Oct 24

Tanzania Tigerfish Week 5: 11 – 18 Oct 2015

Eight years have come and gone in Tanzania. Amazing fish have been caught and released. Fly lines, rods and spirits have been broken. Tears of joy and sadness have been shed over countless unforgettable moments while attempting to tame the untamable. After so long, some of the rare becomes seemingly common. Thus is the ironic curse of living on location. Some weeks, however, are more deeply etched in the memories of all those who were there to witness them than others. The fifth week of the 2014 season was such a trip. So forgive me for writing a novel, but read on as history has been made this day.

Little did we know that when Tom, Mark, John, Phil, Max, Bill, Bob and John arrived in camp, our perceptions of what lay beneath would change forever.

Things started off well on all sides with the guys on the Mnyera connecting with few but big fish and tom sinking a black and red whistler into a deep seem on the upper Mnyera and coming tight with a enormous fish early on his first mourning. After realizing that tom fought a tiger as if he had done it his entire life the guide just waited, net in hand, for his chance to fully covert this early chance at a fish of a life time. Soon tom was thrilled to be kneeled in the shallows with his well earned 20lb tiger. Photos were taken as a hippo voiced its annoyance at our presence, while  one of the finest conditioned fish we have ever seen rolled back into the deep to be caught again. The action had started.

Releasing a trophy tanzania tigefish

Releasing a trophy tanzania tigefish

 

After a long drive to the Ruhudji, the enthusiastic visitors to Africa’s only wish was that the drive through the bush  had been longer. The perfect attitude to have on such a remote destination. The guys were busy all day with shots at fish coming from all the likely…and unlikely spots. John landing a good 14lb fish and Mark having a 12 pounder exploding on his tan bait fish pattern, in barely two feet of water, helped shed the last of the jet lag after a long flight from the US. Thus set the standard for all three days roaming the three beets of the Ruhudji. Back on the Mnyera it was time to walk the stunningly beautiful Kasingo rapids. The day kicked of with young Max hooking and landing a fish that appears only on the rarest of occasions. The Bagrid or yellow catfish. This fish is unlike any other in this system, sporting beautiful red fins, a heavily muscled body and a narrow flattened head the Baggrid is nothing to be toiled with. Max did well in landing his 25lb specimen. Things had only just started for the guests in the rapids that day.  Hooking up with up to ten tiger fish 14lb and above the guys were pumped with adrenaline, but adrenaline was not enough. After John had a great fish cut through his 50lb wire and Max having a 20lb plus fish wrap him around a lonely log in the middle of a pool. It became clear luck was not on our side. A great end none the less to the first half of the trip.

With a quick change over, the guys were amped to test their skills on new rivers. The fishing still being tough on the Mnyera, perseverance was the key to success. Knowing this the guys gave it their all and were rewarded with some good opportunities with some immense fish. Bill coming out up top with a stunning 19lb fish that sent him deep into his backing, leaving four strands of his multi-strand clinging to his prize,and Phil making a beautiful cast along the tail end of a pool in the Kasingo rapids and landing a 16lb fish after an impressive top water eat on yet another blue and black deer hair pattern. The guys were victorious regardless of the difficulty of the fishing.

Tom admiring one of his trophy tigerfish

Tom admiring one of his trophy tigerfish

The fourth and  the sixth day on the Ruhudji were again filled  with action and our guests landed many fish up to 11lbs. Max doing well on landing his biggest at 14lb. A great finish to their trip in Tanzania. Day five, although, is worthy of more accurate detail.

Tom, a well seasoned angler from Australia, arrived in Tanzania armed with his nine weight and his “vundu stick”. An immense set up consisting of an old Pen spooled with 80lb braid and a short piece of fiber glass that seemed like it once belong to a trebushea that hurled 1000lb rocks at Jerusalem. His gear, skill and will was now to be tested against two freaks of nature, that rose from the depths of the Ruhudji.

The guys had rigged toms “vundu stick” with a piece a Buffalo meat and waited while eating lunch peacefully under a shady water berry. The silence was soon broken by the ratchet on the pen screaming loudly and Tom was soon being pulled down a sand bank, battling the monster on the end of his line. Finally after fare fight with the Vundu (and a truly magnificent fight it was), TF guide Stu and boat driver wrestled the creature into submission. Toms fight with the vundu was over! Boat driver, guide and Tom struggled to lift and posed with the Vundu well over 100lbs. With the day coming to an end, as if the Vundu was not enough, it was time for Tom to etch his name at the top of the hall of fame amongst all anglers.

