Before I start this report back I would first like to express my gratitude to all the organisers, skippers, anglers, sponsors, photographers, managers, and anybody else who made the SABAA Junior Nationals 2017 an event that I will cherish for the rest of my life. The past few years of Junior fishing have been great and I'm excited to fish 2 more  Nationals. After finishing 14th at Arabie (200g from Protea) and missing Albert falls I was excited to perform well at this one.

I almost missed Nationals

All my plans were set. I would go to school on Friday, go home, get my bags and a good friend of ours would drop me off at one of our manager’s houses from where we would depart to Wriggleswade at 3pm.  There was only one problem - my rodtube could not fit in the car. Luckily we foresaw this problem arising and me and my dad dropped off my rodtube at his place the night before. We had a nice chat with Jacques Aproskie (who manages our team together with Stephan Britz) and was about to leave when Jacques bid us farewell saying: "See you in 7 hours bud." 7 hours? 

Long story short. At 3am (rather than 3pm) I was back at his house. Exhausted - yet still excited.
The drive was long, hot and I had to use the toilet almost all of the way but nevertheless we arrived at Wriggleswade after loads of banter. Wriggleswade is breathtakingly beautiful - and the shower windows have a great view of the dam. Little did I know that something so beautiful can be so frustrating.

That evening we went to a local golf club/bar/restaurant where we had some great steak and chips. I also met Tyrone Schwartz, who would be my skipper later in the competition. He is one of the funniest people I have ever met in my life and I thoroughly enjoyed talking to him throughout the duration of the Nationals.

On our arrival back at the campsite we split up into our individual caravans. I was paired up with Hanro Loots. A really nice guy with the best jokes.  The best way to describe him would be the word "Afrikaans".  We went to bed ready to set up our tackle the next day.

I woke up at around 8am - saw Hanro still sleeping... and went back to bed. When he woke up he showed me his brand new Caenan - which is amazing.

Long story short: I sorted out my tackle, assembled my 4 rods, tied on some baits all whilst playing some lekker tunes on my speaker. With 2 Scimitar's, a Cumara and a Falcon ready. I was excited.

At around 4 we had a team meeting. I was paired up with Angus - a long-time friend who started Juniors the same year as me - for practice day. We each got a map of the dam and had permanent markers that we would mark spots with the next day. We split the dam up into 4 main sections. River, Middle, Bottom (dam wall side), Bottom (Left of launch) where our boats would start the following day. Angus and I were to start at the bottom left. We had a chat as a team before we all went back to our caravans for some final packing and relaxation.

At around 6 or 7pm the opening night started. First the initiation took place. The juniors this year was lucky to escape with only some Amanzi and Nick nacks but nevertheless it was great fun! We had some  really good food (thanks Easterns), went over all the rules and drew our skippers for the next day. Angus and I were on Harry's boat. It was a real joy being on his boat and he opened up our eyes to the birds around us as he is an avid birdwatcher.


I woke up the next morning buzzing with adrenalin. It was only practice day - but it was the start of something big.

Our first spot was Blaine's bay. On our way there our engine cut out due to grass that blocked the airflow. Blaine's bay is filled with the worst type of grass you will ever see in your life. It wraps around everything and sticks to it like there's no tomorrow. We would soon find out most of the dam is like this.

We spent about an hour there and I landed an undersize that held on to my fluke all the way to the boat. Together we decided that it's practically unfishable with all the grass and we moved to "Die Krans".

We both had our mojo rods in hand and got a few bites on anything green pumpkin. As we moved down from Die Krans we soon realized all our bites were on transition zones. I threw an underspin for a while - getting a single bite - before we packed up and went all the way down to the river full of trees and hyacinth.

We got no bites there.

We moved up the dam and the pattern continued wherever we went. Green pumpkin mojo - transition zones. Right up against the bank. We had some added success on Black flukes.

At one stage we smelled petrol and upon opening the back hatch found it covered in a 5cm deep pool of petrol. We gave the weighmasters a call and the extra boat arrived within minutes.

Practice day was stopped for about an hour due to static in the air and some thunder. Nothing else really happened that day.

We had a quick team meeting that was rudely interrupted by the mother of all storms. Lightning was dancing through the sky and everything was drenched. At dinner I met my boat partner - Kayde Brown - and my skipper - Tyrone Schwartz - for day 1. I really enjoyed my day with these 2 and we had a great time.


The morning of the second day I met up with Tyrone and Kayde at Tyrone's boat. Me and Kayde had a coin toss to decide who has the first trolling motor shift. Kayde won and we headed off to the little river section past Blaine's bay. Fish were busting everywhere. Kayde was pitching the trees and I was throwing a white fluke at the busts. Nothing. I tried everything from Senko's to Horny toads on the busting fish. Sometimes working it over the bust. Sometimes dead sticking it where the bust occurred. Frustrating.

The fish stopped busting and we decided to move to Die Krans. There we had no luck at all. Practice day's pattern was dead. Kayde made a move to his spot where we dragged Stretch 40's across a rocky bank. Here we started catching the Wriggleswade specialty - undersize bass. We caught at least 10-15 fish there - with one that barely made it. At least I had one fish in the boat. Another boat had pulled up in front of us and we could see them each boating 2 barely size fish - doing exactly the same thing. How frustrating.

The bite died down and we moved higher up. We hit a few spots before arriving at the windmill. There we saw both Pelsers. Liam and Luke. Kayde picked up one fish while eating a Lunch Bar.
I didn't feel confident and we moved to the Lazarus bank across from launch. I got a few nice bites there in practice. As soon as we arrived I picked up an 800g fish (which is great for this Nationals. Then... nothing.

