Cuba; take advantage of the Euro exchange rate

July 28th, 2015

Times, they are a’changing and as attitudes and restrictions relax, Cuba will probably be unrecognisable in the near future to many who have been travelling there for a long time.  The influx of our cousins across the water has begun and with them will come big changes; some will be good and beneficial and some not so – such is the cycle of life.

Another cycle, on our side of the pond, is the weak Euro and some might say it’s a sign … a sign to pack your rods and head to Cuba.  Take advantage of the Euro rate of exchange, take advantage of the daily flights to Havana and the opportunity to explore the many and varied options.

Jardines de la Reina
Cuba’s best known destination with the greatest number of options from La Tortuga, the moored house boat to the liveaboards. Avalon Fleet 1 (groups of 8 – 10) and Avalon Fleet II (groups of 10 to 12) and for smaller parties there are Halcon and Caballones (groups of 4 to 8 and La Reina (a group of 4)

Isla de la Juventud
Big tarpon await and options range from the Hotel Rancho which offers single rooms to 1-8 anglers and the two liveaboards, Georgiana and La Perola, both of which can accommodate groups of 6 anglers.

Cayo Largo
Hotel based, and all inclusive, six skiffs operate out of Cayo Largo, fishing 12 rods per week. The resort works extremely well for non-fishers and the fishing is arguably the best in Cuba with a very high percentage of Grand Slams landed every season.

South Ana Maria
Still relatively unknown, tarpon, bonefish, permit, snook, jacks, snapper and barracuda await and the boat can accommodate 4 to 8 anglers exclusively.

Cayo Cruz
Boasting Venezuelan like flats, this area has seen some extremely productive bonefish and permit numbers with anglers staying either at the Hotel Casona de Romano or living aboard Avalon Fleet 1.

Cabo de San Antonio
An ideal location for spinning, vertical jigging, trolling, bait casting and tropical popping, Cabo de San Antonio is hotel based and ideal for small groups.

Las Salinas / San Lazaro
Closest to Havana, the operation is hotel based at Hotel Playa Larga, fishing 8 rods per week.

Cayo Santa Maria
Arguably the best location in Cuba to target big, migratory tarpon, this operation is hotel based and fishes six skiffs per week.

Cuba is also an excellent destination for families with beckoning white, sandy beaches, all inclusive hotels and for those who like to travel and explore further afield there are some fantastic hiking routes, breath taking dive sites and snorkelling, seemingly endless beaches at Varadero, colonial Trinidad which is a UNESCO world heritage site and revolutionary Santa Clara. Santiago de Cuba has the Museo Emilio Barcadi and of course there is Havana itself to explore. Stroll down the Malecon, enjoy the music and the deep, seductive beat of the music. Immerse yourself in old Havana and glory in the absence any golden arches while you can.

For more information about any of the Cuban operations and their costs or to discuss trip around Cuba, please contact Charlotte Chilcott or call +44(0)1980 847389.

Iceland Fishing Report, 27 July 2015

July 28th, 2015

Last week has again been a very productive week in Iceland with many of the rivers now settling down to consistent catch returns of over 100 fish a week. The freezing cold north wind has finally died down and temperatures on the west coast are now between 12 – 14 degrees centigrade. Water levels although still bolstered by daily snow melt are at last beginning to drop slowly as we approach August. The north and eastern rivers are still being plagued by very cold conditions which have slowed the runs and the fishing. Rain is forecast for this week which will top up the rivers nicely and hopefully allow fishing to continue at this pace through August. All in all the season is shaping up to be one for the books as all rivers are reporting strong runs of fish.

The Laxa I Asum continues to perform extremely well and has now reached an amazing 367 fish to two rods. In one week 243 salmon have been caught as we see their numbers building on a daily basis. Looking at past records there haven’t been stronger runs in at least 15 years. 86 salmon have been landed in just the last three days.

