Fishing in Botswana
Fishing in Botswana – Author Dominic Chadbon
Fishing in Botswana is one of those right-place-right-time experiences. You might enjoy a productive afternoon of fishing on an Okavango Delta lagoon one month and return a few months later to find the water gone and the boats high and dry. And between January and February, fishing is prohibited in Botswana for fish breeding purposes.
But depending where you go and what you’re fishing for, you can enjoy some seriously good fishing in Botswana. You can fish with artificial lures or bait or even go fly-fishing. Some lodges operate a catch and release policy; other lodges will cook your catch for supper. And of course you’re in big game country too: most water-based safari lodges supply fishing gear, offering an exciting mix of game viewing and fishing trips. Get ready to rock and reel: here’s where to go fishing in Botswana – and when.
The Okavango Panhandle
Seen from a satellite, the Okavango Delta resembles a giant frying pan; the Panhandle is as it says it is but in reality it’s the winding, papyrus-fringed Okavango River, running deep and strong and home to Botswana’s most exciting fishing event – the ‘barbel run’.
From August, as floodwaters recede, millions of tiny fish fry are dragged from the safety of shallow floodplains and into the main channels. An army of hungry barbel (catfish) assembles and they drive the baitfish up into the Panhandle and that’s when the fly-fishermen arrive. Tigerfish have joined in the feeding frenzy, and the tigerfish is Africa’s prime freshwater target on fly.
Where to stay: Thanks to its enviable Panhandle location, Nxamaseri Island Lodge offers fishing all year round but keen fishermen should visit in September and October when Nxamaseri offers specialist fly-fishing guides and boats for the barbel run.
Most famous for its game viewing, the Okavango Delta is a great fishing destination in Botswana – if you know where to go. Avoid the safari camps on the fringes of the delta where water levels are seasonal and head for the permanent-water camps. Local guides will take you by motorboat into remote backwaters to fish for the Okavango Delta’s most sought-after species: tigerfish, nembwe, African pike and bream.
Timing is important: the fish breed in shallow water during the delta’s May to August flood season, returning to the main channels from September to March. The Okavango Delta’s best fishing months are September and October when the water is warmest, and it coincides with the region’s best game viewing too – an irresistible combination!
Where to stay: Their secluded tented suites overlooking permanent water, Xugana Island lodge, Camp Okavango and Vumbura Plains are classic ‘deep delta’ camps and offer a blend of game viewing, birding and fishing trips.
Tucked away between the Okavango Delta and the Caprivi Strip, the Linyanti wetlands have only recently opened up to visitors. A maze of permanent rivers and seasonal floodplains, the region is one of Botswana’s prime game viewing destinations with its accommodation limited to a handful of camps set near rivers.
Fishing in the Linyanti is a strictly seasonal affair, generally limited to the May to August flood season. Although the area isn’t renowned for its tigerfish, there are plenty of bream to get the fishing line zinging.
Where to stay: Kings Pool and Savuti Camp enjoy an exclusive setting in the Linyanti Private Reserve. Game drives are the focus here but fishing trips are offered in high-water. Operating on a catch and release basis, each camp has a small stock of basic rods and reels but fly-fishing equipment is something that guests need to supply themselves.
Forming the border between Botswana and Namibia, the deep waters of the Chobe River hide tigerfish that grow up to 20lbs. Little wonder that the Chobe draws anglers from all over the world, especially during the May to October dry winter when river teems with baitfish. Flushed from their summer hiding places by receding water levels, the small fish are easy targets for Chobe’s tigerfish.
Visit in May, June and July to spin and fly-fish for tigers, or in August or September for the excitement of the Chobe’s barbel run.
Where to stay: Lodges on both sides of the river organise fishing trips but keen anglers should choose a specialist. Chobe Savanna Lodge in Namibia offers not just a fishing manager but also the chance to stay at a fishing camp on Sekoma Island, deep in tiger country. And from their mid-stream vantage point, Chobe Princess Houseboats provide motorboats with fishing guides.
Read: Info on the Chobe NP
Fishing in Botswana
Fishing in Botswana can easily be experienced with Safari Online: choose one of our tours and safaris that include these destinations or simply ask us to customise a tour for the best fishing experience. Chobe River Houseboats use small motor boats and specialist guides for fishing trips. Nothing beats the smile of an angler who’s just landed a big tiger!