44 STRAT­EGY

SA Bass - - Contents - >> Clint Skin­ner

“HBC An­nual Mteri Trip” What words does one use to de­scribe a dam that is just a fish­ing heaven? Mteri in the Zim­babwe Lowveld is still pro­duc­ing bass that any an­gler world­wide would call a tro­phy and yet at the same time is pro­duc­ing fish num­bers that make it the per­fect place to take even the most in­ex­pe­ri­enced an­gler and guar­an­tee them “fish on” – Clint Skin­ner

What words does one use to de­scribe a dam that is just a fish­ing heaven? Mteri in the Zim­babwe Lowveld is still pro­duc­ing bass that any an­gler world­wide would call a tro­phy and yet at the same time is pro­duc­ing fish num­bers that make it the per­fect place to take even the most in­ex­pe­ri­enced an­gler and guar­an­tee them “fish on”

Harare Bass Chap­ter did their an­nual trip to Mteri in Au­gust. The dam was sit­ting at 99.2% but had spilled for the first time in four years in the pre­ced­ing rainy sea­son. Yet again Harare Bass proved their com­mit­ment to ju­nior an­gling with al­most ev­ery boat hav­ing at least one young­ster on board and there is no bet­ter place to learn about bass in Africa than Mteri! The­ses ju­nior an­glers cer­tainly put the se­niors to the sword through­out the tour­na­ment and showed that they are in­deed the fu­ture of An­gling in Zim­babwe. A spe­cial men­tion of thanks to the par­ents and skip­pers for tak­ing the time to take these kids fish­ing.

With the moon hav­ing just been full there was a lot of ex­pec­ta­tion of large fe­males and sadly this was proven to not be the case. While a beau­ti­ful 5.3kg fish was taken by Richard Col­lyer pitch­ing a six inch Senko to a tree in 6ft of wa­ter the av­er­age fish caught over the three days of tour­na­ment fish­ing was in the re­gion of 1kg. But when one con­sid­ers that ev­ery an­gler was catch­ing their limit many times over through­out the day one could hardly com­plain. With the dam be­ing full the bream life was an in­cred­i­ble sight to be­hold. So much so that I ques­tioned why the bass would want to eat any­thing other than live bream! Ev­ery bass that did come out was fat! Lit­tle rugby balls in fact. To the ex­tent that one of the 2lb fish I caught did not make the min­i­mum 300mm length be­cause of his round body. In­ter­est­ing to note was also the fact that the fish had very small mouths in com­par­i­son to their bod­ies… no doubt the sheer vol­ume of fish had caused very quick growth. This meant that smaller than usual baits for Mteri were the way to go and some of the big­ger fish were caught on ju­nior flukes and four

and five inch Senkos. Lighter line also found its place as a re­sult and those that were brave enough to throw 8lb and 10lb line caught more than those throw­ing the heav­ier tackle.

Very few fish were found in the trees, most were gorg­ing on bream in the shal­lows and dead-stick­ing a bait was pro­duc­ing the num­bers lead­ing to hours of fun for most. As the week pro­gressed those that per­sisted in the trees or found things the oth­ers did not in the grass got the big­ger fish, proof that one needs to never stop try­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent.

The grass bite was an in­ter­est­ing one. The bream were mov­ing into the shal­lows and ly­ing on their sides to mouth the stems of the grass as they fed. This of­ten turned the bot­tom sil­ver around you and seemed to be done on que. One se­cond, noth­ing and the next, just bream all around. Long casts with smaller baits ei­ther pro­duced a fish in the first se­cond or one had to leave it on the bot­tom for some time. The thought process be­ing the bass would move in and with the lure be­ing the only thing not swim­ming away would eat it… made for a lot of fun and many an­glers were catch­ing their lim­its within min­utes of the day start­ing.

The bream fish­ing in Mteri can also be in­cred­i­ble. Many a tale to be told of stripped reels from three plus KG bream. Sev­eral were caught dur­ing the tour­na­ment on a swim jig or fluke but it was af­ter the tour­na­ment that some of us found time to throw a num­ber three or four in­line spin­ner at them. More fun could not be had than chas­ing these schools around Palm bay, wait­ing for those fins to break sur­face, putting that cast a few me­tres be­hind the school and then hold­ing tight as one turned the blade. While not get­ting a fish ev­ery cast, the adren­a­line rush when one does hit is just in­cred­i­ble.

Some Harare Bass Chap­ter mem­bers stayed a few ex­tra days af­ter the tour­na­ment and time was spent as­sist­ing the Hippo Wildlife team in re­mov­ing bits of net from trees as well as lift­ing some of the re­cently placed il­le­gal nets in the dam. While there were not many it is sad to see that poach­ing just can­not be stamped out. The Hippo team is re­ally in need of a small boat and out­board as cur­rently they pad­dle out in a ca­noe to lift nets. If any­one out there has the abil­ity to do­nate towards their ef­forts please make con­tact with me on trea­surer@hbc.co.zw

The catered lodges were con­stantly busy with boats on the wa­ter from all around Zim­babwe and many South African boats out. Speak­ing to these South African guys, they had all had a rea­son­ably easy trip up from the bor­der to the dam it­self and while also not find­ing the big fish easy to catch, ev­ery­one was en­joy­ing them­selves and all in­di­cated the trip was worth it. So, if Mteri is not on your bucket list it should be! I for one be­lieve the dam will be fish­ing bet­ter and bet­ter again over the next few years af­ter fill­ing this sea­son so get plan­ning.

Un­til next time, “Fish on Dad”.

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