Nov 26

Tanzania Tigerfish Grp 8 : 31 Oct – 07 Nov 2015

After meeting the departing Volker at the airstrip, and receiving a brief break down of his two weeks fishing, our incoming guests on the 31st October arrived in camp with a sense of awe, expectation and sky high excitement levels. We were really pleased to be able to welcome back American Paul Lavins, who was making his fourth Tanzania Tiger trip, having been unable to come last year, and is considered an old friend at Tourette HQ. Pete Tandy and Pat Butler, from the UK and Australia respectively, have travelled and fished extensively for salmon, tropical flats species, and a brief Tigerfish spell on the Zambezi some years back, and had come to see if they could better their previous results. Making up the group was well known fly fishing journeyman and photographic journalist Matt Harris from the UK, who was fresh of a 4 week stint in the Amazon targeting big Peacock Bass. After the traditional lunch together at Dhala camp, Matt went over to the Ruhudji with guides Mark and Stu, while the Mnyera contingent set about rigging up the rods for the next day.


With just a single client on the Ruhudj it was again a prime opportunity for a fly camping expedition, and Matt was always game for something different, so the guys packed up the boats and headed back up river to the majestic Ruhudji Rapids. The plan was to only spend one night up top, so the arrival afternoon was a combination of a quick circuit around the rapids, and then working some of the top stretch and bends off the boat. Although these rapids are small, and hold more fish than you could shake a stick at, some of the spots are pretty technical to fish with very deep fast water, and unless you are consistently getting your fly into the right areas, chances are that you could come away empty handed. This was not the case with Matt, whose first ever Tiger fish was a glorious 17lb fish that came right out of the guts of the raging funnel section! While Matt and Mark covered the rapids, and headed down on the boat, Stu headed off on foot to explore the higher rapids. The fishing was pretty quiet for Matt and Mark but Stu found more than he could have hoped when he bumped a leopard that was drinking from one of the top pools before tearing off up the hill!

The next day the guys headed off downriver with the happy conundrum of having to cover lots of water and countless fishy spots with only one day to do so. Fishing a combination of surface flies, mainly a big Pole Dancer popper, and sinking streamers, the team fished furiously hard but found the going pretty slow. This was probably due to the increasingly unstable weather we had been experiencing as the imminent first rains continued to build. A few fish were raised on the popper, and Matt did pick up a 10lb to go with a couple of smaller ones, but the most memorable moment came while Stu was fighting an 8lb, as a massive fish came and attempted to maul it! Stu was the guide present when the 28lb monster was landed last year, and he maintains that this fish was comfortably larger..! More evidence that the big fish were around, but just not out and about as the weather continued to play havoc.

DSCF1463A light drizzle on Monday evening seemed to have relieved some of the meteorological tension that had been building, and Tuesday was a completely different story. Matt and the guides were into fish from the get go on the Middle beat, with Riffles once again firing hard. Stu was again in the mix, as he boxed and landed a hard-nosed 18lb, while Matt continued to put the heat on numerous 8lb-12lb fish that made for really good hard action. Fish were coming out hot from all corners, and with a very healthy average weight of 8lb, exceptional fishing was had right up until time for departure for the Mnyera.

Only one catchment over on the Mnyera, things had played out slightly differently over the first three days.  Heading upriver to the top beat on Sunday, we had a relatively circumspect morning with the best pulls coming early doors while Pete and Pat were still feeling their way around. However, every time things threatened to go quiet, we would get a press, and both gentlemen managed to convert a couple of 5-6lb fish. A gradual improvement in quality of fish strikes and conversions throughout the afternoon meant that the first full day ended with a very respectable number of fish caught, and of course a couple of rippers that couldn’t quite be tamed! Paul in particular was unlucky with a well hooked big fish that popped the leader deep into the fight.

Monday was spent in the ample confines of the versatile Middle beat, and amidst some heavily building weather. The fish proved to be really aggressive early on and into the mid morning period, with a lot of surface movement and activity, and a myriad of strong strikes from nearly every likely looking piece of water. With Paul, we frantically went through a number of fly pattern combinations trying to tap into the frenzy, including a popper, and although we had a number of strikes from mid size fish, we always felt we were just on the sidelines of the main activity. A very exhilarating but frustrating place to be! Pat and Peter were experiencing the same voracity, but Peter in particular was right in the big fish mix. He managed to latch onto a 14lb, and eventually a magnificent 23lb fish to blow the session right out of the water! It was again a reminder of how having just a few things go your way can really reward a session, and hats off to Peter who was really riding a great wave of form!  The afternoon slowed down quite significantly, although Peter again rose to the fore and weighed in with a 19lb fish just above camp late in the day to wrap up a vintage day of tiger fishing!


If Monday was a game of T20 cricket with hard and fast action, then Tuesday was definitely a five day test match in one. Pat in particular must be commended on paying a lot of school fees and fishing really well for limited action, while even Peter with his golden arm had to work harder than usual for his fish! He still managed some superb catches, with an 11lb, 10lb and some 5-6lbers, quite a few of which seemed to have come from the exact place that Pat had previously just put a fly! Late in the day, with strong gusting winds and deep dark clouds building, Peter again plugged into a huge fish from deep down, and after another loose and lively fight had another spectacular 19lb fish on board! Paul too had had a long hard day, but managed to stick some nice mid size fish in the afternoon before making a wise choice to avoid an inbound thunderstorm by taking refuge in camp! Supper this night was a lively affair with plenty to report from both parties from the fishing front, and the returning Ruhudji crew had also had a really special encounter with a lioness and cubs on the drive back over, adding further excitement to the mix!


