The best time to fish the Zambezi River

As with all fishing, success is often dependent on seasons and fishing methods. We divide the Zambezi into three sections to give more insight as to when and where to fish.

zambezi river map info

tiger fishing zambezi

tfzchargesnocommisiontoclients305_305.jpg (26 KB)

zambezi river fishing information

zambezi river fishing info

zambezi river fishing information

zambezi river fishing info

zambezi river fishing information


Zambezi River Info:

The best time to fish the Zambezi River
As with all fishing, success is often dependent on seasons and fishing methods. We divide the Zambezi into three sections to give more insight as to when and where to fish.

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Fishing the Upper Zambezi River: From source to Victoria Falls.
This section of the river can be successfully fished through-out the year but one must change methods to ensure that catch rates remain high. There is a simple formula; if the fish can see (i.e. water clarity) then it can chase your fly, lure and bait. Clear water on the upper Zambezi is common from late May until December, this massive window of fishing opportunity has its peak from May-October for fly and lure fishermen.
During the height of the rainy season bait fishing for tiger become the norm as the waters of the Zambezi River  become wide and dirty, the fish resort mainly to smell to seek out your offerings.

Fishing is mainly done from small boats that drift down the river allowing anglers to cover many parts of the river that are known to hold big fish. Occasionally the boats tie-up on sandbanks for lunch followed by some bank fishing in the afternoon.

Times Of The Year
Upper Zambezi tiger fish can be caught throughout the year. Certain fishing methods work better than others at different times of the year.
Shackletons Tiger Lodge have devised this simple to use chart to indicate the best time to fish for Tigers on the upper Zambezi and what method to use:
FISHING METHOD Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Trolling xx xx x x x xx xx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx
Drift baiting xxx xxx xxx xxx xx xx xx x x xx xx xxx
Spinning x x x x xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xx xx xx
Fly Fishing x x x x xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xx xx x

Fishing method X ratings

XXX Excellent

XX Very Good

X Medium

Fishing the middle Zambezi River: Victoria Falls to Lake Kariba

The Upper Zambezi River ends abruptly as it cascades over the magnificent Victoria Falls, this massive river is forced down a narrow gorge and eventually flows into the man-made Lake Kariba. Clients wishing to combine THE best white water rafting in the world with tiger fishing can embark on a one night raft/fish combo that we have on offer. This unique activity is not for the feint hearted and can only be done at certain times of the year when the river flow has subsided and emergency “take – out” areas along the river can be accessed.
Lake Kariba was created in 1958 when the dam wall was finally finished; the “lake” took 5 years to fill and has become a manmade inland “sea” supporting a vast array of wildlife species and fantastic dam fishing.

Lake Kariba is approx. 220kms long and in parts up to 40kms wide! Since the lake was established a vibrant local fishing industry has grown in conjunction. In the early years a major protein source, the Tanganyika sardine (Limnothryssa miodon), known locally as 'kapenta' (fresh water white bait) was introduced, this species flourished and by co-incidence happens to be a favourite food source of our target species the tiger fish. The tiger fish in Lake Kariba can grow up to 15kgs (Zimbabwean Jennifer Daynes hold the record tiger fish that weighed in at 16,193 kilograms!) as food is readily available.

Lake Kariba offers some wonderful big game viewing and fishing opportunities from the many lodges and house-boats that are available in the area. Most houseboats are fully equipped with crew, fine cuisine, air-conditioned cabins and tender boats which allow the angler to seek out the top fishing spots that are available throughout the lake. 
Tiger fishing on Lake Kariba is good through-out the year with even the “quieter” winter months (June-August) known to produce good fish. The lake also offers keen anglers the opportunity of many other species such as bream including the introduced Nile Tilapia, big cat-fish (barbel) and Cornish jack.

TigerFishingZambezi has a unique, wild lodge situated 80kms below the Victoria Falls, in the gorge. Sidinda Island Lodge offers excellent fishing from August through to December, for more info check out

Fishing the Lower Zambezi River: Lake Kariba to a wilderness beyond

From beyond the dam wall at Lake Kariba we now enter the section of the river which is known as The Lower Zambezi, this section of the river offers fantastic big game viewing combined with world class fishing. Most large mammals that occupy the Lower Zambezi national park congregate on the floodplains including: buffalo, numerous elephants, lions, leopards and many antelope species plus crocodiles and hippos. Birdlife is prolific so if the fishing is a bit on the quiet side the wildlife will keep you occupied until those hungry tigers go on the bite again!

Fishing the lower Zambezi is best during the summer months between September and May but again the winter months can offer good catches depending on methods used to entice the ever hungry tiger to feed and strike. Tiger fish and many species of bream are common on this section of the river as well as huge Vundu, a member of the catfish family. Over the years many local anglers have discovered an unusual bait for this fish, the cheapest strongest smelling soap will prove to be a good attraction on your hook. Fly-fishing for tiger fish has become an increasingly popular activity. Tiger fish of 4-7 kg are commonly caught.

Anglers are taken out in small boats whereupon they embark on a drift. Casts are made towards the shore line and at the many dead trees and structures that lie in the river, perfect holding areas for tiger! Some basic skills are required to ensure that fish are caught, not branches and rocks! Sometimes anglers can be safely dropped off on sandbank and allowed to cast into the moving waters that hold many big tiger and bream. This method can sometimes include you having to share your sandbank with the odd crocodile or two; your guide will always be with you to ensure you focus on the fishing and not the crocs!

For the fishing and outdoors connoisseur, this section of the river offers some of the finest angling and wildlife opportunities; it is a wild plus visually stunning part of Africa, a true jewel in the crown that is the Zambezi River...It is no wonder that the Lower Zambezi is regarded by those in the “fishing know”, to be a premier angling destination. However due to travel logistics and relative remoteness, the Lower Zambezi is priced in the premium pricing bracket.