My drinking buddies have always told me that developing a taste for the finest Scotch is a long acquired process –eventually becoming something you look forward to after many years of trial and error. Learning how to catch a Tiger Fish has been a similar story for me. Many long, hot outings on Lake Kariba when there was never even a glimpse of a bite – coming back to harbour late afternoon with just a red face, an empty keepnet and more sunburn than one should allow for.
Over the past few years, however, I have taken a liking to fish on the Zambezi River near the small town of Chirundu. I’ve been fortunate to stay at some great fishing camps like Chirundu Safari Lodge and Jeche Point. This last weekend my son and I booked into Tiger Safaris where Tim and Michelle Ballance have created a friendly, relaxed environment with just enough comfort to make one’s weekend something to remember – either for a guys-only trip or some family time.
On Saturday morning we were on the water just after sunrise. It took a little while to reach that fast-flowing part of the river that had been recommended to us as a definite spot for Tiger! As any regular fisherman will tell you, everyone is as keen as mustard at the start of the day but after waiting, (seemingly) in vain for the first hour or so, one starts to think about all sorts of phenomena happening in your midst. Like why are those long tree roots so exposed on the Zambian side and why is the countryside so much more attractive on our side of the river – was it because the high banks are just so far apart. Next minute your thoughts are brought back to earth when the driver pulls alongside what must be the biggest Crocodile I have ever seen – with a wide grin in the midst of a mouth full of ugly though very vicious teeth – not quite the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood.
The fun begins, however, when you hear that Brrrrrrrrrr of the reel running as your first Tiger of the day takes your bream live bait. The next minute you see a beautiful specimen jumping high into the sky some 20 m away from the boat trying desperately to spit out the sharp hook – then it is time for patience – a competition between your skills and what must be a fine-looking Zambezi Tiger Fish (”Hydrocynus vittatus”). The long Heroes weekend has always been known as the start of the fishing season with the weather warming up, so I urge you to take advantage of our lovely Zimbabwean weather and make time (soon) to appreciate our mighty Zambezi River. Been Fishin – Mike G.
Biologically referred to as the Hydrocynus vittatus, its naming is a literal combination of the English phrases ‘water dog’ and ‘striped’.