The Laxa I Kjos has now hit the magic 500 fish mark currently standing at 522 fish with 160 landed to the 8 rods last week. The water levels are dropping down to summer levels although still being topped up by the snow melt. The lower water has dictated a change in tactics and they are now fishing even smaller flies, down to size 16 micro hitch tubes and Red Francis. The lower water conditions have been perfect for the sea trout in the meadows which have now started to appear in numbers with several fish over 10 lbs landed in the last couple of days on small upstream nymphs. With rain forecast over the next week Laxa I Kjos is having a phenomenal season and as other rivers slowdown will continue to catch fish right through August and into September.

Grimsa has followed neck and neck with Laxa I Kjos and actually stood at the same number of fish landed at 362 at the beginning of last week despite the slow start. The eight rods have also landed over 100 fish this week, but not all of them have been small with a few big salmon still pushing through the river system.

Svarlbardsa is fishing its socks off and having a tremendous season. Again after the cold conditions it had a bit of a slow start. The group finishing at lunch might reach 90 salmon on three rods, many of which are between 15 – 20 lbs. This is one of the few rivers in Iceland that has consistent big salmon and can also be taken as a private party which is why it is so popular.

With our next groups arriving on Nes on the Laxa I Adaldal we await news of large salmon. The runs have been strong this year with some incredible battles lost and won on its grassy banks. The Nes beats are one of our favourite as it remains one of the few rivers in Iceland considered to be a big fish river and perfectly suited to traditional double handed rods. The rivers powerful current turns every fish into a battle and we look forward to hearing how our rods get on.

We are delighted that Langá also appears to be back on form and fishing extremely well. The river has now landed 867 salmon which is already well on the way to blotting last year off the copy books.

The runs of salmon have begun to push into the Myrarkvisl in good numbers, although slightly later than expected anglers have experienced some phenomenal trout fishing up until now. One day last week three rods landed 42 trout between 1.5 - 3.5 lbs and one salmon at 64 cm.

Over the weekend the rods began to target the running fish, hooking and losing several multi sea wintered fish and landing a couple of smaller fish. We expect to see some memorable salmon landed over the next two/three weeks from this little north coast river.

Laxardal and Myvatnssveit have both been effected by an algal bloom making visibility difficult, despite this the anglers at both lodges have encountered some incredible fish. The focus has been on subsurface flies, nymphs and streamers, unlike the usual dry flies we associate with this time of year on the Laxa I Adaldal. The wild brown trout throughout the system continue to feed heavily and are in superb condition and exceptionally fat this season. Last week several fish over 7 lbs were landed at both lodges including a new season best at Laxardal. Pictured below, the fish was measured at 69 cm and weighed at 4 kg (8 lbs 13 oz).

Minnivallalækur has had a good season to date despite tough opening weeks due to the very cold spring. With conditions improving now in south Iceland the fishing is better than it has been for many years and dry-fly fishing has been superb. The fish have focused in on small midges, causing frustratingly fussy trout – making it all the more rewarding when one of the Minni-monsters is hooked.

For more information on the latest availability in Iceland this season, including a handful of prime spaces contact Peter McLeod and Alex Jardine or call our office on +44(0)1980 847389.

Canada; Camp Bonaventure Fishing Report July 20-26

July 28th, 2015

Rain, rain and more rain, we couldn’t be happier! The weather man has been kind to salmon fishermen.  Normally at this time of the season we’re praying for rain and cooler temperatures, not this year. Regular precipitation and cooler weather is keeping our rivers in excellent condition.

The Bonaventure couldn’t be in better shape with a flow of 32 cubic meters per second. Last week’s rain brought the Bonaventure back up to early July levels. We are back to travelling with our canoes and the guides are loving it. Fishing continues to be excellent and everyone’s catching fish. We are seeing fresh salmon coming in on every tide and our lower pools are still producing fish on a daily basis.

The Petite Cascapedia needed a little rise in water levels and we received just the right amount or rain.   The Petite is flowing at 30 cubic meters per second, perfect for this time of the season. Fresh salmon are coming in on every tide and most of the pools are holding salmon, it’s been a great year on the Petite.

The Grand Cascapedia has had a fantastic season since opening day and nothing has changed. Last week’s rain moved the Grand from 17 cubic meters to 24  and conditions couldn’t be better, cool water and plenty of it. Like the Bony and the Petite the Grand Cascapedia is receiving a continuous run of fresh salmon and fishing is great. The water conditions at the moment should keep the Grand in perfect shape for next week’s anglers.

