Fishing on The Zambezi River
Fishing on the Zambezi River to the novice or experienced angler is possibly as close as one can get to absolute perfection. But what can one expect to catch and how? What are the best times of year and what are the potential dangers if any?
Our focus on this page is fishing on the Zambezi River in the section above the
As all fishermen know it is not only about the catch but it's about being at one with nature and your surroundings. Well what better place can you do this than on the Mighty Zambezi River?
"One of the
greatest charms of angling is that of all the sports , it
affords the best opportunity to enjoy the wonders and beauty of
What You Can Catch
There are over 75 fish species found inhabiting these waters. The most sought-after of these is the Tiger Fish, well renowned as probably the greatest fighting fresh water fish around. It is a ferocious species with a record for the largest catch in Zimbabwe being 16.10kgs out on Lake Kariba.
However, you can also potentially catch three-spot, pink-happy and Yellow-belly bream (Nembwe), Upper Zambezi Yellowfish, African Pike and Silver Barbel.
The gorgeous Yellow-belly Bream (Nembwe) reach over 6kgs (13.2 lbs) in weight and is very popular amongst anglers. It is a great fighting fish and although not as well-known as the tiger fish, this species is relatively common to catch on the Upper Zambezi (average size is 2 to 3kgs). It is a thrill to catch these and well worth any fishing trip.
Vundu is a type of catfish and is the largest fish found in the Zambezi, and can grow as large as 55kg (121 lbs). However the Vundu is only found below the Victoria falls and not on the Zambezi River above the falls.
How To Catch It
Trolling and spinning with artificial lures for both Tiger fish and Nembwe are the standard methods used.
Bottom fishing and drift bait (fillet or live bait) are also successful methods.
Some of these methods obviously require the use of a boat, so unless you have your own, it is definitely advisable to take a tour with one of the fishing companies in Victoria Falls.
Drifting slowly down with the current and casting into the calm backwaters often yields great fish.
The large tiger fish generally hang out in the deep water so drifting with a fish fillet or live bait is possibly the best way to catch one of these fish. Big Tiger fish are not common on the Upper Zambezi, these days. Most likely due to intense fish poaching over many years.
Fishing from the river bank in the Zambezi National Park can be rewarding if you can find the right spot for both spinning and fly fishing. Sometimes giving you that extra mobility to search out fishes in exact spots especially during the very dry season when you can creep up on the shallow waters or jump onto the rocks and cast into the fast flowing current.
These tremendous fighters swim against the current all day long and are extremely fit. Their fight is unsurpassed by any other fish, so catching them on normal tackle is exciting in itself, but to catch one on a fly rod is beyond belief.
When to Catch Fish
Tigers Fish and Nembwe are targeted all year round, but are particularly prolific from late May through to December.
The rains generally start around the end of November, and with the rain comes muddy water and lots of debris as well as food. As the water levels rise through January many species of fish move into the floodplains to feed and breed.
In May the water levels reach their peak and then start to subside through the next few months until they are again at their lowest in November. It is as these water levels start to recede that one can have some truly excellent fishing on the Zambezi.
The bait fish, normally around June, have to leave the security of the floodplains and make their way back to the main channel, these "bait balls" are followed by the predators, and this is when a lot of action takes place and there is excellent fishing to be had with both lure and fly.
As the water levels continue to drop, the temperatures start to increase and the water becomes crystal clear from August through to November superb fishing of all species is to be had.
What to Look Out For While Fishing on the Zambezi River
The Zambezi is really in the wild, so there is no getting away from the fact that hippos and crocodiles live in these waters in profusion. Experienced guides however know how to avoid these animals and let them be, so that both man and animal can enjoy this magical place. So don't let these dangers stop you from going rather make sure you go only with someone who knows what they are doing.
If you are fishing on the Zambezi from the bank don't stand on the river bank next to a deep water channel for long periods of time, keep moving every few minutes. But in all honesty your biggest enemy here is the sun, the cool air blowing off the water lulls you into believing you are not getting burnt. So ensure that you have a wide brimmed hat, sun protection cream and even long sleeved shirts.
Mosquitoes won't worry you during the day, but at dusk they come out in full force so if you are going to be on the water at that time make sure you have some mosquito repellent with you.
Who to Go With
There are a couple of fishing companies operating in Victoria Falls. Fishing trips are not cheap and the last thing you want is to be landed up with a guide who has no interest in what he is doing or has forgotten the worms!! Yip that happened to us.
In our view the success of one's fishing trip entirely depends on your guide. Please contact us to book a fishing trip for you with a reputable company.
Fishing trips on the Zambezi include:
• Boat hire and equipment
• National park fees - US$10 per person
A good fishing trip, like a well cooked meal or a well lived life, always ends a little too soon.
Here's an article on A List Of The Top Fishing Spots In Zimbabwe
Do You Have A Great Story, Tips or Advice About Fishing on the Zambezi?
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Stories, Tips and Advice From Other Fishermen
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...
Super Morning on the River
The legendary Tigerfish
8.5kg Tiger caught in the Zambezi at "Tiger valley"