Tom, TF guide Andrew, and coxswains Said and Sixbetwork together to get a pic of the biggest vundu laded in Tanzania. A massive fish estimated at over 100lbs

Tom, TF guide Andrew, and coxswains Said and Sixbet work together to get a pic of the biggest vundu laded in Tanzania. A massive fish estimated at over 100lbs

After connecting with a fish that was estimated around 19lbs that spat the fly, the guide decided to hang around the deep seem that ran off sand drop-off to a considerable depth along a clay bank. Adding two tungsten beads it was time to scratch the river bed. On his second strip toms black brush was eaten by something obviously big as it turned down stream with unstoppable power. With his head turned away in a attempt to control the boat, the guide missed the fish jumping for the first time but herd Tom and Saidi yell “tiger”. Something in their voice said that this was no normal tiger. This was different. Chasing the fish down stream, after it wrapped three times around a stick in mid stream, the guys were relieved to still be tight with the fish. Shortly after, the fish arced up toward the surfaced to offer the first glimpse for the anglers on the boat. All three stood in awe and horror at what they had just witnessed. Adrenaline sky rocket and stress levels created hernia’s in neighboring country’s and after what seemed like hours the fish, barely able to fit, was finally netted. Kneeling on a sand bank the three stared. Speechless. Still shaking in the presence of something that words cannot describe, something that was a new world record on a fly rod, something that was Toms 28lb Tanzania tigerfish. Ending the fifth week with a fish that will be occupying the thoughts of angler and guide for the rest of their life.

Thomas and, TF guide Stu, together with a truly unforgettable fish. It is not often that one gets to witness a world fist, and when you do, it is never forgotten.

Thomas and, TF guide Stu, together with a truly unforgettable fish. It is not often that one gets to witness a world fist, and when you do, it is never forgotten.

A fishing trip is a combination of  many things. In order to truly get the most out of the far out destinations one must learn to appreciate what happens away from the water. What happens above the river bank is as much a part of these destinations as the Fish are. Our guests this week had such an appreciation, with sightings of lion, elephant and buffalo they were rewarded by simply looking at their surroundings and not being completely engulfed by the fish. This attitude insured a truly unforgettable experience, regardless of the fish caught.

A big thanks and well done to everyone. It was a pleasure to guide you here in Tanzania and we hope to see you back here in the future.

Kindest regards

The Tourette Fishing crew

 

Oct 20

Tanzania Tigerfish Week 4: 4 – 11 Oct 2014

With the waters in the Kilombero valley still dropping, although very slowly in the case of the Mnyera, the fishing was due to improve as we waited in anticipation for our new guests to arrive on the strip.

Henry, Jeremy, Craig, Dave, Richard, Mark, Kiki and Pedro arrived at the beginning of this week with varying degrees of experience gained while fishing various destinations around the world. They were all eager to test their skills against the Tanzanian tigerfish, and were soon matched up against some of the finest specimens Africa has to offer.

Jeremy with a short and fat 20lb beauty

Jeremy with a short and fat 20lb beauty

Jeremy, Henry, Craig and Richard got right into the groove early with their first three days on the Ruhudji  being “jam packed” with some excellent fishing. Around  ten fish were landed in the  14lbs and above class, along with countless ‘smaller fish’. The guys had to learn fast in order to take home some of the opportunities given to them, and learn fast they did. Jeremy, along with nasty line burns and all, took the fight to a 20lb fish that ate his natural brush fly in no more than two feet of water on the lower Ruhudji. With a partially raw hand, and whilst illustrating the diversity of the “f” word, Jeremy managed to landed a truly great fish.  Henry, hot on Jeremy’s heels, hooked into an extremely hard running 17lb fish which exited the hole from which it was hooked with incredible speed and ferocity. Henry managed to apply the brakes and eventually landed a super fish.

The Mnyera which has been suffering unseasonably cold and high water for the entire season was fishing a bit slower. However, Pedro, using the popular blue and black deer hair pattern, put his gear to the test on another 20lb monster. After a great fight Pedro was content as he kneeled in the cool shallow water, his muscles straining one last time, only now it was to pose with his catch for guide and camera. The first half of the trip had been nothing short of a success.

