Dec 18

Makhangoa Community Camp Grp 2 & 3: 8 – 13 and 14 – 18 Dec 2014

Group 2: 8 – 13 Dec 2014

After meeting Jaco, Hylton, Werner and Tim at the vehicle park, we drove in convoy back to our mountain fly fishing lodge, The Makhangoa Community Camp.  Unfortunately the weather must have gotten word of the new arrivals and we proceeded to get a good old Lesotho downpour on arrival. Needless to say, fishing was off for the afternoon. We all took this chance to move everyone into their rondavels,  unpack food, and prepare for the following days. The pent up excitement, with no fishing release, lead to a number of beers being drunk.

Looking down on Beat 3 - Makhangoa Community Camp

Looking down on Beat 3 – Makhangoa Community Camp

 

We woke the following day to a picture perfect clear mountain sky. After a quick breakfast we hit the water. With this group of well-seasoned river and Sterkies fishermen,  the yellows came easy, and by the end of the first morning all the gents had landed a good number of fish. We were chased off the water by another late afternoon storm, but content in a great days fishing and eager for the following 3 full days ahead.

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Day 3 dawned with water levels up, and slightly cooler, due to the previous nights rain. Dry and dropper and complete nymphing rigs are the name of the game when the waters are cooler, and the group all did well in the tougher conditions.  Over dinner we made plans to fish the furthest 4th beat the following day. This beat is something from a Lord of the Rings movie. Steep valley walls, and river that comprises fast bed rock glides, pocket water and deep blue pools. It is a also a beat where one starts to find more consistent trout numbers mixed in with the yellows.

Stalking yellows on the Bokong River - Makhangoa Community Camp

Stalking yellows on the Bokong River – Makhangoa Community Camp

Fishing beat 4,  entails a good little march up steam about 5km past the end of the road. After getting up there, we soon found hundreds of big happy yellow fish, all feeding happy and in the zone. Armed with big hoppers we started what will go down in the books as an epic day. We slowly meandered our way up the river taking fish at will, all sighted and on the dry. At the end of the day there was no known figure on the amount of yellows on dry, as well as a number of trout.

Lesotho Gold - the fruits of fishing high altitude stream

Lesotho Gold – the fruits of fishing high altitude stream

The last full day was spent on Beat 3, fishing up to where we had started the previous day.  Again it was big hoppers to sighted fish for the day, and countless number of fish landed and released.  With the weather holding out long enough for us to finish the whole beat and walk back to cruiser  in good time, it was a great end to the trip.

On behalf of myself, Pierre and the Makhangoa Community Camp Staff, it was a pleasure to have the group from FlyLeaders in camp, and we look forward to the annual trip planned going forward. Until next season!

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Going tight on a beautiful mountain run – Makhangoa Community Camp, Lesotho

Cheers

Stu and Pierre

Group 3: 14th-17th December

On Sunday we welcomed, Christo, Dave, Vossie, Johann, Steve and Piet. With everyone arriving in their own vehicles and at relatively unknown times, the day was a bit chaotic but we squeezed in plenty of fishing.  Once on the water, all the guests settled into the swing of fishing the Bokong, and after a few popped leaders as some school fees, everyone landed their fare share of good yellows.

Steve getting stuck into some solid rive yellow fish

Steve getting stuck into some solid rive yellow fish

On the first full day we made the plan to pack some lunch and with Piet, Johann, Dave and Vossie,  head up to fish the 4th beat which as explained in previous blogs is a good trek from the end of the road to the start, coupled and a fairly long march back at the end of the day. It is however absolutely worth the effort. Unfortunately some rain in the previous evening had turn the water cold and a bit dirty, undeterred we fished on, heading further and further uphill. The cold water had pushed most of the fish down river but this made for some very excited stalking and talking guys onto singular fish. This type of fishing  is very rewarding for both guide and guests. Pieter and Johann who were a bit further downstream did very well, nymphing in the clean but chilly water.

The beautiful Bokong River Valley - Makhangoa Community Camp

The beautiful Bokong River Valley – Makhangoa Community Camp

Next day we woke up to a slightly emotional sky. Again undeterred we headed up to fish the 3rd beat. The lads quickly got into the fish in a big way. The sun broke through lifting everyone’s spirits. But as quickly as it came it was gone and the weather went from emotional to downright depressed. The fish however being used to the wet carried on feeding hard, so the rain coats came on and we all toughed it out and found ourselves laughing at something that only fishermen would understand as the yellows rose to eat large hoppers off the top through the rain. Soaked, we headed back to camp and after hot showers all huddled around the fire and feasted on a steaming lamb curry.

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David enjoying some trophy yellowfish action

Much to our surprise the 3rd day bought cold, but very clean water, even after the heavy rains from the previous afternoon. The sun was out to play which is always great. The group focused on fishing nymphs under indicators in the cold high water, and had a field day. Dave and Piet managed to land a couple of really big yellows. Piet chased one about 200 meters downstream before his fly line was reunited with his reel.  Apart from the countless fish landed by the group, 2 fish in the 8lb range highlighted a superb last day

All in all the entire trip was a huge success with many laughs, many yellowfish, a couple trout (rainbow and browns) and a few more laughs, shared amongst a great group of chaps..

