Fishing on the Zambezi River for the novice or experienced angler is perhaps as close to absolute perfection as it gets. But what can you expect to catch and how? What are the best times of the year and what are the potential dangers, if any?
As all anglers know, it’s not just about catching, but also being one with nature and its environment. Well, what better place can you do that than on the mighty Zambezi River?
It constantly changes with the seasons, so one visit is never the same as the next, keeping you linked every time. Wildlife and birds are in abundance and for me nothing better than a day of fishing on the Zambezi River.
What you can catch
There are over 75 species of fish that inhabit these waters. The most sought after of these is the tiger fish, well known as possibly the largest fighting freshwater fish. It is a fierce species that can reach a weight of 33 lbs (15 kg).
However, you can also expect to catch Vundu, three-spotted and yellow-bellied bream, upper Zambezi yellow fish, and barbel to name a few of the most common.
Vundu is a type of catfish and is the largest fish found in the Zambezi, and can reach 100 pounds. The magnificent yellow-bellied bream (Nembwe) weighs over 4 kg and is very popular among fishermen.
How to catch it
Trolling and spinning with artificial lures for tigerfish and bream are the standard methods used. Bottom fishing and drift bait (nets or live bait) are also very effective methods.
Some of these methods obviously require the use of a boat, so unless you have your own it is highly recommended that you take a tour with one of the quality fishing companies in the area. Drifting slowly with the current and jumping into eddies often results in good fish. Very large tiger fish usually hang out in deep water, so drifting with a chicken or a fish net may be the best way to catch one of these monsters.
Fishing from the shore of the Zambezi National Park can be very rewarding if you can find the right spot for casting and fly fishing. Sometimes giving you that extra mobility to search for fish in specific locations, especially in the very dry season when you can crawl over shallow water or jump over rocks and jump into the swift current.
Targeting tiger fish on the fly is definitely one of the most challenging and exciting experiences any angler can have. Cardiac arrest hits are always followed by fantastic acrobatic aerial displays, as tigers dance across the surface of the water trying to throw your fly from their bony mouths (often successfully).
These formidable fighters swim against the tide all day long and are extremely fit, their combat is unmatched by any other fish, so catching them with normal gear is exciting in itself, but catching one with a fly rod is amazing.
When to catch it
Tigers Fish and Nembwe are targeted year round, but are particularly prolific from late May through December.
The rains usually start around the end of November, with muddy water and a lot of debris as well as food. As water levels rise through January, many species of fish move across the floodplains to feed and breed. In May, water levels reach their peak and then begin to drop over the next few months until they are at their lowest again in November. It is when these water levels start to drop that one can have excellent fishing on the Zambezi.
Baitfish, normally around June, must leave the safety of the floodplains and return to the main channel, these “bait balls” are followed by predators, and that’s when a lot of action is taken. takes place and there is excellent lure and fly fishing.
As water levels continue to drop, temperatures begin to rise and the water turns crystal clear from August to November, superb fishing of all species is to be had.
What to watch out for
The Zambezi is a true Africa, so it is undeniable that hippos and crocodiles live in abundance in these waters. The experienced guides, however, know exactly how to avoid these animals and let them do it, so that man and animal can enjoy this magical place. So don’t let these dangers keep you from going, make sure you only go with someone who knows what they’re doing.
If you are fishing the Zambezi from the shore, do not stay on the river bank next to a deep water channel for long periods of time, keep moving every few minutes. But in all fairness your biggest enemy here is the sun, the cool air that comes out of the water makes you think you’re not getting burned. So make sure you have a wide-brimmed hat, sunscreen, and even long-sleeved shirts.
Mosquitoes won’t worry you during the day, but at dusk they come out in force, so if you’re going to be out on the water by this time make sure you have mosquito repellent with you.
The water in this section of the Zambezi above Victoria Falls is very pure and pleasant to drink.
Who to go with
There are a few fishing companies operating in Victoria Falls. Boats and equipment are available on an hourly basis (minimum 2 hours) rates vary but you can expect to pay around $ 50 per hour per boat and if you book three or more hours you will get one hour free .