Pedro enjoys some time in front of the camera with a once in a lifetime 20lb tigerfish on the Mnyera

Pedro enjoys some time in front of the camera with a once in a lifetime 20lb tigerfish on the Mnyera

With a brief moment for groups to swop stories on the changeover day, our guests flies were back in the water looking for purchase in the in hospitable mouth of a trophy tigerfish. Gallant as their efforts were many of the flies were kindly returned by most of the fish on the last three days of the trip. Mutilated, but without the culprit which inflicted the damaged. Although many fish ranging from 5lb to a 14lb were landed, few of the many 15lb plus fish hooked made it into the net. However, it is uncommon for this destination to not surprise us with the unexpected. This week it came with yet another lost battle (and fly-line) to an  incredibly powerful vundu, and a spey rod finding its way into the Kasingo rapids.

Henry’s spey cast was something to marvel at, but watching the 15 foot rod bend into the 14 pounder that ate a crease fly off the surface was a truly unforgettable guiding experience.

On foot, on spey, on a surface fly, in deepest Africa.... can it get any better?

On foot, on spey, on a surface fly, in deepest Africa…. can it get any better?

All in all a great trip with well earned fish and good company (and coffee)  has come to an end.

A big thanks to Henry, Jeremy, Craig, Richard, Kiki, Pedro, Mark and David for joining us here in Tanzania, we hope to see you back some day.

Until next time

The Tourette Fishing Guides Crew.

Buffalo skews for lunch on the river banks

Buffalo skews for lunch on the river banks

Oct 17

Okavango Tigerfish Week 5: 5 – 10 Sept

After a few days off for the independence weekend break, the guides were eager to get back on the water and start the second phase of the season. Father and son team Dave and Chris drove into camp from Johannesburg and the rest of the group consisting of Johan, Janus as well as father and son, Brenden and Vincent, flew into Maun via Johannesburg.

Dave enjoying an evening tigerfish bite

Dave enjoying an evening tigerfish bite

The first day was spent searching the water for tell-tale signs of a catfish run and the tigerfish that lurk beneath.  TF guide Steve had the fly fishermen, Dave and Chris, on his boat and came across a very big run just below Palm Island. Both Dave and Chris were thick in the action and were treated to a multitude of strikes, including some  double figure specimens, but unfortunately none were landed as the crew got to terms with these notoriously tough to land fish.  The rest of the party who were eager bait and spin fishermen had more success and managed to land some good tigerfish on Effzett Spinners and the very successful Goya Jig.

Steve Dickinson, Okavango 6-11 October 2014 (69)

The catfish runs over the week were good but the boat pressure over the independence week seemed to take its toll as the tigerfish  seem to be more cautious than normal. A change of tactics was decided on to get to fresh water and present new patterns to fish.  The spin fishermen were off to look for live bait, while the fly fishermen were off to find fresh runs and open to fishing a number of disciplines. After quick tackle and tactics prep with the guests the following morning we all headed out to the lagoon at camp in search of some small bream to use as live bait before heading to new waters.

Brenden and Johan catfish and tigerfish double up

Brenden and Johan catfish and tigerfish double up

Now I knew from a young age that I would somehow follow a career in fishing, but never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would get paid to put a worm onto a hook, which is exactly what happened. The camaraderie among the anglers and guides was at a high as we spent a good part of the early morning  catching palm size bream on stick rods (not unlike the first fish we ever caught growing up). We then headed downstream to some good areas to drift and present the live bait to some hungry tigerfish.  Not long after the first live bait was set out and Brenden landed the first Double figure tigerfish of 12 pounds.  The day just got better and better with many hook-ups, breakups and fish landed.  Some good sized catfish came to the net and by the end of the day everyone landed some very nice fish on lures, flies and live bait, including a 17 pound catfish for Johan, a 10.5 pound Tigerfish for Chris and a 9 pound Tiger for Dave.

Steve Dickinson, Okavango 6-11 October 2014 (82)

Chris with a healthy 10.5lb tigerfish

Although the majority of fishing to tigerfish over the season is with fly or artlure, for groups that are open to fishing a live bait on circle hook as this one was, the experience can be extremely rewarding. From getting excited over catching the perfect size live bait in the morning lagoon session, to the chaos that erupts when ones live bait is picked up, the excitement and exhilaration is hard to forget.

17lb catfish for Johan and Brenden

17lb catfish for Johan and Brenden

They say that when the going gets tough, the tough gets going… and this was  a case in point with this group who were keen on sampling a number of fishing methods during their visit.  That is the way it goes with fishing and keeping an open mind sometimes is the difference between success and failure.

