By Staff Reporter
This year’s Crockango Angling Bonanza produced a dramatic three days of competitive angling at the Kavango river during the Easter
There were lots of fishermen’s tales of the one that got away, the heartbreak over all kind of fish that were never landed and of anglers that waited in vain for a bite that never came.
But out of all these bad luck stories came a story that could only have been penned by Walt Disney himself.
Gabriel Hikerwa, an employee of Van Dyk Petroleum, and the only local boy taking part in the main event, caught a huge tiger fish weighing 5,38kg on the first day of competition.
Fishing alongside his employer Jaco van Dyk, who is also a noted National Off Road Champion, the pair resolved to fish far-east of the venue and after Hikerwa, who is a member of the Crockango Angling Club, caught his tiger fish, the team sped back to the weighing station in the knowledge that they had just landed a potential winner.
For the next two days, the remaining 140 anglers tried their level best to go one better, but it wasn’t to be. Hikerwa’s tiger proved to be the eventual winner and earned him the grand prize of a fishing boat with an 115hp, 4-stroke Yamaha engine to the value of N$150 000, sponsored by Aliboats (Botswana) and Yamaha SA.
This was the first time the coveted prize had ever been won by an angler from the previously disadvantaged community, which is a clear reflection of the growing interest in what was once a predominantly pastime for the upper class.
Hikerwa and his captain Jaco van Dyk also walked away with seventh prize in the overall team competition for a consolation prize of N$3 000 sponsored by Bank Windhoek.
In sixth place was 2007 champions WA2GT, comprising of the Pretorius pair, Gert and Stefan and Fanie van der Westhuizen of Windhoek. They won fishing reels worth N$3 750 sponsored by Solly’s Anglers Corner (South Africa).
Team Crestliner, comprising of Juergen Geiger and girlfriend Monika of Windhoek finished fifth, and won gift vouchers to the value of N$3 750 from Leisureland, of Prosperita in Windhoek.
In fourth place was Nomads, a team from Zimbabwe, with captain Kevin Nicholson catching a very rare Upper Zambezi yellow fish. They won Garmin GPS’s courtesy of Cymot Greensport.
Crestliner and Nomads were also the joint winners of the prize for the most live fish that were later released back into the river.
Botswana’s rookie anglers finished in third place and won decoders and hampers, courtesy of MultiChoice Namibia. They finished just behind Caprivi Houseboats from Katima Mulilo, captained by Francois Haasbroek of Islandview Lodge.
Haasbroek also won the prize for the largest tiger fish (excluding the winning fish) and was the recipient of an air-conditioner sponsored by Gree Air conditioners as well as a Kodak digital camera sponsored by Gerhard Botha Photography. The runners-up received quality Greensport bow tents sponsored by Cymot.
The winners of the team event were Ongombe, which consisted of the Du Plessis siblings Duppie and Dion.
The Rundu natives were the only team in the competition to catch their full quota of fish over the three days. Duppie is also a member of the Namibian Artlure Angling team, and was last year’s winner of the grand prize.
This year, although not a boat winner, he won Engel freezers to the value of almost N$20 000 – again courtesy of Cymot Greensport.
Another individual prizewinner was Andre van Zyl of Oshakati, who caught an 8.6kg catfish. He won a set of barstools from D & I Woodwork as well as a home theatre system, compliments of African Electric.
Isak Grobelaar of Coolsak and Malcolm of Zoom shared the prize for the largest bream. They both caught 2.04kg Nembwes, measuring 48.0cm each. They flipped a coin to decide who got which prize. Isak chose the Motorguide Trolling Motor sponsored by Surf and Turf Boat Services, while Malcolm chose the FinePix digital camera sponsored by Teltron Namibia.
All in all, every angler that participated received a prize for his or her efforts.
Kobus Hermitage of Stywelyne/Tightlines, South Africa’s leading angling magazine, in his address to the audience at the awards ceremony said that this was the largest river competition in Africa, and one of the best organized events he had ever attended.
He warned the organizers to roll up their sleeves, as this particular competition possesses the potential to grow in leaps and bounds in the not too distant future.
Rod Bateman of Aliboats echoed Hermitage’s sentiments and said that it was a great honour to be associated with the event and expressed satisfaction that the first prize (sponsored by his company) was won by a previously disadvantaged angler. He also congratulated the committee for a job well done.
Professor Ben van der Waal of the Ministry of Fisheries said the anglers assist, rather than harm the ecology of the river system, and provide valuable scientific information for the ministry. More than 90% of all fish caught were released back into the river alive and to spawn new generations.
Despite the tough competition that was dominated by the low amount of fish caught, the unseasonable rain on the river and the record number of entries, fishing was the eventual winner.
Sebastian Karupu from the office of the Governor of the Kavango Regional Council applauded all participants and said the annual event always provides the platform for old friends to reunite and form new friendships.
Meanwhile, the club will be celebrating its 10th anniversary of the Crockango Angling Bonanza, next year.