Category Archives: Fishing

Expert tips to catch a Tigerfish on the Chobe River

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The legendary Tigerfish is well known for being one of the most thrilling challenges for any fly fisher. Renowned for their speed and strength, these ferocious predators never fail to put up a spectacular fight. But what exactly does it take to catch these powerful prey?

We spoke to Jonathan Boulton from Mavungana Flyfishing, who shared some of the expert insights he’s learned over 25 years of fishing the waters of the great Chobe River region.

Expert Tips for Tigerfishing on the Chobe River

When is the best season for a Tigerfishing safari?

While it’s true that Tigerfish can be caught throughout the year, I’ve found that late May through September have the best conditions. The water is clear and starts to warm up just after winter. As water recedes back off the floodplains it causes bait fish to be drawn back into the main channel, providing the perfect hunting ground for Tigerfish.

Is there a preferred time of day to go Tigerfishing?

Absolutely. We call it the Golden Hour, just before and after sunset and sunrise. Tigerfish are opportunists and hunt using the element of surprise in low light. Tigerfish can hunt their prey far more effectively in the low light.

Expert Tips for Tigerfishing | Kasai Channel

What else do you take into consideration before planning a trip?

At Mavungana Flyfishing, we only book trips during a new moon. Tigerfish struggle to hunt in complete darkness, so when there’s no light from the moon they’re less likely to catch any prey. In the morning when the sun starts to rise, they’re ravenous and readily attack anything that looks like prey.

Where are some of the best places to go Tigerfishing in the Chobe River region?

It depends on the season, but there are a few hot spots I’ve discovered over the years. In May and June, when the water levels are high, the main Zambezi is a very active area for Tigerfish. I often head upstream for Golden Pond and Jojo’s Village. Alternatively, in August, the water levels in the Kasai Channel get very low, and the mini Barbel run begins. Barbel hunt in packs and prey on bait fish hiding beneath the papyrus reeds. The Tigerfish take the opportunity to follow the run and feast on all the leftovers in the Barbels’ wake. At the same time, water levels just south of Impalila Island can be very low, and Tigerfish can concentrate around rapids south of Ichingo Chobe River Lodge where the Kasai and Chobe Rivers meet.

Tigerfishing | Equipment

Photographs courtesy of Mavungana Flyfishing

What equipment do you recommend for the best catch? Any particular tips?

I feel that fly fishing is far more effective than conventional heavy fishing gear. A fly is much lighter and moves more naturally in the water. In fact, I’ve found that fishing with a fly is three times more successful than a conventional line.

I recommend you use the following equipment which is available from Mavungana Flyfishing’s online shop or any other reputable fly fishing supplier:

  • 8 or 9 quality fast-action rods with matching reels
  • Tropically rated DI7 or shooting head fly line
  • 20lb to 25lb straight mono leader
  • Thin piano wire trace material
  • An assortment of Mavungana custom-tied Tiger clousers and bait fish flies

What kind of boats do you use?

You want a lot of deck space to move around freely when you hook the Tigerfish. Ichingo Chobe River Lodge‘s boats have space for two anglers on each boat, and plenty of storage room to keep your gear and other belongings out of the way.

Tigerfishing | Boats

Photograph courtesy of Mavungana Flyfishing

Is there anything special that guests should bring?

It can get quite cold on the boat, especially in the morning and after sunset. Wear a warm fleece, long pants and a woollen hat with lighter clothes underneath for when the day gets hotter. Don’t forget sunscreen, a sunhat and comfortable shoes. Most importantly, you’ll need a good pair of polarised sunglasses. They don’t just protect your eyes from the sun, but also from any sharp hooks that might swing your way. We also recommend clear safety glasses for after dark, and a finger minder/lappie to keep the line from the vicious pull of the tigerfish.

Lastly, what’s one of the most amazing things you’ve seen on your Tigerfishing expeditions?

What always impresses me is just how savage these fish are. I once landed a Tigerfish that was cut clean in half by one of its own kind driven into a feeding frenzy. They’re not known as the most voracious freshwater fish for nothing.