Pierre Swartz, Okavango 6-11 October 2014 (17)

Brenden’s 13lb fish tippet the scales as the heaviest for the week

It was a really great trip and an eye opener for a fly fishing purist like me. So next time you see me on the Okavango don’t be surprised if you find me with a can of worms and bucket full of live baitfish drifting down the crazy river.

Cheers for now.

Pierre and the Okavango Guides Team

Another great fish for Dave

Another great fish for Dave

Oct 10

Tanzania Tigerfish Week 3: 27 Sept – 4 Oct 2014

Bill arrived from the USA as our sole guest for the week. With four guides to one guest, and 120 km of water on the two rivers all to himself, we were confident Bill was going to have a productive week.

 

Fishing the Mnyera River

Fishing the Mnyera River

Bill’s introduction the tigerfishing on the Mnyera in Tanzania was a chaotic. Apart from the fish hooked and jumped, he watched his guide go overboard with the anchor, while snapping his rod in the process. Not the finest moment in any guides career. Fortunately Bill took it in his stride with great humor and grace. Although only a handful of fish were landed over the first day and half, Bill connected to a number of 15lb plus trophies which managed to throw the fly before they were landed. Having connected to some of Tanzania’s famed trophy tigerfish, and landing  tigerfish up to 11lbs, Bill was aware of just what he was up against, and we were looking forward to getting a monster to the boat.

 

Armed with two nine weights, one rigged with a floating and the other with 300 grain sinking  line,  and a selection of flies including flashy bait-fish patterns, colorful Golden Dorado flies as well as a selection of deer hair patterns, we set out on foot to walk and fish the Kasingo rapid section. Things started off well and we landed yet another 11lb fish on a green and black deer hair pattern. Bill also connected two much bigger fish which failed to hook up properly early on. Thereafter the fish went quiet as they sulked in the deeper water, averse to feeding.  Apart from some half hearted “rolls”, Bill only got another  touch later in the afternoon. The “touch” however, was from a fish well in the 18 – 20lb class! Although Bill fought the fish well, it unfortunately wrapped him around a log at the last minute which was a massive disappointment. And so ended a fun and exciting day at the rapids. With this it was s time to head over to the Ruhudji.

Bill shows off a superb Tanzania tigerfish

Bill shows off a superb Tanzania tigerfish

The notorious black mud caused some delays as we bogged down en route Samaki Camp, but apart from this, the drive across was uneventful (in a good way). Bill started things off on the lower Ruhudji with a day filled with action and landed many fish ranging from 4lbs to 10lbs.
Bills last two days on the Ruhudji were tough going as the persistent winds and overcast conditions kept the fish from feeding aggressively. Bill however fished well and landed another 11 pounder and a beautiful 12lb fish. As was the theme for the week (and tigerfishing in general) Bill connected to a handful of fish over his last 2 days that most anglers only meet in their dreams, but the  curse of landing the BIG one persisted.

Denis (coxswain) and Bill enjoying the rewards of good team work with a healthy 11lb tigerfish

Denis (coxswain) and Bill enjoying the rewards of good team work with a healthy 11lb tigerfish

Landing a trophy tigerfish in these rivers is not easy. The ferocity of the take, hard bony mouths, and aerial acrobatics combined with the size of these fish, and the structure rich rivers in which they swim, all stack up against the angler. It is without exception, that all who visit the Mnyera and Ruhudji Rivers are quickly humbled by their first interactions with the trophy tigerfish that reside in these beautiful rivers. Keeping ones cool, remaining positive, and getting ones fly back in the water after losing a trophy tigerfish is a valuable trait in a fly fisherman. .  Bill was one of these fisherman, who displayed this fine quality in bucket loads. When Bill had the “tiger method” worked out he realized that not only did a lot of skill go into landing these fish, but also equal amounts of luck. Bill hooked into many massive fish and although he could not have fought that fish harder they still managed to spit the fly. Keeping his head high, Bills humor and relentless effort were a great example to the guides team.

Fall off the boat, and the hunter quickly becomes the hunted!

Fall off the boat, and the hunter quickly becomes the hunted!

Well done Bill from all the Guides. This was a truly great week of fishing and company. That big one with your name on it is still waiting, and we look forward to netting her for you in the future!

 

Kindest Regards

 

Stu, Mark, Andrew and Greg

 

Oct 06

Tanzania Tigerfish Week 2: 20 – 27 Sept 2014

After a week of resting the river, the arrival of the second group came with high expectations. With the Ruhudji in good condition and the Mnyera steadily improving we were hoping for a hot week.

