TRIP REPORT | JEFF CURRIER HOSTS YELLOW DOG FLYFISHING CLIENTS TO AFRICA
A follow-up last weeks customer photo from a Hosted trip to Tanzania with Yellow Dog Flyishing Advenutre staff, Jeff Currier chimes in with a fantastic trip report. I’m just in from two weeks of hosting Yellow Dog anglers to the finest tigerfish waters on the planet.
We were with Tourette – Fight it in Africa on their remote and private waters in Tanzania. Here we fish the Mnyera and Ruhudji Rivers for the recently discovered species of tigerfish, (Hydrocynus tanzaniae). These tigers grow far larger than their close and commonly sought after cousins the Zambezi tigerfish (Hydrocynus vittatus).
I had my groups well prepared for these unique Tanzania tigers. Everyone fished 9-weight rods with sturdy reels and Scientific Angler Tropic Express 300-grain lines. As for leaders there’s no messing around. The rivers are full of logs like a Wisconsin musky river, therefore everyone fished 4ft of straight 40lb mono. Sounds ridiculous, but remember we flew 10,000 miles to get there. World Record-setting was not on the menu. We simply went to hold some hefty tigers rather than go home telling stories of the ones that got away. Lastly, wire shock tippet is a must.
We used 40lb RIO Knotless wire. You fly fish for tigerfish from a narrow 16 foot aluminum boat and drift down the banks casting to structure. It’s the same style as streamer fishing for trout only you toss a much larger fly while your guide maneuvers with a poll and the boatman paddles. When we get to deep pools we anchor up and dredge for about twenty casts. Tigerfish are difficult to hook. Their mouth is as hard and boney as any fish species I know. Amongst the bone are rows of incredible dagger-like teeth.
You MUST strip set with your rod directly pointed to the striking fish to have any chance. Once you think you have the tiger hooked – strip set hard again. Fighting these oversized tigerfish takes practice. This is where that straight 40lb class tippet comes into place. We don’t let these fish run much or they will bury you in the mazes of log jams.
It’s hard to teach or accept just clamping down on such big acrobatic fish but you must. During the first week, Don Rose, who had never landed more than a big trout, followed the advice well and almost got pulled overboard on his first large tiger. But by staying tight he beat the lively12lb tiger fair and square and was soon learning how to hold his prize. By the way, Don surpassed expectations on the first day! Every angler in my groups landed big tigerfish.
There were over twenty fish of 13lbs or better and ten of these were over 15lbs. Clients even landed two monsters that dipped the Boga to 19lbs! You’ll never experience such amazing tigerfishing anywhere else in Africa. No one left without at least one incredible fishing memory as well as a wildlife moment. I had a highlight of each on the same day. For starters, I need to mention I fish without a stripping glove of any sort. For me, I like to feel the line. It was my 11th straight day of fishing.
My stripping fingers had line burns everywhere. I was desperately trying to find new uninjured places to slide the line. I was with guide, Andrew Danckwerts. Andy put me in position to drop my fly in between two protruding logs. He guaranteed I’d get hit and informed me not to let the tigerfish take an inch of line until I cart wheeled him well away from the logs. I laughed and made the cast. My fly barely hit the water and a 17lb tiger went airborne.
I clamped my trigger finger down with all my might but the line slid anyway. I continued to hold tight and the line went from burning my skin to slicing it wide open. It hurt like hell as the blood began to squirt down my arm. Each time the huge tigerfish jumped I was able to re-grip, but his surges would again peel the slippery line away.
The fortunate thing about these tigers however is that despite a shockingly strong start, they give up within a few minutes. Laughing and cringing at the same time, I finally brought the tigerfish to the Boga. I guess I couldn’t hold anything at that point. We ripped off this one photo before the tiger thrashed and slipped out of my hands. No photo session for him! On the boat ride back to camp you can expect to see anything. With regularity you’ll dodge groups of hippos completely blocking the river. On every sandbar you’ll spook crocodiles. There’s no danger with them however, as long as you stay in the boat. Our incredible wildlife sighting this day was a herd of elephants drinking from the river as we came around a corner. It was a wildlife memory I’ll never forget.
My hosted trips to Tanzania offer the best tigerfishing in Africa. Take it from a lucky guy that has fished tigers all over Africa, the Mnyera and Ruhudji Rivers are the best. Not only are the numbers of fish caught daily superior to other places, the Tanzania tigerfish are significantly larger than the ones found in the Okavango Delta or the Zambezi River. Keep a watch on the Yellow Dog website for my next hosted trips to Africa and other incredible fisheries around the world.
Jeff Currier has caught more than 300 species of fish on the fly in over 45 countries. To see the detailed daily adventures from his recent Africa trip and other fascinating fisheries, visit his blog at jeffcurrier.com