This is a Fishermans dream, 300km of wide open waters, teaming with fish ready for the catch. Lake Kariba is one of the world largest manmade lakes, and now thanks to the lack of commercial fish farming it is rich in abundance of fish. The most common being Kariba Bream, Nile Perch, Tiger fish and barbell or catfish. Lake Kariba has fantastic weather which means that you can fish almost every day of the year without having to worry about missing out on a thing.
A good days’ fishing always starts before dawn when the light has barely tinted the horizon, equipped with a hot thermos of coffee and a packet of sandwiches, you trundle down to the boat and set off just as the mist starts to rise off the water. The world is barely awake but it’s essential to get to all the good spots early and get the tackle ready for whatever fish it is you are trying to catch. Mooring up to a dead tree just off the shore allows you to cast out into the weedy shallows and deeper water. Once the worms are thread and the rods are cast, it’s just a matter of waiting quietly for the fish to bite. A gentle tug or bob of the buoy is all it takes to get your attention, and often with our Kariba fishing trips there is always great competition to see who can catch the first fish, the biggest and the smallest ( as this is often quite an art in its self). It is such a delight to strike your rod, reeling in as fast as you can, knowing that there is a fish on the end, and then triumphantly landing it in the boat. Most fishermen who come to Lake Kariba will be fishing for Bream, because they are the best for eating and are most common in this lake. The seasonal fluctuations of the lake levels always benefits the fishing as constant rises mean that more weed and grass is submerged for the fish to eat and bread in. Using worms as bait is the best way to catch these fish and often they can grow up to 1kg.
Tiger fishing is a little harder than bream fishing, but it is not uncommon to spot their rises in the slightly deeper waters. The smallest bream are often used for tiger bait and trawled along behind a slow moving boat. This is probably the most exciting fish to catch, its strength and aggression match those of a much larger catch, but it is never a disappointing fight. When finally, with exhausted arms you collapse back and think that this tug-of-war will never end, the magnificent orange tiger belly slides into the keep net. But beware the tiger has one last fight and for those careless enough to let it flop along the bottom of the boat –watch your toes from those razor-sharp teeth. Every year around August, the Tiger Tournament takes place, all the men gather their teams eager to out fish one another and show off their skills at catching the ‘mother ‘of all tiger fish. Each day at dawn the race starts, with all the boats jetting off in to the sunrise, searching for the best spots, not breaking their concentration until a decent size fish is landed. And as the sunsets they wearily make their way back to the weigh bay to see whose fish is the largest or who has caught the most; until the end of the week brings with it a new winner and a drunken party.
Night time fishing is also a thrill. We would often sit on the edge of the jetty with a small bowl of sadza or meat scraps and cast them out into the darkness. Marambas or vundu are large catfish like monsters which can grow up to 8ft and put up a hell of a fight. It takes a lot of patience and its not the most exciting type of fishing because it takes so long to catch one of these monsters, but when you do get one on the hook the excitement is overwhelming. The sheer weight of this fish mean that it takes an age to get it landed and this only adds to the thrill. It is recommended not to eat these fish as they taste a lot like the muddy waters they live in but the local people don’t seem to mind. And for those very brave or stupid people who throw their bait at waiting crocodiles, be prepared for the fight of your life and probably the end of most of your good tackle.
Whatever time of year you chose or where ever you chose to fish, Kariba will always prove satisfactory. And even if you don’t catch a single thing you will always come back feeling like you had a great holiday, because Kariba is not just about the fishing, you also get to experience the fantastic sunsets, the multitude of wild game and the thrill of the outdoors.