Tigerfishing | Mavungana Flyfishing

Photographs courtesy of Mavungana Flyfishing

Ichingo Chobe River Lodge is located on secluded Impalila Island, making it the perfect base to launch your unforgettable Tigerfishing adventure. All rods, flies, lures, lines, leaders, reels and other fishing equipment are included with every fishing safari package. Stay in one of eight air-conditioned Meru safari tents, dine on world-class African-inspired cuisine, and spot a myriad wildlife and birds on the river banks from your private deck.

Ready for the adventure of a lifetime? Book your Chobe River fishing safari today and save 5% on fishing groups of 6 or more for travel between May and September 2018.

As an added bonus, Mavungana Flyfishing are offering readers 5 of their favourite tiger flies for free valued at R280 when purchasing their recommended Tigerfish line  – the Airflo 300grain depth finder. Simply email Mavungana Flyfishing on and mention this article to qualify for the promotion.

Fall in love with Chobe hook, line and sinker

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They say the two best times for fishing are when it is raining, and when it is not. In Namibia’s dry winter you’re in for a thrilling fishing experience. The shoulder season stretches from April to August. It brings cool nights and warm days with little or no rain. As the inland water sources begin to dry up, animals flock to the river to quench their thirst, so not only is the fishing fantastic, but the game viewing during June and July is incredible. Elephant, zebra, hippos, crocs and buffalo will all make their appearance on the river banks – not to mention a myriad of bird species. But they are not the stars of the show when you’re on a fishing trip.

Ichingo Chobe River Lodge | Zambezi River

Where to find the best spot for fishing in Chobe

Although there are several lodges in the area where the lazy Chobe River joins the mighty Zambezi before rushing into the Victoria Falls, Ichingo Chobe River Lodge on Impalila Island in Namibia is a prime spot for fishing. The lodge has access to 7km of unfished Chobe River directly below the lodge, and then another 7km of unfished Zambezi River below the rapids downstream – you’ll have virtual exclusivity on this beautiful stretch of river.  No other lodge has access to these teeming waters.

On the Chobe side in particular, this is an area of many small islands and gentle rapids, ideal for drift-fishing and either flyfishing or spin-casting. Turn the corner into the deeper Zambezi and you’ll find that conventional trolling works best until you reach the turbulent waters at the foot of the rapids, a hotspot for tigerfish whether you’re using bait, fly or lure.

What you can catch

The Zambezi is home to the ferocious tigerfish, catfish, African pike, upper Zambezi yellow fish, nembwe, thin-faced, hump back, three spot tilapia, and green and pink bream.

Taming a tiger

If there is one fish that every Zambezi angler wants to catch, it’s the hard fighting tigerfish. Arguably the fiercest fresh water fish, these beauties can grow up to a massive 15kg (33lbs)! Catching one of these sharp-toothed monsters is no easy feat, and only about one in ten tigers hooked are actually landed. Tigerfish are so incredibly acrobatic that they jump and tug and twirl free within seconds – making the chase all the more thrilling.

Ichingo Chobe River Lodge | Tigerfish

There are three ways to catch a tigerfish: trolling, drifting or spinning. Trolling artificial bait is done with two rods leading out from behind the boat. Drifting a fresh or dead fish works best in murky water, and when the water level is higher, and spinning may be more active, but it’s less efficient. Spin casting artificial bait works best when you target specific areas of the river, like sandbanks or rapids. The tigerfish has a preference for deep, fast flowing channels where they lurk in drop-offs ready to ambush their prey. They hunt in schools of similar sized fish.

You have to have the right equipment if you’re going to tame the tiger. Artificial bait that works well includes Rapala 9 or 11cm Magnum floating lures (for trolling), chrome or copper 45mm, 16g Effzett spoons (for trolling and spin casting), and Rapala 7cm Fat Rap or Shad Rap deep river lures for spin casting. If you’re considering using live bait, try the bulldog.

