The Barbel Run Season on the Okavango River, Botswana kicked off with a false start as we arrived in camp to discover that the boat and jetty were trapped by a huge floating papyrus island. A channel had to be hacked through the obstruction before we could get onto the river to do some pre season exploring. Luckily help was at hand and very soon we were en route to find the birds and smash a few tigerfish. We fished around a few small runs where barbel and egrets were feeding on the fleeing baitfish. We also drifted the boat midstream and casting to the banks where both Kyle and myself landed a few more fish on the first afternoon before we had to get back to work with final preparations to the boats and tackle before the first group of the season arrived.
The first group of the season arrived full of anticipation, eager to catch that fish of a lifetime. The group consisted of Kyle’s father Rob, who flew in from George, Shaun, Twiggy, Robin, Manny and Bruce who all drove in from Johannesburg. After a short briefing and tackle check everyone was on their boat and the guides were ready to get the anglers into some tigerfish action.
Twiggy nearly became crocodile food when he lost his balance and fell off the boat, but Kyle was close by and before he knew what happened Twiggy was back in the boat moving lightning fast to get out of the croc infested water. Things could have been serious but no harm no foul and the guys were cracking jokes over some well deserved beers all afternoon.
The water level was high and the river still cool after the long winter, and brutal cold front, but the fish were there and not shy to take a well presented fly. The fishing was not easy and everyone had to work hard to get a hook-up but patience was rewarded when Robin caught a super 7 lb Tiger on the first day. Everyone was still tired after the long drive so we headed for the comfort of the lodge just as the sun was setting over the Okavango River so that the guys can have a good rest and be ready for the following days fishing.
The next day everyone was well rested and ready to tackle the tigerfish. Manny landed a good size Nembwe while Shaun had a field day when we came across large run on a channel linked to the main river. The tigerfish were smashing small baitfish all over the place and the fishing were frantic for the next 20 minutes . Shaun managed to land 8 Tigerfish out of the channel all fish weighing in at 4 – 6 lbs and Bruce landed his first tigerfish on fly in a small lagoon just off the main river.
After struggling to get a good fish to eat his fly, Manny landed the best fish of the trip on the last day. A whopping 8 lb Tiger that sealed the deal and gave him honours around the camp fire that evening.
Saturday afternoon was spent watching the Rugby and having great pizza before we headed out for one last session on the river which marked the end of a tough but productive three days on the water.
Early season on any water can be very finicky and waiting for the fishing to come on can be tiring at times, but that is how it is with fishing.
Personally, it was a great start to the Okavango guiding season. The experience was everything I could ever imagine and I am looking forward to guiding the rest of the season.
See you on the Okavango!
Pierre and the TF Okavango Guides Team
Kyle, Lionel and Pierre.