Dr Sven Vrdoljak from Wildtracks who with his brother Pete has helped us out massively with regards to all things angling very kindly wrote this about angling here at Kaingu:
In terms of fish diversity, the Kafue system has a total of 68 indigenous species (according to a report by Biodiversity Foundation by Africa). Obviously not all of these are species that would be targeted by anglers but there are a few groups of interest:
The most diverse group of angling fishes will be the serranochromine (largemouth) breams of which there are nine species in the Kafue system. These include, thin-faced bream, purple-faced bream and of course the nembwe (yellow-belly) all of which are large predatory fish sought after by anglers. Nembwe can grow up to 3.5 kg in weight. They will take a variety of spinners, lures, flies and live or artificial worms.
Dr Sven with a thin-faced Bream
Another distinctive Kafue predator is the African pike. With their large teeth they feed almost exclusively on fish and usually inhabit the quieter backwater areas. Females grow larger than males and may attain up to 2 kg. They are good fun on light tackle and will also take a variety of spinners, lures and small spoons.
Steve (Amazon Angler) with an African Pike
The Kafue also has a number of catfish, the largest being the sharp-tooth catfish which is widespread in Southern Africa. Around KaingU these tend to be very darkly coloured, hence them being referred to there as ‘black barbel’. An extremely strong fighting fish, they are more suited to heavier tackle. Although your KaingU record is 11 kg, elsewhere they can grow to over 50 kg. They are omnivores and will take almost any bait, but can also be caught on lure. The other catfish that anglers will encounter is the butter barbel or silver catfish. A separate family to the sharp-tooth catfish they are a shoaling species which also have a highly varied diet. They will take cut bait or worms but can also be caught on small spinners. Anglers should be aware of the needle-sharp, barbed spines in their pectoral and dorsal fins which can inflict very painful wounds due to the poisonous mucous that covers them.
Steve with a Sharptooth Catfish (John in the background with the camera)
Some other interesting species that more determined anglers might catch include labeos which may be found in some of the faster shallower water. Although not really a popular angling fish in Zambia as they are often difficult to find and catch They may however be of interest to fly-fishermen (especially those familiar with yellowfish in South Africa, a related species). Larger individuals are strong swimmers and can give a good fight on fly or light tackle. They will also take worms. Another lesser known species is the western bottlenose which can be found among rocks in deeper, quieter waters. These are odd looking fish which are one of the mormyrids a group found only in Africa. They are able to generate weak electrical impulses to detect predators and communicate with each other. They have small mouths and will take worms on small hooks. The Western bottlenose grows up to 2kg.
What makes KaingU an interesting place to fish in my opinion is the diversity of habitat available from shallow riffles and rapids to deep, rocky pools and quiet backwaters under overhanging trees. The fishing does offer something for everyone whether they prefer to use fly, artificial lures or bait and can include catching fish that they may never have encountered elsewhere. Options for fishing are also varied – fishing from the boat, rock hopping by the rapids or combining the two and spending the day island hopping and fishing among the numerous islands and channels around KaingU.
Dr Sven with a hump-backed Bream
As with all recreational fishing I would recommend that there is a good catch and release policy or at least bag limits on what guests can catch to keep. Another good way of limiting this is to have a policy that fish may not leave camp, so they can catch a couple of fish for their evening meal for instance, but not take home cool-boxes full of fish. Some simple guidelines for catch-and-release are given below:
Basic catch-and-release guidelines
Never play a fish to complete exhaustion. It is important that the tackle used is strong enough to handle the potential size and power of your target species. The use of light and ultralight tackle is discouraged for sport species. The minimum recommended line strength for tigerfish and vundu is 8 kg or 20lb.
Keep fish in the water. If possible unhook the fish without removing it from the water. Using barbless hooks make this easier. Important: always be aware of the potential threat posed by crocodiles when handling fish in the water.
Use knotless landing nets. Newer nets are made of a soft rubber mesh that is much less damaging to skin and mucous membrane
Avoid handling the fish excessively. If you must handle a fish, use wet hands to avoid damag¬ing its protective mucous coating (a protective secretion that keeps fish healthy and free from infection).
