Like most avid fishermen, the tiger fish was on my “bucket list,” and Hayne Clark, who guides on those waters and also works for the boat manufacturer, offered to show me safely around.
Lake Jozini is the southernmost indigenous area for the ferocious tigerfish. We stayed at the comfortable Shayamoya Tiger Fishing and Game Lodge about four miles from the lake, but it was the final two miles of road right through the Phongolo Wildlife Reserve that got my adrenalin pumping each morning and afternoon trip.
Animals could be found along the road at all times. Giraffes were always curious when we slowly motored by. Herds of impalas played with zebra in many locations. Wart hogs and bush pigs were in the scrub everywhere.
Water buck and reed buck deer as well as wildebeest and monkeys were throughout the reserve’s scattered forest and along the lakeshore. Bird life included ostrich, Egyptian geese, hornbill, guinea fowl and fish eagles. All over the lake were freshwater crocs, but they were not overly aggressive like the “salties” of Australia’s Northern Territory.
On each of our half day trips on Jozini, between one and eight rhinos would be cavorting in the mud at the edge of the water just a few hundred yards from our launch site. Of course, we motored by them with careful respect.
We cast from the forward deck of the AquaQuads and did further wild game viewing. We noticed a variety of other animals along the shore and only had one other “animal-understanding” encounter.
Hayne and I drove our AquaQuads into a wind-protected cove and got just a little too close to a herd of about 50 Cape buffalo grazing on shoreline grass. Three of the bulls turned to square off and confront us.
We motored away from our potential encounter and found another area to fish. Hayne had told me that while extremely dangerous and protective of their herd on land, the Cape buffalo would stay on shore and not move into the water after us.
We cast both artificial lures and cut bait on wire leaders for the tiger fish and were successful with each. The menacing-looking fish up to about 6 pounds ate chunks of frozen pilchards (called “sardines” by locals), and small tiger fish fished on the lake’s bottom along a rocky shoreline.
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