Well upon arrival I knew something was up – literally the boats loading our luggage on the Chobe River opposite Botswana Immigration were in a totally different spot to where they usually are at the same time every year.

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Upon arrival at the lodge, it clearly was a very different animal, water well up under the decking and the little sand beach where we Braai each year underwater. Those that had the option for two rods I had set up with full DI7 lines, water clarity allowed us to go up to 30 pound short three-foot mono leaders and the big solid eyed black over red and black over purple weighted whistlers were elected for duty – easier to cast a wet bag of iron ball bearings!

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The way we fished had to be drastically modified too, there was just too much current to fish on the drift, the ticket was to tuck into the soft window of water created by submerged islands, their whereabouts revealed only by the tops of reeds. Here casts were made upstream with a series of over exaggerated mends, then feeding any line that might have been left on the reel. The retrieve, well there was hardly one, a slow swing and then gentle pluck back behind the boat. the fish were sitting deep and their average size spectacular.

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High fives spread around the bar each night and cameras and smartphones passed from one gin and tonic wielding pair of hands to the other, with gasps of admiration.

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Does a hosted trip make a difference; having expertise on hand, rotating through each boat every session to impart years of experience and understanding of different water conditions, having a bag full of spare full sink lines to replace those that travelled only with shooting heads, having a spread of over four hundred spare flies to swap out the clousers and olive brush flies that worked last year with the bulky weighted brutes that were needed now? I think it makes a difference, the double-figure score card seriously concurs…..

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