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The Backstage Pass

Release the Tigerfish: Facts About Tigerfishing in Tanzania

May 03, 23

On the eastern coast of Africa lies the safari mecca of Tanzania, a country blanketed by vast, remote wilderness and populated by all the wild things that have perennially defined Africa as a place of wonder, wildness, and awe.

These characteristics have enticed writers, explorers, and hunters to visit the region throughout the ages. Over the last quarter-century, a new group has begun to travel to Tanzania as well: adventurous anglers who have zeroed in on the amazing African tigerfish.

Tanzania’s Mnyera and Ruhudji Rivers together offer one of the last, true remaining frontiers in the entire world of freshwater adventure fishing – catching trophy tigerfish on the fly in one of the most remote areas of Africa.

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Set deep in an untouched corner of the Tanzanian wilderness, this area is home to legitimate trophy tigerfish - killing machines that inhabit these rivers in solid numbers. With their gnarly, protruding, and interlocking teeth that appear to have been surgically sharpened, they’ll eat anything they can fit in their mouths, from birds to mammals that equal their size.

A trip to Tanzania is undoubtedly a journey to the wildest edge of fly fishing, and Yellow Dog is proud to work with a small group of experienced guides who have unlocked the secrets to catching trophy African tigerfish. As a result, the endeavor has quickly evolved into one of the most unique fishing experiences on the planet. If you are assembling legitimate “must-fish” destinations for your personal angling bucket list, then tigerfishing in Tanzania is the trip that you need to make.

We wanted to highlight some interesting facts about this fishery and tigerfish as a species.
1. The African tigerfish is the first freshwater fish recorded and confirmed to attack and catch birds in mid-flight.

2. Many serious anglers have acknowledged the discovery of the Mnyera and Ruhudji river systems in 2008 as one of the biggest things to happen in African sportfishing in the past 20 years.

3. In the past half-century, that fly fisherman has been targeting tigers on the fly, a 20-pound fish had not been recorded. This statistic was shattered in 2008 when eight fish over the 20-pound mark were landed in as many days on one section of the Mnyera River.

4. The typical season on Mnyera and Ruhudji river systems runs from mid-August to mid-November. It is during these months when the water temperatures rise and the clarity increases, that trophy tigerfish begin to feed aggressively.

5. Seasonal catch data from the past several years indicates clearly that the strict beat rotation that has been implemented on these rivers has been a success. The average number of trophy fish landed per week has been consistent throughout each season, and the average numbers caught have been impressive.

6. The exploration of new waters closer to the headwater of the Ruhudji Rivers has also opened up a further 30 kilometers of productive waters. The end result is that Tourette now offers seven individual beats that can be fished on a rotating basis.

7. The season has been limited to the 16 absolute best weeks in the year, with a maximum of only eight rods per week. Each beat will be fished only once or twice every seven days, ensuring that no area is ever over-fished.

8. Tigers that are caught in both rivers can run anywhere from a few pounds in size to over 20 pounds. Most fish caught will run between five and ten pounds, and larger fish are caught regularly.

9. Most of the fishing is done on the drift on both the Mnyera and Ruhudji Rivers. Tourette utilizes 16-foot aluminum boats with 25HP outboards on both rivers. Wade fishing is not recommended.

10. Because of the remote nature and location of the operation, it is recommended that you bring all of your own equipment. Bring several rods and extra fly lines as well. Anglers will want to fish large black whistlers, Clousers, and Puglisi-style baitfish patterns toon the banks and into the river structures.


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