Africa has many superb angling areas from which we the fishermen can choose from… Whether they are the pristine rivers of the Western and Eastern Cape, the large dams of the Highveld or the lake systems around Knysna, not to mention the weirs and streams of Machadadorp and Dullstroom. We are blessed, lets face it… And we are lucky too to have such a variety of water in which to wet our lines. 

Whether you are a carp angler, a fly fisherman, an artlure specialist or just a freshwater fisherman in general Africa’s pristine bodies of water offer the angler so much variety and choice, with so many species of freshwater fish to choose from, who could complain?

DID YOU KNOW:   Numerous carp weighing more than 20kg have been pulled out of South African dams.

Freshwater fishing in Africa is diverse, locating you in some of the most dramatic settings on the continent. Fishing is, after all, about where you are. And in Africa, you’re in glorious mountains, down in golden grasslands and at the side of a pond far away from civilisation.

Then consider the 150-odd species of common freshwater fish in South Africa. They bear names like lungfish, oxeye tarpon, river sardine, mouthbrooder, chubbyhead barb, papermouth, climbing perch, short-tail pipefish, moggel, pennant-tailed suckermouth, spotted killfish and guppy.

You also get your various types of bass, eels, minnows, yellowfish and the legendary catfish, known in these parts simply as barbel. 

Formerly much-maligned as a ‘slow, muddy, bottom-dweller’, the catfish is now a popular South African resident. It has spread all over the country and fishermen like to go after them because they say it’s a very smart fish.
Catfish central in the freshwater fishing world remains the Orange River. The best catfish tour you can do is to drift down the Orange River through the moonscapes of the barren Richtersveld. This is where the big catfish live, where the real big fight is.
The South African catfish can live for 10 years, eats just about anything and is preyed on by humans, leopards, crocodiles, storks and fish eagles with strong necks. Fishermen in the know swear by something called a Mrs Simpson Fly for the catching of a catfish.

The sharp-toothed catfish, in particular, is said to be the dinner preference of about half the fishermen you speak to. The other half? They’d rather put him back in the water for the next time.

WHAT TO PACK: Fishing equipment can be bought and hired throughout South Africa, but bring you own if you prefer.

Please contact us for more details about you unforgettable Africa Expectation Fresh Water Fishing Safari! 

Bass Fishing

The Most Adventurous Inland Gamefish

Bass were first introduced to waters in South Africa in 1927 when 47 Largemouth Bass fingerlings were imported to the country (45 survived the ocean voyage). Smallmouth Bass were introduced 10 years later, 29 survivors of an original shipment of 55 fingerlings landed in Cape Town on 22 October 1937, their descendants have thrived and expanded. For Bass fishing fans this is great news with some world class Bass angling to be had throughout the country. They are currently fished on a ‘catch and release’ basis. One of the biggest small-mouth bass ever caught weighed in at 3.23 kilograms.

In South Africa, bass fishing is an absorbing pastime that keeps anglers guessing, and coming back for more. How does one outwit this wily, adaptable creature? Found in rivers, ponds, lakes, dams and even ditches, small-mouthed and large-mouthed bass provide never-ending entertainment – and great eating.

DID YOU KNOW? – Several bass weighing more than 6kgs have been caught in South African waters.

Bass fishing is probably the most piscatorial fun you can have with your clothes on. That’s because this good-eating fish is clever and quite able to survive anywhere there’s water, including a roadside ditch. You’ll find them in clear streams, muddy pools, dams and lakes – when it gets hot, they’ll dive deep or hunt down a piece of shade to skulk in.

Bass are probably the most adaptable gamefish around, so they will snack on a fingerling, a frog, a lizard or a minnow, which makes baiting interesting. In fact, hanging around a fishing store and listening to bass fishermen probably sounds – to the rank outsider – like a couple of astronomers discussing white dwarves in outer space.

Silicone skirts on spinnerbaits, lures that look like worms, lizards and baitfish. Crank baits made from balsa wood and flashy neon inline spinners – local bass fishing has followed the American trend and become a whole outdoor lifestyle.

Keep in mind that your gear has to be as adaptable as the bass himself. Eventually, however, you just have to out-think him in the water.

Freshwater Species

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The largemouth breams (or “serranos”) are a distinct group of large predatory cichlids that have inhabited the ancient river systems of tropical central and southern Africa for millions of years. Of the ten species of African largemouth bream that exist, the nembwe (Serranochromis robustus) is the most highly sought after by anglers.

