We are currently doing some research and asking the question, “Why is the upper Zambezi prime season being marketed mainly from June-August”?
Sure we know that due to certain factors such as the Bull dog run, Tiger Frenzy and mini Barbel run, ensure that these months are good months to catch tiger fish. But common sense also tells us that if the water is clean i.e. May-December, then tigers should fall to a well-placed fly or lure, in other words if they can see it, they will eat it.
Reports coming in from the “old hands” who run and own lodges on the upper Zambezi state that September, October & November are in fact excellent months and I agree with them, why not? I picked up this paragraph in The Nedbank Guide To Fly Fishing In Southern Africa:
“The best time to fish the upper Zambezi River is from May into December, when the Zambezi River is clear and dropping. Within this time span, the prime period is from August to November. December see’s the start of the rainy season accompanied by a rise in water levels, extremely hot and humid conditions and the appearance of vast numbers of mosquitoes”
Another comment from Chundu Island Lodge, closer to Victoria Falls:
Best fishing times for Tiger are June till mid December. During the rainy season the fishing isn't great as the river becomes so dirty and then of course they start spawning.
Nembwe fishing is best from June through to November as well as Thin face Largemouth.
Winter bream is good fishing from June until August. Green head Tilapia and Red breast, are good in the rainy season from January through to April.
From a personal point of view, I have fished the upper Zambezi many times from early May – December and have had many good sized fish (on fly and lure) throughout this entire time period. Yes a Tiger Frenzy is a natural phenomenon that guarantees hook-ups and big fish on every cast, but I have only witnessed this not so common event, three times and this was on one trip! The rest of the time, a good drift and a well placed fly or lure on the drop offs have given me consistently great results!
To add to this, we send many clients up to lodges throughout the year and we have never had reports of bad fishing during months out of the June-August “peak” period. Bad fishing seems to coincide with full moons and barometric pressure drops, one can be avoided, the other…. “well that’s just fishing”