Chobe Tigers Part 1: Tiger fishing as I know it

Chobe Tigers Part 1: Tiger fishing as I know it

Tiger fishing as I know it. 9 Strikes. One hookup. No fish landed. In Captain Duarte’s marlin speak… that is 9 for 1 for 0. Or 9-1-0!

This instalment is part one of a series The Sardine Team are doing – on tiger fishing up here in Botswana and Namibia waters.

The fish are here. That’s for sure. And the second long hookup was to a monster fish. They get 20lbs often here in the grand Chobe River, Botswana side, we are. But these fish are wily as all hell. Finickily ferocious, they dog my lures right to the edge. If I can count 9 strikes, I could count 20 solid chases. Sometimes by two or three fish at a time.

The strikes are hugely explosive, and how they miss my super shark single hook is beyond me. I mean, they literally slam into the spoon, mouth agape and teeth sticking out sharply. I can’t wait to deploy underwater and drone cameras to see how they get around that hook of mine. I was even this very morning thinking of changing to a 5x treble?! I might still.

It has been three absolutely delightful fishing sessions so far. Well, four actually, but that first attempt – we spent a night at Kazungula, just outside of Kasane but also right on the Chobe, ended quickly and fruitlessly as a territorial hippopotamus stalked my spot.

In Kasane, we are right on the river too, but I take the car, since my new favourite fishing spot – I am calling it Tiger Island after a cute little crocodile-infested island just off the point- is open on all sides. To what you may wonder? Well. From the right-hand side, and the water can come the elephants. My fishing spot is right on the edge of the elephant corridor. And it’s rather narrow and used often. Not that the elephants are the major problem. The major threats come from the water directly. And the bush on the water’s edge. Where crocodiles hide and hunt. And hippos get all uptight if you get in their way.

But this spot I had chosen, had no crocodile slides on the beach near me, and the hippo paths were a little away either side of me too. I had a clear patch of river frontage to my self. There was elephant dung everywhere though!

I’d been told to fish near and under trees, for Tigerfish. The water was clean and the bank gently sloped into the water. There were a few spots where I could perch up a metre or so and about 2m back from the edge. Seemingly feelingly safe! And the water was clean so I was sure I could see any threatening sized animal coming for me. But I still parked the car right close to my deemed safest fishing spot, so I had an escape if someone came around with any ill intent.

I found most of the action to be right at the edge. And the really big strike, well there were two of them actually, one hooked up for a second melting line off my spool, occurred about 5 metres from the edge. Spectacular to be able to get to these monsters without having to go by boat anywhere.

The bigger spoons had as much action as the tiny models. And at one point, this did happen…ha ha ha…thank you Cameron for the pic.

Tiger fishing with Sean Lange and The Sardine team up in Northern Botswana - Sep 19
This poor guy must have been just swimming along when my spoon came out of the sky and pinned him right through the brain. He was still kicking in this pic. He never survived the huge hook extraction operation, however, and was useless as live bait.

The action came and went in sudden flurries of chaos. I was trying to film and fish at the same time – impossible trying to do it ace out, and some of the things I witnessed were proper mind-blowing. Huge fish chasing other big fish?! Dogfights of note. Then as fast as the action came, it went.

This is tiger fishing as I know it. I will never for the life of me be able to explain, the tiger I caught on the Okavango – with my first cast of the trip. The fish took one of my Mydo Luck Shots with a Gummy Baby Tiger plastic, on a cranked out little rod, and set the tone for that trip (follow this link to that story). We absolutely hammered the enthusiastic little tiger fish, especially on the tiny little Mydo SS Moby Spoon. At 60mm, and looking like a stealth fighter, this little lure is so much fun. I especially bought along on this trip, a tiny little outfit, with 15lb braid, to fish the Moby 60 effectively. I am getting 25 metres with a light flick, and even into the wind. The lateral line holes of the Moby allow air through increasing distance.

The retrieve I use is very erratic, and one of the reasons I saw so many fish charge and miss my lure completely. Right in front of my eyes, in the shallow clear water. But the gentle shad-like retrieve does not pique anyones interest at all, and so the variable speed pull, with a few erratic flicks will get the spoon looking and behaving like an injured, fleeing baitfish, is the one. I call this retrieve The Vibrator and if you get the timing and speed right, looks amazing. And produces the chases and strikes.