The trip to the Ruhudji with Scott, Sheila, Steve, Frans, Maggie, and Dave was very much uneventful and we arrived in camp without incident ready to thrash the water

tiger tails in Africa

tiger tails in Africa

The first afternoon and first full day on the Ruhudji was filled with action and the guys landed a good amount of fish ranging from four pounds to Sheila’s fourteen pounder. Tim, fishing on the Mnyera had a tougher start to his trip with less attention being paid to his flies. His persistence however resulted in several hook ups with fish well into their teens.

In typical fishing protocol the hot actions of the first afternoon and full day on the Ruhudji was doused by two very tough days on the same river, where hits were far and few between. Although the guys connected with some excellent fish, few made it into the net.

Tim with a great 19b tanzania trophy

Tim with a great 19b tanzania trophy

 

Meanwhile, on the Mnyera Tim’s luck had taken a turn for the best. Still putting in the hard hours Tim did exceptionally well in landing a massive twenty pound tiger in the morning session, and as if that was not enough, at last light, while fishing a newly formed ox-bow on the upper Mnyera, he wrenched a very impressive nineteen pounder out from the depths. One could not ask for a more than satisfying send off from the Mnyera for Tim.

 

Solid head and shoulders of a 20b tigerfish on fly. Well done Tim, and welcome to the 20lb club!

Solid head and shoulders of a 20b tigerfish on fly. Well done Tim, and welcome to the 20lb club!

When the two groups swapped rivers it came with the usual un-avoidable and newly formed enthusiasm. New river, new fish! With everybody barley giving their lines a chance to dry we hit the rivers hard.  The high cold waters were still playing havoc. The crew all put in a huge effort in an attempt to get their hands on to the trophy tigers that make these rivers their home.  Tim, did well again with a very good sixteen pounder. Steve was also keeping up with Sheila when he landed a superb fourteen pounder. Frans and Dave had an exciting time in the Kasingo Rapids, where a handful of trophy fish were hooked, but few made it to the net. We were also witness to Maggie doing battle with a truly enormous vundu.

Many a vundu has been hooked over the years. Few anglers are however fortunate enough ever meet the beast that does its best to wrap ones fly line around any piece of structure it can find, most often succeeding with ease.  Maggie pulled as hard as she could, and almost got wrenched out the boat herself,  and after what seemed like an hour, Maggie guided the massive vundu onto a sand bank. Two bends and a couple hundred meters down stream from where it was hooked. We estimate its weight at around 70lbs.  Arguably one of the biggest Vundu ever landed on fly, and I am sure the biggest ever by a women fly fisher.

 

Maggie and arguably the biggest vundu ever landed by a lady flyfisher

Maggie and arguably the biggest vundu ever landed by a lady fly fisher

A big thanks to Maggie, Scott, Dave, Frans, Steve and Sheila, and Tim for joining us in the Tanzanian bush. Well done too you all.

 

Oct 02

Okavango Tigerfish Week 4: 20 – 25 Sept 2014

A passing cold front accompanying strong winds was going to put a damper on the good fishing we had experienced over the last few weeks.  Pierre Wasserman, who had an accident prior to the trip and was badly injured, made the trip in spite of the pain he was experiencing to join his fishing buddies of 15 years on their annual getaway.

Arthur Stamatis, Okavango 20-25 September 2014 (15)

The excitement was high even though the tough conditions would require some extra effort and patience to land some tigerfish.  The runs were there and catfish were active, but as is the case with frontal systems and strong winds, the tigers were not their normal aggressive self.

Willie and a fin-perfect 5lb tigerfish

Willie and a fin-perfect 5lb tigerfish

Fishing is always high on the agenda but that is not all that there is to do and see in the delta.  Pierre Wasserman, who is also an avid photographer managed to snap some great shots of all the different bird species like Fish Eagles, African Skimmers, Malachite Kingfishers and White Fronted Bee eaters, just to name a few.  We also had sightings of elephant along with the usual big crocodiles and hippos that make the delta their home.

Okavango lunch in the shade

Okavango lunch in the shade

Despite the tough conditions,  but by the end of the week everyone landed some good fish.  Pierre Singery was elated when he landed a few 6 pounders on his first tigerfishing trip and Mark Baleta was just happy to be out in the bundus, rediscovering the Wildman inside himself and land a few striped water dogs.

Tigerfish love to go arial. This fish unfortunately threw the fly before it was landed.

Tigerfish love to go arial. This fish unfortunately threw the fly before it was landed.

