The waters surrounding the islands lend themselves to great fly and spin fishing.
The two species that anglers concentrate on, are the Tigerfish and the Nembwe.
As the floodwaters of the Zambezi start to recede around July, large Tigerfish can be caught in and around the rapids. September through to December are the months with the lowest water levels. During these months there are many rock outcrops in the middle of the river offering the fly fishermen great opportunities to catch Nembwe in the clear waters.
Fishing excursions are in dugout canoes with experienced paddlers taking you to the best spots, they know these waters well, due to the fact that they grew up fishing in the area. The advantage of going out with these guides is that they can easily unstick snagged lures and also get you into very rocky areas silently.
Due to the presence of rapids above and below Bovu Island, we do not use power boats with engines, too many rocks that would damage the boat and the outboard. Casting from the makolo's while sitting down is not difficult for spinning rods. For fly fishermen, the guides will for midstream rock outcrops.
If you intend to spend most of your holiday with us on the water, make sure that you book your own guide and dugout when making your reservation
For the experienced fly fisherman, the UpperZambezi yellowfish and Thinface can also be found amongst the rapids.
Catch-and-release is encouraged as much as possible, however, badly hooked specimens can be brought back to camp for the kitchen staff to prepare for you.
Fly fishing for the ferocious Zambezi Tiger Fish must be one of the most exhilarating experiences a fisherman could ever ask for. The fish that lurk the waters around Bovu Island are mostly rapid Tiger. Fast, fit and hard taking.
Although the size of a good fish is around the 2 Kg mark, 4Kg fish are not uncommon, anything above 3Kg, we regard as good sport. The possibility of catching fish larger than 4Kg exists, the largest taken from the rapids was 7.5 Kg.
Catching the mighty tigerfish with the fly is surely the most exciting kind of fresh water sport fishing around. Not only are you contending with the pound-for-pound freshwater champion fighter of all time, gut doing so in the finest way too! The only comparison to parallel this kind of heart-thumping excitement is ocean fishing. Tigerfish are ready takers of fly and can be caught at any time of the day in the fast flowing water around the rapids.
Apart from tigerfish, many fly fishermen come to Bovu Island specifically to catch the Nembwe. A deep bodied tilapia, sometimes called yellow bellied bream. The Nembwe around Bovu Island are of good size, around the 2Kg mark, and give a dog of a fight. They have a tendency to shake their heads from side to side to try and release the fly, so a tight line and rod held high are important factors to remember during the excitement.
Fly fishermen with the skill of Czech nymphing might want to try and catch the power horse of the river, the upper Zambezi yellowfish. This fish is solid muscle and together with its large dorsal fin and using the current of the rapids can give the angler a fight for well over half an hour.
Tackle for tiger fish
An eight weight fast tip 9’ 6” is the norm, a six weight rod might be more fun, but the problem will lie in the setting of the hook. The mouth of a tigerfish is as hard as bone. If you know how to strip-strike, you’ll stand a better chance. If you don’t know how to, we’ll teach you! Six weight rods are the preferred choice for the Nembwe.
Your reel should have a good drag system with a controlled start-up. The take-up as a tiger hits the fly is very fast. A large arbor reel will allow you to have 100m of backing and give you a good retrieve rate should the fish decide to swim towards you.
Floating lines are seldom used here although a surface take using poppers is heart-stopping. A medium sink or fast sink line will get your fly down into the deeper pockets where the larger fish prefer to lurk in small packs. An intermediate line will work fine and comes into play when fishing across shallow rapids for 1Kg specimens. Leaders are normally made up of a 30cm piece of 15Kg mono nail knotted to the line, then looped to 1m 7kg mono. Piano wire trace is fine, most prefer flexible 30kg black. Tyger-wire is the best. Don’t bother with using swivels, they cause other fish in the pack to attack them and cut your line in the process.
What flies to bring? Well some people say that you can throw any old shiny thing into the river and a tigerfish will go for it, I tend to differ. Tiger go for different flies on different sections of the Zambezi. Around Bovu Island what works one year doesn't always work the next. Last season, the colour was black with a hint of red, although a nice 3.8Kg was caught on a micky-finn Charlie. A few seasons ago, it was either white or something with lots of flash and a bit of red.The best thing to do is e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and ask him what’s working. Deceivers, Charlie’s, Makuta’s, and large nymphs all work; anything with dumbells help you get depth. It’s the colour that makes the difference. The preferred hook size should be either 0/2 or 0/3. Barbless have a better hooking rate, but it's up to you if you want to blame a barbless hook for loosing a trophy!
When to come
The flood waters arrive at Bovu Island during March and subside again during June. During the period when there is no mood in June and July a small nocturnal fish called the Zambezi Parrot Fish leaves the flood plains of Caprivi and shoal down the river in vast numbers. When these fish are forced over shallow water, being the rapids the tigerfish have a feast and this is the best time to encounter the larger specimens. The water gradually clears through august to December and this is when it’s at its lowest, concentrating the fish into the mainstream. These are the months to be here.
Fishermen usually set off with their guide at sunrise for the bottom rapids, returning around 11 o’clock for brunch. After a lazy midday period, spent over at the swimming beach or in a hammock reading a book, it’s back onto the water at 3 o’clock to try the top rapids before returning with the sunset behind you.
Most of the spinning around Bovu Island is done with light tackle. This would be a 6’ rod with a small bait caster or coffee grinder. Line strength is around 7kg. Although most fishermen bring Rapala's which are good for larger fish, we find that a Mepps number 4 ‘black fury’ with red dots is the best all rounder, catching the most amount of Tiger and also very good with large Nembwe. Spinner baits have proved to also be very good for Nembwe along the edges of the Hippo grass. Don’t forget to bring along your landing net!