Adventure | Tiger-Fishing

At the top of the angler’s must-catch list

By Elzanne Erasmus

The tigerfish is Africa’s premier freshwater game fish. With its large razor-sharp teeth and torpedo-shaped body, there is nothing quite like it out there. It is the ultimate high-speed killing machine. It’s a fierce and wily creature that demands respect from all forms of life that happen across its path.– Haydn Willans of Tiger Fish Frenzy

The major rivers of Namibia’s Zambezi Region – formerly known as the Caprivi Region – include the Zambezi, Chobe, Kwando, Linyanti and Okavango. This water wonderland is home to more than 84 species of freshwater fish. Culminating in what can only be described as a fisherman’s paradise, the region is undoubtedly the perfect location for a Namibian angling adventure.

The waterway system consists of wide rivers, shallow sandbanks, islands, lagoons, raging rapids and isolated pools with calm waters. This part of the country is an ideal location for everything from fly-fishing from the riverbanks to trawling from small fishing boats. Fishing in the region is done on a catch-and-release basis. While the wide variety of fresh-water fish – not one of which is an exotic or introduced species – is an appealing feature in its own right.

The most important item at the top of the angler’s to-catch list is most certainly the feisty tiger fish. Throwing in your line and letting it draw behind a slow-moving boat, while lazily watching passing mukoros, with kingfishers flitting in and out of the river, makes for a relaxing day on the water. The relaxation gives way to pumping adrenalin when that line, laden with sardines, bulldogs or artificial bait, tightens and the heart-pounding struggle to pull in the fiercest fish of them all begins. Even the most experienced anglers often forget the basic tips of tigerfishing under the extreme extent of their excitement.

Tiger fishing 2

Photo ©Marita van Rooyen

The thrill of hunting the notoriously hard-to-capture, ‘tiger of the Zambezi’ is what draws fishermen back time and time again, especially if they’re on a mission to capture the ‘one that got away’. Tigerfish are known for their aggressive temperament, supreme speed, aerobatic capabilities and steel-like jaws. They hunt in schools of like-sized fish, and have silver-striped bodies with bright red and yellow fins and tail, often reaching up to 10 kg in weight. But anglers take note: all tigerfish weighing over 2 kg are female and should be released.


Photo ©Marita van Rooyen

The good fishing spots often depend on the season. However, known hotspots are areas where there are deep pools, reed edges and, most commonly, fast-moving water. The location chosen will influence the choice of tackle, bait and lures. Most lodges and campsites along the river provide information, as well as eager-to-help guides who give expert advice and can provide fishing boats for their guests.

Annual competitions are also a big draw card for adrenalin junkies and enthusiastic anglers in search of proper sport fishing.