Bronkhorstspruit Dam lies toward the East of Pretoria if you take the N4 toll road out. Then past Bronhorstspruit town itself and turn right. The dam itself can not be seen until you turn left at the Delmas sign and drive further off, away from the town.
Depending on how heavy you pack your mule, I would say it's just over an hour's drive from Pretoria and a little longer from Johannesburg. Taking into consideration the 2 compulsory stops at the toll gates as well, coming from Pretoria.
Better know for its activities ON the water, this dam however boasts a bank well into the kilometers. With ample space for angler and boat enthusiast alike, it is up to you to decide whether the waves created by all the floating devices is an annoyance to you or not. While some dam Entries does not allow Motorized Boats through their gates, this policy becomes rather redundant since others do, enabling them to get very close to you from a surface point of view. Having said that, the officials around this dam, regardless of your entry point are rather adamant involving regulations ON the dam. No boats are allowed without the proper safety equipment and even canoes are governed with the required life jackets. So don't forget yours if you are planning to row in your bait.
Anyone that knows Bronkies as it is known to everyone, will know about the water grass that has always been there as far as we can remember. Predominantly around most of the bank, I doubt if it has that much of an effect for the boats flying pass the middle"ish" of the dam. While on any given weekend you will always see a few anglers busy in the water trying their best to clear a section in front of them, it doesn't seem to make much of a difference.
As Rohann Swart is demonstrating here, this particular water grass was 3-4m long.
I have recently seen people with a very clever idea where they tie a rope to an anchor and dump this into the water, then pull out heaps of these unwelcome water grass. The immediate problem I had with this was the weight of the anchor limits the person to the distance and depth of the waterfront to a large extent. This is where a distant relative gave me the best tip.
Instead of dropping an anchor, rather build yourself a round-tip grappling hook as this could be chucked into the water as far as you can( and not as far as you think you can), thus reaching those grass where the water is deeper than where you can stand.
Note: The average fishing spot at Bronkies does get gradually deeper, quicker than you would expect than the average fishing spots at your regular dams.
This is a brilliant idea, especially if this is done on the same fishing spots every weekend. Not only will this create a decent channel to land fish, pulling out most of the grass with its roots will probably prolong their effect by at least a day...or so..
What might be a pain in the neck to most bank anglers, this grass however does hold somewhat important news on the other side of this coin.
While water grass might be one of the bank angler's worst nightmares, it is one of the most favored hiding places for a new resident to the Bronkies fishing water.
You guessed it! The Largemouth Bass (Micropterus Salmoides) somehow made its way into Bronkies and by the looks of it, is absolutely loving this grass.
I tried to find out when and why this happened but none of the officials I have met seemed to know how this happened although they are proud to announce this fish's presence.
While this was supposed to raise a huge concern as to the impact this predatory fish might have in Bronkies water, we should rather look at what is left in those water to feel any effects of an impact. There would be absolutely no use to test your cattle-dong cane, if you don't have anyone to hit it with. And this is what happened at Bronkies some time ago already.
We all know there used to be Yellowfish in Bronkies some years ago, but since this species has completely disappeared from Bronkies, I'll put my money on the Bass for any future introduction fights although I doubt if Yellows will ever be reintroduced there.
I did however make some progress on the question of how these LM Bass found its way into Bronkies and this is what I've found out:
One of the many different views around Bronkies
There are a few rivers mentioned around Bronkies like Bronkhorstspruit, Os, Elands Catchment, Wilge, Limpopo etc. While a lot of people love the idea of Largemouth Bass in their private dams, these people can not guarantee the containment within its perimeters no matter what or who the influence. And in this case it was a who. While some people stocked these fish in their dams, it was introduced into the passing rivers by a person, where this fish over time made its way all the way along this river, and into Bronkies. Now I believe this person to have done this 4 or 5 years ago, thus should have been around say, 2005.
While the size of the average Bass caught in Bronkies might be on the lighter side of this joke, I don't think this was the only time this "introduction" occurred. I might just have been the final push to get these fish going, and yes, they are doing well, and the Largemouth Bass I personally inspected were all in a very good and healthy condition.
So why do I still feel this wasn't the first introduction of Bass into Bronkies? Simple, just go and chat to a few regulars around the dam! Just make sure you chat to the right people. Everyone knows someone that can not keep a secret and for this reason we will always know or find out when something good or odd has happened. These very same people knew about the fish or rather the size of the Bass that has been caught over the years, all over the entire dam and for one, these sizes do not match, as the fish are far too big concerning the time period in which they needed to grow into these large fish we see from time to time.
Both banks in this photo are from the same side as the bank curves and twists for a few kilometres
So is it a good thing that there's Bass in Bronkies? I would put my head on a block and say yes. Since I'm 99% convinced that no government or local offices wouldn't do anything to improve the water quality other than when it turns into running poison in the next 50 years or so, let alone the possibility of re-introducing Yellowfish to those water, we might just as well do with what we have, and therefore welcome any fish that might vary the usual Carp run on a weekend out. Take a look at those tiny brown water leeches that now seem to be everywhere and then think of the first day you saw them in Bronkies for the first time, if you don't believe me.