Nembwe are aggressive hunters with heavy-set muscular bodies, rigid, powerful fins and distinct rows of large conical teeth. This predatory bream resembles the bass in appearance and fighting ability. When hooked, Nembwe often take to the air with numerous jumps in an attempt to free itself of the hook. Standard bass lures such as spinnerbaits, spoons, rapalas, and soft plastics to name a few will catch the Nembwe. Adult nembwe frequently attain a size of about 6-8 lb, but specimens weighing in excess of 12 lb have also been reported.

Dark emerald yellow/green colouration, yellow to orange edges on the fins and bright egg spots on the anal fins in males are distinctive of the Nembwe.

Behaviour: Nembwe are visual predators that hunt by ambushing their prey and “inhaling” them by means of suction created when the mouth is opened rapidly. Large nembwe reside in deep main channels of rivers and in permanent lagoons, whilst younger fish are usually found in smaller secondary channels and lagoons.

Feeding: Nembwe are piscivorous (fish-eating) predators throughout their lives. Young fish feed mostly on small prey fish such as minnows, but adults have a preference for larger prey fish like squeakers (bottom-dwelling catfish).

Catching Nembwe on Fly: Nembwe are a popular target among fly fishermen, providing an exciting and explosive fishing experience comparable to that provided by North American bass. They often co-occur with tigerfish and represent an alternative quarry for fly fishermen that enjoy a variety of fishing challenges. As with bass, nembwe are best targeted by fishing in and amongst woody structure and reed beds, and can be fished for with sinking, intermediate or floating lines. Flies are fished slowly and twitched through structure where larger nembwe lie in wait and hunt by ambushing their prey. Bulky flies with cone-heads for weight and plenty of intrinsic movement (e.g. zonkers, wooly buggers and leeches) are often most effective at drawing strikes from larger specimens. Because nembwe are fished for in dense woody structure, weed guards drastically reduce the number of flies lost on reeds and submerged branches. Although a range of fly colours can work, darker natural shades with a touch of flash are often the most effective patterns. Because nembwe flies are relatively large and bulky, they are best fished with an 8-10 weight rod, and leaders of around 5 ft of 15-20 lb monofilament are ideal. Shooting head lines can be advantageous for accurately firing bulky flies into structurally complex lies.

Conventional methods to catch Nembwe: Since nembwe are lurking predators that feed mainly on baitfish, they can be fished for with a variety of jigs, spinners, spoons, spinner-baits and other and small lures like small chunky rapalas using conventional bass tackle. A flexible 6-7 ft rod with a good quality spinning or bait-caster reel loaded with 200 m of 15-20 lb monofilament or braid is perfect. As with fly fishing, the use of lures that possess a plastic weed guard is recommended.


Tiger Fishing

The tigerfish (Hydrocynus vittatus) is undoubtedly Africa’s, if not the world’s, premier freshwater gamefish.

Their toothy, muscular, streamlined appearance alludes to their unparalleled strength, speed and ferocity. T

The take of a tiger is nothing short of explosive and when hooked they are cunning, dogged, acrobatic fighters that frequently leave fishermen with a snapped line and trembling knees. It is not uncommon to land fish of between 10-20 lb, while tigers can grow to in excess of 30lb.

  • Behaviour : The Tigerfish is a voracious and fierce top predator that, with the exception of the largest individuals which are solitary, hunts actively in schools of similarly-sized fish. It favours well oxygenated, unpolluted water in large rivers and lakes and hunts visually in warm surface layers where it’s occasionally snatched up by African fish eagles.
  • Breeding: The onset of the summer rains during December or January causes rivers to swell and triggers a migration of adult tigerfish (2-3 years old, 200-300 mm) to suitable spawning sites along flooded river banks or lake shores.
  • Feeding: Tigerfish are predators throughout their lives. As adults, they can consume prey that are 40% of their own body size and are opportunistic predators that generally feed on small-bodied shoaling fishes like robbers, minnows and sardines.

Catching Tigerfish on Fly: Fly fishing is perhaps the most exciting and challenging way to fish for tigers. Although the odds are stacked heavily against the angler, with only one in every ten fish hooked being landed, the chances of landing a trophy tiger can be dramatically increased by using the correct tackle and tactics.

Tigerfish are best fished for with an 8-10 weight rod matched with a fast-sinking line (preferably DI-7) and plenty of backing loaded onto a large arbor reel. Flies tied on extra-sharp, high quality hooks are required because tigerfish have exceptionally sharp teeth and bony jaws that are difficult to penetrate.

