I really enjoy fishing, and have angled myself to be in charge of fishing activities, so here’s an overview of this activity that we enjoy with our guests.
The fishing has been really great for the past three months, and the best time to catch is early in the morning from 06:30 to 10:30 or in the afternoon from 15:30 to 18:00. The temperature is high these days and fishing at midday is not comfortable. We set out on our well-equipped and purpose-built pontoon boat, and just as important as all the gear is the cooler box packed with icy refreshments!
We have been reeling in Mozambique, three-spot and red-breasted tilapia and we’re catching them on earthworms. Most of the big tilapia are weighing in at more than 2 kg (4,4 lbs) and the biggest has been 2.7 kg (5,9 lbs). The tilapias are all over the dam, especially around the bases of the dead leadwood trees, but I have my favourite spots (a secret I’ll share with you when we’re on the water) where every cast is a fish! They make good eating too.
Loitering about on the bottom of the dam are sharp-toothed catfish, and they can be hard work to get to the side of the boat before they’re scooped up in a net. The biggest thrill of all is given by the tigerfish – and there are plenty of them! To catch them we use lures and fish fillets on hooks. You may be sitting there quietly, enjoying the tranquillity and listening to sounds of nature, birds and hippos, when suddenly the rod, reel and line are almost yanked out of your grip and you strike in reflex! You’re on to a tiger and you’re in for the fight of your life! The largest one we’ve landed has been about 6.8 kg (15 lbs).
Fishing is always enjoyable, even if the fish aren’t biting. In the last few weeks a couple of leopards have been sighted drinking or walking along the shoreline whilst we’ve been catching fish.
Order of images
Images by: David Jojo and Mark Friend
I hope you’ve already eaten.
While watching a pack of African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) sleeping near a waterhole in the drizzling rain I noticed a few hooded vultures (Necrosyrtes monachus) skulking about on the ground. Every now and again they would peck at something and eat it, and I wondered what it was since vultures are scavengers, feeding mostly from carcasses of dead animals. You often see them cleaning up the scraps of meat from a kill made by wild dogs. The dogs hadn’t made a kill nearby, and so it was that my binos and big lens revealed they were eating the wild dogs’ faeces!
It is not uncommon to sit in Hwata blind and see dagga boys come to the pan and drink. Dagga boys are the old grumpy buffalo bulls who have left the ‘buzz’ of the breeding herd and often join bachelor herds of other old bulls. The name dagga boys refers to their habit of wallowing in the mud (dagga), mostly as a means of thermoregulation. These old guys are very confident in their grumpiness and often end up walking into the middle of the pan on a hot dry day.
It ended up being a remarkably fortuitous morning as we had started our drive early to look for black rhinos. I drove to all areas with the habitats that black rhinos prefer – areas with shrubs and trees and dense thickets, but with no joy.
Early one morning Jenny and I were out scouting in different vehicles to help the guests’ game drives locate key specific animals, like lions, leopards, cheetahs, black rhinos and wild dogs. At about 7 am we received a sighting update from Bravo 2, which is the main southern boundary gate that links us to Gonarezhou National Park, informing us that they had seen wild dogs frantically location calling and running backwards and forwards along the boundary area.