My wife, Michelle, and I recently headed to Dundee to attend her sister’s wedding and I conveniently booked us in at a resort below the Gariep Dam wall for a stop over to break the long trip from the Cape. The fishing was slightly slower if compared to the Richtersveld, but the quality of the smallmouth yellowfish were a few bars up on the scale.
The biggest smallmouth was just short of 9 lb and certainly my best to date. The fish took a large Dive Bomb nymph fished in a foot of fast water. Michelle also had the privilege to experience a big smallmouth run down a rapid, but the fish popped the 3X tippet before we could get a glimpse of its size.
I tried my best streamers for largemouth yellows, but only managed to hook a juvenile fish on the same short-line nymphing technique we used to catch smallmouth yellowfish. This was not the first time I came short with a big largemouth, so I decided to do a bit of homework.
I spoke to my good friend Edward Truter (a.k.a. Edwardsiella – named after a feared, fish-killing bacterium) about these fish and he also commented on his lack of success with them. Both of us came to the conclusion that we were dealing with a fish we knew little about, especially in terms of where they prefer to hang out in the river. This was surprising to me, since Edwardsiella would usually give me a two hour lecture over the phone on ‘how to catch the fin-fish”.
Then Edwardsiella mentioned something very interesting to me. After experiencing the same frustration with largemouths, he also phoned a few people and came up with the following clues: the largemouth yellowfish, although a river predator, chooses to lie in very unorthodox lies where they ambush prey. Exactly the kind of spots we walk past while fishing for them. Areas where you could imagine a big barbel or carp lazing, but not a hunting yellowfish.
My next trip to the Gariep is already booked in my mind, where I will focus on spots “extraordinaire” to catch a big largemouth. Surely, if the conventional guys can catch them on live crabs and fish baits, fly fishermen should be able to lure a 40 lb bucket-mouth to eat a big streamer?