Fishing enthusiasts from all over the world keen to reel in a tiger are gearing up to take on one of Africa's most aggressive predatory game fish in the annual Kariba Invitation Tiger Fish Tournament (KITFT) at Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe.
The biggest tiger fish ever caught in this competition weighed 12.735 kilograms, and the 2009 record holder, Martinhus Van Rensburg (pictured below), has still not been beaten. However, visitors from South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Zambia, Namibia, England, Canada, and the Middle East are hoping to whip the title away from Zimbabwean van Rensburg at the lake on the northern Zimbabwe-Zambia border.
The KITFT was recognized by the International Game Fishing Association (IGFA) in 2000 as one of the greatest game fish tournaments in the world and was made a qualifying round of the IGFA Inshore World Game Fish Championships.
This year, the tournament from October 26 to October 28 inclusive celebrates its 50th anniversary and is expecting to host about 300 visiting teams.
Lake Kariba is the world's largest human-made reservoir. Known for its abundant shoreline wildlife, unique weather patterns, and spectacular scenery, it is more than 220 kilometers long and up to 40 kilometers wide and covers an area of 5,580 square kilometers.
According to the IGFA, the current world record tiger fish was landed by Jennifer Daynes in Lake Kariba (outside of this tournament) in 2001 and weighed in at 16,193 kilograms.
The tiger fish, Hydrocynus vittatus, is a flamboyant predatory game fish with razor sharp teeth enclosed by a bony head, blue/black lateral tiger stripes, and a bright yellow to red tail fin. In Zimbabwe, it is found throughout Lake Kariba, the Zambezi, and its larger tributaries, as well as in Lake Manyame and Chivero and in the Limpopo, Nuanetsi, Bubye, and Umzingwani river systems.
The KITFT tournament started in 1962 with 33 teams, mainly from Zimbabwe and South Africa. The largest number of teams recorded was 333 in 1991. Last year (2010), the event attracted 143 teams from more than 6 countries.
The tournament is held at the National Anglers Union of Zimbabwe site at Charara on the shores of Lake Kariba where a new and enlarged weigh bay area has recently been built.
For more information see the KITFT website www.kitft.co.zw