The purpose of this article is to give SACS subscribers more information regarding the private fishing area that can be fished at Tzaneen Dam. Neville Barnard tested this area for us and compiled this article to provide more information about the expectations of carp fishing here and how to land fish safely (as this is our priority at all times). Herewith follows his findings … regards, SACS Director.


As a SACS subscriber, you have the opportunity to fish at some private dams or separate private waters of public dams. One such area is at Tzaneen Dam. SACS has negotiated with one of the farmers there to make use of nearly 4km of private waters. This part is entirely private, as you need to pass through electric fences to gain entry, as well as passing through the owner’s avo and nut plantations and private nature reserve to get to the dam.

There is water and wood available, but there are no ablutions, so you have to take your own porta-potti with. There are also security guards that patrol in the evenings but I suggest you take your own security system, if you have one, as you will mostly be alone next to the water.

Due to the high water levels only certain places are accessible for fishing but there are a few places where they have cut openings for fishing. There will also never be more than 1 to 2 groups of fisherman allowed. This means you can move around, following the fish if necessary, or move your lines around to target the best areas.


Anyone who knows Tzaneen Dam knows that the dam has hippos and this particular area is well known for its wildlife because is a very quiet part of the dam. The hippos come out regularly in the evenings to feed on the fresh grass. Be extremely careful with them and if you have the option, leave them alone or get out of their way. For this reason I would not fish Tzaneen Dam without a boat that has a decent petrol engine.

If the hippos do come too close to your spot in the evenings, shine a bright torch at them as this usually chases them away. Don’t take chances and stay away from the water if they are in the area. There are also various buck that walk around in the reserve and you should not disturb them either.

Fishing Tackle

When it comes to the angling technique for this dam, your tackle needs to be properly set up. Everything must be SUPER STRONG. My tackle is made up of 30lb Power Pro braid mainline. Above that I have a 20m “recovery leader” to get the line back in case you get stuck. This line is between 80 and 150lb. Above that I have 10m of 0.80mm Zippy mono line and then 1.5m of 1mm Zippy mono above that. I tie my safety clip on the line and then my rig.

The line is purposely heavy because the whole dam has cut off tree stumps under the water where you can easily get snagged. I also use very strong and stiff rods because you have to be able to get the carp out of those snags if they swim in there. I would definitely not suggest using mono as a mainline. We are fishing at distances of 700m or more and the bite indication in mono is very low – if you fish near tree stumps at such a distance, you want to know immediately when a fish picks up your bait. My tactic is also to fish with my rod tips as high as possible and also the ratchet on my reel as tight as possible. Just make sure the fish can’t pull your rod in – I tie my pod and rods to the ground with elastic bands and tent pegs.

Any rig will work here but I personally use combination rigs and very strong anti-snag hooks. Just make sure your lead falls off immediately if a fish picks up your bait. I also go and fetch almost all my fish from the boat to stop the fish swimming around too much – there’s just too many tree stumps to take a chance reeling it in the whole way.

This dam is definitely not for a beginner. Go with someone that has been there before or that is knowledgeable about fishing structures. Make sure your tackle is 100%. Don’t think that because it works in your local dam that it will also work at Tzaneen Dam. I would suggest you do not fish the dam unless you have a decent fish finder as well. You need to know exactly where you’ve placed your baits and how far they are from any tree stumps.

All in all Tzaneen remains one of my favourite venues that has some of the strongest carp in the country. It is a very challenging dam but it makes it all the more satisfying if you catch one of it’s beauties.

SACS subscribers are more than welcome to contact me with any questions or more information about this dam on WhatsApp or call 082 743 4574.

Kind regards,

Neville Barnard