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    <font color="ff6000"><font face="arial&#44;helvetica"><font size="+1">Simply Tigers….and listening to the rising sun</font></font></font>
    Part 1 of 2
    By: Keith Clover – www.tourettefishing.com

    I was recently watching an outdoor television show that got me thinking. The host was presenting his views on the five outdoor sounds he rates amongst his finest. Being an American program, it focused on their indigenous animals. It went something like this, in descending order - the clashing antlers of dear during the rut, wild turkeys calling in the spring, the high pitched whistle from a mature elk bull, a screaming fly real on the flats, and lastly the rising sun! Other than the LSD laced creators of Tellie Tubbies, I doubt any of us have ever physically heard to the sun rise. The point the presenter was putting across however was beautifully simple. After eliminating every day sensory distractions that bombard and smother most of us during every day working life; in the bush, or on the water, we can focus our senses, wholeheartedly, on the natural environment surrounding us. Thereby, if not literally, then figuratively listen to the sun rise before us.



    In risking comparing the relatively infant art of fly fishing with the age-old, life-giving rising of the sun, I do believe a wonderful analogy can be drawn between listening to the rising sun and simplifying our fishing. And in doing this, truly connecting with our piscatorial adversaries, and the environment they inhabit.

    This point was pleasantly brought home to me on a recent guiding excursion on the upper Zambezi. After meeting with my clients, a good half an hour was spent transferring an array of tackle, electronic equipment, including GPS, fish finders, thermometers and two way radios on to our boat which was to transfer us, and our belongings, to Sekoma Island, our fishing camp for the week. Having fished these waters extensively over the past six years, privately and with clients, I was looking forward to some world class tiger action.

    It was late September, water levels on the upper Zambezi are low at this time, clarity is excellent and water temperatures are heating up. All conducive to good fly fishing. The first day of the safari dawned, and it was decided to fish the deep channels, reed banks and drop offs on the main Zambezi. These areas are most productive over June and July when the waters recede off the flood plains into the main channel. Setting off with the sun rise, tackle all primed and ready, one cannot help envisaging solid strikes, gel spun induced line burns and monster fish. We, after all, are contemporary fly fisherman, the scales of success and failure being “gadgetically”, electronically, and technologically weighted in our favour. Watching the magenta African sun creep lazily over the horizon, casting river side fishing villages into smoke infused silhouettes is a magical experience.

    On arrival at fishy looking waters, fish finders beeping as though in competition with the swamp boubou’s, fishing began in earnest. A couple of drifts, many casts, more beeps, and some solid fish later it was time to move off. Outboards were started and the light aluminium boat hopped easily onto the plane. Simultaneously, not three metres from the boat, a graceful goliath heron took to flight from the shelter of the reeds. The whistling of air through its primary feathers inaudible over the churning prop. And so the day carried on, more fish were landed, more leaders tied, more flies destroyed and more GPS co-ordinates entered. I will admit to playing devils advocate for the sake of this article, as 99% of the time this would constitute a perfect days fishing on the Zambezi. My clients and my experiences over the next couple of days are however, some of the fondest of my career.

    Surrounding Sekoma and Ilombe islands are a myriad of channels, interspersed with rapids &#40;including the productive Mambova Rapids&#41;, glides, deep runs, deeper holes, and an assortment of bank side structure. These waters are undeniably the most productive tiger fishing waters during the low water months of September and November. They do however present a major difficulty. Conventional boats, even the shallowest running aluminium boats, cannot gain access to these waters for risk of destroying outboard motors in the shallow rock laden channels. Jet boats, as used by a couple of the operators in the area, can gain access to stretches of this water, but accessible water diminishes as the water levels drop.

    It was decided, with a lack of pressure after landing a couple of good fish, and a relaxed and adventurous client, that we would spend the second morning fishing and exploring the rapids and waters surrounding Sekoma and Ilombe Islands. An Indian canoe our craft of choice. And what an experience it was!