The news of the big fish prowling the Mnyera had Matt in the grips of some text-book tiger fever, which proved to be extremely infectious, so on Wednesday we decided to poke our heads into a couple of the Kasingo rapids spots to see how they were fishing and to make sure we had some shots there before the imminent rains came down. We had some really good action on surface flies in certain spots (Spag-Bol) while most areas were very quiet. However, our first drift through the rocks back on the boat was really promising, with quite a few positive smashes on Matt’s sinking streamers and also on the guides’ popper rod. With the intensity pushed up even higher, there was a strong feeling of inevitability about someone connecting with a something special, and eventually Matt hooked and delivered a belter of a 22lb out of a slim stream, unleashing some pent up emotions! After going to town on the photographing of this fish, Matt was straight back throwing poppers over anything that looked like it might hold something, and raised quite a few very large Tigers that somehow couldn’t stick! Despite rain falling in the afternoon, we stayed right amongst fish throughout, and found ourselves enjoying a rose tinted spell of pulling really solid 10lb plus fish out of seemingly every spot we worked, a truly remarkable experience!

Over on the Ruhudji, the rains finally came down on Wednesday, putting the afternoon session on the backburner. However by the time of this interference, the unstoppable Pete Tandy had already added an A-grade 18lb on his first day, and backed it up with a 15 and a 14lb on the subsequent days. The going was much tougher than on the Mnyera, with long spells of no positive fish activity, and most of the few takes being short strikes or non committal tugs. The fishermen quickly realised this and instead of being disheartened or conceding to the conditions, they applied themselves with admirable commitment, and maintained a positive outlook and fished with added intensity. It can’t be stressed enough how much of a difference this made to quality of the week, and it was really rewarding to be a part of making the most of their time. Paul Lavins was rewarded with a smoking 14lb Tiger and even added a beautiful Black Velvet yellowfish to his tally before the water conditions deteriorated.


By Thursday afternoon, the Mnyera had risen about a foot, and undergone temperature and colour changes for the worse, and Tiger fishing became a fruitless enterprise. This was not before the relentless Matt Harris had reined in a few more double digit fish, and raised some really big ones. Having turned his back on the poppers, and now fishing his ‘game changer’ fly (aka the ‘Chinese Dragon!’), Matt suddenly had the attention of some fish that seemed to be in the mid to late 20lb range, with two in particular that really seemed to be pushing the magical 30lb mark! Unfortunately none of them came in for a closer look, but it was a pleasure to be reminded that they are around, and we had a great time trying to work out a way to target them more successfully!

All in all, it was a week drenched in success despite the slightly anti climatic washout finish. The great fish recorded was a testament to the energy and enthusiasm of the clients, which went a long way to energising and motivating the guides! Any week featuring tigerfish of the quality these gents experienced is a successful one, and another cameo from the yellowfish added extra quality. Matt came away with some amazing footage, and the tigerfish’s impressive appearance was definitely done justice! A special mention must be made of Pete Tandy, a quiet and unassuming tiger assassin, who ended up with the joint largest fish on each of the rivers this season!

We are confident that the rivers will recover in no time, and that the tigers will be back to do battle for one more week. I know we’re looking forward to the last week of the season, and here’s hoping for a stellar finish!


To view Matt Harris’s full gallery of this week, have a look at the link below:

Nov 10

Tanzania Tigerfish Grp 6 : 17 – 24 Oct 2015

Although time is a relative concept for the Tiger fish at Dhala and Samaki fishing camps, it is amazing what a change a new week and new clients brings. Although in the last week some really good fish were landed, and plenty top notch fish were lost, there were some serious hard yards in between. The inbound clients on the 17th October, namely returning Tiger fish aficionado Volker Schaeffer, and a hunting/fishing group of Americans, must have been riding some collective good Karma to turn it right around!

Although a very keen and experienced fisherman, Roger Mixter had primarily come to do some buffalo hunting, with a bit of fishing in and around the tracking and stalking. However, his wife Zan and sister Pam were more than keen to fill in for him while he was out in the bush, and some really enjoyable sessions of chaos and carnage were had! Both avid trout fisherwomen, the heavy tiger setups took some getting used to, and Pam took to outsourcing the casting and hooking of fish to guide Stu, before taking them on! This was a minor hurdle though, and by the second session of the first day, she had cast, set, fought and landed a couple of her own fish, peaking out at a healthy 6lb. This was followed by an 8lb and 11lb the next day, while Zan chipped in with a couple of fish of her own in a short cameo late in the second afternoon.

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As usual, Volker was very well prepared for his two week stint, with his practical and theory bases fully covered! The first of his two weeks was to be spent entirely on the Mnyera, and his first full day on Sunday took him to the upper reaches. With the first meteorologically stable day in the last week, there was always the feeling that there would be really good opportunities, and Volker came out swinging. Ending up with a 16lb, a 15lb and 2x 14lb, it was fair to say he was off to a flyer!

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This fine effort was immediately backed up on Monday with a stellar day in Kasingo rapids, quelling any doubts about peaking too early! With Stu maneuvering the boat into Sig’s Pool so as to negate a croc threat, the guys were in the pound seats. Landing hooked fish is never easy, but in the Rapids it becomes even more challenging. Shallower water full of rocks and trees mean that the Tigers run far and fast, and can pick and choose which structure to bust one up on! Volker spent most of the morning session some way down this road, losing two huge fish pushing the 20lb barrier, but pulled it back by landing another 14lb. At Double Up he went one better, bringing in a 15lb, and at Lunch Pool he gained total redemption by landing a beautiful 20lb! His second ever fish of 20lb and above, this was a special one for a true Tiger fish purist, and it took the duration of a couple of beers over lunch to fully appreciate! Already an amazing day, it was rounded off with another classic clash with a 19lb fish in Sig’s on the way out, but Volker was now unstoppable, and this one was landed despite wrapping around two trees!

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Maybe because word had reached him of the good fishing, Roger upped his game massively and by Monday evening had shot a very nice old buffalo bull, and a warthog to boot, meaning that he was now free to spend some time on the river. On Tuesday, his first fishing day, he was right into the mix on the lower beat, with a couple of mid teens and fighting a fish over 20lb right to the boat before coming unstuck. Volker had slower going after a lively start in the morning, coming into contact with a 10lb fish, and then boating a sturdy 13lb. The afternoon was also relatively quiet until a combination of the right spot (the Bus Stop) at the right time (15:30) and the right fly (black and purple baitfish)put us right back into the action with a massive but empty 14lb, an 8lb, 7lb and 6lb. Roger showed no signs of slowing down, and continued to rack up impressive stats culminating in pulling a 21lb brute right out of a very tricky spot, making a strong statement on his first Tiger fishing outing!