Many patterns have been working well and getting the job done. Before the rise in water we were using smaller fly’s and some hitched tubes as well, they were all producing. The patterns of choice have been the Undertaker, Night Hawk, silver Rat and the Black Bear Green Butt. Straight Tubes and hitched tubes are still doing well and were responsible for some nice fish this week. Dries are always The favorite at this time of the season, As always Green, Dark Brown and Blue are the best choices.

The next full moon is on July 30th and the bigger tides begin on the 29th, can’t wait to see what the salmon Gods have in store for us.

Canada; Camp Bonaventure Fishing Report July 13-19

July 28th, 2015

We’re half  way through July and our fishing continues to be awesome.  We are having a fantastic season with great conditions and fabulous fishing. When everyone’s are catching fish you don’t have far to look too far to see smiling faces.

Water levels on the Bonaventure are exactly where they should be for this time of the season running at about 21 Cubic meters per second. The cooler than normal weather is great for fishing and its maintaining our water temperatures in the 50 degree range, a little cooler than normal which is great. Fishing on the Bony has been great since the beginning of June and continues to produce good numbers of fish every day. This week’s high tides brought in a good run on every tide and our lower pools are on fire where we’ve been releasing six to eight fish daily.

The Petite Cascapedia is also doing very well, the water flow is slightly low at about 15 Cubic Meters. The water temperature is also excellent  in the 50 degree range, just perfect. Salmon runs on the  Petite have been great with plenty of fresh run salmon this past week. Along with salmon we have been catching a good number of big trout, some up in the 6 to 7 pound class.

Fishing on the Grand Cascapedia remains excellent, like the Bonaventure we are having a simply fantastic run of salmon on the Grand. Water conditions and temperatures couldn’t be better.  The flow is slightly above normal for mid-July running at about 27 Cubic meters per second.

The flies of choice this past week have been a mixed bag,  The guides at Camp Bonaventure told me they were catching most of the fish on Dry fly’s while Salmon Lodge guides tell me they were more successful on smaller lightly tied  wets. Mario, our head guide at Bonaventure  says “you can throw anything at them this year, they just want it”  Bombers in Green, Brown and Blue are always working, size 2, 4 and 6 have been doing the job. In the wet fly department, the Undertaker, John Olin and Black Ghost were responsible for most of the fish. Sizes 6, 8 and even 10 are the recommended hook size. Hitched tubes are doing very well, especially when a fish is being difficult.

We are fortunate to have had another great week of fishing. It seems that this year everything is working perfectly. The weather man is calling for five to six days or rain, showers and cloudy weather, couldn’t ask for better fishing conditions. Too bad for sun seeking tourists but its got to our turn sometime!

Canada; Camp Bonaventure Fishing Report July 6-12

July 28th, 2015

What more can I say, great conditions and great fishing and very happy guests. This past week was a the perfect week to spend at a salmon camp. Our salmon are plentiful and our anglers are all happy, catching fish and having a wonderful time.

June was a very rainy month and our water conditions remained slightly above normal which was great for fishing. So far July weather is closer to what we are used to seeing and our rivers are beginning to flow at normal levels for this time of the season. Water temperatures have risen a bit over the past week and we’re beginning to catch a good number on dry’s, always a favorite especially in crystal clear water.  We have fish in all our high and medium water pools and the numbers are increasing daily. Every evening we’ve been seeing good numbers of fresh fish jumping in our pool in front of the lodge, fresh silver bullets on their way up river. The new moon on July 15th will give us the high tides and bring our next major run of fish.
The Bonaventure is flowing at 23 cubic meters per second, perfect for this time of the season. The levels and water temperatures are excellent.  The Petite Cascapedia is flowing at 18 and fishing very well. The Petite saw a nice run of fresh salmon during the high June tides . Most pools on the pools are holding fish and the water temperature and levels are perfect. Our guides have been floating the upper sections and are seeing some huge salmon. The Petite Cascapedia is our smallest river but the fish are huge!  Fishing on the Grand Cascapedia continues the been excellent, the flow rate is at 33 after a bump in water levels this week.  Like the Bony and the Petite water levels and temperatures are great.

