About Fishing in the Upper Zambezi River
The Zambezi River is the fourth longest in Africa and is a truly awe inspiring wonder of nature. It rises in northwest Zambia and flows in a double S curve through southern Africa for 3540 km. to the Indian Ocean.
Although the Zambezi River is host to 142 recorded species of indigenous fish we will for the purpose of this article and for the benefit of the angler, deal with the fish species found, and angling methods used, on the section of the river between Mombovo rapids situated at the very tip of the Caprivi and the town of Katima Mulilo 135km to the north.
From an angling perspective it is important to know that this stretch of the Zambezi River is a constantly changing environment as for half the year its waters are rising and for the other half its waters are receding. Fish are therefore constantly changing their feeding patterns depending on factors such as water levels,water clarity and food supply throughout the changing seasons. Fishing methods must in order for the angler to be successful change accordingly and are dependent upon environmental conditions at the time.
This section of the river is host to twelve sought after angling species of fish namely the Tigerfish; Catfish; African Pike; Thinface; Humpback and Brownspot Largemouth bream; Threespot; Redbreast and Greenhead Tilapia; Pink and Green bream and Nembwe.
These angling species are renown for attaining record sizes and trophy specimens are regularly recorded. Upper Zambezi Yellowfish inhabit rocky areas and rapids at various localities along the river and are becoming a popular target for flyfishermen at certain times of the year.
The legendary Tigerfish regarded by many to be the best freshwater gamefish in Africa, is of course the main species targeted by the majority of anglers visiting this region and visitors from as far afield as Alaska, U.S.A., Europe, U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand regularly test their skills against these worthy adversaries.
Renown for its aggressive strike, savage strength and spectacular aerial displays when hooked, the Tigerfish, with its sleek silverblue body, bone plated mouth and razor sharp teeth certainly lives up to its scientific name Hydrocynus Vittatus which aptly translates to ‘Striped River Dog.’ Tigerfish can be caught throughout the year with the peak fishing periods being June, July and August. Landing a trophy Tigerfish is every anglers dream and an experience of a lifetime. The current Namibian Tigerfish Record of 12,57 Kilograms was landed by Renier de Villiers in October 2011 whilst on a fishing excursion as a guest aboard the “Shamwari” houseboat.
Although the Tigerfish might be considered ‘King Of The River’ we must not forget the lesser royalty which inhabit these waters and being worthy adversaries in their own right provide excellent sportfishing.
The Sharptooth Catfish or ‘maramba’ as it is sometimes referred to can grow to over 40 kilograms and is caught throughout the year. This is a very popular species caught by local traditional fishermen who favour it either smoked or sundried as a supplement to their diet. This species is very much underrated as a sportfish by many anglers who have obviously never experienced the thrill of landing one of these monsters on light tackle.
The Thinface Largemouth, Humpback Largemouth, Brownspot Largemouth, Nembwe,Threespot, Redbreast, Greenhead and Green and Pink Bream collectively fall under the common name ‘bream’ although they in fact belong to a variety of genus.
Bream form the bulk of catches by local subsistance fishermen using nets .Netting on the Zambezi River within Namibia is monitored and strictly controlled by the Ministry Of Inland Fisheries. The Threespot bream is the most common fish species used for aquaculture projects providing a welcome source of protein to the local population via the fish markets in Katima Mulilo and Shesheke. Anglers who target these bream species will certainly not be disappointed as they are strong aggressive fighters with a fierce resistance to being captured thereby testing the anglers skill to the limit. Not only are bream formidable angling opponents they are also a fine table fish, comparing with the best that restaurants have to offer. Bream are caught on the Zambezi River from June to early January. Various methods, such as flyfishing, spinning, trolling or bottom fishing are used by anglers to capture bream.
SHAMWARI HOUSEBOAT ADVENTURES specialize in fishing excursions on the Upper Zambezi and offer anglers a value for money affordable fishing experience. Our competent and experienced fishing guides will ensure that you enjoy a memorable fishing experience with us.
It is advisable to enquire, when making reservations, about tackle requirements, fishing methods or any other information that may be relevant to fishing conditions or your proposed trip. Fishing tackle such as monofiliment line, flies, lures, spinners, spoons, crankbaits, hooks and sinkers are available for purchase and rods and reels are available for hire on board the ‘SHAMWARI”.
All anglers fishing in Namibian waters must be in possession of a valid fishing license obtainable at the lodge or at the Katima Mulilo Town Council offices.
A visit to the Upper Zambezi River is a unique never to be forgotten experience with memories of leaping tigerfish, spectacular sunsets, golden sandbanks, basking crocodiles and crisp starlit nights forever etched in your mind.
EXPERIENCE IT !!
Written by Garth Cavanach:
Shamwari Houseboat adventures