Minimise airtime. Even short exposure to the air can damage gill tissue. If you must remove a fish from the water return it as quickly as possible.
Take care when photographing fish. Be prepared, Have a camera ready to photograph your catch so that it can be returned to the water quickly. Don’t suspend fish by the jaw or gills when photographing. Hold the fish horizontally, supporting the body with both hands.
Exercise restraint. Not all the fish you release will survive. Catch and release reduces but does not completely eliminate fish mortality. Overfishing a particular area will still deplete fish. Give fishing spots time to recover
Fish responsibly. Considering the welfare of every fish that you catch will ultimately benefit the fish population and fishery as a whole.
We have been doing a lot of staff biographies and profiles, and I asked our oldest staff member to write a bit about himself. Here is it below (translation from Ila to English by Willard):
My name is Brightson Shambbweka. My knowledge announcement is:
I can make some axes, hoes, knives and spears from the irons made by the white mens, and this experience is my father who left it to me. The elder brother of my real father is Mr Samanga Kauwima, and myself I know how to carve canoes, small stools, axe and hoe handles, walking sticks and even the thing for pounding maize, groundnuts and other small items, all of these things are from the trees planted by God and for this I have been trained by the parents.
And myself I am a man who can walk in the forest and know the bush very well, becuase some years ago I was used to hunt animals, for we were keeping dogs, guns and spears for hunting. That’s why I got an experience of knowing many things like cat animals, snakes, trees and grass and rocks. Sometimes you find a rock with a small crack and a small tree in it, so that when the tree gets bigger the root starts to push over the rock until the rock gets expand and that piece stays on top of the root.
And myself also I’m a man who can manage to know the place where a human being can make a village with his family and farming. I’m a man who knows everything because I was understanding what the parents was telling me about their situation, so I got this experience of making such things of materials, and my father’s home was near the river line area, so that myself I can cross the river without canoe, beacuase I know the places which got some rocks from here up to the park.
Some years ago we were farming in the islands and doing some activities of fishing, with hooks, fishing baskets and small round spears with hooks. Sometime we used to block a small tributary river which is passing over the rocks beside the island, going through into the big river. So we were making a big basket and put it to the outlet line of the river and open a small gap for the fish to pass through to get in the basket.
My mother was used to make clay pots, clay calabash. My father also was making some clay bowls and put a long medium stick, used for smoking tobacco and they were looking for a special place to find the special clay soil and me also I can make these things.
Well, the heat is now officially on us! As predicted the rock pools are getting use. The daytime temperatures are mid to high 30s, but the evenings and early mornings have been around 17 degrees. Of course we are lucky here as the lush riverine forest and the green grass keeps the temperatures down. And there is always the rocks where one can cool off!
Game has been good. We have been seeing the Shishamba lions a lot, but also great other sightings. The camera trap was put up at our car park in the Park and we realised that a leopard is regularly visiting the car park.
But perhaps the most spectacular sighting was a small group of eight elephants that spent an entire afternoon crossing between islands opposite the lodge. Everyone got great sightings from tent decks, main area and from boats. It was a real highlight.
The Rock Pratincoles have arrived and are all over the river (on the rocks), and the White Fronted Bee Eaters are also really numerous at the moment. The river is really low – we are still able to get up beyond the Mweengwa rapids, and down past Mantobo island, but it needs care!
We have had some fantastic guest feedback. Chef Wina was compared to Gordon Ramsay – in fact the guest said Wina was even better. I do have to say that I have never heard him swear though….
Out of camp dinning has been amazing – the lawn like banks of some of the islands are at their most spectacular so we have been doing a lot of island breakfasts and sundowners. Sundowners with freshly caught Bream in beer batter with a soya dipping sauce is now certainly on the menu!
Keep following us on facebook for regular updates, and we are looking forward to doing October’s newsletter – featuring “Amazon Angler” filming a TV fishing show here at the lodge, home made rock pool swimming tubs and much more.
On that note, we leave September with the amazing smoked pike timbale!