2016 Winter Barotse Floodplain Safari feedback
Our 2016 Winter Barotse Floodplain Safari ran from the 9th of May to the 7th of June 2016. This was the 8th time we have fished the floodplains and we were looking forward to fishing the systems with the floodplains draining into the main channel.
Our first group arrived what would have been about 2 weeks after the floodplains had ‘drained’ (i.e. the river levels were below the banks of the Lungwebungu) and so we felt we had timed conditions perfectly!
What was apparent early on was that large volumes of baitfish were seen shoaling in various parts of the river and it was clear that there was a lot of fry in the system.
However, despite all the ‘good signs’, if we are honest, the number of sessions that produced outrageous, smashing fishing certainly didn’t match how good the conditions were! From the outset the fishing was generally hard work with anglers having to cover a lot of water and work hard for their strikes and oddly enough, when these takes did occur, they were often extremely aggressive (even for tigers) and as a result, anglers couldn’t hold on. On the whole, we were pretty disappointed in the catch records of this safari and in particular, the Lungwebungu River.
The biggest tiger was an 18.5lb fish caught by Deon Haasbroek and Wikus Kruger also got a cracking 16.5lb tiger and there were then a good few fish from 16lbs down. By far the bulk of these trophy fish came out of the Zambezi and the Kabompo River with only a few being caught in Lungwebungu. The bream fishing in particular was very poor with only one nembwe caught during the entire safari.
Of the 3 rivers, the Zambezi was by far the most productive across all fish sizes followed by the Kabompo. The Lungwebungu fished very poorly and was particularly devoid of smaller fish and bream.
Obviously a number of theories have come out as to why the fishing was tough ranging from the water temperatures being too cold, an abundance of baitfish in the system and it being too early in the season.
However, while any of the above could account for patches of slow fishing, to witness this across the whole safari does seem to indicate that there are potentially other factors at work. Certainly for Lungwebungu, we witnessed a severe increase in the amount of people and netting on the Lungwebungu River from when we last there in August 2014. It is difficult to accurately work out the effect of this on the fishery but the lack of smaller fish and bream certainly seem to point that the Lungwebungu has suffered at the hands of over-fishing or netting. Strangely, this seemed to only be applicable to Lungwebungu with the Zambezi and Kabompo not being as affected.
So while there were some great fish caught and a good few “Barotse Express” moments occurred, on the whole, we had really hoped for more action and more fishing over the duration of the safari and it certainly raises more questions for us going forward.
Nevertheless, a big thank you to all the clients who joined us this year and their kind feedback about the quality of the camp, the guides and the boats. Also a big thank to Henry and his team from Loutzavia for doing all the flying for us this year as well. We now look forward to seeing what the Kwamashi has in store for us!