Tanzania Posted on 16 Jan 15:03
As my dad and I left Dar es Salaam on a flight to two of the most pristine and wild rivers in the world, the Ruhudji and Mynera, I couldn’t help but feel excited. After peering out of a small plane window for two hours and observing the beauty of the African bush below, I noticed a small landing strip that was nothing more than a burnt down field. We were met by the guides and hopped on the back of a safari vehicle and I realized I was in a world far different than my home in New England. It was a very entertaining and bumpy drive into a secluded valley where we arrived at our first camp.
At camp I quickly rigged my rods, unpacked my gear, and ran down to the bank to get a couple casts in before sunset. After receiving a few short strikes my guide and I noticed a big wake that was pushed towards me as I retrieved my fly. I was preparing for a second cast to the area the wake came from when my guide Sven said calmly but firmly, “It’s probably best you get out of the water”. He then told me it was as likely to be a crocodile as it was to be a big tiger fish. He then told me a story of a woman that was recently taken by a croc while cleaning cloths in a campsite not far from where we were staying. After hearing several stories of peoples fatal encounters with African wildlife at dinner that night I realized that I entered the food chain once I stepped into the bush.
That night between the noise of the wildlife, intense heat, and the excitement for the fishing that was going to take place in the morning I barely slept a wink. Despite my lack of sleep when the sun rose I was alert and ready to fish. After a quick breakfast we headed out on the mighty Rhudji. Within minutes of fishing we drifted past a log jam that was teaming with on the aggressive tiger fish. My first cast into the structure resulted in mayhem and a school of tigers chased and slashed at the protein shake and suddenly I felt a solid strike. After a quick but violent fight I reeled in and released the first tigerfish of my life, which I was stoked over but barely raised an eye brown out of our guide who referred to my catch as a “rat”. I was awed by the fish’s power, speed, and how mean these fish appeared and was shocked when I was told it was only a four pounder and that it was possible we’d catch them five times its size.
The following two days on the Rhudji we caught several fish up to ten pounds, the top flies being the Protein Shake, Flashy Rabbit, and Hot Head. The guides claimed that the fishing was slow but I was fully entertained by the wild life, and surroundings. Monkeys watched us from the trees, hippos kept us from fishing certain bends, and crocodiles were sunning on most beaches we crossed.
On the last day at the first camp we were feeling fatigued from taking between 800-1,000 casts a day with heavy 350 grain lines using large baitfish patterns. We were about to call it an early day and start our drive to our second campsite on the Mynera river when I heard my dad say “Hold up, here comes a big fish” as he set the hook to a substantial resistance. After several jumps and powerful runs the 14 pound fish was landed. With morale high I was ready to get back to camp but Sven suggested that we fish until the next bend. Only a few casts later I locked into a large fish and after a great fight a 13 pound fish was netted for a quick photo and release.
On the first day at the second camp we were rewarded with several fish up to 14 pounds .
The next morning our guide, Andy, told us we were going to the rapids to some spots that have only been fished once before. My first chance at a large fish came in a slow deep run with a sunken tree that was home to a pack of nice fish. After a big fish struck my Flashy Rabbit I was forced to apply maximum pressure to keep him out of the structure and to set the hook firmly in the fish’s mouth. When everything seemed to start going well the line went slack and the tiger was gone. Devastated, I went to check my leader and found out that the Gamakatsu SC-15 3/0 straightened out on me (this hook is known as one of the strongest hooks on the market). Both Andy and I just shook our heads knowing we had been defeated by a large fish and that there was nothing we could have done about it. Andy was confident that there would be more shots if we could find access to a bank with enough open area for a back cast.
After a little bit of searching we found a croc slide that led to a small island we could easily wade to and cast from. Both my Dad and I tossed our Flashy Rabbits into the slow run and went tight quickly. Unfortunately it was one of those mornings where if something could go wrong it would and we both lost several big fish.
After lunch we found access to the tail end of a big pool and experienced a magical afternoon. On my first cast a huge fish surged out of the pool missed the fly. After two more casts with the same result the fish seemed to be getting wise but on my last cast the fish ate and was running full speed downstream. The fish ripped line through my hand quick enough to give me a line burn across all four fingers I was applying pressure with. After a few minutes of chasing, slipping, and fighting the Tigerfish came to hand and weighed out at 18 lbs, my largest fish of the trip.
After a little bit of searching we found the mother load of tigers and caught several in short time including a 17 lb my dad landed.
Our final day started off with a bang, as I landed a 10 lb fish on the first bend. We caught several other small fish and soaked in the Africa’s beauty for remainder of the day.
After returning to camp on the final evening we packed our bags said our good byes and prepared ourselves for a 40 hour journey back to the States.