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After such a ripper of a start, we were all wondering how long it could carry on for, especially with the mornings showing signs of gradually building approaching rains. On Wednesday, things did slow down a bit on the lower Mnyera with Volker but he still ended the day with a 17lb and a 15lb, plus some very exciting late action on a surface fly, which has become a real excitement machine with the perfect water conditions. In an extended drift down to camp, Roger also experienced a mixture of rabid feeding and stone dead patches, boating a 12lb and a couple of mid size fish. This day will be remembered for the two occasions that he was put onto the backing by huge fish, one of which he described as totally unstoppable, plus another very nice 16-17lb fish that was jumped close to the boat.

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Thursday saw Volker return to his happy hunting ground, the Kasingo rapids, which to date had yielded a 24lb fish two years ago, his second 20lb fish earlier in the week, and numerous encounters with other monsters. The magic worked again, and by about 8-30am we were ruing not carrying any beers with us for the morning session as we had nothing with which to celebrate an amazing 23lb fish that had been successfully landed, photographed and released! This was a truly special fish that had us in awe as we continued to fish our way up, losing a couple of big hit and runs, but after a fish like that, it was hard to feel too bad about these for a change! Such a fish will always define a day, the whole week, and for many a whole lifetime of Tiger fishing, but this day will also be remembered for the prolific rise to prominence of guide Stu’s popper creation. This fly produced spectacularly aggressive takes throughout the session, most notably after streamers had failed to get any results, and because of the size of the fish it was raising. Again, more on this front I’m sure! Meanwhile Roger continued to have good action on his black brush fly and various Dorado patterns, and never seemed to be far from a healthy mid teen fish.

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After a bumper week, the Americans ended with a day spent in the splendour of Kasingo, relaxing, swimming and of course fishing. This casual approach is definitely the way to get the best out of a special place, and we had a really good time. Highlights included the group hippo pod impersonation, fishing tiny pocket water for small tigers, and plenty of good food and humour. Roger and guides Greg and Stu rounded it off with a hectic popping session on the walk back to the boat, raising and connecting with a number of awesome fish. With everyone fishing, watching and cheering, it was a very festive little period, and once again underlined the effectiveness and excitement of surface fishing in the current conditions. We ended with an 18lb, a 13lb and a couple of mid size fish, plus a couple of other big swirls and splashes. Exciting times!

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Volker dug deep and put in another full shift on the main river, drifting and anchoring along the top beat. With long quiet periods, the guys varied their tactics between an intermediate line and various streamers, and then the popper during quieter patches. This strategy paid off and once again his sheer determination was rewarded with a big 17lb and a 15lb on the popper.

A week packed full of action, with incredible numbers and quality of fish (we recorded at least one of every size from 10lb-21), and a variety of sideshows such as the superb hunting, the safari experience and fantastic company, this was a week that made full use of the incredible riches that the Kilombero Valley has to offer, and once again reminded us what a special place it is and how lucky we are to be able to share it with people such as these.

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Nov 10

Tanzania Tigerfish Grp 7: 24 – 31 Oct 2015 (Far Upper Ruhudji Camp Mission)

With the Americans departing on the 25th October, and no incoming guests arriving, Volker Schaeffner was left in camp in the company of three Tourette Fishing guides for his second full week in the Valley. Having spent his first week based out of Dhala camp fishing the Mnyera, we were scheduled to head over to the Ruhudji for a full week. After the quality of fishing the Mnyera had produced, it was understandable that Volker was a little apprehensive about leaving this happy hunting ground, but we were very excited to be spending time at the legendary Samaki ‘Guantanamo’ Camp, and also for our planned fly camping jaunt to the upper reaches of the Ruhudji River. Having received and rearranged incoming supplies and had a quick lunch, we were on our way to the next catchment.

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It had been a while since any of us had been up to the top of the Ruhudji, and so we were uncertain of how long it would take us to get there, what we would find up there, and importantly if the fishing would still be as good as in the past. Although it is extremely remote, most of this section is out of the protection of the hunting concessions, and therefore potentially susceptible to various exploitations. As it was we made really good time after our early departure and strategic boat packing, and we were in the little visited Ruhudji Rapids for lunch. It is a spectacular journey up the river to reach this point, with the channel becoming narrower, the water cleaner, and the surrounding landscape more dramatic as we edged further back into the escarpment. At some points, such as while the boat navigates it’s way over a crystal clear shallow pebble section plunging into a deep black pool, or while weaving between overhanging vegetation from both banks, you struggle to remind yourself that you will be fishing these same spots for massive tiger fish! After enduring this prospect for the six and half hour journey up, Volker was pretty fired up by the time we docked at the rapids, and had brought in a 4lb fish before we had even unpacked the lunchbox! We spent the rest of the afternoon working our way around this unique, compact Tiger fishing paradise, maneuvering into positions to cast into the pools while guide Stu set up an epic campsite overlooking this gem of a place. Volker ended with a 14lb fish landed, a 16-17lb fish lost right at the death, and a few more hard presses, including one that opened the hook. As we enjoyed some hard earned drinks with the rush of the rapids and a rising full moon as the back drop, it was hard to imagine being more relaxed or content, as it seemed that we could eliminate one major worry, as the big fish seemed to be in residence and in good numbers!

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The next morning after a quick but quiet visit to some of yesterday’s more productive sites, Volker and guide Mark set off on a marathon drift, while Greg and Stu packed up camp and followed behind. Nearly every bend on this upper stretch provides some sort of promising looking structure as the river carves its way through hard rock and clay valleys, and time is the only constraint to fishing them all. Even with a whole day of solid drifting and fishing, we couldn’t do all of them justice, but there is always the consolation that leaving one means more time to fish another! The trailing guide’s boat had some good action on some of these deep spots with Stu dropping a plus minus 18lb close in, while Volker preferred to work the structure filled shallower straights between them, and by lunch time had a voracious 19lb to his name out of such a place. We continued making our leisurely way down throughout the afternoon, with the guide boat motoring ahead to set up camp just outside the concession, and by the time a tired but happy Volker clocked in, he had added a 14lb, 11lb and 10lb to the roster. Another evening in a superb sandbank campsite gave us the chance to reflect on an unblemished day’s fishing on an unbelievably beautiful stretch of river.

