Game fishing in never complete until you have fished the beautiful waters of Lake Kariba. People from all over the world come to these waters to fish for one fish alone, the ferocious tiger fish.
Good fishing occurs throughout the year, however during the rainy season between October and February, it is extremely hot and humid, and not for the faint hearted.
We offer a number of self-catering resorts at Kariba and Binga as well as a very large selection of houseboats from either end of lake Kariba
True game fish, they head for the open, believing that sheer strength, speed and somersaults will grant them freedom. And they're right, most of the time
Although not unique to Zimbabwe, it is certainly more prolific than elsewhere in Africa.
The tigerfish is extremely streamlined and have a fine set of razor sharp, pointed, interlocking teeth- it does not attack humans.
There are many fish caught these days in the 3 to 6 kgs bracket with some still tipping the scales in the region of 8-10kgs
The tiger can be caught by a variety of methods such as trolling, spinning, drifting and bottom fishing and one can also use live bait or fillet. However, the best dead bait is without doubt the Kapenta. The small sardine (kapenta) was introduced into Lake Kariba some 10 years ago, on a commercialised basis to provide protein for the population. Kapenta account for more than 50% of the tigerfish's diet. Primarily a summer fish on the lower river, but on the Upper Zambezi July and August are prime months
Ideally depending on the method one chooses, the rod should be of medium action- 6 1/2 feet to 7 feet in length. The reel should be an open-faced type and capable of carrying 12lb test line. All terminal tackle must be protected by a wire leader to prevent the tiger severing the line with his sharp teeth.
· 9/10wt Titanium Fly Rod, Sci Anglers Reel and fast sinking line
· Clousers, deceivers, sprats and a couple of Circle hook Clousers
· 6'6" Casting Rod, Baitcaster and 17lbs Line
· 11 and 14 inch magnum rapalas & assorted spinner lures
· Plenty of steel trace material
These fish do tend to hang around in shoals of like-sized fish, varying from a pair to 20 plus. They only really become solitary when they become really huge. It's not surprising to have every rod on the boat scream into action at the same time. It's also not surprising to see a huge shoal of fish following your fly or lure as you retrieve it through the waters. They can, at some points, despite their colouration, become virtually invisible in perfectly clear water, and only a series of hard knocks on your fly, and the sight of it displacing in the water gives a clue to the presence of Tigerfish.
They start biting suddenly, last for up to 30 minutes, and typically go off again instantly. The strike is strong and vicious and followed by a series of spectacular leaps.
You only really land about half and even less on fly (if you're really lucky) of the Tigerfish that hit your lure
Look out for hot spots such as the Ume river at Matusadona and Sengwe River mouth for tigerfish and bream is also in abundance
So popular is tigerfishing among the locals that the National Anglers union organizes the annual Kariba International Tigerfishing tournament. This event normally takes place at the beginnig of October at Lake Kariba.
It is a three-day event, and although called an "international", the organizers would very much like to attract more overseas entries and would render every assistance to visiting teams.
The majority of facilities in the form of a well-appointed holiday camps and hotels are situated off the shores of lake Kariba for those who would like to try their hand at tigerfish and other game fish. Boats are available for hire.
The largest fish in the Zambezi system, only found below Victoria Falls, is the vundu (Heterobranchis longifilis), a giant catfish which attains well over 60 kg (the very similar barbel, up to 20 kg, is found both above and below the Falls.) A bottom-feeding river species usually taken on fillet bait, Strangely, cheap strong smelling soap is an excellent bait.
The vundu is becoming rare in Kariba and should always be released; there's no point in killing it.
Electric Catfish (Malapterurus electricus)
It also puts on a good fight but only grows to about 5kg. Feeding almost exclusively on other fish, they stun their prey with a high voltage shock at close range. If you touch it you will more likely then not, be put off fishing for life with a jolt of up to 450 volts
Brown Squeaker (Synodontis zambezensis)
alternative name Chokachok, this is a member of the catfish family and is quite common to the lake
It can be identified by the three spines, one dorsal and two lateral.
The name Brown Squeaker comes from the fact that when these fish are caught, they move their two lateral spines rapidly in their sockets which emits a squeaking sound. These spines are capable of inflicting a painful wound that is very likely to turn septic if not treated at once.
Some anglers are known to remove these spines with a knife or side cutters before handling the fish. You will not be the only one trying to catch this fish as the Squeaker is preyed upon by crocodiles and Tigerfish, and the spines can often cause fatal injuries to the predator.
Bait - They eat anything, insects, mud, algae and fish, and are mostly caught at night.
They are disliked by anglers who are fishing with worm on the bottom, as once
they get a bite from this fish they rarely catch anything else.
The Brown Squeaker is surprisingly tasty but plays no significant role in the
commercial catches on the lake.
The fish seldom exceeds 0.5kg in weight
Sharptooth Catfish-Barbel (Clarias gariepinus)
This catfish has been known to leap out of the water at birds perched on low overhanging branches.
These can be found throughout the lake in the shallow waters and using its ancillary breathing organs, it can survive in almost any type of water. They eat anything including frogs, insects, and fish
Feeding mainly at night, when hooked, the angler will feel a constant steady pull. The fish will not hesitate to attempt to free itself by swimming into obstacles. The Sharptooth is fished extensively for commercial purposes and although the average catch weight is 3kg, they can reach about 6kg.
Kariba Town (dam wall side of lake Kariba)
Clients must provide their own tackle, or alternatively may purchase fishing tackle from the harbour, which stocks a large range of fishing tackle and fishing accessories. Worms can be purchased along the Harare - Kariba road from road side sellers.
Hire of Fishing equipment and Bait - The current rate to hire a rod, reel and line is Rands18.00 [US$3] per rod per day and ZAR16.00 per tackle packet. Each packet contains 2 x Tiger Traces, 4 x Bream Hooks and Sinkers and when available 2 x Floats. Bait is ordered when ordering your drinks.
Lake usage fee: U$ 10.00 per passenger. US$5 for South Africans. (This will cover a period from 2 - 7 nights). This is best paid in US$ to avoid exchange rate hassles
National Parks Fishing permits cost a further approx Rands 8 per person per day.
Binga Side ( Vic falls side of Lake Kariba)
Bring your own gear as the houseboats only supply basic gear.
Bait such as Kapenta both dry and wet and worms are normally supplied with the full catering option
Massess is now an illegal commodity according to National Parks with large penalties if found on the boat
For those wishing to try their hand at tigerfishing or other game fish click here for hotels, fishing lodges and boat hire
Fishing Gear and Bait Tips
Seasons fishing Timetable Zambezi river
Ultimate Guide to Tigerfishing
Zambezi Fishing Species page 2