Arabie dam, or otherwise known as Flag Boshielo Dam, is a massive dam on the Olifants River, near Marble Hall in the Limpopo province. It was established in 1987 and therefore is still a relatively young, unknown dam.
Upon visiting the dam last weekend it was clear that this was a recently constructed dam. The Structure that it boasts is incredible. Consisting of forests of sunken trees and shrubs, resembling that of Mteri lodge in Zimbabwe, it tells the story of a vast, recently flooded landscape. This kind of structure provides the ideal cover for both predator and prey fish and thus the dam, at least for some time, must have flourished as a bass paradise, and this is exactly what we went to explore.
Unfortunately the dam’s credentials did not deliver on this occasion and despite almost a full day of beating the water we never got a single bite. As beautiful as the dam seems it is not without its problems. First of all, upon approaching the dam to launch the boat, we noticed thousands of empty aquatic snail shells strewn across the water’s edge, obviously remnants of a recent mass snail kill. This is a major red flag to me indicating that this dam either was (or is) experiencing catastrophic pollution problems, not unlike many other water bodies in and around the Gauteng area. Also, the water seemed extremely dirty. It had a deep, redish-brown, dusty haze to it.
Another red flag was our discovery of a dying Chinese Silver Carp struggling at the water’s edge. It was still alive but the entire length of its body was covered in blemishes, almost as if it was peeling. It was also extremely thin and its scales literally rubbed off in my hands when I pulled it from the water. My best estimate is that this foreign invader probably weighed close to 20kg while still healthy. I had no idea that we even had this species in our water’s, it was a mighty sight to say the least.
Besides the pollution problems potentially affecting the fishing, the water level was also extremely low, one could see the isolated reed beds standing on dry land. These probably hold some good bass when submerged. Complementing the low water levels were the extremely high temperatures and humidity. The air temperature must have been in the high 30’s and we recorded the water temperature at 28 degrees Celsius in some places. Now with blue bird skies, no shady spots on the water, and low water levels, this just translates to extremely pressured fishing conditions no matter what dam you are on.
So in closing I am eager to return to Arabie dam after the rains. We found many spots, potential bass factories, that i’d love to target when and if the conditions come right. Untill then it’s just not worth the two and a half hour drive from Joburg and Renosterkop dam is going to be a closer and more viable option.