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Our campsite just outside the concession boundary afforded us a rare and exciting prospect of fishing our top beat early in the morning without the usual 2-2 ½ hour boat ride up, and Volker and guide Mark were into fish at Top Riffles before 8am, having already had a leisurely wake up and camp breakfast! The fishing was up and down throughout the morning, with the guide’s boat experiencing some absolutely wild action during a two hour golden period between a couple of the deeper bends, where it seemed 12-15lb fish were on tap, to go with a stunning 17lb fish landed by Stu after a real battle of wills. Fishing mainly an intermediate line with smaller flies, Volker may have missed some of this action but did convert yet another 19lb’er during a brief foray with the sinking line at the notorious Grimey’s seam. The afternoon was also lively but we were very noticeably into fish that were spawning as we started picking up lots of smaller fish concentrated in certain areas, most notably the tail-out of deep channels and seams. Taking care not to pillage these areas, we enjoyed some really good action with the smaller but very feisty males, and managed to pick up a 10lb female as well.

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After enjoying a night of relative luxury back in the rustic Samaki Camp, Wednesday saw Volker heading down river where he had some scores to settle from his last visit to the bottom beat. It was again a day filled with action from mostly smaller fish, with a really impressive total of 20 fish being landed! There were 3 notable big pulls, but they were quite few and far between, and none managed to stick, although a big post spawn 10lb did make it to the boat.

Tanzania 2015-16Back upriver on Thursday, it was a slightly different story. Without the relentless action of the smaller fish, the going was slower and quieter, but some really good fish made it onto Volker’s increasingly impressive score board. A 16lb turbo submarine at Riffles late in the evening was a fine way to end a day that also produced a 14lb, 11lb and 10lb!

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Two weeks of Tiger fishing is no walk in the park, and the guides had frequently asked themselves how Volker was able to maintain such a level of intensity throughout, and Friday was no different. Despite the obvious fatigue from throwing endless casts in pretty extreme heat, the casting and hooking aspect were now muscle memory reflexes for Volker, and it was really showing in his creating and converting of opportunities. Fishing the Middle beat, it was again slow going as the weather took it’s time to settle down. However, a big take on the drift through some pushing structure water, and Volker landed a 17lb fish to turn a slow session into a ripper! Meanwhile back at camp, guides Greg and Stu continued the pursuit for yellowfish feeding on shallow sand banks, and managed to entice a few eats, and to land two beautiful specimens of around 3lb each. After a quick but fruitless session on the river after lunch, Volker called time on his stint on the Ruhudji, and on his epic two week trip as a whole, as we prepared ourselves for the trek back to Dhala camp.

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If you were to spend two weeks tiger fishing this year, I doubt you could hope to do much better than Volker did in terms of timing and execution. Sure, the rivers seem to be fishing better and better as the season progresses, but he certainly made the most of it, and his tireless enthusiasm and appreciation for good fishing made the whole time a really memorable and worthwhile experience for us guides. The fly camping trip on the upper Ruhudji was a massive highlight for all of us, and we were glad to be able to share it with someone like our old friend Volker.

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Here’s hoping the building rain clouds can hold off for another two weeks, and we can continue this great run of form into a strong finish to the season!

Nov 09

Makhangoa School River Education and Stationary Donation


IMG_0858Each year the Tourette Fishing and the Makhangoa Community get together for a river education day at the Makhangoa Primary School. A huge part of this day is the stationary donation, made possible with the generous support of National Stationary. This remote school in the Lesotho mountains, is a major beneficiary of the Makhangoa Community Camp, with current beneficiation projects including the clearing of a sports field, and the building of a foot bridge to help children cross the river during high water periods and get to school.


Our relationship with the Makhangoa Community is based on a zero hand out policy, rather introducing means and policy to empower the community to affect change. This is no different with the school stationary donation. With the help of the headmaster and teachers, the morning is set aside to educate the younger children on the importance of protecting the environment, river, and fish which attract fly fishing tourists from around the world to their village. We then set off on a river clean up walk, from the school to the camp, where the children are responsible for clearing any litter they find. After a quick snack it is time for the much anticipated stationary donation. Here, we put together a small pack of stationary for each pupil, with the bulk of the stationary being left with the teachers to use throughout the year. This ensures all the children walk away with a great present on the day (the joy on their faces when receiving brand new stationary is wonderful to see), but more importantly, the school is not short of vital items such as pens, pencils and notebooks for the year ahead.

A big thanks to National Stationary for making this yearly project a possibility.

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Oct 22

Tanzania Tigerfish Season Group 5: 10 – 17 Oct 2015

IMG_0308The 2015 Tanzania Trophy Tiger season is in full swing and gaining momentum, as our five departing guests were immediately replaced by a mixed group of seven internationals. Agents Aardvark Mcleod with father/son team of John and Harry who were all accompanied by Charlotte, an Aardvark Mcleod director. David Powel also from the UK made his first trip to target Tanzania Tigerfish on the back many trips to the Zambezi. The from the other side of the Atlantic, we welcomed Texans Steve accompanied by his wife Michelle who booked through their agent Yellow Dog Fly Fishing Adventures. Last but not least was great friend and fly tier extraordinaire, John Travis from Zululand, South Africa. The latter all proceeded on to the Ruhudji, while the English contingent remained on the Mnyera for the first half of the trip.

After their disastrous Rugby World Cup campaign, a week in the Kilombero Valley must have been a fine prospect for the English contingent, as far removed from it all as you could be, and with some hardcore fishing to keep them occupied.