    It was with a David-Livingstone-like aura around us that we slipped silently into the beckoning water of the Zambezi. The small whirlpools left by our paddles blending the reflected colours of sunrise. Tactics were to focus on the rapids and runs, with their accompanying deep holes, eddies and differing current speeds. Paddling down and across the rapids we were able to enter the quite, swirling waters, behind the bigger protruding rocks marking the heads of the respective rapids. If the rocks were big enough, and offered adequate protection from ever present, if not visible, crocs we were able to disembark from the canoe and fish off the rocks. If this was not possible, the eddying water pushing up stream was adequate to keep the Indian canoe in a suitable position from where one could cast. It was on the second cast of the first rapid of the day that Duncan, from the UK, was stunned into the reality of tiger fishing as a hefty fish smashed his fly and preceded to run-off 20 yards of backing in a couple of adrenalin charged seconds. Trying desperately to obey instructions to keep his rod tip down, while concurrently gain some semblance of control over the enraged fish, Duncan watched in awe as a magnificent 11 pound fish burst out of the water at the tail end of the rapid. A memorable fight ensued before the fish was landed, weighed and released. A couple of casts later a smaller fish, in the region of eight pounds, was landed.



    Part 2 to follow

    Keith specialises in African Sport Fishing Safaris and can be contacted at keith@tourettefishing.com or on his website www.tourettefishing.com
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  • #2
    [b]<font color="ff6000"><font

    <font color="ff6000"><font face="arial&#44;helvetica"><font size="+1">Simply Tigers….and listening to the rising sun</font></font></font>
    Part 2 of 2
    Keith Clover – www.tourettefishing.com


    Over the course of following four days we were submersed in any anglers and naturalist’s nirvana. Setting off in our Indian canoe at first light, drifting past feeding elephants, observing spotted neck and cape clawless otters feeding in the tranquil back waters, laughing as surprised African darters clumsily dropped off water berry trees into the river below, and listening to the eclectic sounds of the African bush was a surreal experience. The accompanying fly fishing was of the finest quality I have experienced in recent times. Most sessions resulted in more than one quality fish being landed and released, with a fair share of rats and mice &#40;5lbs and below&#41; to complement. A particularly memorable session, fishing off the canoe in some fast, shallow water &#40;no more than two feet in depth&#41; mid way down the Mambova rapids, resulted in seven strikes in as many casts. On a separate occasion, I was in the process of landing a modest size catfish that had fallen prey to heavily weighted black clouser, when a pair of tiger fish in the 10 lb&#43; range appeared out of the depths and began rushing the distressed catfish at my feet. I frantically called my client, three meters to my right, to cast at these aggressive fish. The bigger of the two fish nailed his fly as it hit the water and proceeded to spit him on the first jump. The second swiftly pounced on the injured fly and a wonderful aerial display followed. The most memorable fish of the trip, 15lb’s plus, was hooked in section of deep and quiet water, in between two sets of rapids. Drifting this stretch in the morning and noticing some aggressive surface activity, Duncan made a short cast behind a submerged rock. His fly was met with gusto on the sink. This magnificent fish took off like a steam train and was soon trailing 40 yards of backing. After 15 wrist burning minutes, Duncan had the fish within two metres of the canoe. I could taste the elation. It was with a sickening sensation that we watched, in slow motion, the hook pull and the magnificent brute slinked off into the Zambezi abyss.




    On a purely academic note; flies that consistently produced results were black clousers with a sparse amount of red buck tail tied under the wing and a fair amount of peacock hearl tied on top. Large, black, strip leach patterns with gold cactus chennille bodies, and all black zonker bait fish imitations tied palmered style, also shaped well. The majority of fishing was done using DI 3 sinking lines. DI 7 lines were needed to get down in some of the really deep fast flowing waters. If not casting directly to structure or likely looking lies, eddies and holes &#40;all similar to what you would look for in a trout stream&#41;, blind casting was across and down. Casting across fast flowing turbulent water, mending the line as it bellied out, and then stripping into and out of the fast flowing water enticed positive strikes. And lastly casting directly down the cusp between the swift turbulent water of the rapids and the slow deep water eddying up stream, and allowing one’s fly to get right down, followed by a steady yet relatively slow strip retrieve up-stream produced excellent results. The limited space on an Indian canoe forces one to seriously consider tackle choice. There is no room to cart excessive tackle and equipment. Other than the compulsory cooler box and camera, a small day pack containing leader material, wire tippet, boga grip, pliers, a selection of flies, spare spools, binos, first aid kit, and a bird book was all that was needed.

    Although I believe a competent fisherman should be familiar with all angling disciplines, each discipline complementing the other in some form. The art of fly fishing remains for me the most raw, uncluttered, and unadulterated. The lack of heavy rods and multiplying reels, ensure the contact between angler and fish is at its most primitive. This being said, it is human nature to hoard and collect. Fly fisherman often displaying above average symptoms of this nomadic trait. The resultant fact of the matter being, that before we know it, three anglers on a river could quite easily stock a small retail outlet by combining their fishing paraphernalia!




