2018 Pres­i­dents Test Lake Mteri, Zim­babwe vs. South Africa vs. Namibia

SA Bass - - Contents - >> Clint Skin­ner

The Zim­babwe man­age­ment team went out on a limb and de­cided to host the 2018 test at Mteri with the idea that the test was about the fish­ing, not about a guar­an­teed win. – Clint Skin­ner

The Zim­babwe man­age­ment team went out on a limb and de­cided to host the 2018 test at Mteri with the idea that the test was about the fish­ing, not about a guar­an­teed win. As it turned out South Africa were the side that found the big­ger fish, thus en­sur­ing they re­tained the tro­phy they had won at Inanda in 2017. The av­er­age bass over the scales over the three days was 1.91kg which is a hefty 4lbs 3oz and might give some in­di­ca­tion as to why Mteri is still re­garded as the top venue in Zim­babwe.

Namibia Bass Angling As­so­ci­a­tion sent a three boat team to com­pete and they were a wel­come ad­di­tion to the tour­na­ment. Hope­fully from 2019 they are able to send a full twelve man team to par­take. They un­der­took a mas­sive three day jour­ney to ar­rive at the venue, sore and tired they may have been but ready to com­pete they were and those bug­gered bod­ies soon for­got the pain when, within min­utes of the start on the first prac­tise day, good fish were al­ready com­ing to the boat or be­ing shaken off so as not to hurt them be­fore the tour­na­ment re­ally got un­der­way.

teams that all trav­elled home heav­ier than they ar­rived. Great food, com­fort­able lodges and in­cred­i­ble ser­vice. To the teams of South Africa and Namibia, well fished and thank you for a great week where fish­ing truly was the win­ner. So how does one pre­pare for a day’s fish­ing at a big fish venue?

En­sure your equip­ment is in the best pos­si­ble con­di­tion, ser­viced reels and line that is not only of the right strength but also free of nicks. Good strong freshly tied knots… none of this “it was fine 2 months ago when I last went fish­ing” take the time to cut and retie. I per­son­ally like us­ing 15lb Tatsu but it is ex­pen­sive and not ev­ery­one is able to jus­tify this cost es­pe­cially if you are not a tour­na­ment angler, so ask your lo­cal shop for a line that has the pulling power as well as the abil­ity to with­stand pun­ish­ment of rocks and trees. En­sure your hooks are strong and sharp En­sure your rods are in good con­di­tion, reel seats are tight and rod guides are free of chips. We spend money to travel but then skimp on a R50 re­place­ment eye that could cost you the big fish you are tar­get­ing.

Sun­glasses, wear the best po­lar­ized sun glasses that you can af­ford. They not only pro­tect your eyes but if sight fish­ing is an op­tion will be worth their weight in gold.

Do some re­search and take along the baits that work but en­sure you take baits you are con­fi­dent throw­ing. No point in throw­ing a jig be­cause the dam is a jig dam if you

have no con­fi­dence in it. It can hap­pen that the jig may be kind to you but your con­fi­dence bait will likely still have done bet­ter.

En­sure ev­ery­thing else you are us­ing is in good con­di­tion, the boat, the net, the bass mo­tor etc. So as­sum­ing the above is now done and you are ready to hit the wa­ter what now? Since we are at Mteri here is how I would go about a day on this dam.

The dam wall is a long 2km of rip rap and has to be fished at some stage. De­pend­ing on the time of the year the bite here varies but good fish can be caught on twitch baits, sur­face baits and both hard and soft sub sur­face baits.

Trees, there are trees through­out the dam, less on the dam wall side and these get thicker and thicker as one pro­gresses to­wards the river. First les­son here, if you do not know the line to take keep the boat off the plane! These are hard­wood Mopani trees and noth­ing would spoil your day more than tak­ing the leg off your boat and be­lieve me, its more likely than you think. Tar­get the trees with your favoured soft plas­tic, jig or hard bait.

Rock, the dam is lit­tered with rock piles. While Google earth can help, find­ing those that are not on the Google map can be key so good side imag­ing equip­ment comes into its own. If you don’t own any then keep an eye out for rocks that do stick out the wa­ter and then check in the area around these. There are of­ten more rocks you won’t be aware of and cast­ing a Carolina rig can of­ten help you find these. Deep div­ing crank baits and twitch baits also have their own place most of the year.

Weed; de­pend­ing on the wa­ter lev­els weed lines and sub­merged grass are key ar­eas. Toss that spook or sur­face frog and get ready to hold on.

Early Au­gust is a favourite time for me at Mteri. I would start the day on a point with some veg­e­ta­tion around and hope­fully a few rocks and trees as well. A large sur­face bait of some sort would be my favoured lure and sel­dom does the early morn­ing go past with­out at least one gi­ant blow­ing up on the bait, hav­ing the skill to boat these hard fight­ing fish might be the is­sue but get­ting the bite is half the fun. I will keep this bait on the deck all day and it will get thrown re­gard­less of weather con­di­tions for a few min­utes ev­ery hour.

My go-to soft plas­tic would be a seven inch Senko although a large fluke or a big tailed bait also have their space here and can be thrown at all the above men­tioned struc­ture be, it shal­low or deep. Weight­less or weighted, they all work at Mteri. So, likely at least three rods rigged with plas­tic.

Hard baits, a medium to deep div­ing crank would al­ways be tied on as well as a spin­ner­bait. Six rods on deck and a few un­der the deck ready to go. Af­ter the early morn­ing start move through the trees from 2ft to the chan­nel in 25ft or so and try find what the fish are do­ing. At times the sur­face is on fire and by 10:00 you have al­ready worked through a few pack­ets of frogs with­out even pick­ing an­other rod up. In this very test one of the boats was hav­ing so much fun they found it hard to leave the jerk bait bite alone but the fish were all 3lbs and one does not win at Mteri with a 3lb av­er­age but in so­cial fish­ing what more can one ask for?

Right now as I write this it is late July, full moon beck­ons and love is in the wa­ter. The fe­males are mov­ing up and with­out a doubt some­one is about to break their per­sonal best on a Mteri gi­ant. Ex­pect ev­ery cast to be that fish be­cause if you are not pre­pared you will lose out when she does bite, these fish are strong. A 4lb feels like an 8lb and a 6lb like a ten. Just re­mem­ber once caught, treat her right. Re­lease as quickly as you can. Sure, get a photo but al­low those fe­males the abil­ity to spawn and keep Mteri pro­duc­ing the fish it is fa­mous for!

This dam is alive with life, var­i­ous bream species with some very good spec­i­mens amongst them mak­ing up more bait fish than you have likely ever seen in a dam. Add that to the craw fish and you un­der­stand why the bass grow as they do.

The bor­der cross­ing is easy, the po­lice po­lite and the fish wait­ing, what are you wait­ing for?

Un­til next time – On Dad

Charl En­gel­brecht net­ting for his part­ner Stephan Britz

Dilesh and Mark; Zim­babwe’s top boat fish­ing the trees

Grant Amm (Zim-cap­tain) and Bruce Cooke shar­ing a joke

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