Sunday was off to a flyer, and when we met up back in camp for lunch, everyone had caught a couple of fish, lost a lot more, and in Dave and Harry’s case, tangled with some really big fish. Unfortunately Harry lost his right at the boat after a good fight, and Dave’s spat his lure after a tenacious running jump. The afternoon continued in a similar vein, littered with strong pulls, and Dave, who has fished the Zambezi a number of times, ended with a personal best 13lb. Meanwhile John had come through a mighty tussle that looked like it could go either way, and ended up with a superb 14lb fish. Not bad going for the first day!

Charlotte's great casting paying off in trying conditions

Charlotte’s great casting paying off in trying conditions

Things were a lot quieter on the lower Ruhudji where people were working much harder for takes, and even the smaller fish were a bit reserved. However, perseverance is always rewarded, and John and Steve slowly worked their way up through the lower divisions.

Harry and Dave spent Monday morning stalking the Kasingo rapids, and endured a grueling session at Sig’s Rock. Two fly lines snapped on big fish saw the guys tagging in and out of the hot seat, and Dave eventually put us on the board with a spectacular 19lb fish, shattering his fly record with a fish of a lifetime! With low and very clear water, it was an epic session as we were able to watch fish take and run, and the sight of an approaching or departing bow wave is unforgettable! The rest of Kasingo was relatively quiet, but with some good action and a great fish under the belt we were able to really enjoy a braai (BBQ) featuring some game meat and a well earned break in the hammocks by the river. Charlotte was also able to enter into the fray having been on the sidelines with a throat infection with a beautiful 8lb fish late in the evening to cap off a good day.


Meanwhile, on the Ruhudji, and although the fishing was pretty tough, there was always something happening on the river. On this occasion it involved John and guide Mark pursuing yellowfish along the shallow sand banks in the main stream. With the very low water conditions on the Ruhudji, targeting the abundant yellows is a real option, and a very exciting one. The tiger fishing remained tough going for John with only a handful of fish in the 5-8lb range coming to hand, boosted by a welcomed 14lb fish to go with his beautiful black velvet yellowfish caught nymphing in the shallows.

The lower Mnyera has shown glimpses of real potential so far this season, and when the first half hour of Tuesday produced a mint 13lb and two 5lb fish for Harry, plus a violent tug for John, things were looking good. Unfortunately tigerfishing is a very fickle business, and things quieted down drastically, despite seemingly good conditions. Everyone dug deep and fished hard, knowing that paying dues is the only sure way to stay amongst the fish, and a couple of smaller fish brought some respite later in the afternoon.


The fishing was similary quiet on the Ruhudji, and this meant more time for John to targeting yellowfish. Things got so carried away that himself and Stuart found themselves skating a mouse pattern over the clay riffles and raising tigers and yellows on large terrestrials! More to come on this front, I’m sure! Steve did come across a trophy tiger just above camp, but as so often happens when the fishing is slow; the big one managed to find a way to detach itself! After packing away the fishing kit, the Ruhudji crew returned to Dhalla camp, via some really good game encounters along the way including lion, elephant, buffalo, kongoni, sable and reedbuck, which were well appreciated by all.

The Mnyera welcomed the new group on Wednesday with a baptism of fire, as the guys had a torturously slow day in the Kasingo rapids, struggling to connect with fish at any of the usual hot spots. However if you are going to have tough tiger fishing, you couldn’t ask for a more beautiful place to bleed in, and as avid photographers, John, Steve and Michelle were in their element. They eventually did land a 10lb and a few smaller fish, but it was obvious that we were in the grips of a low pressure system that was moving through, and there was not much to do but keep lines in the water until it passed and the fish came back on.

tigerfishThe same system was in effect on the Ruhudji, although the fish did feed aggressively in a small window about mid morning, and Charlotte in particular made some good hay while the sun shone, boating two 12lb beasts on her Hardy Zephrus in shallow water. Harry and Dave soldiered on in the afternoon session that felt good in the pre front conditions, and Harry in particular would have been well rewarded if even one of three isolated pulls had stuck, as they all seemed to be very decent fish. It was not to be though, and we called time on another hard but enjoyable day.

With heavy looking clouds and strong gusting wind, Thursday was always going to be slow going, so Dave and Harry took the time to travel high upriver to try and lure something out of the many lairs that define this beat. Although definitely not what anyone was expecting, Harry pulling a 7lb Bagrid Catfish out of the Top Riffles at least provided some excitement and novelty factor to the morning! However it wasn’t until late in the afternoon, once things had settled down and warmed up that they were back into some hot action. Impossibles came alive, and Dave’s Stellar was talking up a storm as it responded to multiple hits. Eventually he connected with and fought all the way to the boat a properly big fish that was done for all money, until it cruelly found a stump on its last surge, and reinforced Impossibles’ reputation! This was a low point for the guys who had worked so hard for the last few days for a chance at such a fish, but it was a promising sign for the last day’s fishing. On the Mnyera Steve managed to land a 16lb fish that would turn any slow day into a great one!


Friday dawned clearer and calmer on the Ruhudji, and we were hopeful of better fishing. The fishing did indeed warm up slowly, and Dave in particular was not letting many chances elude him. He opened up with a 6lb and then bagged a really good 10lb fish at Riffles to get us underway. Meanwhile, Harry might struggle to sleep for weeks after this trip as he had to deal with another lost big ‘un, something that has haunted him since the very first session of the week!


One catchment over on the Mnyera, the guides had decided to play the ace up their sleeve, and take the guys back into the rapids, but up the other side to fish one or two spots now accessible in the lower water. This paid of massively, and John cashed in with a 20lb, 16lb and a 17lb fish, all taken on surface flies and a switch rod! Steve waded in with a 19lb fish that capped off his upward trend throughout the week! It was an epic finish and a fair reward for some hard fishing.


Another day, another week, some really unstable weather which resulted in tough fishing, plenty of great fish landed, and thousands of photos to remember it all by. The guides for one were very happy with how the week went in spite of the tough conditions – tis testament to the great group of guests in camp this week. We look forward to welcoming old and new friends back in the future.