Come to think of it, when last did any of us see any Tilapia species, other than the Kerriebek (Chetia Flaviventris)?
With most dams in vicinity of the overcrowded city areas, Bronkies too will always be over fished. Still we don't seem to give a rat's (donkey) about the future generation of anglers that might want to visit this dam. Why are we still not releasing the fish we caught? This is most true at Bronkies as everyone always seem to remember that person who asked you for a fish that time when you...yeah whatever. You're just too glad you caught something and now you want to hold onto it like a spoiled child.
Round of "snotklaps" to anyone that takes any fish out of Bronkies!
Being on the subject of overfishing, most anglers going to Bronkies, go there for the Carp fishing. Now Carp can't be over fished, right? WRONG! Stop taking out the Carp, and you'll automatically stop complaining about your awful trip because you only managed to catch one or two of them!
Interesting view of the houses on the other side of that bank. Wonder if they ever fish?
It looks like (well at least it does for me) the colors on a Bronkies Carp tend to be of a darker shade than your average carp. While the Dorsal part of the Carp - the top part from the head towards the tail - is a darker gray to black while the sides above the lateral line appears almost brownish green. Only from the lateral line towards the caudal area (the donkey part again) does the significant carp colors look its normal yellow to cream belly. The Orange coloration in the fin does as always differ from fish to fish.
Now we know the water quality may have an effect, it will most definitely also depend on the diet of the fish and the type of bottom the dam might have. One thing a photograph will probably never capture it the color WE see on the fish, the second we pull it from the water surface. That golden brown scales or the smooth silver section just above the pelvic area always seem to blend in with the rest of the fish in a picture. While we recently upgraded to a higher quality camera we still couldn't get the Bronkies Carp to look exactly like the fish we pulled out of the dam. Maybe it's God's way of telling you to go see for yourself or at least to get you back there whenever you have forgotten what a Bronkies Carp looks like.
Bait at Bronkies:
Everyone will tell you that the number one bait in Bronkies is Banana flavored dips. From Floaties, to Pap to Flour dough or Degie. Yellow Banana dip on everything, if you want to catch carp. And rightly so, Banana dips seem to work well. But what to use when it doesn't work on that day?.Two of my personal favorites that gave me some action was Aniseed and Almond dips. And if the wind picks up, you can always try old trustworthy Garlic dip. Eucalyptus worked well for me too.
C. Bezuidenhout with one of the dark colored Carp I mentioned.
What I did find peculiar at Bronkies was how many fish came out on odd or unusual dips. Dips with strong and strange flavors! Could this be that the Carp are so fed up with our usual bait that even they are "dying" to try something new off the menu?
I was certain that this was what my neighbor tried to prove one weekend. Or maybe he was just stating the old saying "drink like a fish" in other ways than saying it. Who knew fish could be into the finer things in life or in this case the bottled things? Almost all of his carp that weekend was caught on his one rod and that was the rod with the Rum dipped bait. Ha, imagine that!
Seems like Carp know the captain too!
While it was dead funny to me, he couldn't see why I found it so strange and told me that he's been catching them for years on either Rum or Whiskey. Hmm, wonder if he takes ice with his whiskey and water? Maybe I'll swap the Mealie-bomb for two ice cubes on a hair rig and see what happens.
Why does this now remind me of an old folk song? How does it go again...
Back to the issue, Carp in Bronkies has been fooled on "Hard Wood" dips for quite some years now and apparently is always a must have for that water.
Accompanying Banana are those fruit type baits in softer flavors, but as I mentioned Bronkies is one dam you can actually try that funny smelling dip in your box that you can't exactly remember why you bought it in the first place.This is definitely one of those dams to use or at least try it.
Nothing new here and no surprise. When does it ever change with Barbel? Your normal rigs and baits apply for this dam. You still get the odd pick up from baiting a worm that was meant for Carp, but targeting Barbel, the bait goes without saying the normal Barbel bait.. Frogs, Garden worms or Staal wurms, Kariba worms work , but rather go for bigger. Small fish, fish heads, chicken livers and of course the preferred bait, Platanas and Crabs.
While the law might be a little gray"ish" around Platanas, and scare off the regular user, I don't know of any law involving crabs, yet.
Probably the biggest tip I can give you for Barbel in Bronkies and surrounding dams is the following:
While we all know Barbel absolutely love chunks of freshly cut crab meat, there's an easier way to bait crab. First you pull off or cut off all its legs and bash the shell a bit, either with a rock or whatever you might find handy. Secondly use a slightly bigger hook than normal. I'd suggest from size 4 (minimum) and up. Next you must locate the bottom part of the shell where the back legs was before. Now hook your size 2 or whichever size hook you use through that hole into the fleshy part and back. You'll find that the hook is tightly secured when done this way.
Don't use any sinkers as the whole crab shell has enough weight to ensure it is sufficiently cast deep, especially since we know how difficult it can be to pull fish from the infamous Bronkies water grass.
Bashing in the shell gives off that awful smell which Barbel seem to smell from miles away. Having no sinker at the end of the line means since you only fish with the one hook and this hook is now in the Barbel's mouth means the only thing you have to worry about is to guide your catch through your cleared section and somehow try and keep it off the bottom.