    There is no doubt that today the scientific aspect of fly fishing is fast merging with the “artistic”. The multitude of gadgets, new and innovative fly tying materials, guide books, research material, state of the art tackle, and electronic equipment available to the modern fly fisherman has resulted in more sport fishermen catching a continuously depleting stock of fish. This “evolution” of the contemporary fly fisherman is definitely a natural progression, and in most cases, extremely welcome. However, in embracing the technological advances made available to us, I fear, at times we are distracted from the task at hand. Fundamentally this task being to catch fish, but on a more holistic level….connecting with nature, escaping the monotony of working life, rekindling friendships and hopefully listening to the sun rise.

    Keith specialises in African sport fishing safaris and can be contacted at keith@tourettefishing.com or on his website www.tourettefishing.com

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    • #3
      [b]&lt;font color=

      <font color="ff6000"><font face="arial,helvetica"><font size="+1">Maslow, the Lady Jacqueline and a Batonka Stool</font></font></font>
      Part 1 of 2
      By Keith CLover www.tourettefishing.com

      There are, or hopefully will be, a couple of events in every angler’s life that highlight the undeniable privileges we have as sport fisherman. The awareness of these privileges are regularly, all be it momentarily, bought to our attention when on the water. Landing a trophy fish in an exotic location, connecting with our natural surroundings, enjoying a cold beer after a hard days fishing, or watching Openbilled Storks speckle the deep blue African sky are a few such examples.



      Recently, while guiding a group of travel journalists on Kariba, a surprising find led to me experiencing an epiphany like realization of just how fortunate we sport fisherman really are. The journalists were out on a game cruise; the banks of the Matusadona National Park are scattered with fantastic assortment of game and bird life. With some free time I decided to work the submerged bank side vegetation with a popper. The previous evening, while fishing for bream, we were frequently smashed up by tigers as they hammered our floats while being jigged slowly back through the submersed grass. It was late February; all the rivers flowing into Kariba are full at this time of year resulting in greenish discoloured water and dispersed food. Not ideal conditions when targeting tigers on fly. While working my popper along a grass bank, a strange shape in the water caught my attention. On closer inspection I discovered an old, weathered, and slightly battered Batonka stool semi buried in the water side fringes. Without much thought I picked it up, grinning at my good fortune. And that was it; my thoughts immediately back to the fishing.

      Targeting tigers on fly for me is definitely one of the more extreme angling disciplines. Gut wrenching strikes followed by the all but compulsory aerial display, razor teeth and bony jaw all ensure any angler is kept honest when battling these magnificent fish. Although most of the time tigers are targeted subsurface with streamer type flies, when conditions allow there is not much that beats casting a surface fly, poppers and flippers, to charging wakes as these ferocious predators hunt bait fish in submersed vegetation.

      It is useful to understand the distribution of tigers through the water column when targeting this species. Tiger fish will devour any fish up to 40% their own size, including their kin. For this reason tiger fish will generally stick with others of a similar size. African waters, similar to most wild places on our wonderful continent, are a dog eat dog (or more precisely striped water dog eat striped water dog) environment. For this reason one can fairly confidently predict the size of fish most likely to be caught in a specific area. Very roughly, larger fish occupy the relatively safe deeper water. Average size fish, not risking the deep water where there is a chance they will be eaten by their bigger brethren, inhabit the medium depth water. The smallest fish are unfortunately forced into the shallows where they seek shelter from their marauding cousins, while at the same time having to keep an eye out for avian attack from above.



      Bearing this in mind, it is not surprising that when targeting tigers with surface lures the majority of fish landed are in the mid size range (2 – 6lbs). I suppose it comes down to the age old debate on quantity versus quality. Now for me any tiger on a surface lure gets a big stamp of quality. As for quantity, at the right time of year under suitable conditions quantity is not a problem. With 10’s of kilometres of submersed shore side vegetation at your disposal one can confidently walk a 100m beat with better than average odds of attracting at least a couple of strikes. On most occasions, once a suitable looking area has been identified, one can expect two to three strikes before having to move on. Ideally what one must look for is shallow to medium depth waters of roughly 2 to 3ft containing a healthy spread of vegetation including submersed grass, water plants and timber. This should drop off into deeper water from where tiger fish can launch their attack on the unsuspecting bait fish.