Vossie in on the action!

Vossie in on the action!

 

We look forward to many more.

Cheers for now

Stu, Keith and Pierre

Dec 11

Okavango Tigerfish Week 9: 9 – 14 Nov 2015 (Final Week)

Flying in early on the first day, we had the De Jong family joining us as our last guests for the season. Lourence sr. with his two sons, Lourence jnr and Eben. Being their first trip they stepped off the plane eager to get on the river.

The first afternoon session was focused on the deeper seems and sandbank drop-offs as the barbel runs were further down the river. Working the Goya jigs slowly the guys managed some fish and got the hang of everything pretty quickly.

Heading out the next morning for their first full day on the water, with some heavy weather over head, the guys knew they had some work to do and decided to try out some live-baiting. With the help of Kyle and myself, we rigged up some tiny hooks and worms as bait for the gents. After an hour or so we had a bucket full of livebait and the guys were ready to try for some tigers after lunch. The afternoon session however was fairly quiet but the guys still managed some nice 4 – 6lbs fish.

Kyle Reed, Okavango 9-14 November 2014 (1)

Day 2 we decided to take the guys down to Sepopa, about three hours downstream, to find some runs. The weather was really fowl so a slow day was expected. On arrival, Kyle’s boat came across a sizeable run that showed some potential. The guys worked really hard but when fish have lockjaw, there is not much you can do. By the end of the day though, the guys did managed to land some nice fish. All varying from 3-5lbs.

The next day we had an earlier start(also better weather) as we had a long run back home again in the afternoon. Soon after the start, we came across a good run about 15mins down river. The fish were in feeding mode and at one stage the guys were connecting with fish cast for cast. However, this frenzy didn’t last long and soon the fishing started to slow down quite drastically.  After the 3hour trek back to Xaro Lodge in the late afternoon, we managed to squeeze in another little session just before dark and ended the day with a prize 5.5lbs Three-spot bream.

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The final day the guys reverted back to livebait-fishing as the weather turned south again. Despite the weather, the guys persisted and the day turned out to be a really good one. The guys made all the eats count and by the end of the day they had an 8lbs and two 6lbs fish to write home about. All in all a great way to end a trip.

The weather made things very tough for us this week but with such a great group of anglers in camp, it made the last week of the 2014 Okavango season a breeze.

Till next season

TF Guides Steve and Kyle

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Kyle Reed, Okavango 9-14 November 2014 (12)

Dec 11

Tanzania Tigerfish Week 9: 8 – 15 Nov 2014(Final Week)

The last week of the Tanzania tiger season came in what seemed like a blink of an eye. This week we welcomed back Dr Bentele for the fourth straight season. He was joined by two new anglers, Randy  from the USA and Johan  from Germany.

The guys started things off on the Mnyera and connected with big fish on both days on this river. Despite getting plenty of shots though, the guys really battled to convert and by the end of day two, they managed a good number of fish with the highlights being an 11 and 15lbs fish.

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Day 3 the guys made the trek over to the Ruhudji river and were greeted by seriously hungry fish! The first Ruhudji session was fished on the lower beat and fish of all kinds and sizes were throwing themselves at the flies! By the end of the day, each angler had some serious line burn on their fingers to remember this special session. As with most big tigerfish, they managed to get the better of the anglers but some really good fish were still landed. Both Karl and Randy lost fish in access of 20lbs after some spectacular jumps. Randy however still managed to bag a solid 15lb fish, while John was laying down the law and hammered many 8 to 11lbs fish! Things were looking good for the next two days.

Day 4 & 5 was fished on the upper and middle beat. The guys experienced some exceptional fishing on the upper Ruhudji, especially the section close to the remote Matumbi village, tucked away in the mountains at the top of the concession. Along this area the water is so clean that you can see the fish before it eats the fly! Again the guys did battle with numbers of fish in the 20lbs range but a lot of bad luck made converting these eats nearly impossible. Fish biting through wire, jumping off before the net, and just spitting the fly on the second or third jump. John however was keeping the guys in the game by landing a solid 15lbs tiger and a number of fish in the 10lbs range. Despite the amount of fish lost, everyone was having a good time and spirits were high for the last day in the rapids.

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The rapids are not an easy place to fish, especially on fly. Most of the spots, one does have room for a proper  back cast and with fast flowing water it meant controlling the fly was not an easy job.

The fish were not overly aggressive as hoped, but the ones that did eat were quite sneaky. Hitting the fly as it hit the water, leaving the angler with no time to gain control of the line  and set the hook! Some of the bigger fish also used the fast currents and structure to their advantage and leaving everyone with broken off leaders and lines.

The last two hours of the day was spent fishing off the boat on the upper reaches of the Mnyera. As was the story of the week, some monsters were hooked, but for various reasons, did not stick. Many fish in the 8 – 12 lb range were landed, and so marked the end of the trip, and a great 2014 season.