Arthur, Willem and Wim also landed some nice fish but it was Pierre Wasserman who took the trophy by landing a Pink Happy, Thin-faced Largemouth as well as a number of big tigers during the week while he was supposed to be resting in bed.

Giant kingfisher coming in to land. Great photo courtesy Pierre Wasserman

Giant kingfisher coming in to land. Great photo courtesy Pierre Wasserman

After 4 weeks of guiding the guides have a few days off for a bit of r&r and to catch up on some lost sleep.  We also say farewell to Lionel who has some other commitments, and welcome Steve to the guides team for the 2nd half of the season.

Pierre and a great 6.5lb fish that was as good as sight fished for

Pierre and a great 6.5lb fish that was as good as sight fished for

We are looking forward to the next phase of the season starting on the 6th of October.

Cheers for now.

Kyle, Pierre, Lionel and Steve – Guides team.

African fish eagle taking to the air. Pic courtesy Pierre Wasserman

African fish eagle taking to the air. Pic courtesy Pierre Wasserman

Sep 21

Okavango Tigerfish Week 3: 14 – 18 Sept 2014

Mike with a solid 9.5lb fish during an early morning session.

Mike with a solid 9.5lb fish during an early morning session.

Delayed flights, dodging potholes and donkeys during the late evening transfer on a dark road in Africa, and a  lost anchor early on the first day of fishing marked the start of an interesting 4 days on the water.  Mike and Peter had to spend their first night in Maun after a 10 hour flight delay. They caught an early morning transfer from Maun to meet up with the rest of their party consisting of Ken, Anton, Graham and Jem who were already in camp. With regards to the anchor…… I will not go into details about what went down. Thankfully the guests on board for the day had a good sense of humor and were very forgiving (after quick and somewhat painful ‘straf dop’ that evening in camp).

TF Guide Kyle on a mission to find tigers with Mike and Pete

TF Guide Kyle on a mission to find tigers with Mike and Pete

 

After my rocky start, I was not going to except defeat so easily and after some deliberation with senior guides, Kyle and Lionel, decided to change my tactics to suite the changing conditions.  The runs were gathering momentum with thousands of catfish pushing on upstream, however the tigers did not show up in their usual numbers, and we were made to work for the fish that came to hand.  The curse on my boat was lifted and my mojo restored after Mike landed the first double figure tigerfish of the season. A super 10 lb fish that devoured  a black SF brush fly on Mike’s very first cast on the 3rd day.

Graham, landed this 12.5lb fish to take the biggest fish of the week honours

Graham, landed this 12.5lb fish to take the biggest fish of the week honours

Not long after that Graham, using a flick-stick and tiger jig, landed a beast of a tigerfish weighing in at 12.5 lbs.  After a few more tigers were landed,  Mike also got his first three-spot bream on fly. A superb fish which we all thoroughly enjoyed landing. This was followed by some time out of the midday heat, enjoying a couple of well earned G&T’s and a dip in the pool before the afternoon session.

Mike with another great 3 sport bream on fly for the season

Mike with another great 3 sport bream on fly for the season

On the last full day of fishing the guides stumbled upon some good runs downstream of the lodge where the tigers were feeding furiously on the surface, chasing and smashing the fleeing baitfish.  The action was explosive and very visual as Jem and Ken got smashed on just about every cast.  During the carnage, both anglers landed some very good tigerfish, up to 7 lbs, as well as a whopping thin-face largemouth of 5 lbs.  This great session was a fitting end to a great trip with a super bunch of guys.  We headed back to the lodge for dinner and a solid fines evening ensued,  where both guides and guests were  made to “pay” for their misfortunes during the week.  Needless to say everyone had a good time during a week filled with good company, good food and good fishing.

Tigerfish double up action with Ken and Anton

Tigerfish double up action with Ken and Anton

See you on the water.

Pierre, Lionel and Kyle.

Jeremy admiring his thin-face largemouth

Jeremy admiring his thin-face largemouth

Sep 18

First couple days of chasing poons in Coast Rica. Some tough sessions, but things are looking up.

Cold beers after fighting big tarpon, Costa Rica

Cold beers after fighting big tarpon, Costa Rica

I’m sitting enjoying a cold Imperial Beer, one of Costa Rica’s finest lagers and it is GOOD. For the past two days we have really struggled, but finally it all came together this afternoon making this cold beer taste all the sweeter. In short, during the afternoon session between the 4 boats we jumped upwards of 16 fish as well as boating 2 tarpon and a number of good sized jacks. It was session of large schools of poons smashing baitballs on the surface. A adrenaline filled couple of hours, including some experiences that will stay with us for many years to come.

