Is there anything worse than being out on a lake in a foreign land where you’re not catching quality fish with your usual methods? If all else fails, what do you fall back to? As for me, just as recently as two weeks ago in South Africa’s Loskop Dam, it’s got to be SPRO BBZ1 swimbaits. In this short feature, let’s take a look at things purely from my perspective during what was actually the prespawn period of bass in the southern hemisphere.
Southern hemisphere prespawn
For this trip, I’d be relying on six of my most dependable SPRO BBZ1 6” swimbait as my primary weapon for big bass. To me, the rewards when it comes to throwing a swimbait for the day could be amazing and savvy anglers know that, more so during the prespawn period, and it makes no difference where on the planet you bass fish. As the popular saying goes: “bass are bass wherever they live”.
While bass in the northern hemisphere undergo a transition to fall, the prespawn period is just about in full swing for those living in the southern hemisphere. Think of this as a complete reverse of order; when it’s winter up here, it’d be summer down there and vice versa. Other than that and factoring in regional specifics, for instance the differences in forage, the migratory patterns of bass living in large bodies of water anywhere on the planet will more or less be identical over the changing seasons, so to speak.
Tackling big water
Prior to fishing Loskop Dam, the closest thing to big water that I’ve ever come close to was Zhaibei Reservoir in South-eastern China. In fact, by American bass fishing standards that’s just a pond per se.
No wonder I am overwhelmed by the size of Loskop during my first day on the water, because to me it’s like a vast sea out there. And for the first few hours after launch, I was on an ‘unofficial’ crash course just to find my way around.
Though my hosts from SA Bass Magazine of South Africa (Publisher, Hannes Lindeque and Editor, Bennie Weise) knows the fishery through and through, on that occasion the fishing was anything but easy, all because of the unusually low water level, of which had deprived us of the usual nesting spots. Instead, we had to resort to offshore structures that most anglers would simply zoom by on any normal day. Fortunately for us, that wasn’t just any normal day.
Things took a positive turn when conditions at the time left us with clues to a submerged hump in the middle of nowhere. As we pulled near the structure, we found schools of big bass scattered all over the submerged riprap terrain. And with the aid of our ‘Humminbird Side Imaging’ graph, it appears that we may have found an offshore feeding station for big bass and bait fish.
BBZ1 in action
Fortunately, conditions out on the lake were pretty much to our favour. On that occasion, I was fishing a BBZ1 6” ‘Sexy Lavender Shad’ (slow sinking) in mere 3’ of water with dead slow presentation. My plan was to work the bait over the ripraps where we had spotted a school of big bass. I repeated the presentation and got my reward in no less than ten casts. Despite my earlier woes, I was then just a hook-set away from catching my first fish of the day, all thanks of the performance of the BBZ1. An hour later, we had another big bite and this time it was on a BBZ1 6” ‘Roach’ (slow sinking). At more or less the same spot beside the hump, my swimbait ‘bumped’ into something which initially felt like a rock before it came alive. Shortly after, we bagged big bass number two, of which was a massive prespawn male measuring 57cm!
On that occasion, though we had pretty much dialled a pattern with the BBZ1 6” (slow sinking); most of the big fish weren’t hitting on swimbaits with full force. In my opinion, this is the difficult part when it comes to fishing a hard swimbait. Unlike soft swimbaits, fishes that aren’t aggressive tend not to hold on to hard swimbaits for long. One mistimed hook-set, you can more or less kiss the fish good bye.
Primarily due to how it was constructed, that was undoubtedly one of the most challenging yet unforgiving offshore humps I’ve fished to date. Having been built of ripraps and boulders in various shapes and sizes, you can’t simply comb the structure and hope to get a bite with just any lure. Fish to close, you’ll end up getting snagged and in water with visibility of more than 15’, you’d risk spooking the entire school of bass down below if you plunge a lure retriever or hover too close. To get your lure into the strike zone more effectively, you’d first have to work your swimbait pass the hump and let it sink into the drop. This mimics an isolated shad like African baitfish swimming from shallow to deep water. If a big bass sees this, it’s going pounce on it without hesitation and that’s how I caught those two big ones.
High on BBZ1
Boating two big bass in under two hours is a feat which I’ve yet to achieve till that very day in South Africa. For me, I was on a high with the BBZ1. Like most of you, I am a big fan of Bill Siemantel and Butch Brown. To me, their videos on YouTube are simply the stuffs of legends. Though the bass that I’ve caught on this occasion may not be as big as those monsters caught by Siemantel and Brown in California, they have no doubt inspired me to plan a return trip in the very near future.
SPRO BBZ1: The recipe for big bass
Though I am not endorsed by SPRO, the BBZ1 is no doubt one of the most affordable yet dependable hard swimbaits on the market. Performance-wise, it’s by far one of the best multi-jointed swimbait which is versatile and yet durable at the same time. Equipped with sharp Gamakatsu hooks, it fishes straight out of the box. All you got to do is pick the right colour, fish it at the right spot, at the right time and at the right conditions. In my opinion, the slow sinking BBZ1 6” is ideal for medium cadence presentation in moderately windy conditions. In current waters, you can even dead stick the bait and let the motion of the current animate the bait. This technique has worked for me on numerous occasions and I am sure it will too for you in similar conditions.
Lastly, if you ever encounter hard times, knowing that there is big bass and big baitfish around, put down everything you have, rig up that swimbait and commit to it. When the wind is blowing, it is that time to play the swimbait card. If you have caught your limit and looking to upgrade, go with the BBZ1 and catch that kicker fish.
I would like to thank Mr. Bill Siemantel for giving me the opportunity to present to you this short feature about prespawn bass fishing in South Africa with SPRO BBZ1.
About the author
Bertrand Ngim, Ph.D., is freelance writer and international columnist for SA Bass (South Africa) and Rod&Line (Malaysia), and mechanical engineer by profession. He is also a field staff for Sunline and Majorcraft (UK and Ireland) and TCE Sports Daiwa (South East Asia). He has published more than 50 feature length articles in various sport angling magazines in countries such as South Africa, Malaysia, England, France and China.