Doorndraai Dam

by | Jan 16, 2020 | Public Venues, Venues

By Eugene Kruger 

Tactics Consultants: Sean Tucker & Christopher Pelser

Nestled deep in the valleys of the Waterberg mountains sits a magical dam right in the middel of the Wild Limpopo Bushveld which is home to not only a wide variety of Wildlife but also some giant wild carp. Doorndraai Dam is situated inside the Doorndraai Nature Reserve which is on the Sterk River just outside Mokopane formerly known as Potgietersrus in Limpopo. It was originally built in 1952 to serve as a municipal water reservoir for the surrounding towns. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s there were reports of carp up to 25kg being caught which made it  one of South Africa’s most promising carp fishing destinations. Over the years large numbers of anglers have flocked to Doorndraai dam for a chance of catching one of these monsters. 


The long shape of Doorndraai dam makes this venue quite unique. When water levels are full it’s surface area covers almost 560ha which is huge but in recent times the dam has suffered very low water levels because of ongoing droughts in the area. The low water levels have actually helped some anglers reach certain spots on the opposite bank that were simply too far to fish to in the past. Doorndraai is also very popular amongst the boating and water sports community and can get quite busy over the summer months. All the angling spots are on one side of the dam which faces the hills and mountains on the other side. This provides for beautiful views and sunsets from every swim. There are neat and tidy ablution facilities around the dam, but with the current low water levels, anglers need to set up camp on the water line which is sometimes more than 100m away. This makes going to the bathroom slightly tricky and dangerous, especially at night. 


Doorndraai Dam is known for its long range fishing. Before approaching this venue make sure you have sufficient line capacity on your reels. Distances to cover can vary between 200 and 1000 meters depending on the spot that you’re fishing from. The reason for fishing at these distances is simply to find some form of under water feature. Make sure you are fishing braided mainline when targeting these long range spots to ensure you have good bite indication. Most of the bottom is made up of soft mud, sand and silt that very gradually slopes down all the way to the other side where the old river bed used to be. This is where you will find sudden drop offs, sunken tree features and steep rocky banks which are all areas where the fish seem to hold up. We found fish near the opposite bank in about 8 – 10m depth and its said that the bigger fish reside in the deeper water. Longer hooklinks are essential for fishing over the silty soft bottom and when dropping lines it is advised to swing out your rig so that your balanced hookbait can sit on top of the soft bottom. I can happen that you drag your bait into the soft silt and have a rig out that is not fishing correctly. We had bites throughout the day and night time with the bigger ones coming out in the evenings but at Doorndraai you can expect a monster to arrive at any time. 


Doorndraai dam is in essence like any other wild water venue which means the classic particle combination of Freshly cooked Tigernuts, Mielies and Hemp always does wonders. The dam has large numbers of carp and the key is to not only look for any showing fish but also to find some form of under water feature to target. Once you have found a feature or spot to fish to it is only a matter of time before the alarms start screaming.  There are other nuisance species like barbel, yellowfish and kurper which might affect your bites when fishing boilies or sour particles in the summer months. The mousetrap approach on Doorndraai proved to be more successful than heavy baiting when fishing for a few days. Only a few handfuls of bait over your rig is enough to fluke the Doorndraai carp.

Hookbaits that proved very successful were plain Mielie stringers with red or pink fake maize as a visual component. Flavoured Tigernuts like the Cherry-x and Almond flavoured tigers topped off with a fake maize or small coloured sponge. Balancing your 2 tigernuts with some cork really helps your chances of catching. 


Doorndraai Dam sits in the valley between hills and mountains which makes cell phone reception almost non existent so keep that in mind when going for long sessions. The Dam sits inside the Doorndraai Nature Reserve which means normal Gate opening and closing hours (06h00 – 18h00) apply so make sure you always arrive on time. Bookings can be made beforehand but for the anglers there are no real demarcated spots at the moment (mostly because of the low water levels) so if you have a specific area you’d like to target make sure you arrive in the week if possible. The area is very wild and does have predators and snakes all over so be extra careful when walking around or going to the bathroom at night time. And lastly make sure you have your camera ready for the magical sunsets, amazing wildlife encounters, birdlife and of course the Big Wild African Carp. 

At the time of publish the dam had suffered a tremendous drought season for a few months but after a few rain showers it was sitting on 21% (13 Jan 2020)

For current Dam water levels click here

Bookings: 015 453 0629 or 082 806 2165.

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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