Okavango Barbel Run, Tigerfish Season 2016 – Week 1

The long wait is over boys and girls; the Okavango Catfish season has officially kicked off. On the 2nd of September our first group of season arrived in the swamps, ready for some tigerfish action. Nic Beaumont and his two sons, Stu and Greg came up to the Delta to celebrate his 70th birthday. As far as clients go, they were a guide’s dream; very keen to fish, but equally happy to enjoy their surroundings and the abundant birdlife.

Day one was slow on the fishing front. The odd tiger came out, but the runs were dismal. Stu Harley took them out to look at a pair of nesting African Skimmers just below Xaro lodge where they were staying. They were fortunate enough to see the breeding pair as well as three other Skimmers that were happily posing for a few photographs.

On their second day we took two boats out and split the team up between the guides. There was the promise of runs further downstream and so we headed down to investigate. The trusty old herons pointed out where the catfish were going and it wasn’t long before we found the action. The runs were still quite thin, but we managed to get the guests onto a couple of Tigers. We made lunch under the lush green canopy of a Livingstonia tree on Motsoabe island where Stu prepared a piece of beef that could feed the entire village of Shakawe. It was glorious to say the least. The afternoon session was tough. I suspect the meat had slowed them down, because more fish were dropped than caught, but that’s typical tigerfishing I guess.

We hauled down to the Redcliffs area on day three and found a bunch of scattered runs. A tigerfish came out every now and then as well as the occasional Catfish. The ‘trout-strike’ was a big problem and many fish made their escape because of poor hook-sets. We took a break from the blistering heat and took a swim in a clear shallow channel below red cliffs, don’t stress it was a crock-free zone. We found some elephant on the banks at Redcliffs and the guys were treated to a proper African experience. In the afternoon we headed down to Moonlight Island. Greg started to understand the principle of strip-striking and landed a beautiful 5lb tiger.

Day four was one for the books. Local guide, Tom, took our guests out for a walk around Xaro Lodge in search of the very rare Pel’s Fishing Owl. Not only did we see the Owl, but also a pair of mating Sitatunga (a shy wetland antelope). The day started wonderfully, now we only needed some fish. We headed back down to Moonlight Islandwhere we were going to camp that night. The fishing was a little ‘hit-and-miss’, literally, but it all turned around when Nic caught a massive Thinface Bream just below the island. That night we camped under the stars and swapped stories about the African wilderness, we were all well pleased.

On the last fishing-day we headed down to Namaseri and headed back for lunch at Moonlight Island before making our way back upstream. It was a scorcher of a day and everybody enjoyed a leisurely lunch in the shade. The afternoon session produced a few smallish tigers and as usual the ‘big ones’ got away, but it didn’t bother us too much. It was a wonderful trip that will be long remembered.

From the team here in the swamps we say cheers to the Beaumonts and hope to see them again soon.

Until next time