Donaldson Bottom Lake South Africa

Back in the 80s this lake was a very popular family holiday resort. In that period, they had stocked the lake with carp. This is definitely one of the few dams that we, as South African carp Anglers, know to hold several carp over 20 kg. Recently the lake record was broken and stands now at good 22.9kg. Therefore, it is quite heavily targeted, and many anglers have caught their personal best from this amazing body of water.

The morning sunrises on this lake are some of the best you will see in South Africa. No wonder it was a popular holiday resort and now an even more popular carp lake.

 I however haven’t had the best of luck at this particular dam, I have blanked a number of times on weekend sessions and during competitions at this venue. It is definitely not the easiest lake but once you find the winning formula and the weather conditions are right you may just have the session of a lifetime!


Near the end of 2019 I decided to do a mid-week session with two friends on this lake.  The week sessions often produce more fish as the line-pressure is considerably lower than at the weekends.

It was deserted. The weather seemed perfect for a successful session and we had the whole lake to ourselves! We took our time in finding the perfect spots to drop our rigs. Based on all these factors I was feeling a lot more confident than all my prior sessions. Armed with bait and rigs that I was confident in; I knew something was bound to happen. And it did! It Didn’t take long before the first carp made its presence, making my bite alarm scream loud in the still of the night. Amazing! The strategy had worked.

Did I find the pieces to the puzzle? Or was it just my lucky night? Not long after this one, when I had just snugged up in my sleeping bag, I had another take! Funny how often this seems to happen when you are when you are not concentrating on the rods anymore but trying to sleep, if like they knew. That night I ended up landing three beautiful commons and which finally brought an end to my streak of blanking.

They weren’t the biggest by any means, but they were very welcome. The ice was broken. Feeling somewhat tired the following morning I decided to take my time packing up and just enjoy my victory and I went home with a big smile on my face.

My next session at the venue took place a month or so later in January 2020, where I had the time to make two full nights of fishing over a weekend. Having caught on my last session, I was eager to carry on the success of the last session and to try out a few new tricks. Confidence was on a high and I had found that confidence in what you do is the key in carp fishing in general.

I was fishing swim that was completely new to me, one that I hadn’t targeted before so my approach would be to fish one rod in the old riverbed and to fish the others rods in the reeds/grass pockets or just in front of the water grass on the other side of the bank. After a very quiet first evening I decided to take something positive out of it…at least I had a good night’s rest. Later that afternoon my right rod took off and I could feel I was into a better fish, heart pounding, excitement building. I had to land this one! After a good fight, she sled into the back of the net. I knew straight away I was on gold. What a beauty.  A perfect bottom lip hook hold and I had landed my biggest fish to date at this lake. A beautiful common of 26lbs. I took some photos before she swum off back to the depths of the lake.

A couple of beers and an awesome South African braai later, the action continued. A long, torpedo common carp raced out to the left of the dam crossing a number of lines. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to get under and over all of the lines from the bank. Houston, we have a problem! So, off we went! My mate and I went into the darkness to try and land what felt like a very nice fish.  After a long struggle with grass and the other lines we landed the fish, weighing in at 28lbs I had bettered my own lake PB in one session, no better said in one night! What a feeling! I was over the moon.

Still not quite the size I was after, but they were getting bigger and my confidence fishing this venue has definitely grown.

I cannot wait to target this venue in winter and early spring where I will be after that illusive forty or maybe, just maybe, one fifty will grace my net. For now I will keep on dreaming until that one day to come later in the year that I can go back and have my shot at the treasures again.


Sean Tucker