"There are Tigers in Africa"
Clearly from the above Nyasaland and Central Africa generally, its rivers, lakes and coastline, is an anglers paradise yielding fierce fighting fish and the more docile varieties which are particularly good with chips.
The tigerfish is surely the finest fresh water fighting fish on the planet and much sought after by competition anglers. Proved to have taken birds in flight it provides a formidable challenge and strong tackle is needed including at least a leading trace of strong piano wire. Our man Christopher Bean has always been "up" for "hunting, shooting and fishing" and his tigerfish record is second to none. Holder of the Nyasaland/Malawi record for the best and biggest tiger taken in the country is one of his many angling achievements. He has fished widely in southern Africa and was a prize winner (see mounted tiger and trophy above) when landing the biggest fish (23 lbs) in Sanyati Gorge on Lake Kariba - enviously watched by some 200 odd other anglers! The annual International Tiger Tournament there could have as many as twelve or thirteen hundred anglers taking part, many from RSA, obviously lots from Rhodesia, a few from the UK and often one or two teams from as far away as Australia. Now back in the UK Christopher tends to target rainbow trout.
Christopher is clearly a dedicated angler but Colin Dixon, a customs officer pictured above, was never really an enthusiast but on a short game camp holiday on the Zambezi river in November 1994 he accepted an invite from his host to join a fishing party on the river. As is often the case where the devotee comes up with nothing the first time player, with no particular skill or great interest, brings in the goods - in this case a 15 lbs tiger!
Sea fishing off the east coast attracted anglers from far and wide. The Mozambique resort of Santa Carolina Island, south of Beira, offered particularly good game fishing with its record size marlin and sailfish. It was a short flight from Johnnesburg and much visited by its residents but it was slightly longer from Zomba for Terry Young and Brian Graves who were, like Colin Dixon above, not great angling enthusiasts but with Norman Edwards, piloting the Luchenza Flying Club light aircraft, it was an opportunity for a break. On the only day they went fishing they both landed handsome sailfish (see above) plus umpteen barracuda and bonito, they lost line to shark and saw some big unidentified stuff in a sea teeming with life.
Trout fishing or, according to Izaak Walton, "the Contemplative Man's Recreation" was, and still is, very much the realm of Ray Punter who introduced the art of fly fishing to more than a few of our members - first by practice on the Zomba parade ground and then for action on the Mlunguzi dam on Zomba Plateau. Surely it was inevitable that Ray should settle in a country famed for its rainbow trout and making his home in Rotorua he was soon very much involved in the trout fishing there being one time Troutmaster at Rotorua's Rainbow Springs. Visiting Ray from Oz in 2014 Tony Drynan, fishing with Ray's son Graham on Lake Rotoriti, couldn't believe his luck (skill) when he successfully pulled in a beautiful 9 lbs rainbow (see above). Click here for for a picture of Ray - very much in his element!
In Nyasaland it was Chambo (pictured right) that was a favourite on the dinner plate, shoal fish which were taken by commercial trawlers on the lake. The fish was also introduced to various dams about the country and a favourite was the ITC Dam in Limbe. The bait used there was earth worm, supplied by the "nyongolotsi boy", he put the bait on the hook, took the fish off and re-applyed the bait and if sleep overcame the fisherman, a la Jack Grincell, then he did the fishing as well! If lucky there, fine black bass could be hooked. But however much folk praised the chambo it was poor fare compared to sungwa. Caught mainly by spinner there was an abundance of this fish in the Shire river, mainly in the Fort Johnston area, but in the lake itself, particularly in the north, Nkhata Bay for instance, it was a rare catch and when one was landed then delicious fish and chips was the order of the day ~ hence the happy smile of Ian Morgan above!
Night fishing off Chikale Beach, Nkhata Bay, was interesting and relieved the boredom of long nights for the lonely bachelor and according to the master of the Illala the hurricane lamp used provided an extra navigation light! The main fish pulled in then was mlamba (see above), a muddy flavoured catfish but not inedible and a remarkable beast which could grow to a huge size, probably second only to the Zambezi Vundu. On rare occasions kampango took the bait, another catfish, a large nocturnal predator feeding on the smaller lake fish but very good eating - often served in various Nyasaland hotels and restaurants which, without being listed, diners took to be chambo!
No doubt there are a lot more Nyasaland fishing stories out there among our members - so don't keep them to yourself, submit via email ~ email@example.com.
T. Young - March 2016