Have you seen the levels at the moment? How’s the fishing been? You reckon the season is going to be any good this year? Questions that come along before the start of every Tiger season. Flies being tied furiously, debates on whether to use piano or knottable wire or nothing at all. Where to go, when to go and who to use, full moon vs new moon, low water vs high water. The dynamic of flyfishing for tigers is an interesting one and forever evolving. Everyone has an opinion and everyone’s opinion will hold true at some point and be running on empty the next. It’s a humbling pursuit and I think that’s why we love it so much. Hard hitting fish with weapons on their faces and are super sensitive to their environment. Industrial plated mouths, acrobatic displays and an inconsistent behaviour, add a flimsy fly rod, some feathers on a hook and an eagerness only a fly fisherman can wield in such circumstance and you have material you could start charging for at a comedy show.  

Having hosted trips to the Upper Zambezi for over 15 years now, luckily we can avoid a lot of the guesswork. Regardless of water levels, overhead conditions or what the fish had for breakfast, having the opportunity to fish multiple rivers at any given time affords us the flexibility to find the fish under any scenario. Having spent so much time in this area we have built up an understanding of the system and its ebbs and flows.

This past season we hosted 3 trips over June and July. All the trips couldn’t have been more different if they tried as far as weather is concerned. Different water clarity, level and flow. An unrelenting wind on the one trip, 2 massive back to back cold fronts on the next and finished off with the 3rd trip displaying textbook stable hot weather. Despite the massive polarization between them, the fishing although not easy was consistent across the board. Some guests got the number, others the trophies and a few getting stuck into the cooler box before the sun had risen!

Taking the ‘stats’ aspect out of the fishing. There is something to be said for those early morning starts after a night filled with drinking. Gathering for coffee in total darkness while still rubbing the sleep from your eyes, re-wiring flies and planning for the day ahead while popping headache tablets and Cataflam. By day 4, the arms are sore, the hands are all beaten up, motion sickness from prolonged periods of a rocking boat have you feeling like you are perpetually drunk. It’s tough, it’s taxing and it makes you question your sanity at times but that first bit of fresh air that hits your face as the boat gets onto a plane and you are back on track and ready for the day to come. Let’s be honest, it is not the easiest way to catch a fish but it sure is fun!

We have said it before and we will say it again. A fishing trip has so many requirements for it to be deemed a success and no more is this true than for the people you share it with. Having the right group dynamic can make a good trip great. All the people this year added proper value in their own way. Old mates and new it was a gas from beginning to end. Can’t wait for next season…. I wonder what the levels will be?