We moved to the bay right in front of the caravans - the most obvious spot that everyone missed. We worked our flukes fast over the grass mats. BOOM! Kayde was on. Few casts later - BOOM! Kayde was on again. I was starting to get nervous. I only had 2 fish and there was not much time left Kudo's to Kayde that gave me a white fluke at this point. I twitched my fluke and let it drop into a clear patch. My rod almost got hit out of my hand. I struck and a kilogram model turned around and headed into the thickest grass he could find. I kept tension and we drove closer. Off. I've never been so frustrated in my life. I ended the day on 2 fish and Kayde got bag in the last few minutes.

Unfortunately one of his fish was barely undersize and didn't count.


I was paired with Jan-Ernst Brink from the Eastern division. My skipper was Matthew Lentz. What a great guy. I ended up swopping shirts with him as you will see in later report backs.

We started out on Jan's spot. I got a hint from Liam the previous night to put on a little Spanky paddletail. I had 4 Black 4" Afribaits paddletails. I dipped the bottom of the paddletail so it only flashes on the kick (something I like to do) I casted out onto the rocky bank - and got an overwind. I forgot to set my reel the previous night after the hectic weight adjustment. It took me about 2 minutes to get the overwind out. As I reeled up the slack a fish jumped. I tried to hide the surprise on my face. I wasn't complaining. First cast, first fish. How I never realized that this is how slow the fishing was - I have no idea. There are a lot of things I wish I could change in retrospect - but that’s fishing. 6 casts later I got a bite and brought a paddletail without a tail back. 3 left. Unfortunately due to lack of arsenal those were the only paddletails I owned. Jan then picked up a fish. The spot died down and we decided to not hang around too long and rather go hunting bags.

We made a run to Windmill bank. On our way I asked the skipper to stop at Hanro Loots's boat. This is the one thing I love about my division. We always work together on the water. We had a quick chat - exchanged some swim senko's, paddletails etc. He also gave us the tip that would lead to our next fish. Casting a mojo into the grass. Working it out at a moderate pace, then dead sticking just off the grassline. 8 casts in - BANG! Fish on - paddletail gone.

Jan then picked up 2 in quick succession. 2 fish before 9am! I was pumped.
We stuck in that general area for about 1 and a half hours with no more bites (mistake!). I was still feeling confident and I'm sure my dad was as well. He could follow all the action from Zambia with great live scoring on! Thanks a lot.

I would write about the rest of the day in detail. But nothing really happened. The wind picked up and left. Fish were missed. I lost all my paddletails', tails. Frustration kicked in. Heat kicked in. I tried Lazarus, Caravan bay, die Krans, Riprap, Dam wall, Launch. Everything.  Everywhere. Flukes, senkos, mojo, weightless, spinnerbait, stretch 40's, swimsenkos etc.

Sadly I only weighed in 2 fish on day 2 - and I knew that wasn't good enough by far. What a frustrating event.


Prize giving came and the team was announced. Well done to everybody who made it! You fished hard - figured out this tough dam and deserved to be in the team. A special well done must go to Liam and Luke. These 2 guys are the nicest people you will ever meet. Typical farm boys and whenever I am with them I just can't stop laughing. I'm lucky enough to fish with them on quite a regular basis as you will see in my upcoming report backs.

Also a special well done to Nathan Lentz - your brother was worried about you the whole day! I'm sure Rip is a proud dad.

As soon as we headed back to the cabins we had to start packing up. I packed my rods into the tube - put away all my tackle and went to see what the Pelsers' were up to. I never thought watching 2 siblings pack up and fight could be so entertaining. It was now about 12 and I convinced them to take a break and walk down with me to the clubhouse. Upon arrival we found a Natal guy fishing buzz baits of the pier. Immediately we had a plan. Back to camp we went and I started unpacking my rod tube. We put together a spook and a popping frog and went back down.

We didn't catch anything night fishing (story of my nationals) - but we had some great conversations with Todd and Craig. We spoke to Todd about his thoughts on the pattern. He said the key was fishing the deeper grassline slow. If you think you're fishing slow - slow it down.

Thinking back across the days I soon realized this was the truth. A big thank you to Todd and all the Easterns for such a well-run event. The food, service, backpacks, skippers, weigh in, weigh bags, boatpacks etc. was all top notch! I enjoyed this event a lot.

Junior Nationals 2017 was a disappointing event for me. But a big thank you must go to everyone that supported me to this point.

A massive thank you to my parents who have supported me throughout the last few years of fishing. They never doubted me and I can always give them a call after a disappointing day of fishing.

Thanks to Malcom from Ol Bigmouth as well. He supported me from the start and was the one who enrolled me at a club and got me into Juniors way back. 3 of my 4 setups I own were sponsored by Malcolm through the years and he always wanted to chip in and help. I'm very grateful for your roll in my fishing.

Jacques and Stephan - our managers. Thank you guys for doing all the planning, printing maps, organizing divsionals etc. We all appreciate it. Also thanks to Quiver for the amazing kit.

Thanks to Craig Fraser. Who was our manager for my first nationals and still a pivotal figure looking back at my years of Juniors.

Final thanks to all my fellow juniors! It was a great Nationals and could not have been without you.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me over the years. No matter if it was a single tip or a plastic - everything helps.

I've been fishing a lot recently and I have a few nice report backs lined up.