Tactics for when the cold has the fish sulking

2011-04-02 00:00

OPTIMISM filled the air this past weekend at Sterkfontein Dam. Being a first-time venue for the KZN BETT series, the anglers were unsure how the dam would handle the pressure of a fully-fledged bass tournament.

“Would the fish be were they were found during pre-fishing?” was the question everyone asked.

The dam’s temperature had dropped by a good few degrees due to the combined impact of two cold fronts and drenching downpours.

I had a plan B for the chill even before we hit the water. I figured most of the active fish in shallow cover would have either moved deeper inside the vegetation if the depth would allow, or pulled off the bank to secondary vegetation lines.

We first headed to our primary, shallow area and picked it apart exactly as we had in practice, but without a bite. Deploying plan B, we then moved to the outside weed edges and loaded up a limit in quick succession.

We had not even fished the area in practice, but the situation was textbook, and the fish had obviously read the same book!

Unfortunately, the larger fish were absent and we spent the day repeating the pattern and culling small fish of a few grams at a time. This gave us a respectable eight place finish and moved us to fifth in the overall standings.

The top anglers at Sterkfontein were Team Bass Devils Rob Lauterbach and Grant Pearson, with a bag weight of 4,37 kg’s. Well done guys.

After the tournament anglers were willing to share tactics. Many commented about similar difficulties we had. The larger fish that most anglers had located in pre-fishing were the first fish to pull out of the shallows.

Many anglers who had successful days had to either slow down dramatically with weightless plastic baits adjacent to deeper weed beds, or were forced to react to bites from the stubborn fish using lipless crankbaits.

Sterkfontein Dam is also renowned for its stellar yellowfish population, which we took the time to sample the day after the tournament.

Tourette Fly-Fishing, a Pietermaritzburg based company were kind enough to lend us expert guides on the subject who helped Garth and I to land some exceptionally overweight yellowfish. If you cast in Sterkfontein for yellowfish with Tourette’s expertise you are dealing yourself a severe handicap.

Weather patterns are vital when it comes to preparing for a tournament or even a social days fishing.

Understanding how the change in conditions will affect the fish and their locations when compared to your last outing will often save you precious hours on the water.

Shallow fish are the first to feel the effects of approaching adversity. A small percentage of the shallow fish will remain, but the majority will normally retreat to the first major depth change or to outside weed-lines should they be present.

My go-to tactic when the fish are sulking during a cold front is to break the rules and fish fast, normally with lipless crankbaits or spinnerbaits. These baits, when fished correctly, do not give the fish time to inspect and decide on their attack, they just react.

Making the fish react is what you want, giving them the time to decide what they want when they are not really in the mood, is what you don’t want.

Aqua Academy Skipper Training would like to remind all skippers to check their C.O.F forms before leaving for the dam.

If you need your registration renewed please contact us on 033 386 7293 or info@aquaacademy.co.za. We can also do the inspections at your home.

So get out on the lake and catch some Bass, and remember to release your catch alive to prolong the sustainability of our resource. E-mail me with reports, pictures and questions at zorthewitt@hotmail.com.

Catch em’ up!

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