Flies of choice are a mixed bag, wets, dry’s and tubes  are all working well. Quoting one of our guides “with all those fish, one of them is going to bite” Free floating dry’s have taken the most, Forest Green, Dark Brown and Blue Bombers  in sizes 2, 4 and 6. In the wet fly department, the Silver rat, Undertaker, Blue Charm and Green Highlander have been doing very well. Some of Davie McPhail’s new piglet patterns are really working, these are new patterns we received this year and are big performers. Wet fly sizes in 4, 6 8 is the best choice. Medium and small tubes in various patterns are also a good choice.

So far this has been a great season and comparable to 2011 when our rivers were full of fish. One never knows what each year will bring. One thing is certain, every year we’ve experienced a good grilse run, the next year has always been a good one for salmon. We have plenty of grilse!

Early Season Specials in New Zealand

July 27th, 2015

The spring season in New Zealand is a wonderful time for fly fishers as it is a chance to target hungry trout after the winter on rivers that have had no pressure for several months. Now is the time to capitalise on some great early season specials and the strong sterling to NZ Dollar rate of exchange.

Tongariro Lodge

Situated in the middle of New Zealand’s North Island, Tongariro Lodge is perfectly placed to target many of the islands great rainbow and brown trout rivers and lakes. The luxury lodge sits on the banks of the Tongariro River, established in 1982, it is surrounded by the beautiful Tongariro National Park. For 30 years it has had an excellent reputation for gourmet dining, the finest accommodation, quality outdoor activities and the very best in New Zealand trout fishing guides.

Join Tony Hayes and the wonderful team at Tongariro Lodge and explore some of the North Island’s finest trout waters. The spring special offer welcomes anglers to stay between 1st August and 24 December 2015 and pay for just 4 nights on a 5 night stay. Just NZ$2,922 per person based on a shared room/guide basis.

* 5 nights’ all-inclusive accommodation at Tongariro Lodge including four course dinners and breakfasts.
* 3 days guided fishing with expert lodge guides, including fisherman’s lunch and all equipment as needed.

For more details please contact Alex Jardine or call our office on +44(0)1980 847389.

Owen River Lodge

Owen River Lodge is located near Murchison, in the Nelson Lakes area of the South Island New Zealand. While mountains and forests abound, the area enjoys a remarkably mild climate. Owen River Lodge is centrally located, with easy access to the Nelson and West Coast Fisheries. Thus you can enjoy fly fishing on numerous blue-ribbon streams and rivers, with over 30 waters accessible by road and countless others by helicopter.

Felix Borenstein and Owen River Lodge offer a friendly, professional and extremely comfortable service for both experienced and novice fly fishers alike. The spring special offer welcomes anglers to Stay between 1st October and 15th November 2015 and pay for just 4 nights on a 5 night stay. Just NZ$3,500 per person based on shared room/guide basis.

* 5 nights’ all-inclusive accommodation at Owen River Lodge.
* 3 days guided fishing with expert lodge guides, including fisherman’s lunch and all equipment as needed.

For more details please contact Alex Jardine or call our office on +44(0)1980 847389.

Stonefly Lodge

Stonefly Lodge is situated on 150 acres of private forest, the lodge offers the complete package for visitors from around the world looking to experience fly fishing in New Zealand. With beautiful views, 5 star luxury accommodation situated on the banks of the Motueka River, Stonefly Lodge offers the world-class stay that you deserve when fly fishing and exploring Abel Tasman and the surrounding landscape of the region.

Join John Kerr and the excellent guide team to experience one of the most comfortable fishing lodges on the South Island. The spring special offer welcomes anglers to Stay between 14th October and 14th December 2015 and pay for just 4 nights on a 5 night stay. Just NZ$3,512.50 per person based on shared room/guide basis.

* 5 nights’ accommodation at Stonefly Lodge including cooked breakfast and four course gourmet evening meal each day.
* 3 days guided fishing with expert lodge guides, including fisherman’s lunch and all equipment as needed.

For more details please contact Alex Jardine or call our office on +44(0)1980 847389.

