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Tackling a Tiger

The African Tiger-fish is known as the fastest fresh water fish in African waters, predators who are not afraid of crocodiles or attacking animals, which has given it the nickname “Piranha of South Africa”. Attacks on humans are rare, but not unheard of, although they will attack small crocs and larger mammals.

Tiger-fish are one of the Southern Hemispheres hardest fighting freshwater fish, one that doesn’t allow a fisherman to make mistakes! With lower landing rates in relation to hooking, as well as their escape tactics, Tiger-fish have razor sharp teeth. a strong jaw, are fast, have excellent eye-sight, ability to jump and are powerful fish. Having the correct tackle is an essential if you would like to angle for a Tiger.

Where are Tiger fish found

They prefer warm, well-oxygenated water, such as  the Pongolapoort dam (Lake Jozini) in the The Kingdom of eSwatini (Swaziland). Vicious, and ferocious towards other fish and Tiger-fish are known as one of the predators of freshwater lakes and rivers.

General information about Tiger-fish

  • Bait and lines for these fish need to be able to withstand the thrashing and fighting, the hook will need to set deeply in the mouth.
  • Tiger fish are piscivorous, (eat fish) with food favourites being Gobies, breeds of Catfish. Carp, Cichlids.
  • Female tiger- fish are larger than the males, as the males seldom grow bigger than 50 cm, with a female tiger -fish reaching between 65-70 cm. The females are the preferred fish of anglers because of size. Fishing is done on a catch and release basis
  • Male tiger-fish mature in 2-3-years, and generally reach only 30-40cm.

There are 2 species of famous Tiger-fish – namely the Goliath Tiger-fish and the South African Tiger fish

Goliath Tiger-fish are found in the Congo basin, Central Africa. They have olive-coloured backs and are large fish living up the name “Goliath” with the biggest one on record being 5 feet long, quick and able to snap the anglers line. Goliath Tiger-fish tend to hunt in turbulent waters where other fish which are not as strong in the turbulence battle to swim. Angling Goliath tiger fish requires heavy duty fishing gear, patience and endurance from the fisherman.

According to Animal Planet online, when the Goliath jumps, lowering the rod tip can reduce shock against the line.

Catch and release:

Tiger-fish are slow breeders. Catch and release fishing ensures the ecosystem is kept in balance

Where to find Tiger-fish

They populate the rivers in the North and West areas of Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Kruger Park, which makes Lake Jozini the ideal place for the Tigers as the move in the downstream water, which is tropical .

Lake Jozini is an ideal location, as the rivers feed into a freshwater lake, warmer

Techniques to track a Tiger (fish)

Currents on the water bring oxygenated water with them , and Tiger fish prefer oxygenated water to stagnating water or still water. Tiger fish could be found nearby currents or the edge of the flow of water, just off the lip of the current, or moving in the reverse current which is not as difficult to fight against or inside bends of the channel.

Open lakes or dams can be overwhelming to fish, so the first step is to try and identify areas where the tigers might be in the lake, by being away of the changes and lay of the area.

  • To find where the Tiger-fish are active, also watch the other animal life, birds which are agitated such as egrets jumping up and down.
  • Find areas where catfish have collected, if there are catfish flopping around with increased bird activity, the Tigers might also be interested in the area!
  • Local guides with knowledge of the area can be invaluable, but if alone, then look out for clusters of trees which might indicate a drop-off where you can anchor then fish around the deep-water line, islands or weed beds where tiger fish might be feeding on bait fish

Fishing at anchor– this is best done in smaller boats which creates less disturbance, also helps when fishing confluences of the lake , or drop fish deeper areas

Drift fishing – this can be more difficult than it looks but a greater area can be covered in a shorter space of time. This can also be weather dependent as winds can make for hard work. Generally drifting can be done within casting range from the bank

Tackle needed for Tiger fishing: (This is a suggestion)

Rod: 2 piece 7ft medium-heavy action spinning rod. Line weight 15 – 30 lb.

Reel: Bait casting or spinning reel, able to hold at least 180m of line, reel needs to match the rod.

Colour of the line – green/natural, braid line.

Hooks: Very sharp, size 4/0 or 5/0



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