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Thanks to all our guest who joined us this year, although it was a tougher season than usual due to the crazy weather, however great fish were caught and unforgettable memories made. The high cold water over the season has resulted in all fish being caught in being  prime condition, fat and healthy. It was a constant over the season, and guides commented through out the season at what super condition the fish were in due to the colder than average temps.  This bodes well for a great spawning season, and  a super 2015. We can’t wait to get back and look forward to welcoming past and new guests back to this amazing corner of Tanzania, home to the infamous trophy tigerfish of the Mnyera and Ruhudji Rivers.

Kindest Regards

Tourette Fishing.

Tanzania 2014 (22 of 74)

Tanzania 2014 (13 of 74)

Tanzania 2014 (43 of 74)

Dec 11

Tanzania Tigerfish Week 8: 1 – 8 Nov 2014

Group no 8 this year started with only three guys. Ross from Australia, Danny from the USA, and Sham from South Africa. With such diversity of nationalities, and the good river conditions, we were keen to get started on a potentially very productive week.

The teams split over the two rivers with Ross on the Ruhudji, while Danny and Sham started things off on the Mnyera.

Eager to improve their fly-fishing skills, Danny and Sham got to work straight away. Although not exactly firing, the guys on the Mnyera still managed to connect with some good fish on their first three days. They managed to land a good number of 10 – 12lbs fish but in true tiger form, all the 15lbs + fish managed to win the battle, leaving anglers with trembling hands and shaking knees.

Sham with his 11lbs tigerfish

Sham with his 11lbs tigerfish

Meanwhile Ross, whom was on his 2nd trip to Tanzania, was well accustomed to these fish and made almost every opportunity count. Ross connected with a number of fish on day 1 and by the end of the day one,  he had a 15, 13, and a couple 11lbs fish to brag with.

Over the next two days he improved his hookup-to-land ration even more. By the end of day 3, on the  turnover, Ross managed some more good fish with the standouts being a 17,16 and 15lbs fish.

Day 4 brought some more guests into camp. Miles, James and Ingy came in on their private plane and with their arrival, the Mnyera was building up to a proper shakedown. Everyone got right into the swing of things and started landing some good fish from the go. Fish of up to 15lbs were landed with a considerable amount of seemingly bigger fish getting the better of the anglers. One fish even managed to explode one of Miles’s reels! Ross, with seemingly indestructible reels, carried on his streak and landed another handful of double digit fish on the upper Mnyera.

Ingy super happy with her catch!

Ingy super happy with her catch!

To top that off, the four anglers ended their trip on a high, fishing the last day of the trip up in the Kasingo rapids. Using a mix of flies and lures, the fishing became extremely visual and exciting! The guys connected with countless fish over 15lbs with spectacular displays of fish going airborne, bending hooks, and just sheer power. James came out on top with a solid 21lbs fish. A great way to end the trip for the guys on the Mnyera River.

In the meantime on the Ruhudji river, Danny and Sham battle on as the fishing did not get any easier for them. Although  many opportunities at trophy fish presented to them, the guys struggled to land any of the trophy tigerfish the Mnyera and Ruhudji are famous for. They both managed several fish in the 12 and 13lbs range, which by ‘normal’ tigerfish standards are real trophies, and were fortunate enough to have felt the power of  a number of really big fish that got the better of them….. nothing like a bit if motivation to get back for a round two, to settle this unfinished business.

A big thanks to Ross, James, Miles, Danny, Sham and Ingy for joining us here in Tanzania and we hope to see you back some time soon.

Regards

Tourette Fishing.

James and TF Guide Greg Ghaui with the 21lbs beast taken in the Kasingo rapids

James and TF Guide Greg Ghaui with the 21lbs beast taken in the Kasingo rapidsTanzania 2014 (25 of 28)

Ross Fenn with another Ruhudji river tiger

Ross Fenn with another Ruhudji river tiger

 

 

Dec 09

Makhangoa Community Camp – Lesotho Group 1: 1 Dec – 8 December 2014

A week of firsts.  The first week of the 2014/15 season, our first group in the newly completed Makhangoa Community Camp, and also our first international clients to Lesotho, courtesy Planet Fly Fishing in France.  After meeting, George, Phillip, Francis, Denies, Florane and Chantel at HaLejone we all settled into our rooms, worked through tackle, and after dinner got and early night ready for the next day’s fishing.

After a quick breakfast we headed off with hopes of fishing the bottom section of the Malibamatso. Unfortunately heavy rains in the upper catchment overnight had turned the river into a cold and dirty mess. Undeterred we kept climbing over and down  the ‘pass of death’  to the confluence of the Motete and the Malibamatso. As expected, the Malibamatso was running clean above the confluence. With more weather closing in we quickly set up and got cracking. Although clean, we soon realized that the river was still a bit on the cold side and the yellows far from eager to feed aggressively. They guys did very well to land two yellows and two rainbow trout in tough conditions. We made the decision that night over dinner to head over to Katse lodge the next day and fish the dam for the afternoon, so we could make it into the Makhangoa Community Camp early as possible on Day 3 of the 7 day trip.

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With the last of the bad weather showing itself upon arrival at Katse, with took the chance to drink some good wine and eat some good food, while prepping for the days to follow at camp.

The next morning we went ‘home’ to the Bokong River. There were many new French words coming from the back of the cruiser when we came over the ridge to see the Bokong literally alive with yellow fish. Once we had settled in to the brand new Makhangoa Community Camp, we hit the water. As guides, we had to get very creative with our sign language, but after some drawing in the sand, and some comical hand gestures we all seemed to be more or less on the same page. By that evening everyone had experienced and learnt just what an incredible experience sight fishing to yellows in mountains stream is all about. Phillip did very well by landing seven good sized yellows all on dry. It was now, as the guest would say “gee tee time” (gin and tonic), and not time to fish. After a proper saffer style braai, lots of wine around the fire place, and a hot shower everyone tucked themselves into the new thatched rondavels with great anticipation for the day to come.

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The biggest yellow of the week

It’s truly something special to wake up, walk outside to clear blue skies, and look down onto one of southern Africa’s best yellow fish fisheries. We split up and started the onslaught on the middle beat. By lunch time everyone had fully acquainted themselves with what the Bokong has to offer. Denies and Florane had a wonderful morning with one of the community guides exploring the village and seeing the Lesotho way of life. We spent the evening fishing closer to camp. With chicken curry on the menu we all gathered around the table (with more wine of course). As the evenings went by we slowly created an interesting language which was a mix of English and hand gestures and strange noises, but it seemed to work very well.

The 2nd to last day greeted us with perfect conditions again. After a quick breakfast we drove over to the village to introduce the French guests to our community partners. After sampling some of the local brew, the guests  were treated to a bit of a song and dance by the community. We spent the rest of the day fishing the upper beat and picnicking on the river bank near a small waterfall. Chantel and Phillip did very well fishing the long runs of pocket water. George a Francis focused on the many big pools and by the end of the day everyone had landed a fish over 53cm!  Once again smiles all round.

Unfortunately last days do exist on fishing trips, so there was a race to hit the water the next morning, and what a great morning it was with everyone climbing into the fish. All the strange noise hand gesturing had paid off and very little guiding was needed.  We  just had to sit back, enjoy the spectacle, and hop around from angler to angler to land fish. Around midafternoon the storm that had been looming rolled in, pushing us of the water. This gave everyone a chance to unwind and relax around the fire, sharing stories of the past week, and finishing what wine we had left over a delicious lamb stew.

To George, Phillip, Francis, Denies, Florane and Chantel we would like to thank you for an incredible week with many laughs, many stories told and memories made, and hopefully many more to come in the years ahead.

Cheers for now.

Stu and Pierre – Makhangoa Community Camp

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Dry fly heaven. Note the skinny clear water

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Fishing in skinny gin clear water is what its all about

Fishing in skinny gin clear water is what its all about

 

Nov 20

Okavango Tigerfish Week 8: 1 – 7 Nov 2015

Kyle Reed, Okavango 1-6 November 2014 (74)

This week we had return guests Thomas & Pia and Elwood and Gail joining us.  After meeting two years ago on their last trip to the delta they decided to see if we could match the first fantastic experience they had. This trip we had Thomas’s girlfriend Pia joining us for the first time, a freshly introduced fly fisherwomen wanting to send a fly at anything that moved .  After a meet and greet we got them rigged and ready to hit the water the next day.

Elwood with one of over 100 fish he landed over his stay

Elwood with one of over 100 fish he landed over his stay

We arrived in the morning to find the fishing fanatics skipping hot breakfasts choosing to rather spend those extra minutes on the water. After not heading down river for the past week, Kyle and I were worried what the fishing would be like close to camp this late in the season. After hearing stories of Thomas’s extremely successful trip to our Tengo operation  in Tanzania (where he landed a world record fish a few weeks earlier of 28lbs!) we weren’t ready to let them down, and eager to go the extra mile. A few bends down river and not a single catfish to be seen. We decided to do just one more bend . That led to the last bend, which lead to yet the absolute final bend, and what the hell another for good luck won’t hurt anyone….. This went on for a while, but soon became successful as we stumbled upon a beautifully sized run which we had all to ourselves. This resulted in a very successful morning with both boats catching a good number of fish by the time we stopped for lunch. With no time to let food digest we were back on the water. Who can blame us, we had a run come past while we were trying to eat! Fishing extremely hard the guys managed to pull off a great afternoon with some great fish landed.

Steve Dickinson, Okavango 1-6 November 2014 (29)

We believed that finding that run the first day was maybe a gift that was going to be snatched from us the next day, but after fewer bends were taken, we come across an even bigger run. With not as many fish caught in the morning session, we hoped the run would move into some better waters for the afternoon, which it did. The fishing became insane with Elwood landing easily over 35 tigers and Thomas and Pierre doubling up on numerous occasions, to the point that I prepared myself for a proposal on my boat .  A really fantastic day of fly fishing.