Seychelles; milkfish mania ..Chanos Chanos, the movie

July 21st, 2015

The first trailer of Chanos Chanos has hit our screens, as seen through the lens of Jako Lucas and Captain Jack Films. Its a short glimpse into the world of milkfish and these hard fighting, algae eaters are for me, the ultimate Indian Ocean challenge. The presentation has to be both delicate and accurate, the take is hard and with no lactic acid build up to tire them, the fight can be brutal. Alphonse Island, Seychelles is one of the few places where there are consistently large numbers of milkfish to even the odds and give you a realistic chance of landing one of these magnificent creatures on fly.

Enjoy the short clip which we have loaded HERE and let’s hope its not too long before the full film is out.

For more information or details on Alphonse space, please contact Charlotte Chilcott or call +44(0)1980 847389.

Iceland Fishing Report, 21 July 2015

July 21st, 2015

Last week in Iceland has been truly magnificent. Despite some proper arctic conditions in the north and some very cold and windy weather throughout western Iceland most rivers are now reporting strong runs of fish on every tide. Looking over the season as a whole so far it is running approximately two weeks late and the east coast is struggling due to very cold water temperatures. However water conditions are looking very good across the country as the snow pack is still topping up the rivers. We have at last seen a little rain as well which will help in maintaining level positions.

The last few days on days on Midfjardará have been nothing less than extraordinary. The weather has been really cold and windy but we are delighted to report the fish don´t seem to care. The river just broke 1,000 salmon landed this morning with the last few days producing 80 - 90 fish per day. Yesterday 100 fish were landed to the ten rods. Midfjardará again has proved itself to being one of the most sought after rivers on the west coast with a good average size as well as consistency.

The group currently fishing Laxá I Ásum caught 20 fish in the first session with others lost In the days and weeks to come we expect to see 40+ salmon days to the two rods. These are exciting times at Laxa I Ásum. Nothing really compares to the feeling brought about by the sight of a salmon lifting off the bottom through the crystal clear water and going after the V as the hitch tube crosses over its path. The fish on this river are continuing to live up to their reputation of being particularly aggressive as they smash flies that come near them. Laxa I Ásum landed 120 salmon in just three days of fishing with another big run of fish coming in last night.

Laxa I Kjos produced 139 salmon last week and despite a whole month without rain the water levels on the river have been maintained at the optimum height as a result of the snow pack in the mountains in the surrounding valley. The head guide said that if he could press “save” right now for the rest of the season he would. As of today the river is very slowly dropping due to cold wind from the north preventing snowmelt. There are strong runs of salmon entering the system on a daily basis and finally we are seeing the first sea trout arrive in the meadows.

The Nes beats of the Laxa I Adaldal continue to report good numbers of large salmon running the river system and as of the 18th July they had landed 61 fish of which 6 were over 20 lbs and an average length of 88cm which is phenomenal. This rivers continues to maintain its position as THE big fish river of Iceland.

The Langá is now approaching 700 salmon which is significantly better than last summer. These are similar numbers as we experienced in 2013 which turned out to be the second best summer on record. According to the fish counter on the falls approximately 1,900 salmon have gone up the waterfall itself with an average of 150 per day running it. However there are a couple of different avenues the fish can take so it is not a complete picture. Langá is experiencing some extremely good fishing with the previous group finishing at lunch yesterday landing 186 salmon in three days. After last season this is a very welcome swing back to normal runs.

After a slow start to this season the Grimsá due to the very low water temperatures the river is now beginning to hit full pace. Grimsá produced 141 salmon last week to eight rods. The lower beats are loaded with fish and we are expecting the next two weeks to be the best of the season.

Svalbardsá is in good form with over 70 salmon landed so far. Up until it has only been fished by two rods, but shortly as we approach midsummer it will move to three rods. All the salmon landed have been large as always during this time on the river. Weather up north and east has been terrible with low temperatures and heavy rain which has slowed everything down.

The trout fishing in the North of Iceland has been slower than usual with a prolonged cold spell keeping water and air temperatures down. Despite the conditions the Laxardal beats have still produced some monster wild brown trout. Persistent dry fly anglers have been rewarded from time to time as large golden brown mouths pierce the glassy water surface, the largest fish landed on dry fly for our group was just shy of 7 lbs. Searching methods with nymphs and streamers have been the more popular techniques, producing several fish in excess of 7 lbs including one of 8.6 lbs.

