After a few days off for the independence weekend break, the guides were eager to get back on the water and start the second phase of the season. Father and son team Dave and Chris drove into camp from Johannesburg and the rest of the group consisting of Johan, Janus as well as father and son, Brenden and Vincent, flew into Maun via Johannesburg.
The first day was spent searching the water for tell-tale signs of a catfish run and the tigerfish that lurk beneath. TF guide Steve had the fly fishermen, Dave and Chris, on his boat and came across a very big run just below Palm Island. Both Dave and Chris were thick in the action and were treated to a multitude of strikes, including some double figure specimens, but unfortunately none were landed as the crew got to terms with these notoriously tough to land fish. The rest of the party who were eager bait and spin fishermen had more success and managed to land some good tigerfish on Effzett Spinners and the very successful Goya Jig.
The catfish runs over the week were good but the boat pressure over the independence week seemed to take its toll as the tigerfish seem to be more cautious than normal. A change of tactics was decided on to get to fresh water and present new patterns to fish. The spin fishermen were off to look for live bait, while the fly fishermen were off to find fresh runs and open to fishing a number of disciplines. After quick tackle and tactics prep with the guests the following morning we all headed out to the lagoon at camp in search of some small bream to use as live bait before heading to new waters.
Now I knew from a young age that I would somehow follow a career in fishing, but never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would get paid to put a worm onto a hook, which is exactly what happened. The camaraderie among the anglers and guides was at a high as we spent a good part of the early morning catching palm size bream on stick rods (not unlike the first fish we ever caught growing up). We then headed downstream to some good areas to drift and present the live bait to some hungry tigerfish. Not long after the first live bait was set out and Brenden landed the first Double figure tigerfish of 12 pounds. The day just got better and better with many hook-ups, breakups and fish landed. Some good sized catfish came to the net and by the end of the day everyone landed some very nice fish on lures, flies and live bait, including a 17 pound catfish for Johan, a 10.5 pound Tigerfish for Chris and a 9 pound Tiger for Dave.
Although the majority of fishing to tigerfish over the season is with fly or artlure, for groups that are open to fishing a live bait on circle hook as this one was, the experience can be extremely rewarding. From getting excited over catching the perfect size live bait in the morning lagoon session, to the chaos that erupts when ones live bait is picked up, the excitement and exhilaration is hard to forget.
They say that when the going gets tough, the tough gets going… and this was a case in point with this group who were keen on sampling a number of fishing methods during their visit. That is the way it goes with fishing and keeping an open mind sometimes is the difference between success and failure.
It was a really great trip and an eye opener for a fly fishing purist like me. So next time you see me on the Okavango don’t be surprised if you find me with a can of worms and bucket full of live baitfish drifting down the crazy river.
Cheers for now.
Pierre and the Okavango Guides Team