Pia with a super thin faced large mouth which set of the race to achieve her Okavango Slam

Pia with a super thin faced large mouth which set of the race to achieve her Okavango Slam

With the guys eager to experience the same quality of fishing we had been having,  we hit the same run nice and early, hot breakfasts skipped of course. We kicked off the day with a great start with a good number of four to eight pounders caught. Pia managing to catch a nice thin face large mouth, which set her up for the possibility of a Okavango Slam. The afternoon delivered some crazy fishing as Elwood landed more than 30 tigers alone,  leaving Pia with only a catfish needed to obtain that elusive slam. Easier said than done! Nearing the end of the day, deep in amongst thousands of catfish and  not one was caught. With Tom sending out full fly lines all round Pia, and building up quite a tally of tigers, she was determined to land that Cat,  and shortly before lines up she was rewarded.  An Okavango Slam was achieved! Well done Pia.

Elwood on his way to also achieving an Okavango Slam

Elwood on his way to also achieving an Okavango Slam

We had a great start the next morning as the guys caught a good number of fish, but the epic run was on its last legs and catch numbers were on their way down.  All is well that ends well though, as Elwood had got himself a Slam by hooking a very nice five pound Nembwe. I found myself trying to land a 10 foot Croc that Pia had managed to hook. After 45 minutes of trying to land this monster we were joined by Kyle and Elwood. On finally getting the leader to the boat,  we realized exactly what we were in for, and before we could cut the line the croc gave a powerful surge and broke off.  What a crazy way to end off a brilliant trip (we would like to state that no animals or fish were hurt throughout the duration of this week).

Elwood seals the deal, with this great nembwe to get the second Okavango Slam of the week

Elwood seals the deal, with this great nembwe to get the second Okavango Slam of the week

Elwood spent one extra day with us,  which turned out to be a very tough day for him with few fish caught.  However instead of me shouting words of encouragement to make the most of the opportunities the day offered, “Cast left” “Strip” “Quick, on your right””Work for it Elwood!!!” the day was spent in complete enjoyment of the surroundings and reminiscing about the near century of tigers that had been caught the previous days.

Thomas enjoying an evening casting into an Okavango sunset

Thomas enjoying an evening casting into an Okavango sunset

That’s it from the 2nd to last week of the 2014 season. Looking forward to welcoming our last group of the year and wrapping up a great season.

 

Steve and Kyle

 

Nov 06

Tanzania Tigerfish Week 7: 25 – 1 Nov 2015

Ray, Paddy, Bruce, Kevin and Paul were back in camp along with two friends Garry and Crash, both visiting for their first time, eager to experience the story’s their buddies had told them about…and prove the stories were true! To the newcomers this week, we were please to illustrate that a place exists where one can still catch trophy tiger fish in numbers on a regular basis. To our repeat guests,  it showed that the strict fishery rules implemented by TF and KNS including a strict catch and release policy, stringent fish handling rules, and a comprehensive beat management system is paying off.  Proof in the fact that, over the years since their last trip, the rivers continue to fish as if they had never been fished before.

With waters now dropping rapidly after the horrid rain in the previous week, all involved were expecting good results over the next six days. Bruce and his five friends started their trip to the Ruhudji, swatting at the ever persistent tsetse flies en route, reminding them they were deep in  the African bush.  Paul readied himself on the Mnyera for a re-match with Africa’s fresh water heavy-weight champion the following day. With seasoned veterans behind the reel, it’s no wonder that the anglers this week took the fight to the fish, and came out tops!

Gary Neil went straight for gold and followed up his magnificent 14lbs tiger with this brute 20lbs tiger all on day 1

Gary Neil went straight for gold and followed up his magnificent 14lbs tiger with this brute 20lbs tiger all on day 1

The guys on the Ruhudji barely wasted time for breakfast and were once again drifting passed the same logs, clay banks and phragmites that they had passed on two years before. Although the memories off each piece of structure had faded it was obvious that, when the first fish started pealing line off the finest kind off reels, the fight of a big tigerfish and what to do in such a situation was not easily forgotten. The guys used their past experience well and  started to convert many big trophies. Kevin and Garry proving true form as they muscled in, amongst other great fish, a 20lb fish each. Paddy having an excellent last day on the Ruhudji which included three landed double-ups  his partner, and amongst many other smaller fish landing, on his own, a 17, 15, 14, 13, 11, and 10 pounder. The guys on the Ruhudji seemed to be victorious over the first three days, at least on the water this was the case…