In Bronkies this is still a challenge so good luck with that.
Ansie Duvenhage caught this Largemouth Bass inbetween those thick water grass
Let's now for argument's sake agree that this is a fairly new fish to this water. This means that there would only be a few people that might know of any pattern or whichever kind of bait that might work better than others.
What we did see was everyone seem to be fishing with soft baits or tube baits. Nobody seemed to use any spinner of crank baits. I figured it had something to do with the color or preferred choice by the Bass on those days, but was told that nobody even thought of casting their Rapalas since it is guaranteed you will get stuck or lose it within your first 3 casts.
Those only gets used if you're on a boat or are wealthy enough not to consider them far overpriced.
While the water grass provided excellent cover for specifically Largemouth Bass, catching it is a whole different story. While I won't say I'm not a Bass fisherman, I might not be as keen to catch them as some of the people I met along the bank.
That doesn't mean I didn't try at least. As soon as my neighbor pulled the first Bass out from the grass, I joined him with the Fly rod. Only with the 10th or so cast did it occur to me that should I actually manage to get a Bass on the line, how on earth am I going to land it through all this grass on a Fly Rod? That was the end of it and common sense went to put back the rod, not me. I wanted to fish.
Thus for the Fly fishermen, I'm sure it can be done at Bronkies, I would be very peculiar as to where I would cast my flies there., for the same reason people don't use Rapala inside the grassy areas, it's just too expensive if you need to replace them. One might still be acceptable, but any total more than one, might give the whole trip a sudden foul empty wallet-y taste.
Again the bait for Bass is up to the fisherman that day, but from what I saw the last time we were there, everyone seemed to use worms and flukes mostly.
Remember odd bait? Seems like odd people too at Bronkiesl
From Watermelon galore, Chartreuse to Junebug and some even used plain white worms that seemed to be the weapon of choice for most of them. I did however take notes and discovered that most Bass for that specific day was caught with a combination of black and red or green and red colors. Most of the lures were either plain worms or curly tails, super flukes and lizards. I didn't see anyone use toads, ringers or hogs. I did however discover quite a few lures stuck in my section of the grass I pulled out and handed it all to my neighbor who gladly accepted it.
So yes, there does seem to be a pattern already even if it is mostly determined by the obstacle in Bronkies, namely the water grass.
Should you want to let us in on your newly discovered secret, please feel free to mail us. We would love to share this info with our readers.
I managed to speak to a few people around Bronkies, employees and visitors alike, about this water grass issue, and was received with mixed opinions.
The debate I was looking for was their opinion concerning the introduction of Grass Carp as a possible solution for the ever-growing water grass. While I was met by some with total agreement, this was mostly the bank anglers that felt the same way as me. However quite a few of the other anglers felt that it might not be such a good idea since it in turn may be destroying the very grass which hold these Bass in their numbers, that they now have grown to love, chase and admire.
Someone even told me that they don't share my enthusiasm since they feel the Grass Carp or White Amur as it is better known as, releases far too much nitrates back into the water due to its super fast digestive system. While we could not agree on this matter I must admit that it's nice when people do take the time to study not only the solution to a problem but also the impact it might have, although I kind of suspect this person to have an alterior motive to his claims since it's no secret that this "regular" at Bronkies are very fond of the Largemouth Bass in the Dam. While he might be right or wrong, I still think a few Triploid species might do the trick, and since Triploid species can't reproduce, as soon as the officials feel these fish have done their part, these fish get taken out, and problem solved!
While this person raised a valid issue, let me explain his side a little better too. Ctenopharyndogon Idella or Grass Carp is an Asian, Siberian river fish from the Amur river that can easily eat its own weight in aquatic plants, up to three times its body weight , each and every day. So I understand why this might raise an eyebrow or two.
But let's look at the comparison with other dams and these fish. The Vaal dam seem to carry these fish year by year and somehow we never see any big specimens being caught. Yet we catch these Amur on a regular basis. Now compare this fish and habitat with Bronkies and it would be agreed that Bronkies has far more water grass per cubic water compared to the Vaal Dam.
The local terror in town, unphased by a passing car.
Speaking to the management of some of the surrounding establishments, I got the feeling that this might sound like too much paperwork or actual work and did not get the response I was hoping for. One management figure did however seem interested and even mentioned that this was the first he had heard of, and if he finds that this White Amur might be the problem solver at his resort, he would definitely look into this. We are sharing numbers now.
I don't claim to know even 1% of the answers or the issues with every dam, but I do know that if it was up to me, I would have had Grass Carp in Bronkies years ago. Not only will this make 90% of all the visitors happy, this issue and the level thereof CAN be controlled. It's been done and proven in a number of dams all over the world thus isn't anything new.
Let's give it a go. I don't think for one second that the White Amur can finish off the water grass at Bronkies that quickly anyway, since we're talking about a LOT of grass here.
Ask any angler.
Satellite view of Bronkhorstspruit dam. Courtesy of Google Earth.
Fishing Venues around Bronkhorstspruit Dam: