My practices confirmed my initial concerns of how tough Hartebeespoort Dam can be in summer. Added to this, with the dam suddenly reaching full pool, it would make the dam even more challenging to scratch out a limit on both days.
After my first practice, I now discovered that five fish over the whole weekend would be challenging! I believe, that given the sudden rise of the dam, the baitfish population exploded and scattered the bass, making them very difficult to target. Add to that, enough fodder for the bass to gorge themselves on, convincing them to eat your imitation would be even more challenging. Ensuring that the colour and profile of my presentation, to match the fodder, as well as the right areas would be critical for me going into the tournament.
My next practice consisted of trying to determine bait profiles, colour and the areas. This was a painful exercise, but, it had to be done, and I did find three areas where I could coax a bite, albeit a grind to encourage these fish to bite.
Leading up to the tournament, my plan was to start at the zoo walls with a crank. In one of my practices I caught a decent fish off this area that reacted violently to my presentation. Given that fish, it was a no brainer to start there and cover the area with a crank. I was so confident in implementing this plan, that I had six crankbait rods rigged for the tournament.
After the zoo, my plan was to spend to an hour at the yacht club, fishing in approximately 15 to 25ft of water with a drop-shot. After the yacht club, my plan was to then head off to the right hand point before the road bridge, where I had had a bite in practice and discovered an area where I could grind it out for the rest of the day, fishing sloooowly covering depths, cover and structure.
My game plan was done; all I needed to do then was to execute it and capitalise on any bites I may be fortunate enough to get. By the way, my expectation for my performance for the weekend was to scratch out four, maybe five fish and hopefully make it into the top ten.
Friday night I arrived for the registration and captains meeting and had a good catch up with the guys. During the captains meeting, it was announced that the zoo area was out of bounds. This really frustrated me, as I would have liked to have known that information before the practise so that I didn’t waste time working the area out, nor rely upon it as part of my game plan. After calming myself down, I decided that there was nothing I could do and I just had to stick to the rest of my plan and let “the chips fall where they may”.
On the Saturday morning, leaving in tenth position, I drove straight to the yacht club. After an hour or so of trying to convince the fish in the area to bite to no avail, I decided to check out the Kosmos jetties. After half an hour at Kosmos, with not even a touch and the sun starting to make its presence known, I ran to the point near the road bridge. I must say that I was surprised to not see another boat in the area, as a matter of fact; I had the area to myself the whole day.
Upon arriving at the point, I made a cast onto the point into about 5ft of water and dragged my Mojo rigged creature through the debris and rock. I continued to do this for over an hour with not the slightest touch. Not even the bream were attacking my bait. I decided to make a long parallel cast along the point towards the bay. At this stage a steady breeze had picked up and was blowing onto the bank I was fishing. I felt the weight bouncing along the rock, and
Justin de Souza with his fish on Day 2