Jozini Tigers: 28 Dec 2013 – 04 Jan 2014
When I received the invite to fish Jozini from my good friend Tinus I immediately accepted, as all other plans for the period after X-Mas had fallen by the wayside .I am by no means a Tigerfish expert as my experience is limited to two trips to the Zambezi and my very first Tiger was caught illegally from the Jozini dam wall on fly on our return from a salt water trip to Kozi bay way back in 2004.
Tinus fortunately has been on a number of successful and some lesser so trips to this big man made impoundments and he had a very good idea where and how to target these fish.
We were very concerned about the predictions of heavy rain, strong winds and possibility of dirty water as a result. On arrival and whilst setting up our camp site it was apparent that the visibility was very good in the area immediately adjacent to the Camp which is situated about 16km from the inflow area and 4km from the Gorge. Whilst setting up camp we were treated to a rare spectacle of a herd of 50 Elephant grazing on a small point about 30 meters across from a small inlet. This was apparently a rare event and it made me optimistic that we were possibly in for a treat with regard to the fishing as well! The dam treated us to a truly African experience the whole week with giraffe, gazelle, warthog, prolific bird life, crocodiles, hippo’s (we were very careful of these Beasts as they sometimes seemed to be approaching us rapidly which led to frantic attempts to start the motor and beat a hasty retreat!)
The rain let up just enough for us to set up camp before we could go out for a quick throw before darkness closed in and we managed to land about 9 fish in the 800g to 1.2kg range in a short time frame which left us even more optimistic! The next day we visited some shallow areas with scattered grass and we caught a few smallish fish on sliders and Gurglers which was very exciting and some on more traditional Clousers Deep Minnow type flies.
The wind picked up with intermittent rain and we headed for the Gorge where I hooked a 4kg aggressive beauty on a Yellow Tiger Bunny and we caught several other on the rocky points especially where there were patches of aquatic vegetation. The strong wind created nice currents around the rocky points and we tried to target as many as we could all around the dam in the following week with less success than Tinus experienced in May but with enough to make it a worthwhile strategy. Although it rained incessantly every night for three days and the Pongola was flowing strongly and chocolate brown the whole dam was still in a fishable state although some areas were cloudy we actually caught more quality fish in these areas than others. We found it very effective to target the aquatic weed patches with lines with various sink rates and Clousers Deep Minnow type fly patterns. These are the “kitchens” of the Tigers in this dam and they would hang around and in these structures in all sizes.
The weather improved over the following few days and we continued to take a lot of smaller fish up to 1.5 kg’ every day with some days throwing in some nice bonuses with 2kg fish and also a 3kg and a 3.6kg fish for Tinus. We were also bitten off, smashed up and left bleeding on a few occasions. There was very little action on the top water flies but we did try these on occasion. On 01 Jan 2014 after a wise decision not to imbibe in too many alcoholic beverages the previous night, but to rather make it an early day on the water without a hangover, paid off, when I landed a beautiful fish just under 4kg’s but with the dimensions of a 5kg fish. I think this female spawned very recently with resultant poor condition. There was nothing wrong with her spirit and zest and she gave a good account of herself and I could not have asked for any better start to the 2014 fishing season!
By the way I also used my new SAGE METHOD 8wt custom built by Derek Smith to his normal superb standards and I fell in love and also managed to break it with a poorly timed cast with a Clouser on this trip. But what an awesome casting and fishing rod, we had the opportunity to compare it to a number of top of the range competitors and it came out tops in all dimensions in our opinions anyway. I used a fast sinking Airflo Intermediate line with a non stretch core and it was quite effective, there were occasions where we found some feeding fish in very shallow water where a floater would also be effective and also some days the fish were deeper around the aquatic vegetation which were growing in 4-5 meter water and then a fast sinker would save on time in getting the fly down and keeping it in the strike zone longer, so it is wise to have a variety of lines with different sinking rates as well as a floater for this dam. All in all this trip exceeded expectations for this time of year.