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Fishing for tiger fish on Lake Kariba

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World famous fishing in safari environment, Zimbabwe offers some wonderful fishing opportunities, and one of these is catching the amazing tiger fish in the Zambezi River. The tiger fish (Hydrocynus Vittatus) is an indigenous fighting fish with beautiful silver scales, black stripes, red tinged tails and ferociously sharp teeth!

The Zambezi River with its 40 species of fish stretches 2574 kilometres starting in Zambia and travels through or past Zambia, Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe and finally Mozambique as it enters the Indian Ocean. Pound for pound tiger fishing is known by anglers to be one of the most exciting to catch.

One well known and popular fishing area is Lake Kariba. This colossal man made lake has a rich ecology with many fish species such as kapenta (an introduced small whitebait type fish (Limnothryssa miodon), chessa, Cornish jack, parrot fish, nkupe, vundu, barbell, several species of bream and Nembwe.

Kapenta is not only a rich source of protein for local people but also sought after by tiger fish too. The lake is also home to crocodiles, water monitor lizards and hippo and wherever there is a national park along its route other wildlife such as elephants, antelope, lion and fabulous water birds. This means that in several parks one can do both safari and fishing!

There are three distinctive areas for tiger fishing – the upper Zambezi from the source to Victoria Falls, the middle section from Victoria Falls through to the Kariba Dam wall and the last, the lower Zambezi from Kariba town through Lower Zambezi National Park (Zambia) and Mana Pools (Zimbabwe) through Cahora Bassa.

Anglers will find that the absolute best time to fish in the upper Zambezi is from May to September when the water is clear and the fish can see the bait/lure or fly depending on your preferred method of fishing. During the rainy season - the summer months is the time to use bait whilst during clearer water time, the best would be lure or fly. One can fish from boats which is the best way, or from the shore line. Trolling is best June through January, Spinning and Fly fishing is best May through October and Drift baiting from January through to end May.

Tiger fish can grow to 15 kilograms and the hooks must be carefully removed using specialist long handled pliers (make sure your fingers are nowhere near the sharp bits!).

Several safari camps and lodges offer fishing a one of the activities but one other option is to hire a houseboat on Lake Kariba and sail the lake, partaking in a little game watching at the same time! These houseboats have crew and tender boats that will take you into small inlets and bays. Some of these houseboats and safari camps offer fishing equipment but of course this may be limited and if you prefer fly fishing then it is best to bring your own rod, reel, line and flies.

With regards to other fishing – there are several notable dams in Zimbabwe where bass fishing is an option and trout fishing is possible in the eastern highlands – there is something for all.

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