Zambezi River, Mozambique

Chawalo is situated in the headwaters of lake Cahora Bassa, the second biggest hydroelectric dam on the Zambezi River system where creates a unique habitat ideal for large tigerfish. At this meeting place of three countries, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe, the Zambezi River flows through the sanctuary of the Lower Zambezi National park and emerges from a deep gorge at the confluence of the Luangwa River. Here the river widens and begins its meandering delta through 40ft deep channels, hidden lagoons and reed islands before it enters the deep clear waters of the Cahora Bassa dam. This is where you go to have a shot at the elusive 20lb fish.

Tiger Fish (Hydrocynus Vittatus) 

The tigerfish is a super predator that is found in the 2200-mile long Zambezi River in Southern Africa. Hydrocynus vittatus or the striped waterdog has a vicious appearance with eighteen dagger-like teeth, steel plated cheeks and bright orange and red fins. They feed mostly on other fish and have been known to cannibalise their own. They are closely related to piranhas and the freshwater dorado of South America but, are a different species altogether when it comes to fishing for them.

fishing for tigerfish

Fishing For Tiger Fish

Fishing for tigerfish at Chawalo is mostly done from a boat by drifting and casting at structure or anchoring and fishing the seam of a current using fast sinking lines. Retrieves are crucial and you have to vary from dragging on the bottom to a double handed retrieve, whatever it takes to lure that beast onto your fly. Flies are generally wire traced streamer flies with the best colour associated with the season and place. Cahora Bassa requires a very specific fly and they are available directly through The Guide’s Company.

The strike will most definitely shock you and you will definitely say “I can’t believe how hard these fish hit the fly!” That is the most crucial moment. The tiger fish’s mouth is all bone and you have hit him hard enough to penetrate that jaw. A “strip-strike” is essential and keeping the rod down is at all times critical. The idea is to keep the fish from jumping. A tigerfish is so aggressive that it will keep its jaws locked the entire time, unless it jumps – that is when it opens it’s mouth and shakes it’s head violently. They also jump when they panic and that is normally associated with a blinding run that leaves you astounded and pumping with adrenalin.

The most productive time to fish for Tigerfish is early morning and late afternoon. Best of all, the fishing grounds is a short boat ride away, as 80% of the fishing is done within 20 minutes from the lodge. After a quick cup of coffee and something light to eat you’ll head onto the water at about 06h00 to fish the morning session until about 11h00, upon returning to the lodge for brunch and a break. After brunch most anglers choose to siesta before heading onto the water again. The afternoon session starts from 14h00-14h30, with the afternoon session ending at sunset.  The guides plan every fishing session the night before. NB! No wading is done due to the abundance of crocodiles and hippos.

The Guide’s Company offers you the most experienced fly-fishing guides in the Lower Zambezi. The Guides appreciate that presentation is paramount to successfully targeting tigerfish. All our guides have exceptional river and boat skills to ensure that guests get the best opportunity to target tigerfish. We work with 1x Guide to 2x Angler ratio per boat. Anglers also have the option to request a boat and guide to themselves.



The trips run from a Friday to a Friday. All guests are to ensure that they arrive at the agreed meeting point (Lusaka domestic airport) well within the scheduled times of departure and arrival to and from Luangwa Feira. These times will be confirmed closer to the trip date.

Chawalo Map        tripchawalo

– Depart from Lusaka domestic airport to Luangwa Feira   =   ±50min
– Clear customs at Luangwa and boat ride to lodge    =   10-20 mins
– Afternoon fishing (depending on charter arrival time)

Sat – Thurs
– 6 full days of fishing Chawalo   =   Approx 8hrs pd

– Depart from Luangwa Feira to Lusaka   =   ±50min

For People traveling from Johannesburg:

Guests traveling from or through South Africa will depart from O.R.Tambo Airport on a scheduled flight to Lusaka, followed by a forty minute to an hour charter flight onboard a Caravan to Luangwa Feira. A Chawalo Safaris vehicle will meet guests at the airstrip, followed by a ten-minute transfer to the Zambian immigration office. Boats will then transfer guests into Mozambique, where guests will clear customs at Zumbo immigration office before heading down to the lodge. The boat transfer takes about 15-20 minutes.

Rod Reel and Line Setup

  • Rods:  8 or 9wt, nine-foot multi-piece fast action fly rods
  • Reels: Large arbor fly reel with reliable disc drag system
  • Lines: 2 x Airflo Sixth Sense Sinking DI7 WF8/9
  • Lines: 1x WF8/9 warm water intermediate
  • Leader & Tippet: 15-20lb Soft Mono or Fluorocarbon.
  • Trace:  Single Strand Piano wire no 1 or 2 (about 25lb’s)


  • Fly packs available from The Guide’s Company
  • Blue and White Whistlers
  • Black Whistlers
  • Olive, Blue and Black SF fiber Minnows
  • Olive and Black SF fiber Minnows
  • Blue & White Clouser Minnows
  • Black Flipper


  • Polarised Sunglasses
  • Hat/cap
  • Buff
  • Sun-gloves
  • Stripping / finger guard
  • Technical shirts with SPF factor
  • Technical pants with SPF factor
  • Lightweight deck shoes
  • Socks to wear on boat
  • Warm jacket or fleece

Other Equipment

  • Boat bag for easy access to tackle
  • Pliers and Bogagrip
  • Sunscreen SPF 30+
  • Packable Raincoat
  • Insect repellent (bring enough to apply three times a day)
  • Lens cleaning cloth

Optional Equipment

  • Camera
  • Dust / raincoat for camera
  • Binoculars

More Info

If you would like to reserve or have more questions on this trip please complete the form opposite.

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