There is a rumour that the Rust de Winter dam will be closed to the public for two years.  Considering this possibility, we took the opportunity on Sunday, September the 6th, to enjoy this beautiful spot, right in the middle of the bass spawning.  It is a sad thought that we may possibly miss out on this lovely dam for a two year period, but it is also very exciting to consider how hungry the bass will be after a two year rest, and especially how the bass population would have grown during this time – something to look forward to.


I was very excited to be invited to a fishing day at Rust de Winter sponsored by ESA.   Thursday 3 September; early rise, leave at 05:00, N1 north past Pretoria, Hammanskraal offramp, arrive at 06:20.  As always, the gate staff at Rust de Winter are friendly and professional.  There is very little cell signal around the dam, so remember to arrange your meeting point beforehand if possible.  I meet Gawie (Prokayak) and Jaco (Guesthouse) for the first time.  These guys are real Bass experts and they taught me a lot about Bass fishing in one quick morning’s fishing session.  They fished the same spot one week previously and were rewarded with fifty four Bass throughout the day.  Before I had even untied a strap, Gawie’s dead stick was on – just over a kilogram!  Wow – what action lay ahead for us???


My trusty Hunterski is loaded with three rods, tackle box, trawling motor, some chow and something to drink.  I normally dedicate one rod to trawling and leave a Rapala on that line, but quite often I hardly use this rod, which was especially the case on this occasion.  I only use Penn rods and reels, as they have been tried and tested, and are really well priced these days. 


Plastics are definitely the order of the day in spawning season and the secret was working it slowly.  The bass I caught took flukes and grubs, with the common denominator being watermelon colour.  I have always been a fan of more natural colour baits, and watermelon fits this theory perfectly.  I took one Bass on a silver black fury spinner which was breeched out of the water as the lure made contact, so I am no sure whether the lure made a difference. 


We had made the trip to meet Hannes, who writes for ESA Bass.  He was very keen to target Bass from a kayak which would be a first for him.  Most Bass fishing is traditionally done standing up in a boat or from the shore.  Old habits die hard and it is difficult to change once you are used to fishing like this.  This was obvious when Hannes abandoned the Fluid Synergy after one hour for his trusty Ark inflatable.  As I said, old habits die hard, but the challenge is to master new and improved techniques rather than staying in your comfort zone.


Gawie showed some serious skill in landing several great fish standing up on a Hunter Ski.  Sight fishing the spawning Bass is definitely an advantage this time of the year, but the results of the days fishing said something significantly different: I had caught five bass from a seated position in a Hunter Ski while Gawie had got three from a standing position on the same type craft.  My feeling is that the standing position may give one a feeling of confidence but your knowledge of structure and habits gives you an equal advantage even from the sitting position.  A good fan cast system will find that spawning Bass whether sighted before or not.


These days many anglers “sell out” and wear ESA shirts when fishing.  These were my  thoughts when a fancy bass boat came sneaking around the point where my fancy bass kayak was moored.  But, I suddenly realized, this angler was being filmed and was presenting and producing a TV programme!  “Jeez, you look much taller when you’re on TV, Xavier” was my immediate but (in retrospect) undiplomatic response.  “Xavier is not on the show anymore” was the curt reply.  The ESA politics continues!!!


AS their floating dance arena comes floating right past me, my flukes gets eaten by a solid feeling fish.  Inevitably things start happening all at once.  With the camera on me, the pro shouting orders – “don’t put too much pressure”, the beast Bass gets himself into some water grass, my “supa lite” outfit gives inn and my fifteen minutes of fame turns into thirty seconds of shame.  My ticket to fishing glory, a monster Bass, breaks off and is gone forever.  I should have listened to the pro, as he said afterwards, you can always go in after the fish – especially on a light craft like a Hunter Ski kayak, rather than let it snap off.  I promised myself to be back there after the two years closure to get the blighter that robbed me of my TV celebrity status!  I did however get an opportunity to redeem some of my self esteem: I doubled up with the pro, and this time I landed it! “Woo hoo”.  Keep an eye out on ESA Bass for the KAYAK REVOLUTION!!!