Bass Fishing is a hugely popular, fast growing, multi-billion dollar sport. Bass are exciting to catch and they fight hard. Large-mouth Bass can grow to over 10kg – though only a couple of fish of that size have been caught in the last century.
Farm girl, Leandri, 24, has been Bass fishing for almost twenty years. Her father began taking her to fish the local dam every Sunday from the age of five – she says she was immediately ‘hooked’. She became good at it, too.
When her Mum and Dad opened a campsite four years ago near the De Hoop Dam in Mpumalanga South Africa – where a lot of the campers were bass fisherman – Leandri heard them telling fireside stories of competitions they had entered, and the tactics they had employed to win. Those tales sparked up an interest in competition Bass fishing and Leandri became determined to compete with the best …and to win in this male-dominated sport. In her first competition she came fifth out of sixty keen anglers.
After finishing her education at North West University Leandri began her teaching career at Laerskool Roossenekal Primary School – first grade – where she has a class of 36 children. She loves her work and gets a lot out of giving the children in her care both an education and emotional support whenever they need it. Life for some of the children can be very tough – but she is determined to give them a great start in life. Last Christmas every child in her care got a teddy (knitted by Leandri’s Mum, Melinda) and a sweet.
South African national, Leandri Language has set her sights on representing her country in a major international Bass fishing event – the biggest competitions take place in the USA. But you can’t just put your name down and enter at this level of the sport – there’s a kind of apprenticeship you have to go through and it takes about three-years just to take part in these competitions. The ‘apprenticeship’ involves working your way up through the ranks of Fishing League Worldwide regional competitions – regularly coming fifth or better to establish your professionalism, and your ability; or you can enter one of the Bass Master Clubs – by invitation only – and after a three-month acceptance period, wait a year and then offer to represent your club in regional competitions.
You will also need your own specailized Bass boat – fitted with a live tank – so that fish can be caught-and-returned. State of the art boats are fitted with a lot of electrics – from silent trolling motors, to sound emitting fish attractors. There’s glass bridge instrumentation for depth sounders, fish finders, and navigational instrumentation …and you’ll need to be able to charge your phone and go-pro. A number of trolling motors run on 36VDC – so the boat’s power storage and recharging systems can get interesting – and we’ll take a look at that in the next Bass-Fishing blog, due in a month or so.
Finally, you have to be willing to spend the time to drive out to competition events – which might take place hundreds of miles away, and be ready to fish at first light. So, as with all amateur sportsmen and women, there comes a stage at which you have to decide if this is really for you …if you can really dedicate yourself to your sporting passion. That’s the decision that Leandri has made.
As she establishes herself on the world Bass fishing stage her ambition is to open the sport up to like-minded women. ‘You sometimes see husband-and-wife teams, and there are a few women who take part – but there are no all-women teams that I know of.’ She says. She would like to be a role model, initiating all-women teams around the world.
Leandri will begin her bid by taking part in an EBASS tournament trial on February 1st, 2020 at the Mokolo dam; in the Fishing League Worldwide events starting in Mpumalanga in February 2020; and by taking part in divisional fishing competitions, representing a local club, she hopes, in August 2020. She’ll be doing all this in a Victron-sponsored boat. That boat is currently in-build and we look forward to showing you Leandri’s new boat, all liveried, and ready to take on the Bass fishing world!