From : Ultimateangling.co.za
27 May 2012
I got back last night from an epic trip to the upper Zambezi, where I stayed at my Friends Gerard Simpson and Graham Williams’ brilliant fishing lodge, Barotse Tiger Camp. We flew in a charter flight from Lanseria, a two hour flight got us to Livingstone in Zambia, where we cleared customs and then another hour took us to the remote bush strip of Lukulu, where we were met by Gerard and Graham for a boat trip of 45 minutes down river to the camp.
We made our way to the camp and I was pleased to hear from Gerard that there had been good surface activity during the early mornings with tigerfish being quite active for the first few hours of each day in shallower water. I had planned on spending a good few hours targeting these aggressive fish on topwater lures. I have caught a number of tigers on topwater lures in the past, but had yet to land a trophy of over ten pounds on one, so this was my chance! I had rigged up some Rapala X-Rap Walk lures with single hooks, and was dead keen to try them out. These lures have long been one of my number one estuary lures, and I was confident that the tigers would love them as well!
This is a lure rigged the way that I was hoping would be ideal for the tigers. A single 2/0 VMC Siwash hook on the belly, rigged with two split rings to get the hook point facing down, and a 3/0 Decoy Jigging Single, (with the point slightly bent out with pliers to improve the gape) rigged on two split rings with a power swivel in between. Both hooks are very sharp, and have a nice large eye to give them lots of freedom of movement on the split ring.
We were out on the water before sunrise on our first morning, with beautiful conditions and a glassy smooth water surface. The Zambezi has to be one of the most lovely places on earth to watch the sun rise, while casting a line.
We drifted along the banks, right below where the boats were parked overnight. We were casting the lures into every inlet, creek and and eddy formed by the current along the banks, and of course around any tree stucture. We started of getting a lot of small fish boiling and smashing at the lures, as they zig zagged accross the surface. Most of these small fish missed the lures completely, but we hooked and landed a few. Gerard then went tight with a good fish, which smashed his lure aggressively after darting out from a fallen tree trunk near the bank. After a hard fight he landed an 11lb tiger on his Orange and yellow Rapala Skitter Walk. A beautiful fish, which gave me hope that I would get one as well.
I then got a nice 8lb fish, which smashed my lure like a monster, and fought like its life depended on it, but didn’t crack the double figure mark on the Boga Grip. Still very enjoyable though, and nothing to sniff at. A bit later Gerard had another massive smash on his Purple and white Skitter Walk, and was in business agian. Thyis time with a 12lb tiger. I was super stoked to see this one, as I now knew that the first wasn’t just a flash in the pan. It was just a matter of time before I would get one.
The sun had got higher and the surface action slowed down, and around 10am we decided to change over to some copper spoons. I was working my spoon deep and slow over some undulations and drop offs in the middle of the river and was rewarded with a hard strike and a good fight, before landing this 13lb tiger. A lovely fish, which made me happy, but I was till hoping for a ten pound plus fish on the surface.
During the afternoon we had an amazing view of some Lozi tribesmen herding their cattle accross the Zambezi, from one bank to the other. The cattle had to swim, as the water was around 6m deep in that part of the river, and they were accompanied by their owners in a makoro.
The following morning we were out on the water again at sparrows. Conditions were just as perfect as the previous day and I was feeling confident that this was going to be the day that I would get my PB tiger on surface lure. Again we started off with plenty of interest from smaller fish, and I landed anbout three or four fish between four and six pounds, before my lure was engulfed in a massive smash, and my rod pulled flat. The fish jumped from the water and it was clear that it was over ten pounds when we saw it airborne. My heart was in my mouth as I fought the fish, praying that the hooks would stay in. Sure enough I got it to the boat and Gerard netted an 11lb tiger for me.
I was super stoked, and couldn’t get the smile off my face. About twenty minutes later there was a gigantic smash on my lure and the fish unfortunately missed. I quickly retrieved it back and flicked it back to the same spot and started working it. Three twitches and the water was turned to froth as a huge tiger smashed the lure on the top, her whole back coming out of the water as she hit. She jumped spectacularly three times, each time my heart almost stopped as I expected to see the lure come flying back at me, but she stayed on and I finally brought her to the side of the boat. She weighed 15lb on the boga grip and was an absolutely magnificent fish.
The trip went on, with more big fish being landed than I would have imagined possible on surface lures. Gerard also landed a very nice specimen of a pink happy bream on a copper spoon, which is reasonably unusual. It was a really pretty fish. All in all a very succesful trip, with the fish that we after playing the game and allowing us to catch them in a way that very few tigerfish have been caught in the past. I am dead keen to do more topwater lure fishing for tigers, and am quite sure that this will become a popular method of catching these spectacular fish in the future. Nothing quite matches the vicious smash on a surface lure, and it is incredibly exciting fishing.
Yesterday saw us pack up and head for home, but I will definitely be back and I am already looking forward to the next trip.