Kevin Cousins with 20lb tiger number two for the week on day 2

Kevin Cousins with 20lb tiger number two for the week on day 2

“Seeafu” or Army ant as it is commonly known, appears on a few rare occasions over the season. Usually first appearing in small numbers while we eat dinner on a sand bank in front of camp on the Ruhudji River. They seem harmless at first, but after releasing a pheromone into the night sky, their ranks swell and they are soon organized into black carpet that is the Seeafu invasion. The soldier ant of this species has a set of pincers that lock into flesh with such force that it is a proven substitute for stitching wounds amongst more rural African tribes, so it is no surprise that when this formidable force reach our immediate location they spread panic. Even the most bush-hardened of our guests will join us in the retreat to Seeafu-less ground. This week it was our ever smiling boat driver, Saidi Alley, who was the victim of this pillage. Showing us his room covered with dead Seeafu in the millions from the battle he raged the night before , it was obvious that he had emptied enough cans of DOOM in his courters to float a hot-air balloon over the Serengeti. Nature however will always win, and the  Seeafu would be back along with the tsetse fly, along with the rain, along with the hippo and crocodiles, and everything else that makes the Mnyera and Ruhudji Rivers, deep in the Tanzania wilds,  such a unique destination. A place that takes hold of your sole, and brings amazing guests, the likes of Paul Lavins (at 83 years of age) back year after a year.

Paul Lavins with a spectacular 12lbs Ruhudji river tiger

Paul Lavins with a spectacular 12lbs Ruhudji river tiger

For Paul this was his third trip with us in Tanzania and he was adamant to match it with his last. Pauls first three days on the Mnyera were tough in any mans book but through persistence he managed to connect to a  good amount of big fish that wrenched line and fly into the depths, and on a few occasions rendering some of the strongest hooks on the market bent and useless. Paul’s days on the Ruhudji were not easy either, but fishing for these fish seldom is. Paul pushed through the loss of great fish and rain and eventually was rewarded with two 12lb pounders, an 11 pounder and several smaller fish. A great score in view of the circumstances.  The guys on the Mnyera were too, treated to some exceptional tiger fishing.

The first day on the Mnyera for Ray and the guys was one that would be turned back too in our catch register in the future. Bruce started things off in the rocky sections of the upper Mnyera with a 17 and 15 pounder that ate his blue and white clouser.  Ray fought through several wrap-arounds to land a beautiful 18lb fish, Paddy landing another 17 and amongst a handful of other double digit fish spread between the group.  Crash experienced one of the greatest fights I have ever witnessed on the Mnyera…

18lbs of happiness for Ray Cadiz and TF Guide Stu Harley

18lbs of happiness for Ray Cadiz and TF Guide Stu Harley

Drifting a shallow section on the upper Mnyera scattered with numerous logs and trees Crash put in a perfect cast between a fork of roots protruding off the bank and quickly became tight with fish that seemed to save all its fight for this one day. The silver giant launched  into the air several times as it charged downstream, flaring its blood red gills as it put Crash and his gear to the test. After a very tense fight we were kneeled in some admittedly precarious water for a photograph, but we felt safe as Crash was holding in his hands a true monster of the river, a tiger fish weigh in at 22lbs. After a tough day to follow the guys ended their trip in the Kasingo Rapids where they landed  fish in the 19, 17, 15 pound range, along with many other fine trophies.  A bush braai and a couple of cold beers for lunch could not have been a better end to this great week

Kind regards and a big thanks to all the guys for joining us here in Tanzania. We hope to see you all back here for round three!

Tourette Fishing.

Crash Coles with a superb 22lbs tiger fish taken on the Mnyera river

Crash Coles with a superb 22lbs tiger fish taken on the Mnyera river

Nov 06

Tanzania Tigerfish Week 6: 18 – 25 Oct 2015

The subject for this week, the 6th week of the 2014 season in Tanzania, is rain.  The fear of rain amongst the guides in Tanzania is deep seated and every day while polling our guests down these rivers a keen eye is kept on the horizon for marauding cumulonimbus clouds. Once a year, at least, these clouds arrive in the Kilombero and dump their load on the valley causing trouble mid season!  However this time, the trip was far from miserable.

Mike, Ringo, Seb, Mark, Graham, Rod were friends all in the Tobacco selling industry and Simon and Frank, long time fishing friends from the states arrived in camp under a hot cloudless sky… as clichéd as its sounds, the scene was truly set for an excellent fishing trip.

The teams split and Mike, Ringo, Rod and Graham started their drive through the beautiful Kilombero valley  to Samaki Camp on the Ruhudji, while  Seb, Mark, Simon and Frank remained on the Mnyera river, eagerly waiting their first day battling with the enormous tiger fish that waited to wreck yet more of the flies that drifted passed their noses… and a battle it was, both with the elements and on river.

