Okavango Barbel Run Tigerfish Season 2016 – Week 3

It is always good to see familiar faces on the water, especially if you have guided them on other locations. Our third group of the season were all guests that we had guided before in Lesotho. Johann (Vossie) came up to make a fly fishing film on the Delta, while Ilyas, Coops, and Howard (the Bass-master) drove up from JHB to join us for 4 full days tigerfishing. The recent cold front that hit South Africa really turned the Delta on its head. The mornings on the boats were freezing and strong winds ripped across the floodplains, but this was not going to stop us from fishing. In fact, it was just another reason for the guides team to work harder.

It was Vossie’s first cat-fish run and the mission of the day was to get him his first Tigerfish. The ever enthusiastic Illyas was there to chirp and cheer him on. With a little bit of coaching and a drop of good luck, he soon found himself connected to the most ferocious fresh water fish in Africa. We rested our tired bodies on Moonlight Island in the shade of the Lala Palms and had a world-class lunch. The highlight of the day however came in the form of five tons of pachyderm that got stuck in the river. An elephant bull got caught off guard by our boats while having an afternoon bath and was very keen to get back onto the island that he came down from, the only problem was that he forgot where he came down and got stuck half-in half-out of the river. Eventually he changed his tactics and found his was back onto dry land. Trying to regain a shred of respect he then proceeded to trumpet and thrash around in the reeds like he was the boss. We left the poor fellow with his bruised ego and fished our way back to camp.

They say you learn something new every day, well, Howard learned a hell of a lot more than that on our second day out. Regardless of the fact that the conditions were poor and fishing was tough, Howard hooked more tigers that anybody else, the only problem was that he couldn’t land them. Lionel had spent the first day showing him exactly how to handle tigers, but somehow they seemed to drop off his flies like he was fishing without hooks. To add insult to injury, Illyas landed a stunning 7lb fish and a soon after Coops also pulled a 7 pounder into the net.

The morning of the third day there was a change in the air, the cold was gone the wind was down. We hit a run just downstream from Xaro Lodge and Coops was out of the blocks with a bang, Howard was pricking fish left and right but the little buggers eluded the net every time. We drove about 40km downstream in search of new fish and finally found a thick run, the kind that sounds like a cane fire and where the catfish are so thick that you can walk on them. It was the best run we had seen all season, but for some odd reason the tigers where not in attendance. The drive back was quiet, only the humming of the motors broke the silence until we heard the familiar crackling sound in the distance. We found a run in the perfect spot and it wasn’t long before Howard’s luck changed. He broke the curse with a 5lb Tiger and after that he was unstoppable, we had created a monster! It was an hour of shouting, cheering, high fives and tigerfish. A splendid finish to the day.

We wrapped up the trip with a pretty slow day, but the guys made the most of their last day on the water. Vossie landed two Tigers early on as well as a fat catfish. All the shouting and coaching seem to have had a positive effect on Howard, who caught a few Tigers and a Three-spot Bream. All in all, it was tough day on the water, but the sorrows were soon forgotten that night at the dinner table. Beer and fishing banter was flowing freely and as with all good fishing trips it ended with a bang.

Cheers guys, we’ll see you on the water again soon.