In the neighbouring valley, the smaller Mýrarkvísl has fished well producing a range of fish to both dry flies and nymphs. The fish generally range from 2 – 4 lbs, providing spectacular action on light weight tackle.

For more information on the latest availability in Iceland this season, including a handful of prime spaces contact Peter McLeod and Alex Jardine or call our office on +44(0)1980 847389.

Late Summer and Autumn Fishing in Europe

July 21st, 2015

There is still time to experience some wonderful fishing in Europe this season whilst capitalising on the favourable Sterling to Euro exchange rate. Both Slovenia and Bosnia provide excellent dry fly and nymph fishing throughout the latter half of the summer and Autumn.


The Slovenian summer features warm, sunny weather and ice cold spring fed waters, the combination results in some wonderful fishing throughout the season. There are a range of target species including brown trout, rainbow trout, marble trout and grayling.

If sight fishing in crystal clear waters with dry flies and nymphs is to your liking then there are few destinations as good as Slovenia. The rivers, streams and lakes are nestled in beautiful alpine mountains offering fishing for all angling abilities.

Travelling to Slovenia from the UK is very simple and with no fixed entry and exit days trips can be tailored accordingly. We work with a range of hotels offering everything from simple angler hideaways through to luxury spa resorts.

Slovenia is a fantastic fishing destination but it also offers all the luxuries and activities to build a combination trip or family holiday.

For more information on travelling to Slovenia please contact Alex Jardine or call our office on +44(0)1980 8473893.


Much like Slovenia, the Bosnian summer produces some brilliant weather. The rivers here are much like the chalkstreams found in the south of England, crystal clear waters, easy wading and large weed beds.

The brown trout, rainbow trout and grayling can all be sighted and fished for with dry flies and small nymphs. We favour the autumn for those travelling to Bosnia as this is a great time to target big hatches of blue winged olive. Whilst the dry fly fishing can be technical there are a range of waters to suit a range of angling abilities.

Travelling to Bosnia from the UK is very simple and with no fixed entry and exit days trips can be tailored accordingly. The accommodation is generally comfortable but basic.

For more information on travelling to Bosnia please contact Alex Jardine or call our office on +44(0)1980 8473893.

In pursuit of African tigers … a short summary of when to go

July 21st, 2015

Africa is inspiring; for me it is where I grew up and as a child, it nurtured a love for wildlife and for exploration. As an adult, I have travelled much of its Southern and Eastern landmass and, finally, 20 years after I caught my first tigerfish (Hydrocynus vittatus) in the Okavango Delta on a spinning rod, I am heading back to try and catch another; this time on fly.

It’s not too late to join me on this long overdue adventure. Tanzanian tigerfish await and for more details please contact Charlotte Chilcott or call +44(0)1980 847389.

Extremely aggressive, tigerfish are Africa’s most sought after freshwater game fish and these hard fighting, fish, with their propensity towards aerial acrobatics and a truly impressive set of flesh destroying teeth, are Africa’s ultimate freshwater challenge; particularly for those of us wanting to target them on fly.

Where to go and when?  Wherever you go in the world, picking the optimum time for any trip is key and I hope that the summary below will, if nothing else, give you the inspiration to work out with us which destination will fit into your diary, to pack your 9#’s and your tiger wire, and fly south for a great (and toothy) fly fishing adventure.

The southern Tanzanian rivers of the Mnyera and Ruhudji can offer a realistic chance at the tigerfish of a lifetime.  A ‘trophy’ tigerfish further south on the Zambezi is one weighing in over 10 lbs but Tanzania has its own set of standards and with an average fish in these river systems weighing around 8 lbs, tigerfish well into the double digits are landed on such a regular basis, that a Tanzanian ‘trophy’ fish has to exceed the 20 lbs mark.  A relatively short season, August to mid-November, sees only eight anglers a week attempting to land their tigerfish of a lifetime.

