The Tiger Fish is South Africa's premier fresh water game fish. These toothy devils are some of the toughest fighting fish that you will every encounter. Lake Jozini in Kwazulu Natal offers some of the best Tiger Fishing in all of Africa. Our lodge specializes in tiger fishing and has all the necessary equipment and expert guides. We are located in northern South Africa near the border with Swaziland south of the famous Kruger Park. Tiger Fishing can easily be combined with any form of safari. Our package includes transfers from Durban and all meals as well as fishing. We can add extra days of photo safari and other activities. The non fishermen will find plenty to do here as well. Our lodge has its own private game reserve and one of the shores of the lake borders the Pongola game reserve. Here we do elephant tracking as well as rhino walks along with quality game viewing.
4 days/3 nights with two half days fishing:
With us both your deposit and final payment are completely refundable at any time, for any reason, right up until the moment you are to step on the plane. We will not take your money if you cannot come hunt with us!
The above package includes the following:
Transfers from Durban, South Africa - 3 nights accommodationc -
2 half days lake fishing (shared fishing boat. Private boat extra) -
rod hire (broken or list equipment must be replaced from client account) -
one game drive - one elephant tracking session or rhino walk - all meals
The above package does not include the following:
flights - tips - beverages and bar
Arrive Durban, South Africa. Met at airport and transfer to lodge. (Flights must arrive by mid afternoon)
Morning tiger fishing. Afternoon game drive in Pongola Game reserve.
Full days of fishing can be substituted for the game drive or elephant/rhino tracking at no additional cost. Additional days can be added.
The Pongolapoort Lake (also known as Jozini) is situated
in the North Eastern KwaZulu Natal, bordering Southern Swaziland. It is the
southern most extremity of the infamous Tiger Fish population (Hyrocynus
Vittatus) due to our hot Summer temperatures and moderate Winter climate, and it
is the only waters in South Africa home to the tiger fish.
We are fully
equipped with 2 x 16ft ski boats, and a fly-fishing boat including one of
our talented and enthusiastic guides who skippers the boat and shows you the
know-how and hot spots on the Pongolapoort Lake. Also for hire are a variety of
fishing rods and reels at a daily charge of R75. Fishing tackle is to be
replaced if lost or damaged. We support CAR!
The lake covers +/- 16 000
hectares, with a river stretch of approximately 5 km. It is set against the
backdrop of the Lebombo Mountain range, giving the eastern shores deep basaltic
drop offs ideal for tiger fish. The 'Poort' or Gorge, is a 7km stretch leading
to the dam wall, with crystal clear waters of 60 meters deep and overhanging
cycads. The western shores are mainly mud flats with the odd underwater islands
ideal for breeding baitfish including two species of Tilapia, catfish, carp,
mudfish and a large variety of smaller fish. The Phongolo River feeds the lake
and this stretch is made up of both of the above conditions, with old submerged
trees making up most of the tiger fish hideouts. The Northern tip stretches into
Swaziland itself however we are not permitted to fish here. The other area
fishing is prohibited, is from the railway bridge upstream which is a breeding
sanctuary area. Fishing takes place from boats as the shoreline is crowded with
semi-submerged trees and not to mention the large population of hippos and
crocodiles on the water.
The tiger or striped water dog occurs in
all rivers flowing eastwards in most of Africa, so they have occurred here
naturally for centuries. Their cousin is the Goliath tiger, which grow up to
50kg's in the Congo. The tiger fish population here is ever growing with decent
specimens only starting to appear in the early nineties. Our record specimen was
caught in 1998 weighing 8,3kg and some in the 5-7kg ranges are still being
caught. Average size is still under a kilo and specimens up to 4kg are quite possible in a 3 day fishing tour. The locals
reckon the dam is overstocked, and maybe when competition is not as high as at
present the average size of the tiger will increase.
One never tires
trying to tackle the tiger, be it the hard bony jaws, big teeth, sheer
cunningness or remote areas. Their fantastic skill to bite through a lure/bait
is what makes them such an exciting fish to catch. An average of 4:1 is expected
when fishing for tigers. They attack from the side, then turn their bait around
and swallow it headfirst. Tigers have been recorded to hit their prey at
50km/hr! They have 20 conical teeth that are extremely sharp and covered with an
anti coagulant. Whole sets of teeth are continually replaced during their
lifetime. On average, they gain one kg a year and the life span is about 8
Tiger-fish occur in schools and are cannibalistic. The juveniles
stay close to any structures in their first year where they can take cover. They
are pelagic which means feeding and living in the top reaches of the water and
going down to deeper water when light intensity increases and in the evening.
This allows them to take cover from any predators during the warmer parts of the
day and then again feeding in the late afternoon.
They are ferocious
feeders, competing for food continually. Their diet is made up many species of
fish, sardines, chicken livers, squid they eat just about anything. They are
fast learners and vary their diet considerably. Tigers inhabit waters close to
the side of the lake or around suitable structures. They are not generally open
water feeders and we target them in depths from 4m to 10 meters. Depending on
the season, water temperatures and available food, depths vary, but it is not
uncommon to find them in 30 meters of water.
Any firm 6 foot stick (10 to 20 lb) will do for the tiger, finding
most bass sticks appropriate. A lighter flick stick for spinning smaller
rapalas and spinners is also a must.
Here a good reel is important to handle short fast hard runs; a good
drag system. Good coffee grinders or bait casters that can hold +/- 120m
of line is imperative.
High abrasive line is a must as most of the fishing or fish land up
dashing for structure where they are able to hang you up. A good 12 - 15
lb breaking strain is sufficient. 'Fireline', a very strong light line
allows for good accuracy and strength.