      Keith specialises in African sport fishing safaris and can be contacted at keith@tourettefishing.com or on his website www.tourettefishing.com

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      • #4
        [b]&lt;font color=

        <font color="ff6000"><font face="arial,helvetica"><font size="+1">Maslow, the Lady Jacqueline and a Batonka Stool</font></font></font>
        Part 2 of 2
        By Keith Clover - www.tourettefishing.com

        I have found that once your cast has been made it is best to leave your popper where it landed for a good 5 to 10 seconds before commencing your retrieve. Often it is during this wait that you will be treated to a strike. Following the wait, a series of sharp strips, aimed at providing maximum water disturbance and noise from your popper, followed by pauses should provide enough commotion to draw a strike. It is important to resist the urge to strike as the fish hits your popper, rather let the fish re-enter the water with your popper before striking.



        The typical leader set up used when targeting tigers with poppers is made up of 7ft of hard 15 to 20lb mono. Attached to this, with an allbright knot, is 5cm of No 5 piano wire. Finally attach your popper of choice with a haywire twist. Most poppers will work; my standard is an all white popper with white bucktail and a splattering of red on the underbelly.

        If however you prefer a more sedate Kariba angling experience, fishing baits and artificials off the tender boat provides great sport. Not only will this give you the opportunity to land bigger fish, it provides excellent game and bird viewing opportunities. Again, it is best to concentrate on specific areas. The bigger rivers flowing into Kariba such as the Sengwa, Sanyati and Ume are all good options. Depth sounders will aid in finding the drop offs indicating the submersed river beds of smaller streams and rivers. Another useful indication of old stream and river beds is the abrupt end of timber. This generally marks a sudden drop-off. Trawling or chumming along these tree lines is very productive. Rocky cliffs and boulder strewn banks similarly provide good habitat for tiger fish and should not be ignored. Rapala’ Shad Rap range, in particular the Super Shad Rap, are a good lipped lure option. Colours should include fire tiger, all orange and a couple of natural colours. If your preference is for bait fishing, make sure you get a good supply of kapenta before you head out. Chumming from an anchored position will bring the fish up, and at the right time provide hectic action for the fly and conventional fisherman alike.

        Now back to the stool…..it was sitting down to tie a new trace that really got me thinking. Sitting on the surprisingly comfortable stool, worn smooth by years of “Batonka buttocks” and exposure to the elements, the gravity of the situation struck me. Here I was fishing for pure enjoyment, The Lady Jacqueline (a luxury houseboat) 50 yards away, with a team of fantastic staff, including skipper, deck hand and a wonderful cook awaiting my return. I contemplated what the last owner was up to when last he sat on the stool. With their trademark nose bone and gap-tooth dental work, the Batonka people, resident in the Zambezi Valley for centuries, were moved to higher ground to make way for the dam. Their long-held customs have become all but a thing of the past as they have been absorbed into contemporary Zimbabwean life. Living a subsistence lifestyle of farming, hunting and fishing on the Zambezi flood plains, they were a proud tribe.

        Maybe the previous owner of the stool was keeping an eye on his grazing cattle, or could he have been repairing his fishing nets? I suppose I will never know…. The one thing I am certain he was not doing was casting a popper at tigers, catching them and then letting them go again before walking back to floating mansion to eat a three course meal.



        Now this may sound classist or condescending, but a conservation ethic is most definitely a function of one’s living circumstances. As Abraham Maslow’s theory on Mans Hierarchy of Needs suggests: as humans meet ‘basic needs” they, seek to satisfy successively ‘higher needs’ that occupy a set hierarchy. Very briefly our first needs are physiological, the need to eat, sleep, breath etc. This is followed by the need for safety and security, emotional, financial and physical. The need to belong and be loved follows this. After which comes our need to be respected, for self-respect and to respect others. If we are fortunate enough to have neutralized our first four basic needs, our final need is for personal growth - the instinctive need of humans to be the best they can be.

        We as fly fisherman, or sporting anglers of any discipline, are privileged in that our passion allows for fulfilment, at least in part, of our upper three needs. Being part of a close group of fishing friends, a club, or the angling fraternity as a whole satisfies our need to belong. Landing a trophy fish, watching your buddy tempt a skittish wild brown with a size 18 dry or tying your first fly will at some level fulfil ones need for respect. And finally our need for personal growth, here the opportunities are endless - sharing your passion with those around you, involvement with development and conservation programmes, appreciation of life, and generally being aware of the privileges angling brings to your life. With out doubt, we are a fortunate few. In pursuit of our angling passions, we are lent the tools to help benefit those people, places and organisations we come into contact with. Let’s use them.

        Keith specialises in African sport fishing safaris and can be contacted at keith@tourettefishing.com or on his website www.tourettefishing.com

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