Tiger Fishing & The Art of Becoming a Man

| Tamlin Wightman

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Tiger fishing is not for the faint of heart. Not simply because of the fish itself, with its razor teeth… that Hydrocynus vittatus, considered Africa’s equivalent of the South American piranha and the first freshwater fish recorded and confirmed to attack and catch birds in flight. No, not merely for this reason, but because, instead, of the very nature of catch and release fishing.

Perhaps a cruel tease, a game of cat and mouse, for the fish itself, but crueler, surely, for the new fisherman, whom, having toiled for so long and hard (depending on his fishing prowess) to reel the tiger in, must return it, within seconds, to the river. Leaving him with mere memories as a reminder of the time he became a man…


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Distinguished by large and sharp protruding teeth, the Tiger Fish’s jaw holds a series of replacement teeth, meant to take the place of any teeth that might be lost or so broken.

We recently initiated a young boy by the name of Lorenzo on the waters of the Zambezi in the best way we know how. We put a rod in his hand and taught him how to fish. Surely the best test in the path to manhood. Few of our travellers have yet to have quite the same success that young Lorenzo has had (well, at least our guides/elders who helped him along).

Below are a few guidelines in the art of becoming a man and a visual journey through tiger fishing on the Zambezi at Royal Chundu.


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Step 1. A new man needs the right tools to help him with the uncertain waters that lie ahead.

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2. Becoming a man comes with challenges. Being a man means taking them in your stride.

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3. It’s ok to fail. Simply recharge and try again. And never forget those few words from Joe Cocker… “I get by with a little help from my friends…”

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4. From friends to family. Take all the advice you can from your elders. They have fished many rivers before you and their wisdom and experience should not be taken for granted. They are particularly handy when you’re struggling to reel in your tiger.

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5. Being a man means sometimes handing over the reigns. Or rod. Give others a chance at the joy of catching the big one for themselves…

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And lastly, number 6… Now that you’re a man and you’ve succeeded in the game of tiger fishing, take time to reflect on the lessons and your new title.

“I teach my sons that there are really only three rules to being a good man. The first rule is to fish often. And by fish, I mean find the quiet times to fish around in your minds for what is most important. The second rule is to protect everyone smaller than them. This means physically smaller, and in all other ways… protect the more vulnerable. The third rule states that if something is truly important to you, then you should prove it. You say you would lay your life down for someone, but will you give them the busiest five minutes of your day, if they need it?”
― Spuds Crawford


Meet the tigers of the Zambezi on your own fishing expedition with us at Royal Chundu – Discover more here.