Chemically sharpened hooks allow for better penetration, and I believe
good line and hooks is the key to successful tiger fishing. Any size from
a 1/0 to 6/0 are most commonly used e.g. Mustad, Daichi, Kamakatsu.
Nylon or normal steel trace of about 30cm in length is the ideal
although the latter is preferred as a lot of rigs are snapped up and would
take time to dislodge or rust away. 25 lb steel trace is thin and flexible
and the most practical to use.
A variety of spinners, spoons, rapalas and spinner baits should make
up your tackle box. Red, silver and bronze spinners and spoons work best,
ranging from 4g - 12g. The rapala range is up to your own disgression due
to their price, but a couple of deep runners for trawling can be brought
along. Red and white and natural colors tend to be the best. A suggestion
would be changing most of the above to single hooks as it allows better
penetration and does not damage the fish as much as treble hooks. 3 Tips:
The brighter the sun the brighter the lure; use shallow to medium depth
lures for early morning or late aternoon fishing; let your lure out as far
as you can when trawling on a still day and closer to the boat on windy
days. When spinning, start off with a fast retrieve. If this doesn't work,
all the lure to drop a bit deeper and try the same retrieve, then slow the
retrieve down. If they still don't take, upsize or downsize the lure, and
last of all change the lure. But don't over-fish an area, rather come back
later as tiger fish are easily spooked off by too much presence.
Small Tilapia, 5-12cm in size, fished with a float or free swimming.
Corks are set at 2m seem to work throughout the day. Leave it on a loose
drag and when the tiger bites, allow it to run at least 3-5 seconds before
striking. The free swimming live bait have always been effective. Run the
hook through the skin close to the dorsal fin, cast gently, don't retrieve
too often, set a loose drag, and allow the tiger fish to hit it and
swallow it before striking.
Sardines are very effective and rigged up the same way as you would
use them for the saltwater fishing. The more blood the better, so use half
a sardine, and we fish them inside out. Fished with a sinker, on or
without a drift. Ensure the hook is concealed yet the point is out. The
same tactic is used as in live bait fishing, although a direct strike
approach also works when fishing around a structure. When using tiger
fillets, a cast and retrieve approach is used or drifting. Tie fillet onto
the back of a spinner to increase the strike
Two important tips when tiger fishing:
When to strike - free spooling is the most
common tactic, but there are takes when you have to strike right away, set the
hook once and allow the fish to have some drag. If the fish is swimming away and
peeling off your line, put some pressure on to keep the hook set and only
reike when the fish has turned. Keep the rod tips
down - The whole fight, the rod tip should be down. The tiger
gives you about 3 seconds before his first jump when he will take advantage of
the slack in your line, so automatically drop the
A fly fishing experience with professional
The aim of these trips are to equip
fly-fishers with skills and knowledge required to successfully catch Tigerfish
Wayne Sinclair and Francois Botha from SAGF have over 40 years of
tigerfishing experience between them and Francois has a REFFIS SA accreditation.
Fly Tackle Most anglers wanting
to tackle the tiger on fly would have at some time or another tried saltwater
fly-fishing. The rod, reel, line leaders and flies are ideally suited for the
A 9ft AFTM 7-9 weight rod with good butt power is a norm when fishing
for tigers. These rods allow for turning tigers when necessary, setting
hooks into the bony jaws and allowing easier casting when conditions are
A good disc drag system with a fair amount of 12-15kg Dacron backing
should be used. Tiger generally fight hard and fast, so the drag is often
tested to the maximum, especially when trying to stop them going into
Intermediate and fast sinking line is the best especially when trying
to get the fly down to the bigger hens. Catching them on popper is great
fun, but limited fishing occurs when fishing on floating line.
Due to heavy design of most tiger and saltwater flies, no tapered
leaders are required, just a short leader, shock tippet and steel trace.
Use a 30cm piece of 20lb line as a butt section to turn over the flies,
tied to a 1,5m length of 0,4mm Maxima line joined to 50cm of 0,32mm line.
This leader is then connected to a swivel on a short steel trace.
Most saltwater flies are adequate to entice the tiger fish to take.
Flies are tied with weighted eyes onto chemically sharpened hooks, and its
necessary to bring a couple of your favorite patters as these teethy
critters destroy ones flies quite easily. A few different flies are
Clouser minnows - Red & White; Pink &
White; Chartreuse & White; Yellow & Black Leftys deceivers -
Same colors as above Streamers - Same colors as above Zonkers -
Black, Natural colors Mrs. Simpson's - Tied in 3/0 -
Some smaller flies are also necessary especially when fishing for the more
active smaller tigers that will quite readily take a bigger fly but trying to
set the hook is a bit more difficult.
Equipment Polaroid sunglasses, light weight shirts and
long trousers, a wide brim hat and sun block Factor 30+
predatory fish preferring warm clear waters, aiding their hunting and feeding
instincts. The ideal times to pursue them would be most of our summer
When to Catch Tiger Fish
Firstly September through to November is
their spawning months, and like many other fish species, they tend to spawn in
fast flowing waters up stream.
They are stimulated to breed when
temperatures go over 20 degrees and this coincides with our rains. This is an
ideal time to try and tackle the bigger spawning females on their way up to
their breeding sanctuaries.
December to February is when the weather is
at its hottest in the area, and although fishing is still excellent, fishing
days consists of short sessions being early morning and late afternoon.
From March to May tigers are generally fattening up for the winter
months and also a good time of the year to seek them out.
June to August
also produces fish although it all depends on the climate, as a drop in
temperature can put them off the bite for a couple of
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