The two days leading up to this session have been the polar opposite, the weather has been up and down, leading to a sea that has been choppy with very little signs of tarpon. For these first few sessions we really toiled, and on occasions we would go for an hour or so without even seeing a tarpon roll.

Tarpon Scales, Costa Rica

Tarpon Scales, Costa Rica

The upside of these tough sessions was it showed the real grit of the guys in this group, as everyone stuck to their guns, focused , and fished hard through these tough sessions. As hard as they were, we still managed to get a couple good fish it the boat, most notably a fish of roughly 150lb landed by Karl.

With this afternoons session under the belt, the forecast looking good, the beers cold, the tarpon starting to feed, we should be in for some really exciting fishing these next few days. I am sure the report I put up tomorrow will be pretty exciting, so watch this space.

 

Sep 16

Okavango Tigerfish Season Week 2: 8 – 13 Sept 2014

The next group of anglers consisting of Graham, Ewan, Roberto, Alessandro, Steven and Duncan arrived at camp full of anticipation and eager to start fishing.  Some members of the party were return guests, so expectations were high and the pressure was on.   With the warm weather setting in, and the runs intensifying, the group of 6 anglers were ready to tackle the tigerfish.  The fishing was not easy though, and the grouped worked hard for their strikes. As always, patience is the key and pretty soon everyone was on the board landing some nice fish.  Drifting with the current and casting flies into likely looking lies proved to be very effective, and fishing off the sand banks produced some good fish when the runs were not at their best.

Steve and Graham cruising with Lionel as the sun sets on the Okavango

Steve and Graham cruising with Lionel as the sun sets on the Okavango

The water level of the Okavango river is dropping steadily and the temperature rising each day. Resulting in the barbell marauding hoards of baitfish out of the papyrus into the main channel where the tigerfish wait in ambush.   The frequent sightings of hippos, crocs, fish eagles, kingfishers, marabou storks and other wildlife kept everyone entertained during the boat drives up and down the river, offering the budding photographers in the group many opportunities to capture that perfect piece of wild Africa.

Sandro with a great 7lb fish

Sandro with a great 7lb fish

The highlight of the week was the last few sessions of the trip when the guides took a gamble to explore some areas south of where they had been fishing. They were fortunate to find some massive runs, and have them all to themselves.

Ewan and Steve enjoying their 6th 'double'

Ewan and Steve enjoying their 6th ‘double’

As is the case in these scenarios, chaos erupted. Line burns, broken rods, popped leaders, lost fish and broken spirits were experienced, but the anglers pushed on without ever giving up. Through all the carnage, some great fish (tigerfish, nemwbe and bream) were landed, and the experience will not soon be forgotten.  The last day produced some 107 odd fish between 6 anglers.

Steve showing off some "Okavango Emerald" with a beautiful Nembwe

Steve showing off some “Okavango Emerald” with a beautiful Nembwe

Roberto and Alessandro landed a 9 lb tiger each and Duncan landed a very nice three-spot bream of 6 lbs which fell to a fire-tiger clouser.  The week could not get any better and with a setting sun we headed back to the lodge for the final dinner.  Duncan had a score to settle with some of the fish he lost during the day  so we stopped at the mouth of a lagoon where some fleeing baitfish were observed for ‘one last cast’. Following a good cast in the right area Duncan hooked and landed a super 7lb tiger that eluded him during the week. It was the perfect end to a super 4 days on the water and we could not have asked for more.

Roberto with a well earned 9lb tigerfish

Roberto with a well earned 9lb tigerfish

The fishing is looking very promising for the next couple of weeks and we are looking forward to welcome the next group of fanatic anglers into camp.

Tired anglers taking a rest mid way through a 100+ fish day

Tired anglers taking a rest mid way through a 100+ fish day

See you on the river.

The Okavango guides team:  Kyle, Lionel and Pierre.

G&T sundowners... a firm favorite on the Okavango

G&T sundowners… a firm favorite on the Okavango

Sep 15

Tanzania Tigerfish Week 1: 6 – 13 Sept 2014

The first group of the 2014 season in Tanzania consisted of three friends from Brazil. Celso, Pedro and Aline. Our guests arrived on the 6th of Sept, a late start to the season which generally gets under way in Mid August. Unfortunately late season rains had kept both rivers high and cold. The Mnyera in particular was showing no signs of dropping as is traditionally the case at this time of year. Regardless of the potential difficult fishing conditions, fish we must, and so we took to the water as soon as the guests were settled in.

