Tigers in the Middle

Tigers in the Middle

The Tigerfish is Africa’s answer to fly fishing. These power-fanged denizens produce rock hard strikes, generate unstoppable bursts of speed, and perform jaw-clattering summersaults.
Francois Botha. Fanged Creatures of Awesomeness

I haven’t caught enough of these fish. I want to catch more. I will catch more.

However, my old friend Stuart Harley is catching lots of them. As the owner and head-guide of Flycatcher Angling, he spends an unfair amount of time on the waters of the middle Zambezi and regularly gets stuck into trophy sized  Hydrocynus vittatus. And the odd croc – but more on that later.

Stuart Harley and his hand held mincing machine!

Flycatcher Angling is closely linked to Jecha Point Lodge, which lies on Zimbabwean side of the Zambezi, just below Chirundu, and runs their fishing operations. With approximately 100kms of the middle Zambezi at their disposal, they most certainly have a lot of water on which to chase fish. The Middle Zambezi starts as its mighty waters fall from splendid Victoria Falls into the narrow Batoka Gorge and ends when its reaches the headwaters of Lake Cabora Bassa. It is from below Lake Kariba, past where the Zambezi is swollen from the north by the Kafue River to where it runs between Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools and Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Parks that Flycatcher has access. There are a lot of big fish in those waters!

The Zambezi River teems with not only a myriad of fly catchable fish life – the giant Vundu, Sharptooth Catfish, a seemingly endless amount of Bream species and, of course, Tigerfish – but the waters themselves and the banks also boast plenty of African game. How awesome does it sound to fly fish to the trumpet of an elephant or even a roar of a lion while dodging the odd hippo or crocodile? Stu has a pretty good recipe for epic fishing at his fingertips.

Stu sent me a few photos recently and, quite frankly, I almost deleted him from friends list. The quality of the fish in the pics makes me super jealous. Stu is living the dream. Throwing flies for Africa’s premier freshwater fly fishing quarry almost every day is not a terrible way of spending one’s time. And this he does in surrounds that most of us only dream of and have experienced all too briefly.

It was quite a long time ago that I caught my first striped water dog. It wasn’t the happiest time of my life either. I have yet to go back to chase them again. I will though. What I remember about catching Tigers, and I only caught a few smaller fish, was a stupidly hard take, a couple of vigorous head shakes before that lightening dash which inevitably led to a fresh water aerobatics display that I can imagine is only to be rivaled by South America’s Golden Dorado. I get rather excited by the thought of hooking up to some of the monsters Stu has been releasing.

Stu is going to find me on his door step sometime next year, I’m pretty sure of it. If you haven’t caught your own Tiger, maybe you should go explore the valley of the mighty Zambezi.

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Above and below: Stu with a couple of his Middle Zambezi pets.
View from Jecha Point Lodge
More big fish and bigger smiles
Sinking line, Tiger Clouser, long cast tight against the cliffs, let it sink before stripping…

The possibilities!

The gaping mouth of a Vundu.

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