“SABAA Junior Nationals – Vaal River 2018”
Vaal River 2018
Arrival day saw entrants completing their registrations and taking part in the ritual initiations with slop parades and taking a dunk in a rather chilly river followed by the obligatory welcome dinner and skippers briefing – John Badenhorst
Arrival day saw entrants completing their registrations and taking part in the ritual initiations with slop parades and taking a dunk in a rather chilly river followed by the obligatory welcome dinner and skippers briefing.
Practice day on the Vaal for the 2018 Junior Nationals started off on Friday with thick mist and a delayed start of almost two hours. Brown water with a temp of 23ºC greeted anglers on that first morning. Excitement and expectations were high as some anglers as young as ten were competing to be the next Junior Protea Team and with only thirteen slots to fill, the pressure was on. Unbeknownst to organizers and anglers, Vaal Dam management had opened eight sub-surface valves on the dam wall resulting in water that sits deep and is much colder to flow into the river system. Although the overall water levels on the river dropped over 3ft during three days, the influx of water released through the valves and not the sluices as normal saw an overall water temperature drop of almost five degrees in a matter of eight hours.
Anglers quickly figured out patterns on practice day but due to the sudden drop in temperature, this
changed dramatically. Day one of the tournament saw yet another delayed start due to mist sitting on the water making visibility a serious hazard.
Once it was safe, anglers roared off to their respective spots that worked the previous day in practice.
On day one, over forty percent of anglers blanked while a few managed one single fish with two anglers getting two, one youngster getting three, another angler getting four and only three anglers out of the entire field managing a five fish limit. A tough day on the water indeed.
On day two and the final day, anglers got the all clear to launch with an incredible sunrise greeting eager competitors who were keen to make up for lost opportunities from the day before.
The water level had dropped even more overnight and this would once again prove to make an already tough tournament even harder.
Two of the anglers that pulled a five fish limit from the previous day headed straight to their secret spot only to have their hopes dashed as their spot from the previous day had become a crime scene. So, it was off to another spot in the hopes of reaching the same results as the day before.
The day dragged on for these anglers and at 4pm all tags were on the board.
During the final weigh-in, it was apparent that things on this river can humble anyone.
Anglers that on the previous day had blanked, now managed to at least get one fish and no one managed a five fish limit on the second and final day.
Some anglers that got one fish the previous day, once again managed one while for others; it was time to draw a total blank.
During prize giving, the new Junior Protea National team was announced:
Biggest fish for the two day tournament came from ten year old Dian Coxen with a stunning 2.68kg fish caught on S-Bend using a Stretch 40.
Many youngsters head back to their homes with broken dreams and a determination to come back next year and get the green blazer while others go home tired, yet happy with their efforts.
A huge thanks must be given to the organizers, parents and of course the skippers who not only give their time freely to host these future legendary anglers but who, through their efforts ensure that the sport of bass fishing stays alive and keeps growing.