The most effective flies are baitfish imitations such as clouser minnows and other large deceivers. The choice of fly size and colour is influenced by what the weather is doing and by what types of natural prey are most abundant at the time. Large flies tied in natural colours with a distinct lateral line often work best. Leaders typically include about 5 ft of 15-20 lb monofilament ending in a 10 cm of wire tippit. Although fishing with a sinking line down and across is often the most productive way of enticing a tiger to take the fly, intermediate and floating lines can also be effective under certain conditions.

Conventional methods to catch Tigerfish: Spinning and trawling are highly effective methods for catching tigers in both rivers and lakes. For spinning, a flexible 6-7 ft rod with a good quality spinning reel (such as the Shimano 2000 series) loaded with 200 m of 15-20 lb monofilament or braid is perfect.

  • For trawling, shorter, sturdier rods are required, usually not longer than 6 ft. Snap-swivel wire traces of 10-30 cm work well and allow for quick and easy lure changes. A variety of large rapalas, spinners and spoons can be effective for catching tigers.

Examples of effective lures include 10 cm long rapalas and floating magnums in black and red, 16 g spoons in copper and silver and Mepps black fury spinners in size 4. Adding plastic worm-tails to the hooks of lures is sometimes an effective way to induce a strike when the fishing is slow.

Tiger fishing is extremely exciting and the fish put up a heck of a fight usually making fast hard runs and jumping high out of the water. It is some of the most thrilling fishing there is.

Days begin early in the morning with coffee and a quick breakfast. Then you are out on the river right after sun up. You will be amazed at the number of different species of birds you will see as well as the other wildlife in the area including elephants, hippos and crocodiles. The fishing guides have a vast knowledge of the wildlife species in the region and can identify the many species of birds for you. They can describe their habits and many interesting facts about them. You will definitely want your camera in the boat with you.

As you fish the Zambezi you will see local villages and native fishing camps on both the Namibia and Zambia side of the river. It is a wild part of Africa where many of the native people still live in mud huts with thatched roofs.

Rates: $390 per day per angler – $190 per day per non-angler
It is also simple for us to add a few days of fishing on to almost any one of our hunting packages. You will fly into Livingstone Zambia and it is a 2 1/2 to 3 hour drive from the airport to camp. You may also want to consider adding a day or two to see some of the other sites in the area like Victoria Falls which are located nearby. This outfitter can also provide river cruises for sightseeing and photography.

  • Dates:    Best months for Tiger fishing: Year Round
  • Best months for Bream: Late May – December
  • Includes:    Cabin accommodations, meals, boat rental and fishing guide
  • Not Included:    Airfare to Livingston, Zambia, alcoholic beverages, and lures (approx $10 each), tips and gratuities, transportation to/from the airport (approx. $600 round trip)
  • Equipment:    You can bring your own medium weight rod/reel combination spinning reels or bait casting reels, which are fine. Very strong 20lb test or heavier line is recommended. Medium to large size plugs (similar to what you might use for pike) are the preferred lures. Good quality rods/reels are available for rental at the lodge. Lures are available for purchase at a reasonable rate as well. Any lures you use at the lodge must be purchased by you.
  • Transportation:    Arrive and depart Livingston, Zambia. Transfers from airport to camp not included in this package (approx. $600 round trip)


  • Species: Tigerfish, Catfish (Barbel), Bream Species
  • Technique: Spinning (¼ to 5/8 oz rod); Trolling, Fly Fishing, Drifting Baiting
  • Gear selection is relatively straightforward, with 7-9wt rods being ideal, coupled with a decent reel that won’t explode if a blistering run is made and two decent fly lines. A tropical floating line with a ghost tip or a slow intermediate (The clear tropical ones are great) and a full sinking or 300grain shooting head system for prospecting rock faces and deep channels with Clouser minnows. A word of warning though, an un-intended mid-air collision between a Clouser and fly-rod will end badly. A spare rod is recommended.
  • Leaders are simple, straight 15-25lb maxima tied directly from the flyline to a piece of wire. (25-30lb piano wire is perfect) A perfection loop connecting the Flyline to the leader is ideal. A nonslip “Jozini Wire Knot” for the leader to wire is one of our favorite. the advantage of this knot is that the wire, which could cut through the mono if sufficient tension is created, now rests against x2 mono loops lying at a 90′ angle. Your wire needs to be around 4-5 Inches long, some prefer a shorter section, but we have had tigers (especially the larger specimens) that have eaten the fly properly and chewed on the mono, not ideal if you want to land that trophy.

Hooking a Tiger fish and landing one are two different animals. Plan on one landed fish for every eight hook-ups!!