Sterkfontein bass: friend or foe?

2011-03-19 00:00

STERKFONTEIN Dam was our latest conquest. We made a pre-fishing trip to this first time destination to prepare for the BETT event to be held there at the end of March.

The dam situated at the top of the Drakensberg escarpment, basically on the border between the Free State and Kwa-Zulu Natal, is about 20 kilometres long and six kilometres wide at the widest point making it the largest dam within our circuit. Sterkfontein has never been known as a bass venue, but rather as a Mecca for our indigenous fish species. Within the last decade or so, some unknown bass anglers released the first few bass into Sterkfontein with controversial results. The Bass anglers are not surprisingly welcoming the willpower of the establishing bass, whereas the anglers who target the indigenous species are understandably concerned that the bass will severely threaten the future of the endemic species. I personally feel that although the bass have definitely established themselves, they will not be of extreme concern as the cold to temperate climate they endure at Sterkfontein will not allow for rapid growth when compared to other climates. Another indicating factor we noticed was that only very select parts of the dam offer the factors that support the bass population which will result in the carrying capacity of these areas being reached rather quickly. This will once again slow the growth and reproductive rate of the bass. We fished for three days and of the few dozen fish we landed, not one of these exceeded the kilogram mark, indicating once again that the fish are surviving but definitely not flourishing. Most of the anglers who fished with us reported very similar findings.

Sterkfontein Dam is also renowned for its stellar Yellowfish population which we took the time to sample.





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