The end of the dry season is the perfect time to tackle this monster river if you hope to land a trophy-sized tigerfish (that's anything over 10lbs). The smaller fish are tucked away in the inaccessible side channels but the biggest fish still remain in the main flow. The Zambezi is big, 4-600 yards wide, but once the rains arrive it spreads out over the Barasota flood plains and reaches 16 MILES wide. That is some river!
The fishing was hard and at times frustrating. Even the most experienced tiger fishermen only expect to land 3 or 4 fish for every 10 chances they get which means, as a novice, you're a nervous wreck when bites are few and far between. It's so hard to set a hook in the bony mouth of a tiger but the moment they feel a hook they leap clear of the water shaking their heads violently frequently throwing the hooks or smashing the line. The takes are explosive, too, testing your tackle to the limit. All-in-all its heart-stopping stuff.
Your rod has to be soft yet powerful. Too light and you can't set a hook. Too heavy and they bounce out. The 6-12lb Kenzaki braid rods proved a perfect match although I had to step up to 50lb braid to cope with snags, abrasion and knot failures. It was a huge learning curve but I was well rewarded with two big tigers each weighing over 16lbs. As fish go I rate these as highly as anything specimen-wise that I've ever caught.
But none of this would have been possible without the help of the staff and guides at Matoya Lodge, Lukulu, an amazing oasis in the most remote place I have ever visited. There's no road access to the lodge, you arrive at Lukulu's gravel airstrip in a tiny plane and transfer over to the lodge by boat yet Matoya has every comfort of home. It's amazing! If you ever fancy a real adventure in total luxury look no further. Check out the Matoya Lodge website or Facebook Page for more details, or view a video of our trip.