WINTER BASS FISHING AT TANGLEWOOD NATURE ESTATE
~GUEST POST BY: ANDRÉ OLIVIER~
Winter Bass fishing, in the North West Province, is normally an activity that most fishermen will steer clear from. It is much more comfortable staying at home, lying under thick blankets and enjoy freshly made coffee.
Winter Bass fishing in this province normally shuts down once the first cold front moved through the Highveld region. This is usually the sign that it is time to pack away the rods, reels, tackle and retire boat for a couple of months.
But, if you do decide to brave the elements, and Boskop Dam is your venue of choice, you will be rewarded with some of the most awesome sunrises, winter colours, at Tanglewood Nature Estate, Birding and Bass strikes that will make your knees buckle. With the first strike all the sacrifices of getting up in the cold is forgotten. The blood rush you will experience with a Boskop Winter Bass strike is something that words can’t explain. You will know that you have been hit by a prime Boskop specimen. As they say in the classics, “as ‘n Boskop Bass jou vat, vat hy jou nie Nu-Metro toe nie”. The Bass are well stocked up for winter and are as strong as can be. The pre-winter feeding gives these Bass the power and aggression one will expect from a healthy fish.
Arriving at Tanglewood you are made to feel welcome by the staff and with registration made user friendly with all the latest electronic devices, you will be on your way to launch without too much time wasted. Launching at Tanglewood is quite easy as the dam level is normally 100% during winter months. The “jetty” allows for easy access onto boat and without any trouble you are on your way to your “hotspot”. Their idling speed restriction allows for having a cup of coffee and a chat with your buddy and it also gives the water birds chance to get out of your way. One wonders how the water bird’s feet must feel in the sub 15°C water.
So where are the hotspots in Boskop during winter months? Needless to say it is all the outer grass lines and water plant patches situated in 15 to 20 feet of water. The shallower waters are “too cold” and also too clear as the water is crystal clear this time of the year. As the water warms up as the day progresses, one can try the shallower grassy areas but don’t waste too much time in the shallows.
The areas South of the out-of-bounds buoy line are the best to start at and moving down to the dam wall and Tanglewood launch will reward you with some pick-ups. Most of time the pick-up will be hard and fierce but one can have a soft tap and then the spongy feeling type of bite. When you feel this you need to drop the tip and “maak vas”. Hesitation can lead to a missed opportunity to land a “vettie”. Any lure with a big tail action normally works for me. Apply the rule “low and slow” for the best results.
Another popular winter pattern is the drop-shot fished deep and directly next to grass beds or in amongst the water plant patches. Bouncing the lure up and down can lead to a take that will cost you your rod and reel if you don’t hold on tight. The fish grabs the lure and tries to get back into its holding area. When the hook is set the fight is normally direct as it is fished close to the boat.
During Winter months the fish are not known for swimming around in the colder water. Throwing reaction lures is not advisable but can be used in shallower waters. Deep water cranking and deep spinnerbait retrieval can produce some awesome strikes and fights. Your heart will miss a couple of beats if you do see your line racing to the surface for the usual breach by the Bass trying to shake your lure. Expect the worst as they are strong fighters and will not stop fighting until it has dislodged the lure or when netted by your fishing buddy. Doing this will produce a number of strikes and your day will be something to remember and talked about for a while. It will also be a reason for not staying at home the next time you consider winter Bass fishing at Boskop.
A last word or warning, also expect to go home without a bite but the sunrise, winter colours and birding will make up for the ‘’mombakkies’’.
Enjoy, take lots of photos and share with Tanglewood.