Greg, Stu, Mark and Rob







Oct 21

Tanzania Tigerfish Season Group 4: 3 – 10 Oct 2015

The five arriving guests on the 3rd of October were a compilation of two pairs of fishing buddies from America and South Africa respectively, plus a late single addition, and the three separate factions meant that we were always going to be in for an interesting mixture of characters, even if three of the five guests shared the name Mike! American duo Don and Mike had fished together all over the world for numerous species, and had come to add Tigers to the extensive list, while Michael and Cobus from South Africa were much more familiar with Tigers, but had come to push their limits with the continent’s finest in on the Mnyera and Ruhudji River. Mike Levy had decided to make the most of a business trip to Africa, and see what all the fuss with tigers was about.


The next few days provided very few quiet moments, as Michael and Cobus’ casting was a mixture of the sublime and the ridiculous, and they were never too many casts away from action of some sort. Despite in depth critical analysis of every dropped fish, the strike rate percentages remained low, but enthusiasm and entertainment levels sky high! While the Ruhudji team were experiencing good numbers of smaller fish, and fewer really big pulls, there were definitely a few memorable takes. Michael’s 13lb in shallow water was very good value, as was the acrobatic fish in the high teens that cut the line on rocks. Cobus’ rod broke on a very solid hit, and the jury is still out on whether the take he had was a vundu or very big tiger! The fishing gradually improved over the 3 days, and had warmed up to such an extent that we fished right through lunch on Wednesday so as to maximize the good conditions. The guys enjoyed plenty of aggressive takes out of nearly every holding spot, and experienced some really good tiger fishing


Meanwhile the guys on the Mnyera were employing different tactics of later starts to avoid the very slow mornings, and although not coming into contact with as many fish, were connecting with some very good size fish. Mike managed to land an unblemished 15lb, while Don was so taken aback by a big take that he failed to react at all, and could only watch as a huge fish detached itself after a strong take! The Kasingo rapids underlined its unrivalled trophy tiger fish potential, with a ‘slow quiet day’ in terms of fish numbers still yielding two 19lb fish to the two Mikes at Double Up within a few casts of each other, plus a couple of smaller fish. Mike Levy then went one better on Wednesday, bagging the first 20lb fish of the season with an exceptional specimen on the middle beat of the Mnyera. Hopefully the first of many more this season!


Thursday saw the two groups acquainting themselves with the new rivers, and on the Ruhudji in particular, things were looking very good. Fish were feeding very aggressively, with hooked fish coming back for multiple takes, and even passively dangling flies getting smashed! The guys were almost taken aback by the ferocity of the fish, and by lunch time we were reflecting on multiple fish over 12lbs that had been lost, although a solid contingent of 5-10lb had been brought in. Although the afternoon was fished with heightened anticipation and renewed resolve to deal with big hits, the fish had switched off completely leaving us to scratch up a couple of mid size fish, and rue not converting some of the morning’s opportunities! A weather change overnight explained the change in fish behavior, and the next few days’ fishing was much tougher in cloudy, gusty conditions. Although the number of hits was down, the size of the fish that did eat seemed to be bigger, with nearly everyone tangling with very solid fish at some point. Special mention must be made of Mike who landed 3 10lb fish on the last day in very slow conditions, and kept us motivated!

Mike Levy with the seasons first 20lb tiger from the middle Mnyera

Mike Levy with the seasons first 20lb tiger from the middle Mnyera

On the Mnyera, Michael and Cobus continued to ride their roller coaster of fortunes. Although landing very good numbers of smaller fish and consistently adding to their collection of 10-14lbers, they continued to suffer heartbreak with the really big fish. Twice they were wrapped around stumps by well hooked fish, and three times had the wire trace bitten through, amongst the standard hooks thrown by jumping fish! Despite this, they never despaired and fished ever harder, and Michael ended up with a very respectable 15lb fish. Only when both of them cast straight into a bank side bush late on the last day did they finally back down, and call it a draw!


Even the briefest reflection of this week will reveal multiple highlights from many aspects, and all the guides agreed that this is what a fishing trip is all about. From solid fishing and some very memorable fish, to two separate sightings of Pel’s Fishing owl, and high quality company throughout, here’s hoping the rest of the season follows suit!

Cheers for now

Greg, Mark, Stu and Rob

Oct 20

Tanzania Tigerfish Group 3 – 26 Sept – 3 Oct 2015

After entertaining and being entertained by a big mixed group of South African buffalo hunters and fishermen for the previous week, it was an interesting prospect of having only one client in camp for the next week. American Tim Younkin was probably just as surprised to find that he had two rivers, two camps, a boat and a guide all to himself, and I think we were both just as keen to get underway.

We transferred straight over to the Ruhudji river on arrival day, and with everything running smoothly, were able to get down to business on the river for a couple of hours. The Tigers kept their cards pretty close to their chests on the first evening, but Tim was able to zone in his casting radar and get a feel for what was in store for the rest of the week.


Sunday was upriver day, and even with overcast sky and gusting wind, some of the spots on this beat just have Tigerfish written all over them. Top riffles didn’t give anything away, but we were soon into some good action a few bends down. After opening up with a strong 6lb’er, a very pristine and feisty 13lb fish was expertly handled to the boat, and things were looking good. The very next cast down the deep seam induced a massive pull, some finger burn, brief elation, and then it was off, leaving Tim and guide with a sense of awe of what could have been. Now fully aware of what was at stake, Tim was even more motivated, but it wasn’t until after a few more medium fish and a quiet midday session, that he had another chance at a big fish. This time having weathered the take and set the hook, the 30lb leader snapped, and another fish eluded us.

Monday was also slightly weather affected, with heavy clouds and strong intermittent gusts of wind, but the Lower Ruhudji still produced small windows of activity in periods throughout the day. Again most of the fish seemed to be in deeper water on anchor, although as the afternoon stabilized, more smaller fish came out of structure on the drift, as well as a large but empty 11lb fish late in the day to reward some good casting on a tough day.


