November showers and live bait

If October in Southern Africa is called suicide month, then November should be called the beautiful month. The arrival of cooling showers greens the countryside and lowers the night temperatures. November is also the time of live bait fishing! 

I joined Rob and Lance up at Mutemwa Lodge on the Upper Zambezi River in early November with the aim of targeting large tigers on live bait and bream. The first few summer showers had started to fall and the lodge and riverbanks were beautifully green. The night temperatures had lowered and some of the summer migrant birds had arrived. Hippos grazed the new grass of the islands at night to complete the picture. But, let’s be honest – how was the fishing? Well the bream were ghostly – neither worms, soft plastics or fat raps could raise them and so we soon concentrated on the tigers. Rigging small tigerfish (ideally about half a pound in size) 1.5m below some makeshift floats, we drifted these little tigers in the deep holes (up to 11m!). Generally, we were very successful with a couple of 10 pounders and a 14lb fish being landed and a good few snap ups and misses occurred as well. The size of the bait was important – to small and the little tigers didn’t survive long enough, too big and they were ignored. Live baiting certainly cuts out the smaller fish as we were only hit by big fish while using the live bait. The biggest challenge is catching the bait and while we drifted a small live bream, it was definitely the tigers that attracted the big fish. While our systems were not perfect, it was great for Lance to get his PB tigerfish and with time, I’m convinced that live bait will soon produce the fish that beats the current lodge record out of one of those deep holes!