The tigers seemed to jump the gun and at breakfast the river was alive with explosions of white water and terrified baitfish. Flies were soon cast amongst these bait fish and the anglers started to connect with fish from the word go. Day one on the Ruhudji  the guys were in on the action as well, and remained busy though out  the day. In true Ruhudji style, many of the large fish hooked were accompanied by similar sized monsters all the way to the boat, fighting for the fly trapped in the hooked fishes jaw. On one occasion, a fish actually getting its teeth entangled in the trace protruding out of the original fish’s mouth and inevitably pulling the fly loose, leaving the unlucky angler fishless

Frank Nasetta capatilised on the feeding fish by landing this beaut 16lbs tiger just before the rains came

Frank Nasetta capatilised on the feeding fish by landing this beaut 16lbs tiger just before the rains came

The fish came onto the bite in big way the further into the day , and anglers were connecting  to fish behind almost every piece of structuyre and in all good looking lies.  The chaos of these predators escalated to the point where a fish launched itself into the boat, connecting guide Stu Harley on his inner thigh and inflicting three deep gashes’s to remind him of the day. By late afternoon several 13 and 11 pounders had been landed and things were looking good. However, over the horizon crept the dark grey menace, growling as it approached.  By 4:30pm guides, guesst and boat drivers were  drenched as they stood in the grey haze that was early rains. The fishing did not die off that evening as all anglers persisted through the down pour and landed and handful more good fish. The trip back to camp in the rain was cold but spirits were high after a great day on the middle Mnyera and lower Ruhudji. In the back of everyone’s head, though, was the dreaded question, ” what will the rain do to the river?”.

To explain the next 4 days of this trip day by day would get repetitive and pointless. The rivers swelled and as we drifted down stream it was as if we were floating on a vast expanse of  “Matabella poridge”. Hits became rare and a part from Ringo’s massive 18 pounder out of the Kasingo rapids, few fish made it to the net.  At this point you might ask why I am still writing. Well now more than ever I have a reason to keep writing.

Tanzania in flood. Note the muddy color of the water

Tanzania in flood. Note the muddy color of the water

To many these fishing trips to a far out destinations are trips of a life time. Once that plane touches down there is no looking back, so when mother nature grins while spitting here 50ml of rain upon the water you are supposed to be fishing it is important to both guide and angler to still make the most of their trip and not give up. These anglers did just that. With a keen interest for birds, trees and the general “going-ons ” above and below the water, the group let themselves be entertained by this beautiful place, in all her natural beauty.  After fishing really hard  for only a few fish all day, the evening were spent  fire side with tears rolling out our eyes from shear hysteria as the guys retold stories and sang songs of the “good old days” to the tune of Simons harmonica. Even with such tough fishing it seemed nothing could have made this trip any more enjoyable. Mother Nature had thrown everything she had at us but the guys took it with a pinch of salt and turned it into a week that neither guide nor guest will forget.

Graham Kayes with a rare Bhagrid Catfish taken on a bucktail jig worked slowly on the bottom

Graham Kayes with a rare Bhagrid Catfish taken on a bucktail jig worked slowly on the bottom

With the rain gone the waters started to drop and the clarity improved with every day and along came the final full days fishing. The cards were on the table and it was time to give it our all. The guys hit the boats running before the first birds had bothered to shout their annoyance at the rising sun. With the Mnyera still high and cold, the guys struggled throughout the day but still managed to net a 13 and eleven pounder. The Ruhudji, in far better condition, fished well and the guys managed to land two 13′s, two 10′s, an 11 pounder along with several smaller fish on their last day.

After a tough week on the water, it was time to say goodbye to yet another group of guests.  After many nights reminiscing on life, and long days on the river, we guides learnt one thing, amongst good company, nothing can ruin a fishing trip.

Another 13lbs fish for Mike Roberts despite the tough conditions

Another 13lbs fish for Mike Roberts despite the tough conditions

Persistence pays as Ringo shows of his 18lbs tiger he managed on the last day

Persistence pays as Ringo shows of his 18lbs tiger he managed on the last day

 

Kindest regards and a big thanks to you all for joining us here in Tanzania. We look forward to having you all back.

The Tourette Fishing Crew

Oct 31

Okavango Tigerfish Week 7: 20 – 25 Oct 2014

This week we had Paul Lavins from the USA joining us after a trip to Mongolia, arriving two days earlier than the rest of the group. Paul being a seasoned angler, he opted for a hard mornings fishing and a relaxed afternoons back in the comfort of camp.  He managed to make the most of his time by landing some good fish during his stay, the highlight being a session of which he landed six fish, and lost two fish, all in the space of ten casts.

African sunsets to reward the end of a productive day

African sunsets to reward the end of a productive day

With the fishing being a bit tough the past few weeks as the runs moved south faster than normal,  our nerves rose as we prepared to welcome  our next group of guests from  Jacaranda Fly Fishing Club, aAll keen fly fisherman looking to experience the catfish run for the first time.

With the arrival of Roy, Ian, Leslie and Butch a bit earlier than expected we were able to get them on the water for a short session their first afternoon. Roy, Lesley and Butch all losing their tigerfish virginity that afternoon by landing their first fish of the trip and leaving only Ian to still to cut his teeth on the infamous Okavango tigerfish.  During the evening conversation we were surprised to hear that most of the group had a rich SANDF background, with some still in service. This added some fun pressure on the  guides team  to perform and  not put a foot wrong!

Butch landed this beaut thin face large mouth to complete the second "okavango slam' of the week. Landing a tigerfish, catfish and bream in the same day!