Tuesday was off to a more promising start, with consistent takes in most spots, but unfortunately it was Tim that was misfiring on the trigger finger, and not many of them managed to stick! After re grouping at lunch, the conversion rate improved, and a good set of 6, 7 and 8lb fish were landed. In the heat of the afternoon session came Tim’s third run in with a BIIIG fish, and unfortunately his second tackle failure, as the leader snapped on impact once again. This one was tough to swallow as it was on the end of a perfect cast, mend and swing, and it gave us a good visual as it breached before tearing off with the rest of the leader in tow!

Wednesday was set aside as the transfer day over to the Mnyera, and the plan was to head straight to Kasingo rapids, fish our way down and return by boat to camp. A pretty simple plan, but nothing in the Valley is a given, and only after a 6 hour jaunt down a partially opened hunting road did we eventually limp into the rapids on foot! After it’s pioneering mission, the land cruiser’s winch gave up the ghost on the fourth and final kirongo (bog) just short of the rapids, and we were only too glad to disembark and finally get a fly in the water! It was a huge credit to Tim that he took it all in his stride, put it all behind him, and managed to open his account on the Mnyera by the end of the day with a couple of 5-6lb fish.


Thursday found us back on the upper section of the Mnyera, slaving away and not leaving any of the Kasingo rocks unturned in a determined quest for big fish. True to an emerging pattern for the season, it was a very quiet morning session, with only a couple of sporadic takes to keep us motivated. Eventually Tim’s investments started to yield some returns, and the smaller fish started to make their presence known, and it looked like we were in the clear. A really strong hit and run caused the line to burn through Tim’s gloves, forcing him to release the pressure needed to hook such a fish, and even if conditions had changed for the better, Tim’s luck with the big fish evidently had not! Yet another 10lb fish landed later in the day went a long way to providing consolation, but with time moving on, we were starting to feel the stars (not to mention the full moon) might just be against us when it came to big fish.


The final chapter of the week was on the setting of the middle beat, and the tension was pretty tangible! The fishing gradually improved throughout the day, and there was a vague sense that we were heading towards a thrilling crescendo of a finale. Mid way through the afternoon, it looked like the tigers had read the same script, and as we headed into Tiger Mile, we started picking up solid hits. Suddenly Tim picked up a massive hit, and plugged straight into a fish that took off down river. Tim held on, turned the fish, and dealt with three violent jumps of a Tiger that looked to be solidly 15lb plus. As Tim fought it nearer the boat, we dared to hope our luck had finally changed, but one final spurt and leap shook the fly, and we were left empty handed once again. It was a thrilling episode, and having come to such a definitive end, we found we were not devastated, but that all the tension had evaporated and we were able to really enjoy the last few hours.

It was a tough week of tiger fishing, with long quiet sessions interspersed with some genuine bad luck with big fish, but being a true gentleman and a through and through fisherman, Tim was able to look past this, and we reflected on a quality week, and a very commendable effort in trying conditions!

Back to a busy camp of guests and guides for group 4, so looking forward to checking in then.




Sep 29

Okavango Tigerfish Week 3: 14 – 19 Sept 2015

The start of week 3 brought a group of our favourite 6 return guests. Sandro and Sergio were our two Italians accompanied by Robby, Steve, Ewan and Graham. The guys having been here many times before pay testament to the quality of fishing and the overall experience this trip has to offer. As the guides on the ground, we were very eager to keep up the standards that our guests have come to expect.

The first mourning started off hard and had everybody humbled. Runs were far and few between, and although there were birds squabbling above a handful of catfish, trying to organise a run, these runs did not produce many fish at all. So on we moved. Both day one and two needed long runs to below Redcliffs to find productive  runs accompanied by good numbers of feeding tigers.


The guys persisted through fishing structure and lagoon mouths, as well as dredging the water alongside the few runs we could find and eventually everybody was rewarded with at least some good fish. The black polar fiber bait fish pattern was the fly of the moment, stepping up to the challenge and claiming most of the fish. The fish were here, we knew this much, we just had to persist on the runs that were heading up through the skinny water into the deep channels below moonlight island and making their way towards Redcliffs.

Day three and four warmed up a bit for all the guys.  The catfish runs became dense, loud, and aggressive. The tigers followed suite, and guests landed good numbers of fish in a range sizes over their last two days.  Graham getting a lovely 8 pounder, followed by Steve with a chunky 7lb fish. A, well deserved and a great end to a great trip full of good fishing and even better humor and comrdaderie.

It’s a funny thing to fish the Okavango. In a seemingly monotonous flood plain environment, when one takes time to pause and pay attention to what is happening in the surrounds, one starts to notice the abundance of life that inhabits the papyrus banks of the Okavango. Whether it’s African Skimmers scooping micro minnows off the water’s surface as the sun sets behind you, or suddenly noticing the ever watchful eye of a Godzilla crock, fat and unfazed by our presence as he has already eaten tonnage of running catfish, the Okavango is a story constantly rewriting itself and changing genre. One moment you are floating peacefully underneath hundreds of beautiful carmine bee-eaters, the next moment you are floating very uneasily through the air after hitting the huge wake left by a hippo trying to get to deeper water. Either way you are thoroughly enjoying yourself.

Thank for a great week gents and we look forward to your return.

Kindest regards

Lionel, Stu and Andrew

Tourette Fishing


Sep 28

Tanzania Tigerfish Week 1: 12 – 19 Sept 2015

Pre Season preparations for the Tiger fishing season in the Kilombero Valley usually go down to the wire, and 2015 did not disappoint, producing another photo finish. The Ruhudji  fly camp needed to be built from scratch, and also wired and plumbed with running water for the first time ever, while the Dhala Camp accommodation on the Mnyera was to be completely overhauled, with new permanent banda structures being erected. These were bold undertakings with such a narrow time frame before the season opens, but with the pressure cranked up, the Kilombero Noth Safaris staff pulled a rabbit out the hat once again, and we were able to welcome our first clients of the season with everything in place.

