Why Pongola is the tigerfish experience for all flyfishers
We had a healthy mix of good and ‘not-so-good’ weather during the early part of the 2021 season, as well as a diverse range of anglers at Lake Jozini. What it has made us realize, again, is that Pongola is the ultimate tigerfish destination for all types of fly anglers. Here’s why:
NO PASSPORT REQUIRED
Getting there is fuss-free… It’s also malaria free. South African tigers are limited to a special few waterways, most are in the Lowveld and flow in, through, or out of the Kruger National Park. Lake Jozini then offers arguably the most accessible homegrown tigerfish water.
A COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
On a recent week, the two oldest gents (both in their 70s) on the trip outfished (by some way) everyone else in the group. Ron and Ian put 83 fish on board for the week in total, with Ian getting 27 and Ron 17.
You’re not going to get bored and are highly unlikely to get skunked – as you could on a trip to the mighty river north of the border. The reason: Being the Southern-most distribution of tigers they ain’t huge but numbers are prolific and the action is often non-stop and huge fun on lighter 7 weights with floating and clear intermediate lines. The fishing is imitative and hunting like and the tigers are often feeding on very specific species and size of tilapia. This has one constantly changing flies, trimming and removing flash and changing down to lighter leaders.
NO NEED TO PLUMB
As mentioned above, you’re not fishing 9WTs and Di7s. Fishing the margins at Lake Jozini under the ‘regular’ conditions (usually blue sky, sunshine and crystal clear water) requires serious stealth. A 7-weight loaded with the floating line with intermediate tip allows one to fish into the shallows and pull and unweighted brush fly (or a Tuscan bunny) just under the surface. This has you in the zone for longer and, the relation between the intermediate head and floating running line also allows you to get the fly into the tight crannies, bays and channels and even over weed beds and then to be able to mend the floating part of the line over weed and back into the channel and open water, keeping the fly tracking where it needs to be.
Of course, you need to get into the spots and our shallow draft boats and powerful (silent) trolling motors are an absolute necessity to creep into the shallow bays and around the back of weedbeds to stalk these fish.
YOU DON’T NEED TO KNOW ALL THE KNOTS IN THE BOOK
Sure, the more experienced anglers are going to learn to make the haywire twist the right way. It’s a simple knot for single strand piano wire that can – for lack of a better phrase – literally make or break your trip. Sure, you can pre-wire all your flies, but it’s not always the most practical solution. There are days when different things are going to work and there are days when you’re going to need flies tied the night before. Tied the correct way (the proper twist is the key), it’s a fast, neat solution, made incorrectly it is a terrible knot though. Bloody (pricked) fingers and lost fish will be your only result if you don’t ‘twist’ the twist part. Learn how to tie it here.
But, this could be your very first flyfishing trip, in which case our guides will take care of all the necessary knotting, tying and fly-selection. Indeed, we’ve had a few clients already this season for who tigerfish were their first ever fish on fly…