Overnighting on a small island in the middle of the waterways is an incredibly wild and unique experience. You are surrounded by grunting hippos, baboons in the trees, hear elephants drinking and trumpeting at night from the safety of your houseboat
Although the dry season is usually the recommended time of year to visit the delta for game viewing, the region is still an attraction for bird lovers who do not mind the long grass and abundance of water in summer
Peak Tiger season is in the Summer months ( Sep/Oct/Nov/Dec) where we also experience a natural phenomenon known as the Barbel Run. This spectacular time of year allows for excellent Tiger Fishing and our dates are usually booked well in advance for these months.
“The Barbel Run”
This occurs as the seasonal floodwaters of the Okavango River begin to reside. The majority of the fish species inhabiting this river rely on the seasonal flood to breed. The rising waters move into the surrounding floodplains, flooding out nutrient rich fields covered in vegetation. Thus creating an ideal nursery and spawning grounds, offering the fry an abundance of food and shelter. The floodwaters stand for a couple of months and then suddenly begin to reside, this triggers a mass exodus of small fish all trying to escape the drying out flood plains by heading back into the permanent waters of the main channel.
This migration of young fish attracts an abundance of predators in particular the Sharp-tooth Catfish (Clarias gariepinus), known locally as “Barbel”. These scavengers form massive shoals which “work” the edges of the river in mass to take full advantage of the sudden abundance of food. These feeding frenzies attract many other predators such as crocodiles, otters and a wide variety of water birds. The river appears to be on the boil, alive with thousands of catfish. This action also attracts Tiger Fish, working the edges of the catfish shoals they attack everything they see. The fly-fishing action usually continues until fishermen are exhausted or fly boxes are emptied. Along with exceptional catches of Tiger Fish the angler can also expect to hook into the large catfish. Attaining sizes of up to 30lbs the catfish use their sheer size and brute strength to test the angler’s skills and tackle to the maximum.
The “Barbel Runs” are certainly the highlight of the angling year on the Okavango River, yet they still do not over shadow the excellent fishing on offer during the remainder of the year. Part of the attraction to the wild waters of the Okavango is the variety of fish species available to the fly-fisherman and conventional fisherman alike.
Other Angling Species
Known as Largemouth Bream of the genus Serranochromis, the Nembwe (Serranochromis robustus), the Thinface Largemouth (Serranochromis angusticeps) and the Humpback Largemouth are all aggressive predators in their own right.
Using the cover of the aquatic vegetation lining the edges of the main river these fish ambush their passing prey. Prey includes small fish, insects, crabs and freshwater snails. Most active during the Winter months they require accurate casting and prove very challenging on fly. Attaining sizes of up to 6lbs they fight hard and are known too for their aggressive takes. Lighter rods in the 5-7 weight class are ideal for accurately placing weighted flies amongst the reeds and papyrus. Known as the Smallmouth Bream; the Threespot Bream the Red-breasted Tilapia and the Greenheaded Tilapia are all shoaling species that inhabit the quieter backwaters and lagoons of the Okavango. They feed on a variety of insects and insect larvae and can be caught using smaller nymph patterns. Once a feeding pattern has been matched they can be caught in abundance.
Also inhabiting these quieter waters is the Afrcan Pike (Hepsetus Odoe), a much smaller cousin to the European version reaching sizes of 2 to 3 lbs. Preying largely on small fish they can be great sport on light tackle.
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