Tiger Fishing on Lake Kariba
Tiger Fishing on Lake Kariba
Lake Kariba's Tiger Fish met their match at the 50th KITFT competition
“I have stated heretofore in print and am still ready to maintain my pronouncement, that the Tiger Fish of Africa is the fiercest fish that swims. Let others hold forth as advocates for the Mako Shark, the Barracudas, the Piranha of the Amazon, or the blue fish of the Atlantic. To them I say 'Pish and Tush'.” L. J. McCormick, 1949.
This wordy quotation from a famous game fisherman might have rung in the ears of the Tiger Fish angler as he loaded his boat with braided 10lb lines and reinforced steel hooks in the near dark of the first day of the KITFT. The annual Kariba Invitation Tiger Fish Competition (KITFT) sets man against monster in a race to catch the biggest and ugliest Tiger Fish, with the winners decided on the overall weight of their team’s three day’s catch on Zimbabwe’s Lake Kariba.
Locals both fear and admire the Tiger Fish, and it is truly the most prized fish in these waters. The Goliath Tiger Fish can weight up to 22kg, and are infamous for devouring everything and anything they come across, even young crocodiles and other Tiger Fish.
To look at one is to know prehistoric terror. Its double-hinged bony jaws bend back on themselves to make way for an explosion of vicious teeth. Only the brave hold their quarry up for a photo opportunity while it yet lives, most preferring to let the jaws gnash at the terrible air in bottom of the boat, rather than their fingers.
You may be forgiven for thinking it is the teeth that give them their name, but it is actually the bright orange fins and dark stripes that decorate their sides. However, it’s hard to see beyond the mouth of the beast and the stories about what it can do with that mouth must do the rounds as the anglers wait patiently for the tug on their lines. Their patience could all be for nought, as the Tiger Fish’s agility and strength mean it can tear the bait and tackle to pieces in seconds. Resist too much, and the fish will snap your line; don’t pull hard enough and it will wrench the rod from your hands. This is a fish that needs showing who’s boss and will put even the most intrepid angler to the test.
Lining up to pit their skills against the mighty Tiger Fish back in October were 268 teams of anglers on small powerboats that darted all over the manmade lake looking for the best fishing. The three day event is very much a team competition; it is considered too hazardous to fish alone, so there must always be a minimum of two to a boat, and a maximum of six to a team. The event is hugely prestigious in the angling world, bringing in teams from all over Southern Africa and the rest of the globe under special invitation only. When the flare signalled the six o’clock start, there were over 1000 anglers ready to hit the water this year, as fishermen and women came to honour the fiftieth competition since the first in 1962.
The Remington Gold team were the clear winners of 2011, leading from Day One and going on to catch the full quota of 60 fish weighing in at 172kg.
A follow up catch and release tournament for the top ten scorers called Test of the Best will be held in February 2012.
Only the brave hold their quarry up for a photo opportunity while it yet lives
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