Butch landed this beaut thin face large mouth to complete the second “okavango slam’ of the week. Landing a tigerfish, catfish and bream in the same day!

The next day, the first full day on the water, we decided to head further south to look for ‘fresh runs’. We found our first run, and casts were made. The technical ability the fly fishing soldiers was a pleasant surprise, the subject of much light hearted humour on the boats.  Nearing the end of the day most of the guys had landed some good fish,  but Ian was still without is first tiger of the trip. On the boat trip back to camp, we stopped to fish a lagoon mouth in a ‘last cast’ attempt to get Ian his missing tigerfish.  As I pulled anchor to call it a day, the shouts of Ian alerted me to the fact that we had succeeded, and Ian landed his fish.  A great end to the day.  That evening Kyle and I began the preparations for heading out to fly camp the next night.

Roy in on the action with a solid 5lb tigerfish

Roy in on the action with a solid 5lb tigerfish

 

Leaving Pierre and Paul back at camp to put the hurt on our fish ‘closer to home’ we headed on our journey south. The area looked promising with plenty runs on the go and some picturesque change in scenery. We had a good mornings fishing and decided to find a spot to set up lunch and our fly camp for the  evening.  After a quick setup and a feast for lunch, we hit the water for the afternoon. It was a good session which produced a couple 8 pounders and a few rats and mice. The day ended camped out under the stars, fillet on the braai, and cold beers and whisky sipped under an Okavango night.

Leslie and a superb Okavango river trophy tigerfish

Leslie and a superb Okavango river trophy tigerfish

Heading out nice and early the following day, we fished our way back up to the lodge, catching  some great fish along the way. Were we even taught by Ian that if you can’t manage to utilize both hands to keep the tension on the line when fighting a tigerfish,  then your mouth is a good a tool as any.

Kyle Reed, Okavango 20-25 October 2015 (89)

One of the best ways to experience the Okavango River, camping out wild at night.

The last full day bought with it wind, and tough fishing conditions. We found some nice runs, but the fish were not eating aggressively. None the less, some great fish were landed, and we ended of the trip in high spirits.

It was a pleasure having the crew in camp, and we look forward to more fly fishing adventures with the Jacaranda Fly Fishing Club in the future.

Cheers for now

Steve, Kyle and Pierre

Butch with a lovely Okavango river tigerfish

Butch with a lovely Okavango river tigerfish

Oct 30

Okavango Tigerfish Week 6: 14 – 19 Oct 2014

Jayne and Kay enjoying a sundowner cruise with Steve on the Okavango River

Jayne and Kay enjoying a sundowner cruise with Steve on the Okavango River

With water levels dropping fast and the catfish moving south the guides and guests were in for some longer boat rides to the hot spots this week. This is not a bad thing, as guests get to experience so Okavango River life as they are treated to a real life real time Okavango slide show as we make our way to and from camp each day.

Chris coming to terms with an Okavango catfish

Chris coming to terms with an Okavango catfish

The 3 British couples flew in from Johannesburg and were looking forward to experience Africa for the first time and to sample the great fishing, birding, and game viewing that the Okavango has to offer.  The anglers in the group were couples, Jeremy and  Jacqui and friends Mark and Chris with Jane and Kay joining the party for some sight –seeing.  With the end of the season upon us and most of the runs moving down south the fishing was slow at first with a few small fish being caught on the first day while Jane and Kay were treated to some fantastic bird watching and were very excited to see all the hippos and crocodiles that frequent these waters.

Chris with a super 7lb tigerfish

Chris with a super 7lb tigerfish

By the third day the ladies also got in on the action when they were taken to a small lagoon to fish for some small tilapia (bream).  It was their first fishing trip and both Jane and Kay landed a few small 3 spot bream just to rub salt in the wounds of the men who were having a difficult time landing the hard fighting tigerfish.  Buy the end of the week everyone managed to land some good fish including Jacqui who got her very first tigerfish on fly!  Everyone had a great time, and we were sad to see the group leave us and head to the  Chobe National Park to sample more of what Botswana has to offer.

Jeremy and a solid 6lb tigerfish with Redcliffs in the background

Jeremy and a solid 6lb tigerfish with Redcliffs in the background

My stay in the Okavango is coming to an end as I head back to South Africa and on to Lesotho to prepare for the coming season there.  I will be leaving for Johannesburg soon so I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Tourette Fishing team, Keith and Rob, and by fellow guides Lionel Song and Kyle Reed for sharing their knowledge and experience with me.  It was a blast boys and an experience I will never forget.  Can’t wait to get back for the 2015 season!

One of the favorite times of days on the Okavango River. Group sundowners to share stories and celebrate a good day on the river

One of the favorite times of days on the Okavango River. Group sundowners to share stories and celebrate a good day on the river

Good luck to all for the rest of the season.

Cheers

Pierre and the TF Okavango Guides Team

Mark getting in on the action with fin perfect Okavango tigerfish

Mark getting in on the action with fin perfect Okavango tigerfish

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