Catching catfish

The sharptooth catfish, or barbell, can survive almost any water conditions no matter how murky. They eat frogs, insects and fish, and have been seen jumping out of the water to catch birds perched low above the water. They feed mostly at night, and when you hook one you’ll feel a slow, steady pull. In an attempt to free itself, the catfish swims into obstacles or shakes its head vigorously from side to side.

ZQ Collection Zambezi river afternoon fishing

Although it will take lures, spoons and spinners, you’re more likely to catch one using bait on a size 3/0 or 4/0 hook fished on the bottom. Catfish enjoy earthworms, fish fillets, baby birds and chicken livers.

Baiting bream

Green and pink bream are best caught from July to December. Green bream prefer deep, quiet waters, slow flowing channels and floodplain lagoons, while pink bream seek out deep main river channels and sandy bays. Both species will take spinners and lures up to 5cm. Your best bet is red earthworm on a No12 long shank barbed hook, but they will also take Mepps No3 Black Fury soinners or 5cm Rapala Fat Rap deep divers. Both species are vigorous fighters, so you’d better be prepared for a good battle.

Ichingo Chobe River Lodge | Fishing Safari

The nimble nembwe

Nembwe prefer the cooler water temperatures of the winter months.  It’ll take a worm, but you’re more likely to succeed with artificial bait when trying to catch this predator. Such is its fighting ability that its scientific name is Serranochromis robustus. Trolling and spin casting the shoreline are your best bet. Try a Rapala 5cm Fat Rap deep diver, Rapala 5 or 7cm Shad Rap deep diver, a Cordell 5cm Wally Diver or leadhead jig. They all come highly recommended by seasoned anglers who have successfully battled the nembwe.

Spinnerbaits, copper or chrome Effzette 16 gram spoons, Mepps No4 Black Fury spinners and Blue Fox No3  Vibrax spinners are also readily taken by nembwe.

Ichingo Chobe River Lodge | Fishing Safari

What to wear and what to bring

  • Light coloured clothing;
  • A sun hat;
  • Sunscreen;
  • Binoculars; and
  • A camera for when you catch a big one!

What not to pack

  • Rods;
  • Lines;
  • Lures;
  • Leaders;
  • Reels; and
  • A fishing buff – land a tigerfish over 5kg (11lbs) and you’ll be awarded the coveted yellow buff of fishing!

Ichingo Chobe River Lodge | Fishing Buffs

Where to stay in Chobe

Ichingo Chobe River Lodge is the only place to stay when you’re planning a fishing safari. Besides the 100km of river access (and 14km exclusive prime access), the lodge supplies all your fishing equipment – rods, lines, lures, leaders and reels. Coupled with our highly knowledgeable guides as well as well stocked cooler boxes fishing in Africa will be an experience to remember. The comfortable tented accommodation with en-suite bathrooms and private balconies allow you to unwind completely and to enjoy the sights and sounds of a true African river safari experience. Make your reservation today.

Call Ichingo Chobe River Lodge at +27 21 715 2412, or send an email to

Tiger fishing on the Chobe River

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Do you have what it takes to battle an African Tiger Fish?

Nestled on Impalila Island in Namibia, Ichingo Chobe River Lodge is a tented lodge surrounded by breathtaking scenery, abundant wildlife, birdlife and ideal fishing conditions. Travellers from around the globe come here to battle with the extraordinary African Tiger Fish. With razor sharp teeth, and infamous speed and agility, this river rascal puts up an adrenalin pumping fight that’s sure to be one of the most exhilarating fishing experiences of your life.

Chobe River Tiger fishing

Proof of Vagabond Fly’s successful visit!

Its lurching strikes can snap your line or rod, and just when you think you’ve got it, the furtive fish makes a long fast run. Try to reel it in, and it jumps out of the water or dives deep to try and dislodge the hook. These unpredictable predators change their feeding patterns and will try anything they can to get away from your net. They are said to be the hardest fighting freshwater fish in the world, so if you want to catch one, you’re going to have to fight back every inch of the way.

We’ve got what you need

It takes great skill and finesse to successfully battle a tiger, and our guides are there to support you ever step of the way. We’ll supply you with the tackle you need – rods, flies, reels, lures, lines, and leaders – and our guides will share the angling techniques that they have developed through countless hours of experimenting.

