By Andile & Mandla Dladla
Living in the mainland or the hinterlands of South Africa and far away from the coastal cities should not be a hindrance to people addicted to angling as there are countless rivers and dams where one can practice salt water fishing.
The Vaal River as well as the Kliprivier dams are notorious for carp and barbel (better known as cat-fish) and are a paradise for fishermen like the Jackson brothers – Kyle and Justin who love fishing and consider it more as a sport than a pastime.
“It is more about the art and the skill factor involved that makes it such a unique sport,” says Kyle. “Fishing as a sport is also a very good experience of relaxing and you get to enjoy nature away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
“It teaches one a lot about patience because you can spend the whole day without a bite. Everybody has their own way of relaxing and one of our saying is that “a bad day on the dam is better than a good day at the office”. You get to understand this much better once you around a river or dam and basically in the water.”
However, there is an unwritten law, or rather a challenge for fishermen and almost everyone aspires to catch the biggest fish and this is why most continuously keep going at a different fishing spot to become that fisherman!
“The good thing about specimen angling is that it become a personal challenge. One of the terms we use in specimen angling is “personal best.”
“For example if your biggest catch at the moment is 10kg then you would regard it as your personal best. The current South African record known to date is 25kg which everybody is trying to break.”
In Kyle’s opinion, fish is 90 percent luck and 10 percent is what you know or rather your skill and experience.
“We’ve been to dams with top anglers like Krisan Naidoo also known as “Kristhecarpangler” and fishing with such guys is that you get to learn a lot and observe how experienced guys operate.
“The reason why I term this a 90% and 10% comparison is because you get the amateur guys with lots of pure luck that can just catch the biggest fish on a trip or tournament and that’s what makes the sport such fun.”
However, Specimen angling is not only just about aiming for the biggest fish. One of the key thing is to care about the carp. A carp fish takes a very long time to grow and can take one full year to gain one kilogram so you want to make sure that you are able to release it back into the water safely as it can take up to 20 years to gain 20 kilograms and be able to give another angler the opportunity to catch this fish again.
The best time for fishing is in winter even though most people don’t prefer it as the water can get extremely cold in the dams and another reason is that a lot of the bigger fish feed in winter.
In terms of safety and equipment, Jackson says they use a lot of boats but sometimes it is much better to utilize a bait boat which is remote controlled and it is able to drop the bait at the distance you want it to go with just at a press of a button.
Also with using a boat you are required to wear a life jacket in the event that something wrong does happen. There isn’t much to fishing where you can hurt yourself unless you do not know what you are doing.
Fishing is growing fast in South Africa and the brothers believe that the government can do a lot to assist the sport by protecting both the water and fish because you find too much nets in a dam and this should be regulated, abolished or banned.
“You can pull out a 2km net that is killing the fish and people kill them to sell at the local markets. It would be nice to have the government acknowledging the people that are doing well in angling and finding more participants to go to bigger competitions in foreign countries like in the UK.”
There are a lot of fishing clubs that can use the funding to make dams better because there’s work to be put in and feed the fish. All this can help to better and grow the sport.
“We were fortune enough to go to Spain back in 2014 and got to visit the Santiago Bernabeu while Cristiano Ronaldo was still playing for Real Madrid and watched them live was an experience we will take with us forever.
There are a few countries that they have visited for fishing like Thailand and China. Something that Kyle is looking forward to is heading to England later in the year for a specimen fishing trip. We wish them luck.