The angler on his motorboat is all by himself. A long-sleeved shirt, long pants, socks, a big hat and sunglasses, plus generous lashings of sunscreen on any bare skin are a must for a largemouth bass angler because he spends hours on the water, completely exposed to the sun. Eleven members of the Namibia Bass Angling Association (NBAA) gathered at Oanob Dam on the weekend of 27 and 28 April 2019 vying to qualify for the international Bass Nation Championship in the United States next year. Only two anglers per country are admitted to compete in this annual tournament. The results of various competitions in previous months are also taken into account.
Accurate throwing, patience, knowing the area and the behaviour of the fish, more patience, the choice of fishing tackle and artificial lures, as well as a little bit of luck all play their part in determining the result. Although it is only one angler per boat at any given time, the mass of fishing rods, lures and hooks seems enough to fit out a whole crew.
The Namibia Bass Angling Association has some 60 members. The only places where they can indulge in their hobbies are Oanob Dam near Rehoboth and Von Bach Dam near Okahandja. Max Pieper, the President of the Namibia Federation for Freshwater Anglers (NFFA), last year qualified for the Bass Nation Championship together with Thinus Williams. He came to Oanob Dam in April to qualify again. According to Pieper, largemouth bass was officially released in the Friedenau, Oanob and Von Bach dams soon after their completion in order to curb the numbers especially of those species of fish which affect the water quality by stirring up the bottom of a lake when foraging for food. Largemouth bass was also introduced to Hardap Dam, albeit unofficially.
Largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) is a freshwater game fish in the sunfish family. Originally from the south of the United States, this species has been introduced to reservoirs all over the world. It feeds on small fish, crustaceans and frogs. Largemouth bass grow to a length of up to one metre and weigh up to 10 kg. The average weight is 5.5 kg with a length of 40 to 60 centimetres. The heaviest largemouth bass caught in a competition in Namibia weighed in at 4.99 kg; it had been landed by Jürgen Geiger. The heaviest bass hooked by a Namibian angler in an official competition weighed 6.43 kg. Max Pieper caught this fish in Mozambique and thus holds the Namibian open record.
During competitions NBAA members use motorboats and artificial lures only. After the official weighing all fish have to be released alive and well. In addition to the qualifying competition for the US tournament and the competition to qualify for the Namibian team, another six competitions are held each year. Furthermore the NBAA arranges competitions for young people and for companies to present this type of sport fishing to the public and kindle an interest.
Namibia is part of the “Region 5” competitions. Namibian bass anglers are expected to participate in these competitions on a regular basis together with Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia, the Kingdom of eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) and South Africa and to take turns in hosting them. This year, however, none of the Namibian bass anglers can afford to compete in Mozambique (N$ 60,000 per person), and for the third time in a row Namibia cannot host the regional competition because due to poor rainfalls the dam levels were or are too low. Nevertheless, the sport attracts many anglers and the NBAA is staunchly supported by the operators of Oanob Dam. Currently (on April 29th, 2019) the level of Oanob Dam, which supplies Rehoboth, is at 50.7 percent; the level of Von Bach Dam, which is critical for Okahandja’s and Windhoek’s water supply, is at 44.1 percent. After the poor rainy season of 2018/19 and with drought conditions continuing, dam levels are bound to drop drastically until the end of the year – that also puts anglers at a disadvantage.
Author: Dirk Heinrich