By Dylan Richter
Wild waters, a term that often comes up around a camp fire amongst a couple of friends. Whilst we may argue amongst ourselves on which wild water is better than which, at the end of the day just about every angler that has been or even not been to Tzaneen dam will agree that the Tzaneen wild waters is the ultimate wild water venue in South Africa.
Tzaneen dam (also known as Fanie Botha Dam ) is located in Limpopo province just outside Tzaneen and has a rich vegetation and a large variety of wild life. It is a very large dam with quite a few angling spots to choose from of which some are public spots (no costs or facilities) and others can be booked in advance (on Merensky side at the Nature Reserve and other privately owned banks). Under the water lies a sunken forest which is a serious factor to consider when planning your trip.
Preperation is the key word when visiting Tzaneen dam. Camping equipment should be just about perfect as some of the venues at tzaneen dont have much to offer in terms of showers, ablutions, fresh water and electricity. Each angler should ensure that every bit of tackle is suited for what is a very unforgiving venue. Spooling your reels with braid no weaker than 40lb with a leader that is extremely durable, robust and can handle all sorts of punishments is very important. The next step would be to inspect your end tackle. Ensure that u have a quality lead core and hook link that has proven itself a quality product in wild waters. The final step would be choosing the hook that can handle powerful wild carp in any and every scenario. Alarms with a very good indication are also highly recommended. Every second taken getting to your rod is time that fish on the end of the line has used to entangle itself in every natural structure. Tzaneen carp are powerful carp as they have aged in what can be a very hostile environment for fish due to predators of all sorts. Structures and powerful carp are the 2 most obvious reasons that each of the above steps be taken when visiting Tzaneen dam.
Whilst Tzaneen dam has suffered recent droughts and low water levels (Dam wall Maintenance), there are still plenty options for the specimen angler. Before choosing a swim or bank to fish from have a good look for hippos and hippo tracks as these animals roam the banks and water freely. These animals can be life threatening without even trying so be very vigilant and careful. Once you have chosen your swim it is of utter importance to have a fish finder that can pick up finer branches and trees as there is an abundance of these kind of structures submerged just below the surface. Whilst the fish often hold up in these structures it is wise to find a small opening to fish between these branches as it allows for more time when a fish is hooked. The bottom is generally quite hard so looking for swimming routes can prove to be the difference between a great session and a mediocre session. Then finally selecting a depth to target. Generally speaking Tzaneen dam is not a shallow dam and margins and more shallow water structures are good targets at this venue. At the end of the day it is up to the angler to judge at which depths the fish are feeding and hiding out and then give that spot you’re all.
This venue is a particle venue and always has been. Do not over complicate the feed and hook baits you use, do the basics right. Hempseed, tiger nuts and maize are mixed in a ratio of personal preference. Hook baits can be kept plain and play around with different presentations rather than flavours. A Critically balanced bait always seems to be a winner in my experience. Make sure the presentation you choose is suited for the rig you use as a very solid hook up is required amongst all the structures you will have to tussle the fish out of.
Once lines are dropped and you are settled in it is important to keep light going in the evening by means of a fire or lights in you’re camp as it keeps wild animal visitors to a minimal. The hippos tend to go into the surrounding plantations at nightfall but return in early morning hours but, with this being said it is still important to pay attention to you’re surroundings especially if you do decide to go out on the boat after dark.
Tzaneen dam is well worth the effort. Give it your all and Good luck. For the wild areas of the dam there is no bookings necessary – Go Bos!
Nature Reserve is open from 6:00 – 18:00 Daily – No booking number unfortunately