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Tigerfish Trip Report - Barotse Zambia Oct 2011

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Joined: 24/Dec/2008
Location: Australia
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    Posted: 05/Jun/2012 at 10:40pm

Tigerfish Trip Report Barotse Zambia Oct 2011 By Glanville, Nomad Pro Guide


Barotse, Zambian flood plains Oct 2011


Nomad Outfitters World Travel Adventures

The trip began as met I met the crew of 6 Australian guys at Lanseria airpoirt, Mike Tilley , Tony, Hutch, Steve, Ric and Don. We had a quick breakfast whilst we waited for the pilots, a quick and simple passport stamp and we were on our way, next stop Livingston, Zambia where we cleared customs and arranged our visas for the trip, all went very smoothly and before we knew it we were on the tarmac about to board the plane to Barotse, it was another 1hr 20min flight to the dirt strip at Lukulu where we met up with Gerhard and the boys from the camp, we loaded the luggage and set off for where the boats were waiting to go. Now the trip had begun, the last step of our journey which consisted of a half hour boat ride to the camp only to be teased along the way by the guides who were pointing out some of their favourite spots along the river.


As we arrived to camp the guys unloaded the boats and we immediately got the tackle ready to rock and roll and after a quick lunch we set out for the first afternoon fishing for the elusive tiger fish.


To give you some sort of an idea what we talking here as far as sizes go, 22lbs is the camp record and that has stood for the last 2 years, this particular part of the Zambezi River houses the giant tigers so much so that the guides at the camp dnt bother counting fish under 10lbs which in its own is an awesome capture… we started the first afternoon on amazing form with Hutchy taking the top prize a cracker of a fish of 19lbs, everyone got into the mix in the first few hours of the trip and I think everyone had caught at least one tigerfish and settled down to the sights and sounds of Africa as the sun set which in itself is something unreal, we headed off back to camp with the glow of a red sky and the excitement of the weeks fishing to come fresh in our minds.


On the arrival back at camp we were met by the managers Gerhard and Graham who welcomed us with a couple refreshments whilst the guys blurted out there afternoons joy, it wasn’t till then that I noticed this very mysterious looking flask glaring at us from behind the bar at that point the smurk on Gerries face said it all…personal best fish were rewarded with a shot of Tequila, penalty drinks were also on the cards and let me just say that there were some interesting penalties which kept the vibe pumping through like the mighty Zambezi itself, but hey we weren’t here for a hair cut, a quote from AK one of the guides and the guys headed off for bed at a reasonable time to be fresh for the 4:30am start…


The first morning at any fishing destination is always a special moment and this trip was no exception, we had the orange rays of sunlight just pushing their way through the African sky as we set out full speed down the river in search of trophy tigers and thats exactly what we found the first drift over a few sandy drop offs known as tiger alley and it happened from all angles fish were getting airborne all around us and miraculously Tilley and Ric hooked up on their first bite, I on the other hand was running on a handicap and it took me a few before the hooks found home, triple bending, and we started the day smiling down the camera lens each with a prize in hand, Tilleys fish was a cracker of 14lb followed by an ox that Ric found that pushed the boga to 16lb and then just for good measure a young 8lb fish which made me the laughing stock for an temporary period…catching rats was the guides call. The rest of the day continued on a positive note and every spot we stopped at produced a few bites but let me just explain something in plain English, these fish have got black belt for falling off your hooks and trust me there is simply nothing you can do about that, I tried every possible hook setup, different lures, tried trebles and singles and as I sit here writing this I am having a young chuckle to myself as I think back on the encounters and how this fish well and truly beat my brain… their mouths consist of giant cutting teeth which are attached to a solid jaw structure which is made entirely of bones that are indestructible, and there tendency to jump at the slightest pressure doesn’t exactly help the cause and last but not least the take is something of a surprise…


In all my fishing career I have yet to stumble upon a fish that hits a lure harder than a tiger fish, it really is remarkable and it really is hard to describe in words, these things will come in at a firing pace hit the lure, nearly pluck the rod from a firmly held grasp, jump out a meter or 2 in the air throw the hook and land back in the water before you realise, hang on i just had bite!!!!! meanwhile the fish has already started its hunt for another feed. I would say that the realistic approach to these creature`s is to be happy hooking 4 in 10 bites and you might be lucky to land one but let me tell you something you really do appreciate every fish when you holding it up for the picture, in saying this we were fortunate enough to have been blessed with great weather and the fishing too was great we boated 38 tigers over 10lbs and we would have caught probably 100 tigers for the week with the biggest being only just short of the camp record, so given the statistics you will work out that there wasn’t too much time that went by where there wasn’t something happening on the boat.


The fight from tigerfish is nothing short of spectacular and whilst they can take decent runs you will more than often encounter short fast burst where they will sometimes be more in the air than on in the water with back flipping aerobatic jumps, the thing is you have to fish with 40-50lb braid to first of all have enough power to cater for the hard take and fish it with the drag cranked up to something near Gt proportion to try and have enough power to penetrate the bony mouths that the fight on smaller fish can be dulled until they get near the boat where things come back to life, we also encountered a few other species which were a bream type species which came in a few different models, 3 spot and Nembwe are the most sort after and you catch these as by catch whilst trying to catch tigers.


Another thing which we found in the river on our fishing treks were hippos and crocodiles and not surprisingly these were frowned upon by the guides and mainly the hippos as they hamper the fishing a little, hippos have the most dangerous reputation in Africa for killing people and when you hear stories from the guys who are out there every day we soon found ourselves fortunate that this particular area doesnt have too many which left us in piece fishing until the late periods of the evening, but it is always a great sight to see on passing by. This place is so far from civilisation its a surreal and watching the locals pole there way down the river in dug out canoes “makoros” was a lifting experience and it was a different feeling to know that there still are places in the world where life hasn’t been changed by technology as we are all familiar with, and our condolences must go to the community in the area who had a young child taken by a crocodile right near to where we were fishing, it is unbelievable as it seems the locals are more in the water than out whilst pulling nets to catch there next meal, I asked the local guides there how many people get taken every year and was extremely surprised when they said only a couple.


Our general routine whilst at the camp was a 5am start most mornings coming back to the camp at around 11am to escape the 40 degree heat and returning to the water at around 3pm with an awesome lunch that was put together by the local chef who did a fantastic job of catering for us during our stay.


All in all it was an amazing experience and am already planning the next voyage over there and dare I say that i will between now and then have many sleepless nights trying to work out how to stay attached to the almighty tigerfish once they bite bit its part of what makes the experience of catching them so thrilling


Tight lines guys and look forward to seeing you out there soon.


Cheers Glanville


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