditions: Cold front - 40% cloud cover, mild weather, and light wind (sporadic)
Water Level – 54.4%
Water Clarity – Slightly stained
Fishing Conditions – Medium to Challenging
I recently had the pleasure of fishing for bass at Doringdraai Dam, near Sterkrivier, Limpopo Province, with my nephew. In a time of drought, with many Limpopo dams really low, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the dam still had a decent amount of water in it.
Situated within the Doringdraai Nature Reserve, the dam has excellent boat launching, camping and ablution facilities. I did not find the reserve entrance fee too exorbitant either. So all in all, the dam is well worth a visit. With its close proximity to Mokopane/Potgietersrus, Doringdraai attracts quite a large crowd of pleasure boaters during the weekends and holidays but I did not find the boats too disturbing whilst fishing.
During the summer, and with falling dam levels, it is better to concentrate on main-lake areas. The water conditions are more stable and bass do not need to move too far into deeper water as the water level drops. It is always good to study a contour map of the dam when planning a visit. Doringdraai has some really nice drop-offs and the contour lines show an interesting series of ledges where the river channel swings closer to the bank. The steeper side of the dam is rocky with standing timber and brush scattered sporadically along ledges and drop-offs, always a good combination when looking for bass.
My nephew had arrived at the dam a day earlier, just before the cold front arrived. It was hot with sunny skies and gusting winds, but he reported good catches on the top of the ledges in shallower water (7 – 12 foot) on finesse jigs with a craw trailer. By the time I arrived the front had already pulled in and the fish seemed to have moved off into the deeper water and suspended in 20-foot. Fishing was tough. We could see the fish on the finder but they were not keen to bite. The jig only produced a couple of half-hearted taps but no solid hook-ups.
When the bite gets tough and fish reluctant to bite it is always a good plan to start looking for reaction bites. A reaction bite is when you are able to ‘trigger’ a bass into biting your lure even when it is not hungry. Speed up your retrieve, rip it, jerk it and do not be afraid to saturate the area with casts. Fish do not suspend motionless all the time. They will move up and down the ledge, in and out of the cover, or towards and away from structure. You just need to get your lure in the right place, at the right time, and in the bass’s face to trigger him to strike. His impulse to strike at a fast-moving bait will often be too much for him to resist.
A stretch-40 (4-inch grub) on a shaky head jig eventually seemed to do the trick. Slow-reeling with an occasional twitch up off the bottom I managed to entice a few more bites from reluctant bass and put a fish on the boat.