Best known of the tigerfish destinations, the mighty Zambezi, starts its journey as a small spring in north-west Zambia and eventually winds its way to the Indian Ocean passing through or bordering six countries before finding its way to the sea. En-route it thunders over the spectacular Victoria Falls and into the steep sided Batoka Gorge before it hits its first dam wall at Lake Kariba, home to an annual tiger fishing competition held in October. Continuing East below Kariba, it is flanked by two of Africa’s most important wildlife areas, Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park and Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools National Park before eventually crossing into Mozambique where its power has again been harnessed at Cahora Bassa. The final leg of its journey takes it through Mozambique to mingle with the salty waters of the Indian Ocean.

That’s a fair amount of water to fish and where you will fish is determined by when in the year you are planning on fishing it, and how you want to fish it. Clear water is key particularly for fly fishermen and those fishing conventional tackle have an extended period in which to fish.

UPPER ZAMBEZI … above Victoria Falls
During the rainy season, November to March, the river rises, normally breaking its banks on the lower lying flood plains of the upper Zambezi in December. The influx of water into the river system during this period, as water drains into the main river from the highlands, muddies the water and makes fishing a lot more challenging and pretty unproductive for fly fishermen. Conventional anglers will continue to fish, mainly drift baiting, with some months in the rainy season more productive for them than others but for fly fishermen, it’s a closed period.

With the spreading waters go a multitude of species (insects and crustaceans as well as fish) to feed and spawn in the nutrient rich waters of the floodplains. The structure in these shallower waters provide a safer haven during this spawning season than the deeper waters of the main channel as the tigerfish are unable to capitalise on their hunting strength, their speed.

The water retreat starts in May, drawing the baitfish back into the main channels and June heralds the start of the prime fishing month as the tigerfish feed on the returning mass of baitfish alongside the gloriously coloured nembwe and vundu.  Weather wise, June can be a bit chilly but this is prime time for sight fishing for tigers as they congregate to feed on the baitballs created by the returning masses.

As the river moves through July, the quality of the fish tends to improve although actual numbers may drop. As the waters continue to recede in August, emptying the floodplains into the Kasai channel, there comes an entirely different phenomenon, the ‘catfish run’.  The waters continue to drop hitting their lowest in September/October, ready for the rains to start again in November

During September and November the receding waters of the floodplain see thousands of catfish zone in on the returning baitfish, forming massive feeding frenzies, giving rise to the ‘catfish run’. Witnessing the catfish run itself is truly remarkable but with the catfish, come the tigerfish who feed with impunity on the teeming masses of catfish. Visually reminiscent of bonefish charging through packed schools of minnows in Venezuela, the catfish run is a truly unique experience.

MIDDLE ZAMBEZI ….. Victoria Falls to Lake Kariba
It took about five years for Lake Kariba to fill once the dam wall was completed and it continues to provide consistently good fishing during the warmer months and into the rainy season ie August through to December.

LOWER ZAMBEZI ….. below the Kariba dam wall
The lower Zambezi fishes later through late August to mid November although the latter months can be very hot, especially for those of us not used to warmer climes.  As the waters recede during these dry months, they clear up and warm up significantly which prompts aggressive feeding pre spawning as the tigerfish move into the shallower water.  Game viewing also improves during this period; with the waters dropping, the game becomes more concentrated around this permanent source of water so it is the perfect part of the river on which to combine a safari with some excellent fly fishing.

I have read, in equal parts of astonishment and horror, tales of those who pack their rods and brave the unknown in search trophy tigerfish, uncaring of the fact the Foreign Office are adamant that tourists of any form should stay far far away.  Explorers and boundary pushers are a necessary part of life, without them we stagnate and while I am certainly not conventional, I hope I am no longer foolhardy so in my pursuit of tigerfish on fly, I am not going to pack my rods alongside a panga and try and be clever on my own, I am putting my faith in the excellent guides and logistical staff who run the Tanzanian operation and heading down to the Mnyera and Ruhudji in October.  Trip details are available HERE.

For more details please contact Charlotte Chilcott or call +44(0)1980 847389.

I would also like to point out that there is no correlation between the timing of my trip and the fact that my Tanzanian based family will all be in England on holiday then … honest.