Welcome to my first ever proper blog post! I’ve never written a blog post, so thought I’d start with sharing some of the lessons learned and a bit of a trip report from our previous trip to Sekoma Island Lodge in Zambia, where we were fishing for Tiger Fish. I plan on sharing a bit more detail from my travels in the form of blog posts, so watch this space! I hope you enjoy and find this useful.
Where is Sekoma Island?
Sekoma Island Lodge is located in the upper Zambezi River, about 75km from Livingston Airport.
We flew into Livingston Airport from Johannesburg using British Airways, which was really convenient. British Airways are known for decent, reliable service and they didn’t let us down. In fact, the meal that we had on the route from Jo’burg to Livingstone was the best plane food I’ve ever eaten. British Airways have a number of flights on this route every day.
Sekoma Island Lodge, as the name would suggest, is located on an island and the only way to get to it is by boat.
What to expect from Sekoma?
There is very little that I can fault Sekoma Island Lodge on. The food was excellent, the staff were professional, knowledgable and friendly, the accommodation was great and the location was superb. These guys have been operating for many years and know what they’re doing and they do it well.
The only thing we found a bit strange was that the fishing was catch and release and they don’t allow you to eat the fish you catch. As a family, we’ve always eaten the fish that we caught, so this was a surprise to us that we didn’t know before we got there (e.g. not on their website or communicated beforehand). You do eat fish, but it’s farmed fish that they bring in.
You spend a lot of time on the small boats. They’re flexible with how you fish and for how long. Generally, you fish a session in the early morning and late afternoon, avoiding the killer mid-day sun. If you want to stay out all day, they can accommodate it but don’t advise it because of the sun. Each boat has a fishing guide and generally each boat can hold 2-3 people (plus the guide). We had Gary, Vince & Timothy as our guides and they were all excellent. All had been with Sekoma for 5+ years and knew what they were doing. We swapped around throughout the trip, which was nice.
We were at Sekoma from 27th September to 2nd October 2017, which is not the best time of year for fishing. The optimum time to fish this part of the Zambezi is July/August, but with how things worked this year we couldn’t have done it at another time.
We still caught a reasonable amount of fish and some decent sized fish. The fish are there, you just have to work hard for them at this time of the year.
You’re located in the middle of nowhere. You see some wildlife along the river, which is always neat.
There are many traditional fisherman on the river and you often pass their little villages. This adds a neat cultural experience getting to meet them and see their way of life.
You also buy live bait fish (called bulldogs) from them.
Because Sekoma is so close to Victoria Falls, I’d highly recommend heading to the falls. It’s one of the seven natural wonders of the world and spectacular. It’s well worth visiting and something I’ve cherished as a memory.
We left the island early and spent the morning before our flight at the falls.
Here are a few of the things that worked on this trip:
- Camera gear. I took the right gear and it all performed well to capture the adventure.
- Malaria prevention. Malorone tablets from my GP and Peaceful Sleep spray. No one in the group got malaria.
- Sun protection. We all wore big hats and long sleeve shirts while fishing, so no one was burned. You have to be SO SO careful of that sun out there.
- Fishing rod setups. For Tiger, you need pretty hefty set ups. We were all using 7′ rods with a decent sized fishing real. We also used 50lb line and for the most part that was a good set up. You want a real big enough to hold at least 150 metres of 50lb line.
What didn’t work?
For the most part, Sekoma were very good. They gave good advise on malaria prevention. Their logistics planning was good and we had no problems with timings and logistics. Food was excellent and there was good variety, so there wasn’t an issue for people with different dietary requirements, etc..
The only thing that we really struggled with was that we didn’t have enough of the right tackle. Sekoma had sent us a one page document with a list of lures to buy and the type of rods and equipment to bring, but not enough detail of rapalas and other lures. Most importantly, they didn’t provide enough information on seasonal tackle (e.g. what works at that time of the year). What the fish take varies from week to week, so it’s important to know what is working when you’ll be there. You’re too remote to just nip into a shop to get the right gear.
We landed up taking too many deep diving rapalas, but the river for the most part was only about 3-5 metres (10-15 feet) deep. We had a lot of rapalas that were 7 metre (20 feet), which were too deep. We landed up running out of rapalas and having to buy all the stock from Sekoma (which was limited) and buy other lures from guests that were leaving the island while we were there.
The only other issue that we had was that one of my brother’s t-shirts was lost in the laundry service they offer at the lodge. It’s not a big issue, but it was frustrating for him that his shirt was taken to be washed and then couldn’t be found when we left. We also never heard back from Sekoma as to whether they found it or not. These sort of attention to detail things are important when it comes to customer service, in my opinion. 🙂
Would I go again?
ABSOLUTELY! And actually, we’re planning a return trip in a few years time for a better time of the year. This place is magic. The Zambezi River is immense and incredible. If you’re thinking of going, do it!
Below is one of my vlogs from the trip. Enjoy! 🙂