Slide Show: Fangs With Fins

This is the 'boat dock' at Ichingo River Lodge (www.ichingoriverlodge.com), located on the Chobe River just across from Kasane, Botswana. The lodge is notable for its tigerfish and bream, in both the Chobe and Zambezi rivers, and features access to over 70 miles of premier water.Denver Bryan
A few dried tigerfish heads hanging around the camp reminded us why we were here. We usually went out fishing shortly after dawn. Temps vary here from season to season but early morning lows can drop into the 40's during the cool season (June-August). The best time to go tiger fishing is from July through September.Denver Bryan
We fished the Chobe and Zambezi Rivers anywhere from right in front of camp (on the Chobe) to 10-20 miles away. The boats we used were comfortable 16-footers with 40 horsepower or larger outboard motors.Denver Bryan
With Chobe National Park just across the river, it wasn't uncommon to see wildlife coming down for a daily drink. We saw cape buffalo, elephants, giraffes, zebras, warthogs, impalas, crocodiles, and hippos as well as many different birds, including African fish eagles, malachite kingfishers, egyptian geese, and more.Denver Bryan
Tigerfish grow to 20-plus pounds in the Zambezi/Chobe system. Their teeth can be as long as an inch and make them formidable predators to most other fish in the river.Denver Bryan
Botswana's people eat tigerfish, but most recreational fisherman practice catch and release to help maintain the quality of the fishery.Denver Bryan
I was primarily fly fishing while at Ichingo. We used 7-weight rods with trace wire leaders. Most flies were large, weighted, and colorful. We used a very fast two-handed stripping action on our retrieve. I tried a couple of braided-wire leaders commonly used for northern pike and found that tigerfish can usually cut right through them.Denver Bryan
A good description of the fighting ability of a freshly-hooked tiger fish might be 'a rainbow trout on steroids, with jaws.' Once hooked, tigers typically rip off the line and love to jump ... often three to five times per fight. Tigers don't fight particularly long but their fight is intense while it's happening.Denver Bryan
You don't want to be using your fingers to dislodge flies or lures from the mouth of a tiger fish. Most fisherman use a grip to land fish and a metal clamp of some sort to dislodge hooks from their mouths.Denver Bryan
I was fishing for tigers at Ichingo River Lodge during the dry/low-water season. Vegetation along the shoreline consisted primarily of either papyrus or long grasses coming to the water's edge. Bugs were not bad. I see worse in most places I fish back in the States.Denver Bryan
We mostly fished from a boat. At times we would wade a little and fish from shoreline boulders, especially around shallow-water rapids. Hippos and crocs are abundant in the area and are always something to keep an eye on.Denver Bryan
We caught tigers in slack water and in currents around small rapids.Denver Bryan
The biggest tiger that I caught in a couple days of fishing out of Ichingo was around 9 pounds, but fishermen regularly land double-digit tigerfish in these waters.Denver Bryan
Most of our fishing from the boat didn't require long casts, so getting hung up on the backcast wasn't generally a problem.Denver Bryan
It wasn't uncommon to see natives from local villages walking along the river bank. All were friendly. One time I gave a badly-hooked tigerfish that was likely going to die to a native kid who I'm sure happily took it home for a family meal.Denver Bryan
Crocs will eat tigerfish if given the opportunity.Denver Bryan
Several bream species are common in the river system. The locals call this a nembwe and they're quite good eating.Denver Bryan
The tigerfish fishery in the Zambezi River system is very viable. The only real concerns at this time are probably over-fishing that can come about from increasing native populations in future years.Denver Bryan

Africa's tigerfish fight "like rainbow trout on steroids," and they have teeth that can cut through braided wire. So photographer Denver Bryan traveled to Botswana to catch them on fly fishing gear.