So…back to the water then…sequel to follow!

Tiger fishing takes a lot of dedication but the rewards are monstrous
Tiger fishing the Chobe River: This is the cool little fishing spot I was at. Boat not necessary.

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The whale of Tsodilo Hills – Botswana

The whale of Tsodilo Hills – Botswana

The Tsodilo Hills. Far northern Botswana. Otherwise known as The Mountains of the Gods.

The Tsodilo Hills stairway to Heaven

This is the beginning of our rad hike through the Tsodilo Hills in far northern Botswana

We climbed the steep stairs following Thebe our eloquent local guide for the hike through the hills. Not knowing what to expect, the mountains opened to us with actual, real, ancient rock art paintings. San and Bantu. From different times though. And different inks!

The San paintings were 3000 years old. They depicted all the types of game. Eland were favourites. Rhino. Kudu.

We climbed further and more of Tsodilo revealed itself. Thebe stopped us in an ancient village settlement, and pointed out artifacts and relics from thousands of years back. One of the rocks on the path had polished grooves rubbed into it. Thebe explained that the San people believed that the cattle, now so prolific and destructful, had come down from heaven and hit the earth running on this exact rock.

Thebe then stopped us at a well. A very important well he says, that all creatures could use, without fearing harm from the cats. Lions. Leopards. It was a place of peace, and an indication that wild animals and humans could live together. It was now dried up due to cattle and land degradation. Moving on.

We came to the summit and were greeted with as much Africa as the eye could take in.

Then cave to cave, as we studied more rock art. The immensity of 3000 years slowly setting in. We also found some Bantu art. But they pictured cattle only.

We got down between the two hills, the male and female, and into a beautiful grove of fever and other indigenous trees. A kudu bounced out in surprise.

And then…a humpback whale! And a penguin! Definitely not in proportion. We are thousands of kilometres from the ocean?!

Luckily our well informed Thebe had the story and it goes like this.

The Namibian coastline is directly to the West of the Tsodilo Hills. And the ancient San, with their survival instinct and abilites, were able to make the journey! There and back! And in order to educate their offspring as to what they saw and learned, they drew the whale into the huge rock.

Tsodilo Hills Rock Art

Tsodilo Hills Rock Art

This was one of the ways with which the elders passed their hard earned knowledge down through generations.

The Sardine Team is heading back into Botswana for September. On our way past the Okavango Music Festival 29 August, if anyone needs a ride, get in touch on umzimkulu@gmail.com.

Okavango Music Festival 29th Aug to 1st Sep 2019

The Okavango Music Festival 2019 is gonna run from the 29th of August to the Spring Day, the 1 September this year.

That’s plenty time to start making plans to get to Maun and the Okavango Delta, in Botswana.

There are many ways to travel all that way across Africa. You can fly to Jhb or Gabarone and hop a bus ride. Flying to Maun is super convenient, albeit a little expensive. Driving is a great option. After all, it’s the African landscape you will be cruising through.

The festival is set on Okavango Island. Surrounded by wild life and African scenery. The Okavango Delta system attracts animals in from out of the drought ridden Kalahari. They literally all gravitate here as the outlying waters dry up. Crocodiles abound. Hippos argue with them all day. Elephants come right into camp. Luckily the lions seem to stay further away, but at night, when they roar, it sounds like it’s right outside your tent!

All that said, the Okavango Island will be extremely safe as the noisy and smelly humans dance and party away. The noise will keep the animals at bay. We hope!

But as you can see from this fantastically put together promotional video, people are even jumping in for a refreshing dip. Camping is all over the island and all amenities are catered for as per any festival.

There is a whole lot more information on the http://okmusicfestival.com website. How the festival has involved the local community from the area. And that the festival benefits them in many ways. You will be able to meet the real locals of the delta at the Okavango Music Festival 2019.

There will definitely be a few elephants at the Okavango Music Festival 2019!
Okavango local shot by Cameron Yates

The Sardine crew are going and we have a few vehicles, and spots in vehicles, available.Numbers affect the prices so just get in touch if you are interested. The more the merrier!

Get in touch with Sean on umzimkulu@gmail.com for more information on options for how to get there.

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