American Dave McCoy of Emerald Water Anglers, a real fly fishing journeyman, and jack of many trades, and Hakan Undin, also an experienced angler, and our first Swedish client were greeted by a very psyched Tourette Fishing guide, and good looking water conditions. With slightly below average rainfall, the rivers had been able to drop significantly, and were clearing up by the day. Temperatures were still slightly low, but these too should rise quickly given the right conditions.

Hakan with his 18lbs tiger

Hakan with his 18lbs tiger (Photo Credit: Dave McCoy)

With just the two clients on the one boat, and the freedom of the whole river, we set to work trying to connect with some of Tanzania’s finest. With Dave photographing as much as fishing, and Hakan opening up with a double digit (11lb) fish, the tone for the rest of the week was set on the first afternoon.

Our first full day took us up into the hallowed waters of the Upper Mnyera, where we experienced a very quiet morning session in Kasingo rocks, despite some very comprehensive coverage of good looking water. Hakan rescued the session at the death with a 10lb fish just before lunch, and after resting a regrouping in the shade for a bit, the afternoon session was eventually ground into submission by relentless quality casting from the guys. Hakan added a 12lb, while Dave chipped in with timely contributions of smaller fish in between checking off his extensive photo list. A quality first full day on the water, and spirits were high going into the rest of the week.

The lower Mnyera produced another couple of double digit fish for Hakan, while Dave’s unique tactic of fishing a floating line with a very heavy tuna fly was proving very effective for attracting smaller fish and the occasional big bump. Another long day in the sun, but with action throughout the day, plenty of crocs and hippos, and Dave shooting away, it made for one of the better Mondays in a while!

While busy trying to figure out what the river is doing in the new season, always in the back of a guide’s mind is what might be happening at Kasingo rapids, the enigmatic playground of the Mnyera Tigers. Tuesday was our day to find out, and we set off walking, fishing, and bush burning our way up. Another quiet morning session was shattered by Hakan plugging into a big strong fish at Double Up. To see a Tiger rookie apply the necessary skill and pressure to pull an 18lb steam train right out of the rocks was inspirational, and everyone was full value for this fish! Despite another couple hits and bumps, we were denied any more action until Dave boated a strong 6lb fish off the boat at the end. Despite so few fish, Hakan’s fish and the beauty of Kasingo were truly appreciated, and duly captured by Dave and his assortment of camera equipment.

Elephant sightings really makes the transfer between camps worthwhile

Elephant sightings really makes the transfer between camps worthwhile (Photo Credit: Dave McCoy)

Wednesday saw us transfer over to the Ruhudji river, and our early departure rewarded us with a spectacular elephant sighting not long before clocking in at fly camp. Hakan wasted no time in acquainting himself with a 14lb welterweight, while Dave’s uncanny prowess at attracting severe heat from smaller fish holding in very tight pockets started to come to the fore and made for quality viewing!

With low clear water, and clearly cut drop offs and channel, drifting the Ruhudji is enthralling stuff, with many of the takes and follows very visible, and it made for some very memorable fishing. The Ruhudji 8lb fish is a notoriously strong target, and the class of 2015 definitely seems to be upholding this proud tradition. Dave for sure will not forget in a hurry the take and run of one particular specimen late on day 2! With a solid register of 10-14lb fish, and multiple smaller fish plus a couple of bigger tugs, the Ruhudji was great value, and the evenings out on the sand bank will be logged as genuine quality time in great company.

The ideal start to the season came to an end, with two first class gentlemen and plenty of good fish and the whole story extensively and very skillfully documented by Dave. With the water levels continuing to drop, and clearing all the time, as the temperature rises, the fishing can only get better. Looking forward to the coming weeks!

TF Guide Greg Ghaui


(Photo Credit: Dave McCoy)


(Photo Credit: Dave McCoy)

Sep 24

Okavango Tigerfish Week 2: 07 – 12 Sept 2015

Week 2 had Johan from the previous week stay on to accompany his father mike on his first time trip to the Okavango. Garth from Jhb, and Joern and his wife Maria, from Germany,  have been guests of ours in Lesotho and on the Nubian Flats before, but were all on the Okavango River for their first time.

After a quick briefing at base camp we hurried the guys (and girl) down to the lodge. Nestled amongst massive mango steens and gigantic jackal berries Xaro is situated on a beautiful, sunset facing, corner of the Okavango and is perfect to spend the last hours of a good days fishing…and on this trip, a good days fishing was fairly common.

On the way down to breakfast on our first day no runs were seen for the first time on this upper stretch of the river. After a hearty breakfast we all headed down stream followed by high flying piscivorous birds that seemed to indicate the only runs would be quite a drive away. As per usual the birds were right.

Days one and two we did have to travel for some time downstream to hit the runs, but were rewarded with a buffet of small dense schools of catfish. The fishing was on and many fish were lost and landed in true tiger fishing style. Garth having lost about a nine pound fish on day one managed to eventually land an impressive catch including a big 8lb fish on day two. The infamous Xaro Killer Whistler, as well as some of Garths personal ties, were the flies doing the most damage.  Things were still firing as we went into day three and four.


Day three started with a guide dropping a beer on its way to the boats cooler box. One of the guests mentioned that this was bad luck……When we laid our eyes upon the big aggressive runs below red cliffs we figured that this myth was just a myth. Before long however Mike had hooked and lost an enormous fish of about 12lb right at the boat. The guys were suspicious for a short while, but when fish after fish inhaled their flies cast after cast on some of the most productive runs we have seen this season, the curse of the dropped beer was soon forgotten. Day three and four came to a close with over 30 fish ranging from 2lb to 8lb landed.

When trying to remember a fishing trip only the truly stubborn will argue that all you can remember are the fish. I am sure the guests and guides of this trip will agree that from fishing amongst 40 drinking elephants, finding a new species of bird every day, the spine chilling cry of the thick tailed bush baby, or the ghostly call of the elusive Pels fishing owl, the Okavango has so much more to offer than just magical fishing It is an unforgettable experience all round.

Thanks to all who joined us this last week and well done on some great angling.

Kindest regards.

Andrew, Lionel and Stu

Nothing like a South African style "braai' for lunch

Nothing like a South African style “braai’ for lunch

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