The Fisherman's Debate

Changa Safari Camp • 19 March 2019

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To use a sinker or a float, to wear sunscreen or not, to dhoba dhoba ( the colloquial Shona term for “drop shotting” or fishing basically straight down under the boat) or not  – these are just a few of the many questions’ fishermen asks themselves when fishing on Lake Kariba.

When it comes to fishing types, there are two extremes – the steadfast one who sticks to his tried and tested methods, and the other – the exploratory fisherman.

The former sticks religiously with his, or her, own systematic approach – their tackle hasn’t changed for decades, their lucky rod is ancient and practically falling apart, their fishing shirt shows worm stains from years gone by and has more holes than the keep-net. Nothing will convince them of changing their ways.

The latter are the “trendier” fishermen – they read fishing magazines constantly, update their tackle box with new toys before they leave town and are always searching for the holy grail of fishing equipment!

There is an art to fishing and every fisherman has his own skill set that does or doesn’t work for them. What works for one person may not necessarily work for the next! Here are a few points that are regularly debated:

Location, location, location…. a key element to success or failure! Depth, water temperature, clarity, weed cover – all of these factors need to be taken into consideration when fishing for Bream (tilapia). Tigerfish on the other hand tend to hunt along ridge and tree lines, usually in deeper water.

Once you have your location the next debate begins- What bait to use? For Bream; worms. You cannot miss the signs along the roadside when travelling up to Kariba- “Real Men Use Worms,” “Anaconda Worms for Sale.”

But now we come to another question- how many worms? One or two, or even three for good measure? Or perhaps it should be a dough ball – there are legendary stories of enormous Bream jumping out of the water into the boat for a taste of some soggy, wet, bread.

As a safety note if you are using worms you will need a worm-towel …. leaning over the side of the boat and washing your hands in the water may lead to you becoming a “dough ball” for a greedy croc!

When it comes to Tiger fishing the “bait debate: becomes a little more argumentative. Buckets of “liveys” – small Bream – are used by the majority of fishermen. But then you get those “adventurous” fishermen who maintain that biltong from a specific butcher works best, or chicken, fish fillets – the list is endless.

Finally, the biggest decision regarding Tiger fishing – what method to use- many hours have been spent around a fire pit, each person arguing his or her case against another on how to catch these aggressive freshwater predators. Trawling, spinning the weed beds or using Kapenta (the tiny sardine introduced from Lake Tanganyika in the 1960s) are all good options. Ultimately having the confidence in your own techniques and having the knowledge of your target’s behaviour are the key to success when Tiger fishing.

Patience is the one thing above all that every fisherman will need, no matter what tried and tested tactics also will be required. This can be the difference between success or failure after “working a spot” for a period of time.

Should You Wear Sunscreen?
Last but not least of these important fishing decisions is,” should you wear sunscreen”? This may seem like a silly question when on a boat, the ferocious sun beating down on you, in the middle of Africa. However, many swear the fragrance from the lotion will tarnish the flavour of the bait. Surgical gloves have even been worn in the past to ensure the human “scent” wouldn’t be passed on to the worms and scare off a fish or two!

The above are just a few of the fishing debates that have been discussed over some sundowners after a long day on the boat! In essence fishing should never be taken lightly if one is to be successful. But it should also not deter anyone from trying.

In the end, let’s face it – a bad day fishing still beats a good day’s work in the office.

This Blog was first published by Changa Safari Camp, located on the shores of the Matusadona National Park on Lake Kariba.

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