Most passionate anglers will have a mental list of all the places they want to visit, all the rivers and oceans they want to fish from, and all the species they’d like to hook. As you hear stories of incredible adventures from angling friends or family to add to your wishlist, where should you choose to go when opportunity knocks?
If you’re looking for a completely unique fishing experience, then perhaps fishing the Chobe and Zambezi should be on your list. Here’s why:
It’s geographically unique
The Chobe area is unusual as it gives boats access to over 100 kilometres of prime water on the famous Chobe and Zambezi Rivers, as well as the waterways in between them, all of which are teeming with fish.
This eastern Zambezi Region is also home to extensive floodplains, which become the breeding area for a multitude of fish species, some of which are caught on fly and spinner.
The diverse habitats in this area provide year-round fishing, so you can visit whenever it suits you, from the annual floods starting in March to the feeding frenzies in the winter months. This natural phenomenon takes place when the water begins to recede and a myriad of newly spawned bait fish make their way back into the river, only to be ambushed by shoals of hungry Tiger Fish.
African Tiger Fish are most active during the warmer months, so fishing is generally best from September to February with peak season around October and November. However, winter fishing during June and July is also an option. It’s only in January and February when the water can become discoloured that flyfishing is really affected.
Suitable for beginners and experts
From the deep wide upper Zambezi and the meandering Chobe, through the well-known Mambova and Chobe rapids with their shallow gravel beds and the small channels and backwaters, each habitat offers its own unique challenges. This means that there is something for everyone – whether you’re a beginner or experienced angler.
Staying at any accommodation through the Zambezi Queen Collection will also give you access to guides who really know the area from a fishing perspective, and can provide tips on all aspects of fishing, from what bait to use to how to land that Tiger. Most hotels also provide equipment if you don’t have your own, or if you’re an experienced angler not wanting to travel with your own gear.
Wide variety of species
Besides Tigers, there’s an amazing array of ‘bream’ species, catfish, African pike, upper Zambezi yellowfish, nembwe, thin-faced, hump back, three spot tilapia, and green and pink bream – all of which also attract anglers to the region.
It’s not only about the fish. Being located in such a diverse and rich habitat means you can see spot curious elephants gazing at you as you ready your tackle. Hungry crocodiles could be floating by mischievously as skittish antelope gather on the banks for an early morning drink of water, surrounded by the distinctive call of the African Fish Eagle.
“Spotting crocs, elephants, buffalo and hippos is not something that’s very common in other fishing areas, which is what makes fishing on the Chobe so special,” says Matt. This game viewing is particularly incredible during June and July, when inland water sources dry up and animals all head to the rivers to drink.
Every keen fisherman knows that the less people there are around, the better the fishing. Visitors to Ichingo Chobe River Lodge have access to 7km of unfished river water for their exclusive use, while staying on a houseboat such as the Chobe Princesses lets you access parts of the water that no one else can. It’s here that you get to experience the absolute tranquillity of the bush, while enjoying fishing at its purest and most exhilarating.
Besides all of these reasons to add the Chobe to your fishing bucket list, there’s another: the allure of Africa.
Whether you already live on this incredible continent, or have yet to visit it, you’ll soon realise that there is so much more to this place than the wildlife and animals. Whether it’s the wonderful people, the fascinating cultures, or the magical silence and sunsets − all these reasons make visiting (and fishing) the Chobe an unforgettable adventure, and the trip of a lifetime.