A darling of a dam

THE Darlington Dam has to be one of my favourite angling venues.

Formerly known as Lake Mentz, the Darlington is situated on the Sundays River, south of Jansenville near Waterford.

Take the Waterford turnoff onto the gravel and follow the signage.

Along the gravel road it is about 40km to the reserve.

The Darlington Dam is fed by the Orange River scheme via a canal system.

It is clearly marked on the Graaff-Reinet road and is about 180km from Port Elizabeth.

Being part of the Addo Park, there is a gate fee, so be prepared to pay about R200 for a weekend stay.

There are chalets to hire but it is far better to camp out.

When the dam was built, the town of Darlington was flooded due to it being located where the dam wall was to be built.

Eventually the dam was renamed after the town.

During my competitive angling days, I fished there regularly and it was not uncommon to catch more than 100kg in just a single day.

Catfish, also known as barbel, are common here. Carp are also plentiful.

However, the catfish are easier to catch and much more fun on the line.

They are quite good fighters. Strangely, sardine is the choice of bait.

I think this came about from the light tackle boat anglers who, being mostly salt-water anglers, brought this bait to the Darlington.

This is a classic case of experimentation proving there are fruits of endeavour.

Being bottom-feeders, catfish must be targeted with a rig that lies on the bottom.

Remember, there is a lot of mud down there and your bait must not gravitate into that substrate.

A little floatation in your bait helps.

Use a little “lock bait” to attract the fish.

Carp, being the other abundant species, will appeal to the more serious angler.

They are far more delicate feeders and are more easily caught from the bank than off a boat, as in the case with catfish.

The boat must lie absolutely still.

Carp require that the line must be motionless, otherwise they won’t touch the bait.

A variety of baits are used, including “mealie” pips and dips.

A range of rigs are used for carp and there is much literature that covers this highly technical topic.

Most tackle shops sell ready-made rigs and can provide lots of advice – for free.

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