The one that got away

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VIEWS

SA4x4 staffer Anton Willemse and his son ticked one of their bucket-list events earlier this year. Thousands of kays in a 4×4, many days’ fishing… The result? We’re not saying a word.

Words & pictures Anton Willemse Senior & Junior

When Darrell van Zeil from Opposite Lock invited me to join the team at the annual Okavango Bream Classic, I was over the moon. This annual fishing competition in the Okavango Panhandle had been on my bucket list for ages. It combines one of my favourite places (Botswana and the Delta) with one of my favourite hobbies (fishing). However, just because fishing is one of my hobbies doesn’t mean that I know what I’m doing. But it promised to be a great adventure.

Leaving Johannesburg on a cold Wednesday morning in July, we jumped into Darrell’s Hilux, which is rigged to the brim with accessories from Opposite Lock. The three-day trip to Shakawe (which is right in the north-western corner of Botswana) only really started in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana. This is where we met our travel companions and hosts on this trip, Brendon Claassen and Chris Thomson, who are from a local 4×4 outlet, Hi-Range Safari City. We also picked up Chris’s boat, named Jock, which would be our platform for fishing the competition. This 23-foot Outback Aliboat is based on an Alaskan flat-bottom design perfectly suited to the Delta, and fitted with a 150hp Yamaha.

Chris and Brendon had the bigger toys: a Land Cruiser 200 VX wagon towing their Skeeter FX20 − a 20-footer equipped with a huge 250hp Yamaha.

The VX200 with Skeeter; these guys mean business

The VX200 with Skeeter; these guys mean business

THE EVENT

• The Okavango Bream Classic is a yearly event held at Shakawe River Lodge just outside the town of Shakawe on the Okavango Panhandle, that famous 70km section of the Okavango River before it spreads out to become the Delta.
• The competition runs over 2.5 days (this year from 14-18 July) and the aim is to weigh-in five bream on each of the competition days, with the top 10 fish counting towards the team’s total.
• Entry fee is P4000 per boat for a team that consists of three anglers. Permission can be arranged for a fourth angler. The competition started in the early 2000s, and this year it boasted a prize pot of over R300 000.
• Contact the organisers Noel Strugnell (+267 6860891) or Vaughn Strugnell (+267 72168627). Email: okavangobreamclassic@gmail.com
Beautiful Banhine at sunset. Three rivers converge in the sandy plains of park to form a lush delta

Beautiful Banhine at sunset. Three rivers converge in the sandy plains of park to form a lush delta

ESSENTIAL GEAR

• We were lucky to have our Bream Classic fishing gear sponsored by Rapala South Africa, a wholesaler of fishing, scuba, cycling and hunting gear. They are one of the event-sponsors, and pointed us towards tackle that would not only be suitable for bream, but would also withstand a few strikes from tiger, which are plentiful in the river.
• The most important base was the Sahara FL rod-and-reel combination. This reel is incredibly strong and long-lasting for its price, and the FL rod in the combo (R2165) features a very versatile split-grip and fullgrip handle design.
• Rapala also supplies specialities like drop-shot rods based on the strong and lightweight Shimano C4-HM blanks.
• My Sahara FL reel (R1015) was spooled up with 100m of 30lb mono Sufix Low-Vis Green 832 Braid (R545), and the business end was topped with a steel trace.
• We had plenty of lures to choose from, including Blue Foxes, Rapala Floating Magnums, the Rapala Twitching Minnow, and (my favourite,) the Storm Express DBL Blade. I got the most bites on this little lure, and apparently they are deadly for catching bream and tiger alike. Lures range in price from between R55 for the Storm Express to over R200 for the more technicallyengineered Rapalas.
• Part of my kit included a scale for accurate weighing (R705) and a new foldaway landing net (R350). And, of course, a Carp Hunter Tackle Bag in which to carry all this equipment – R1285.
• When it comes to gear, my advice for fishing the Okavango is to speak to your local tackle shop owner, who will have lots to offer and plenty of advice.
• Try the catalogue at www.rapalasa.co.za | Go online at www.fishingstore.co.za
Its a catch! A fish is spread out over the measuring mat with the process being recorded full-time. Fishing is a serious sport.

Its a catch! A fish is spread out over the measuring mat with the process being recorded full-time. Fishing is a serious sport.

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