Method - CATCHING BARBEL - ARTLURE - Bernard Venter - Tight Lines


by artlure field editor Bernard Venter

Bernard Venter is the PRO of the South African Artificial Lure Angling Association and may be contacted via email:

I was privileged to do a shoot for Leisure TV with my son Rudolph at Vaalkop and Roodekopjes Dam recently. Our aim was to catch barbel, carp, blue kurper and silver catfish, commonly known as makriel. The aim of this article is provide information on the method and fishing tackle we used to catch these species.

Vaalkop is a beautiful dam in North-West Province and the shore anglers often make good catches of especially carp and barbel, with blues in between. However, as most readers know, the dam is not open for boat angling because of the problem of game poaching and littering by unscrupulous anglers. The dam is situated in a nature reserve with plenty of game. As members of Eco-Care Trust, part of our mission is to provide the authorities with aquatic monitoring reports. In this instance, we specifically monitored the presence of Nile kurper and possible inbreeding with our blue kurper in the dam.

Evading makriel

We started off by targeting makriel but without success. Vaalkop Dam has very nice specimens of this fish, with a few SA records having been recorded there. Makriel populations have dwindled in this dam over the past years due to water pollution. The best lures for targeting makriel are Effzett spoons and spinners and Sensation mini Rattle Traps. We used silver Toby spoons, which are a very good resemblance of a river sardine (glasie / riviersardyn) or a barb (ghieliemientjie). The spoon is a bit heavier than most other spoons, which gives you a good casting distance and deeper retrieval near the bottom where you usually can expect makriel. Another lure that we have tried is the Sebile Spin Shad. This is a very potent lure for makriel with lots of vibration and a deep retrieving path. We used the Abu Garcia Veracity medium-action spinning rod with an Abu Garcia Cardinal STX 20 reel, loaded with 5,7 kg Berkley NanoFil line.

Exceptional blues

We were fortunate to catch very nice blue kurper during our trip. These fish have become one of the most sought-after species in our dams. However, their numbers are decreasing due to inbreeding with the Nile kurper and unlawful gillnetting in many of the dams where they occur.

We used two methods to catch blue kurper. During our visit many blues were nesting. A 9-weight fly rod is very effective for catching blues on nests or in structure like water grass. We used the Greys XF2 9’ Carnivore fly rod with a Mitchell Avocet III Silver 1000 reel, loaded with 5,7 kg Berkley NanoFil and a 1/16 oz Berkley Power Jig dressed with a Berkley PowerBait Micro Power Wigglerstrailer. The combination worked very well. The 9-weight Greys fly rod is light enough to strike very quickly and has enough backbone to keep blue kurper under control as far as possible.

Catching blues on nests is only meant for anglers with plenty of endurance because you need to entice the blue into biting. Blues on nests are not feeding and will usually only take a lure after much enticement, picking up the lure to remove it from its nest. When this happens, you need to strike immediately while the lure is in the blue’s mouth. The dipping method is used for catching blues on nests. Most blues will swim away when you come within dipping range. However, when you find a blue that will not leave its nest, you should target it. It may take up to 30 minutes or more to entice the blue into taking your lure. The golden rule is to release the fish immediately after you have caught it so that it can return to its nest.

We were also fortunate enough to find blue kurper in huge shoals. We used the casting method to catch them. The same fishing rod, reel and line as for makriel were used to target these blues. Berkley NanoFil is a very strong line with an extremely thin diameter. This is a tremendous benefit when targeting blue kurper because of the long casting distance with a very light lure that you can achieve with this line. You need to cast over the shoal of blues and use a very slow retrieving speed with a very light lure when targeting shoaling blues. Usually, a very light Effzett spinner or very light jighead with a small grub will do the trick. I have used a 1/16 oz Berkley Power Jig loaded with a Berkley PowerBait Micro Power Wigglerstrailer.

The biggest blues weighed just over 2 kg, very fine specimens indeed! Unfortunately, it appears as if some blue kurper are not pure anymore due to inbreeding with the Nile kurper.

Carp and barbel on dipping and casting

Rudolph was able to catch carp and barbel with his Mitchell Privilege Pro 4.3 m dipping rod and an Abu Garcia Revo S reel, loaded with 20 lb Berkley Fireline and carp jighead. Although this rod is not normally used to catch barbel it fared quite well. The carp were feeding on the flats and Rudolph just dipped the jighead in front of the feeding carp. The dipping should be done very softly since a carp is a wary customer and will flee immediately if it hears the splash of a dipping jighead. The barbel were also caught with the dipping method, using barbel jigheads. Some of the barbel were sleeping on the bottom of the shallows and a lure on their whiskers will have one of two reactions: an instant bite or fleeing.

Rudolph lost two huge carp on the Abu Garcia Veracity medium-light action spinning rod with an Abu Garcia Cardinal STX 20 reel on 20 lb Berkley Fireline, which proves that this combination is just a little too light for big fish.

I have used a Blue Marlin calling rod with a Penn Fathom 25, loaded with 100 lb Berkley Whiplash and a barbel jighead to catch a number of barbel with the dipping method. The Penn has a phenomenal dragging system, which is essential for catching barbel. However, I personally think the reel is a bit too big and would rather opt for a smaller reel, like the Abu GarciaAmbassadeur C4.

I have also caught some barbel pitching with an Abu Garcia 7.1 ft Villain medium-heavy action casting rod and an Abu Garcia Orra Winch baitcaster, loaded with 50 lb Berkley Whiplash braid on Lumé Madpumpkin. This is a good combination for barbel. The fish were not extremely aggressive and the casting and pitching method will be much more successful later in the season when the water temperature is higher. The biggest barbel weighed 9 kg and the carp 8 kg. Not too bad!

Now you have read the story, but seeing is believing! Don’t miss the show on Leisure TV in December 2014. Leisure TV will do a whole series on fishing, showcasing several facets of fishing. Indeed something to look forward to!

Extreme Artlure Safaris and Supplies can make your artlure angling dreams come true. Contact Bernard Venter for one-day angling safaris or for artlure fishing tackle you cannot find in your fishing tackle shop – Editor.

The author with a big blue kurper of 2,1 kg.

Rudolph Venter with the biggest carp caught during the event.

Nice barbel caught on a Mitchell Privilege Pro telescopic rod.

Hungry blue kurper caught on a Berkley Gulp Hawg.

The author with a blue kurper caught at Vaalkop Dam.

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