Tiger fishing on the Chobe

It’s an unforgettable experience, fishing in the majestic Chobe surrounded by the natural African beauty. Curious elephants stop to watch you ready your tackle. Snappy crocodiles float by mischievously as antelope gather warily on the banks for an early morning drink of water. The unmistakable call of the African Fish Eagle as it swoops down to catch catfish is almost the soundtrack to your vacation. And chances are you may not notice any of these things as you wait anxiously for that tell-tale strike – indicating that the battle has begun!

The best time of year to catch African Tiger Fish

Because of our unique location, we offer excellent fishing safaris all year round – from the annual floods starting in March to the feeding frenzies in the winter months. This natural phenomenon takes place when the water begins to recede and a myriad of newly spawned bait fish make their way back into the river, only to be ambushed by shoals of hungry tigers.

Tiger fishing

You can literally see the bait ball being hit from all sides by the ferocious predators who may also greedily grab your lure if you position it just right.

The ultimate bragging rights

While pulling out an 8 pounder (3.6kg) might earn you some fireside bragging rights, it’s not enough to earn the coveted Ichingo yellow buff. The yellow buff is reserved as a special honour bestowed upon those brave warriors who battled and conquered a river beast over 11 pounds (5kg). Sound impossible? At a recent ceremony we handed out three yellow buffs in one weekend!

Chobe River Tiger fishing

Vagabond Fly’s yellow buff award ceremony

So, are you ready for the most thrilling fishing expedition of your life? Ready to battle the notorious African Tiger Fish? Then we’ll reserve a yellow buff for you – just in case you catch a big one!

Discover the formidable African tigerfish

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While the magnificent Chobe River is celebrated for the abundance of wildlife that frequent its lush banks – there are some fascinating discoveries to be made below the waterline as well.

Gliding beneath the serene river surface is the legendary African tigerfish. This ferocious species is one of the most sought-after game fish in Africa and proves a formidable foe for adventurous fishing enthusiasts.

What is the African tigerfish?

Often thought of as Africa’s equivalent to the South American piranha, the African tigerfish is a fierce species sporting razor-sharp teeth, muscular bodies and distinctive ‘tiger’ stripes for which they are named. These predators often hunt in packs, and are known to put up a fight when it comes down to the fishing line.

African tigerfish

How big do they get?

Tigerfish range in size from 2kg to an impressive 12kg. In the fast-flowing waters of the Upper Zambezi, they are known to reach around 10kg in weight.

When is the best time of year to go fishing?

African tigerfish are most active during the warmer months. Fishing is generally best from September to February with peak season being around October and November. However, winter fishing is also an option, with June and July being a good time to cast your line.

Where’s the best place to catch them?

While African tigerfish can be found in fresh-water rivers and lakes across Africa, they are particularly abundant in the Chobe and Zambezi Rivers.

What’s their favourite bait?

These powerful predators aren’t picky when it comes to feeding time. They will attack any moving object smaller than themselves. So whether it’s live bait or a tempting lure, the African tigerfish is likely to bite.

What fishing techniques are best?

There’s no fool proof way to snag a tigerfish. Their feeding patterns are quite erratic and various types of techniques such as fly fishing and spinning have been known to work. The general rule is that all equipment, from your rods, reels and fly-lines to colourful lures and flies all need to be fast action and extra sturdy to stand up to the challenge.

Biggest recorded size?

While reports vary, the largest tigerfish ever caught was the goliath tigerfish (Hydrocynus goliath) said to have weighed an incredible 70kg.

Fascinating Facts

The African tigerfish is known as the fastest fresh-water fish in Africa and is the first to be recorded attacking and catching birds in flight. While African tigerfish don’t generally attack humans, they do have a nasty bite so it’s best to use a landing net and keep fingers away from snapping jaws.

African Tigerfish

Add a touch adventure to your luxurious safari with a world-class tiger fishing experience. Sit back, relax and soak up the luxurious surrounds, while our experienced guides pack your gear, stock the cooler box and show you the best spots to land the big one.

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