Day one and two were spent peppering the banks of the Mnyera, and although all our guests made a valiant effort, few fish made it into the boat. After the first day of intermittent drizzle, and a second day of similar conditions, catches were scarce.  Celso  managed to land 4 fish ranging from 3lbs to 8lbs, which was good going considering the conditions. Apart from Celso’s few fish, and several halfhearted attempts of tigers trying to eat Pedro’s and Alines flies, it was time to face the fact that the Mnyera was not going to improve in the next couple of days, and the seemingly lethargic tiger fish in this river were not getting any closer to the hungry and aggressive tigerfish we all know. The decision to leave the Mnyera and head over to the Ruhudji a day early was made.

Pedro with a healthy 12lb tigerfish

Pedro with a healthy 12lb tigerfish

On departure to the Ruhudji the immediate concern was not of the conditions of the river, but the state of the newly opened road to get us to camp. After the unseasonable rains of the last few weeks our  worst fears came to light. The wet black cotton clay sunk its soft claws into the landcruiser bogging us down numerous times. Armed with a machete and axe, we ‘deforested’ the immediate area and pushed on  through the black porridge that was once a road beneath the vehicle. After much sweat and hard graft we eventually got the tired but eager guests to the Ruhudji river camp.

Saturated black cotton clay soil making the standard 1hr45 drive between camps a serious 7hr adventure!

Saturated black cotton clay soil making the standard 1hr45 drive between camps a serious 7hr adventure!

With not much daylight left, the guys (and girl) did well on their first session on the Ruhudji. There were a number of considerably more aggressive hits and Pedro landed a beautiful 12lb fish. The scene was set for a much better 2nd half of the trip.
With a new day and newly formed eagerness we headed to the upper Ruhudji. With true upper Ruhudji form guests were rewarded with some excellent fishing. Celso quickly landed a nice 11lb fish and connected with 5 more fish well over 17lbs, one in particular big fish launching itself right over the front of the boat and was estimated at over 20 lbs. The fishing was back on!

Aline  and guide Mark Murray proudly display a massive Tanzania tigerfish. This 18lb fish was taken on the Ruhudji river on a black&white brush fly. On the initial take it ran screaming down stream into the backing in a matter of seconds.

Aline and guide Mark Murray proudly display a massive Tanzania tigerfish. This 18lb fish was taken on the Ruhudji river on a black&white brush fly. On the initial take it ran screaming down stream into the backing in a matter of seconds.

The last two full days of the trip were spent on the middle and lower Ruhudji where some interesting and exciting fishing took place, with many more big fish hook-ups keeping the guys on their toes. Pedro got himself another nice 12 pound fish, and Celso an 11 pounder. The star of the week however was Aline and her “take everything and give nothing back” approach to fighting trophy tigerfish. Aline did superbly well to land  a massive 18lb fish, that at first glance looked way over 20lbs. All the tigerfish were in mint condition, fat and healthy, which bodes very well for the rest of the season!

This pic of a black velvet (caught by Jeff Currier 2010) nymphing in the rapids shows the size we have found them up to now.

This pic of a black velvet (caught by Jeff Currier 2010) nymphing in the rapids shows the size we have found them up to now.

 

Last, but not least, one of the highlights of the week came when Celso hooked up with what was thought to be a big tigerfish. However, on its first roll it turned out to be something quite different! Previous seasons in the Kasingo rapids we have experienced some unique fly-fishing for local yellowfish species. One of these species is relatively unknown in the ichthyology field,and has been dubbed the  “black velvet” by the guides, due to the beautiful mauve and black tinges on margins of its scales and fins. Originally we thought these fish maxed out at about 3lbs. Celso’s catch has changed everything. After a long and loud fight, Celso landed a huge 9.5lb black velvet which surprisingly ate a blue and black deerhair pattern, thus concluding a challenging yet enjoyable week.

TF Guide Stuart Harley and Celso Spinelli with a 9,5lbs yellowfish taken on a blue & black deerhair pattern while fishing for tigerfish.

TF Guide Stuart Harley and Celso Spinelli with a 9,5lbs yellowfish taken on a blue & black deerhair pattern while fishing for tigerfish.

A big thanks to Pedro, Aline and Celso  for their relentless effort and patience in tough conditions,  and well done on all your excellent fish.

Cheers for now

Andrew and the TF Guides Crew (Mark, Greg and Stu)

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