Royal Zambezi Lodge Tigerfish Trip Report

October/November 2018   


The fly fishing world is constantly looking for ever more exotic and hard-fighting species but sometimes we are in danger of overlooking fish, or destinations, purely because the next big thing has come along – I would suggest tigerfish have become a victim of this.

I have been fly fishing for tigerfish for nearly twenty years, and of course many reading this will have been targeting them for much longer than that. They are the favourite freshwater sport fish for those living in South Africa and neighbouring countries and are aggressive, hard-fighting, impressive to look at and live in some of the most beautiful places in the world. In fact, if you have not fished for them before, make sure they are on your wish list for 2019!

I have been fishing the Lower Zambezi, from the Royal Zambezi Lodge, for a decade and I have always been made to feel at home there. On this occasion I was one of a team of four that Farlows Travel put together, three of us returning fishers and one making a first visit, not just to the Zambezi but to the African continent. It was great to see the country through his eyes, everything was new – and in some cases astonishing. For example, on arrival at the lodge finding a large elephant blocking the way to the rooms was a novel experience for a Kola Peninsula veteran.

Tigerfish are aggressive predators that take fly, bait or spinner, the lower Zambezi has fish well into the high teens, and during our stay guests landed fish of 18lb and 19lb on spinning tackle but on the fly, anything above 10lb is considered a specimen.

The river was higher than on my previous visit two years ago, and this was good news. What was less good was an occasional and unseasonal cold wind blowing upstream from Mozambique. This hindered our attempts to cover the water properly as on some drifts the boats were blown upstream but overall the fishing was good, with some great days although others were a little slower.

We all caught decent fish between 8-10lb, and plenty of smaller ones. There was no doubt numbers were down a little on previous visits but when taken in conjunction with multiple elephant, hippo and crocodile sightings, a lion half way through the week and so on, it was a great week – it’s not all about the fishing.

The staff at the lodge made every effort for us, including laying out a picnic under trees on the river bank several miles from camp one lunchtime, and preparing a wonderful bush dinner one night, where the smell of food meant we were serenaded by hungry hyenas, whose calls were echoed by hyenas on the other bank (the Zimbabwean side) of the river.

We all loved the week, the early starts, fishing hard until 10.30am before returning for a gin or two before lunch and then the afternoon sessions, which ended as we returned home drinking sundowners on the boat as the sun set blood red over the beautiful Zambezi.

The Royal Zambezi Lodge is probably best for those looking for a luxurious fishing and safari experience and it is particularly suited to families with children. They are used to dealing with fishing only groups but they also have a great spa, expert rangers to take you on game drives and they offer great food. In fact, it can be anything you want, from a boys’ fishing trip to a romantic getaway! Travelling in Zambia is easy, it is a friendly, safe country with great connections. In fact, there is no reason not to visit!

Explore the Royal Zambezi Lodge HERE