Day on the Dragon with Navico's Lucas Steward
2014 Nov 15
Name: Lucas Steward
Lives in: Broken Arrow Oklahoma USA
Occupation: Head of Lowrance Division at NAVICO in Tulsa
Lucas is no stranger to our South African shores, I met Lucas in 2009 when he was out here releasing the new HDS range in Umhlanga at the Gateway Convention Centre. Earlier this year I had the opportunity of going over to the States and spending a week with Lucas and his crew at their head office in Tulsa testing and comparing the various technologies making headlines in the world of sonar today.
When Liz Plotz of Lowrance SA told me that Lucas was on his way to South Africa again, I was very excited as this was an opportunity to spend some one-on-one time with the man himself.
Destination: Yes you guessed it, nestled in the foothills of the Valley of a Thousand Hills and right in my back yard - Inanda Dam, also known as the Dragon Dam because of its shape resembling that of a dragon. Inanda Dam is truly one of Kwa Zulu Natal’s top destinations with nearly 64km of shoreline, more bays than you can shake a stick at, birdlife second to none and really good fishing, with Largemouth Bass being the most targeted species.
Forecast: Partly cloudy with fresh to strong winds later with the possibility of rain
With a forecast like that, most anglers will spend the day in the garage sorting the boat and tackle out for another day. Unfortunately we did not have ‘another day’, so it was all systems go. The morning (04h30) started off beautifully with a crimson sky, hardly a breeze, chirping of birds and the cry of fish eagles.
While having a quick bowl of Wheat-Bix and a cup of coffee I was planning where we could fish without being too harassed by the weather, “Thank goodness the ol’ Dragon has so many bays” I thought to myself.
It was time to hitch the boat and head to the launch.
Shortly before Lucas arrived with Liz, the wind started to pick up, and by the time we had done a quick ‘Hello’ the wind had already started to get quite gusty, so it was time to go! (thanks for the photo Liz)
After a short run we found some protection in Libby’s Bay where Lucas and I did a quick catch-up and then got into the task at hand – Sonar! A few setting adjustments later we were ready to open the rod lockers and see if we could get some fish. Inanda has been fishing really hard lately with the dam level being the lowest it has been in 12 years, and recent reports of good fishing being few and far between. We were certainly not put off by the bad weather and low dam levels, why? We were heavily loaded with Lowrance fishfinders.
The Task: If you don’t see it on the finder, it doesn’t count!
It didn’t take long before we spotted a couple of bass right on the main river ledge in about 24ft of water near some standing timber … (you can see how low the dam is when comparing the actual depth on the finder to the chart depth)
… the proverbial ice was broken with Lucas landing his first Inanda bass.
When we spotted this isolated fish, all the ‘bass bells’ rang and we were convinced that one of was going to pin it.
Lucas was so confident that he even started a count down – “5, 4, 3, 2, 1, ….” …just as we looked at each other with sad faces thinking the opportunity was lost, Lucas’ rod bent as it loaded up with a better fish.
By this time it had cooled down quite a bit and the wind was really getting gusty, even in the protected areas. That didn’t stop Lucas from targeting some standing timber with his ‘go-to’ bait, the jig, at the very popular Sven’s Trees where many an angler’s personal best has been landed.
We wanted to try a few settings in the cleaner water on the dam wall side of the dam, but that meant going through the main body where the wind was really blowing with no protection. This is what we were faced with … (Thanks Jeremy Clacherty for the photo)
In Durban bay we came across this fish that had obviously had a recent ‘encounter’ with a Lowrance owner, and dived for his life. We aptly named this fish the ‘Petrified Bass’, with a good couple of laughs.
After leaving the protection of Durban bay on the south side of the dam, we decided to put the Lowrance finders though the worst part of the dam and see what we could come up with. As we approached Ernie’s Point I explained to Lucas what we were approaching, and the likelihood of fish being near the edge of the rocky drop off. There were no signs of the smaller bass that usually hang around here, just this one large fish all on his own.
Lucas called “Fish On!” and seconds later the fish did a dramatic acrobatic stunt in a failed attempt to shake the lure, and safely made it into the landing net eventually, after a valiant effort to evade capture. Good times!
We decided to call it a day on this high note, and headed to the protection of Msinsi Bay near the launch site where we had a quick bite to eat while summarizing our day on the beautiful ‘Dragon Dam’. Proving that, come sunshine or howling winds, your Lowrance fishfinder will find the fish … the rest is up to you.
A big thank you to Lucas Steward for fitting me into his whirlwind schedule, and spending a day on the dam with me. Best of luck with your endeavors as the new head of the Lowrance division at Navico, Lucas. You are certainly the right man for the task, as your enthusiasm for sonar is nearly as great as your passion for fishing.