by | Mar 13, 2021 | Public Venues, Venues

South Africa’s Home of PB’s

On the West Rand of Gauteng sits one of the true original Big Carp fisheries of South Africa, namely Donaldson Dam with its two venues, Bottom Lake and Top Lake (which is a syndicate venue for members only). This review focuses on Bottom Lake which has made headlines time and time again because of its enormous carp and certainly is the perfect place for any Specimen angler to break a PB. The iconic tree line on the far side has become a give away when anglers boast of new personal bests on social media.  In winter 2019 the newest lake record was caught at  22.9kg. The far side reed banks and grass line provide perfect patrol routes for carp where anglers can simply intercept the Donnies monsters as they pass by. 

Sean Tucker with a stunning 20 pounder from Bottom Lake


The dam is situated just past Randfontein on the West Rand and is about the size of 3 or 4 rugby fields. It was stocked during the 1980’s when the one bank used to be a popular family holiday resort. Today its very run down and the remains of the once glorious days can be seen in the ruins around the dam. It has a small wall on the right with slightly deeper water of up to 5m, a big bay in the centre part called “The Bay” and then an inlet section to the left. The facilities are okay and there is a degree of maintenance, but very little. The gate is manned by the government and when there are other anglers around it can be relatively safe – but caution should always be taken. The carp in the dam have grown to very big sizes, due largely to the grass patches that provide great shelter and food for these monsters, and also the large number of bass in the dam that predate on the carp fry and so prevent any risk of over population. 

Early morning sunrise on Donaldson Dam
Check out this epic video of the new Lake record at Donaldson Bottom Lake – video by the Infinite Carper Adriaan van der Merwe


There are  23 swims on the bank with each offering its own unique features to fish. Like at any venue there are certain favourable swims that will definitely get you into the fish and others that are more tricky but also stand a good chance of a fish. We have had some success on the jetty swims – #4 or #5 fishing towards the far side of the bay casting towards the pumphouse and surrounding grass and reed areas. The other area that produces during the spawn time is the inlet reeds section. Pre-booking is essential when you plan a trip and the bookings are almost always full so make sure you book in advance. 

Frandre van der Westhuizen with one of the Big Donnies Commons caught in the margins.
Eugene Kruger with a hard fighting common from the bay.


Particles have worked in the past – but lately the fish seem to have become accustomed to boilies and prefer the more high protein food source over particles. Fishy boilies such as Nikl Gigantica, MTC Krill, Agie Original and Teranator from Tera Tech have produced the big ones for us in the past. But a quality boilie should always do the trick.

When dropping your lines look for the open pockets in the grass and make sure you have a good snag leader to bully the fish out of there. Be ready for a wrestling match once that rod runs because these fish know their safe areas in the grass and then run straight into it. Also be ready to row in certain places because of the thick grass that prevents your motor from doing its job properly. 

Jess had this stunning common from Swim 6


Donaldson Bottom Lake is located very near to an informal settlement that has been the cause of sewage spills in the past. This means that water quality can be very dangerous at times and wearing a wader when entering the water is highly advised. It also means that caution should always be taken when fishing alone and it is advisable to fish with friends and to use motion detectors around your swim for security. The dam has incredible sunrises so make sure to have you camera ready in the mornings for some amazing shots. Swim bookings can only be made via phone or when visiting in person. The bookings are recorded in a book at reception and are needed for reference when  planning your trip to Donnies. 

 *To book at Donaldson Bottom Lake call: 072 293 8464

Eugene Kruger

Eugene Kruger


Passionate and dedicated, Eugene is an avid specimen angler with an insatiable love for the pursuit of carp in the waters. Eugene doesn't just write about specimen angling; he lives and breathes it. His experiences on the water, coupled with an insatiable curiosity, make his insights invaluable to both seasoned anglers and those just dipping their toes into the world of carp fishing.

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