Tiger Fishing

The tigerfish (Hydrocynus vittatus) is undoubtedly Africa’s, if not the world’s, premier freshwater gamefish. Their toothy, muscular, streamlined appearance alludes to their unparalleled strength, speed and ferocity. The take of a tiger is nothing short of explosive, and when hooked they are cunning, dogged, acrobatic fighters that frequently leave fishermen with a snapped line and trembling knees. It is not uncommon to land fish of between 10-20 lb, while tigers can grow to in excess of 30lb.

Fishermen frequently visit popular destinations such as the Zambezi and Okavango rivers in search of this prized target species. Tigerfish can be found in many other rivers such as the Luangwa, Lunsemfwa and Luapula as well as in-land lakes and man made dams such as Lake Tanganyika, Cahorra Bassa Kariba and Pongola.

Tigerfish can be caught using a variety of techniques, certain techniques are more successful at different times of the year than others.  Careful planning of your Tiger fishing trip is essential as this species can be caught all year round however certain months of the year are more successful than others. Tigerfish can be caught spinning spoons and lures, trolling lures, on large hooks with live baits or drifting fillets.

Tiger Fishing Destinations

Western Zambezi – Zambia
Upper Zambezi – Zambia, Namibia & Zimbabwe
Kariba – Zambia & Zimbabwe
Lower Zambezi – Zambia, Zimbabwe
Cahorra Bassa – Mozambique
Kavango River – Namibia
Okavango River – Botswana
Pongola Dam – South Africa

Tigerfish are most active in warm, clear and fast flowing water. The southern hemisphere of Africa experiences its rainy season from late November to early March. During this time the rivers fill up and often break their banks flooding the wetland sections of the river. This is an important time for the ecology of the river as it give the river organism a chance to disperse out and reproduce, thus creating an abundance of food in the eco-system. Tigerfish become difficult to catch during this time of the year, some area’s of the river are better than others for fishing and different techniques are more successful than others.  As the rains subside and the water starts to warm up in the heat of the African sun, the muddied water starts to settle and slowly the flood plains start to recede back into the main running channels. By July the flood plains have started to dry up forcing big schools of bait fish back into the channels.  This is generally start of the Tiger fishing season, certain area’s are better earlier than others in the early season as flood plains recede at different rates with some drying up quicker.  By September countries like Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe are in there driest season and temperatures are reaching 35 degrees Celsius the Tigerfish are really active and come “on the bite”. September and October are your prime Tiger fishing months in general although October can be extremely hot reaching over 40 degrees Celsius, which can make fishing uncomfortable for those not used to these temperatures.

An occurance that is quite well known among fishermen is the ‘Tigerfish frenzy’, this occurs when Tigerfish go on a run attacking schools of baitfish in packs. Fishing one of these frenzies is an extremely exciting experience, it’s not ease to time an exact run but they generally occur between August and October. The Okavango is famously known for the Okavango Barbel Run, this is when the barbel school together  and chasing out the baifish from the papyrus on the river banks, the Tigerfish follow this run and join in on the feast in on this large big feeding frenzy.

Tiger Fishing Tours