Machenje Fishing Lodge

Machenje Fishing Lodge - Fishes of the Upper Zambezi

The tigerfish (Hydrocynus vittatus), found on the Zambezi above and below the Victoria Falls, dominates the ichthyofauna of the river. The fish is famed for its fearsome appearance and prized by sports fisherman for its lively fighting ability once hooked.

The tigerfish species found in the Zambezi river system, also known as the Striped tigerfish, is widespread across Africa, preferring larger rivers and lakes with clear, deep, well oxygenated water in warm climates.

Other predatory fish, such as the Kafue pike (Hepsetus odue) are outcompeted by the tigerfish, and lurk in the shallower side and back-waters. Where the tigerfish is absent, such as in the Kafue river system, the pike (no relation to its European namesake) and other predatory species, such as the Brownspot Largemouth (Serranochromis thumbergi), are found occupying the niche of open water predator.

Machenje Fishing Lodge

Tiger fishing with Machenje Fishing Lodge

If the tigerfish is the top predator of the open river, then the ‘squeakers’ are the scavengers, playing an important role in the ecology of the river system. Four species occur in the Upper Zambezi, including the Upper Zambezi squeaker (Synodntis woosnami) where they are among the few species which successfully coexist with the tigerfish – possibly due to their bottom-feeding habits and their quite formidable defensive spines (anglers take note!).

Within the species known broadly as ‘bream’, several species of Tilapia are found, including the Threespot Tilapia (Oreochromis andersoni) and Red-breasted Tilapia (Tilapia rendalli). The tilapia are well known for their elaborate breeding behaviours, being either mouth-brooders or nest-guarders.

Of the bream-like species, the Pink Happy (Sargochromis giardi) can exceed 3 kilograms in weight and is rated highly by fishermen. Another highly rated species is the Yellow-belly bream or Nembwe (S robustus), a strong predatory fish which again can reach weights of 3 kg and over. Other notable species in this extensive family include the Brownspot Largemouth (S thumbergi), and the Purpleface Largemouth (S macrocephalus).

Other species found in the Zambezi above the Falls and of note to the angler include the Silver Barbel (Schilbe mystus mystus) and Upper Zambezi Yellowfish (Labeobarbus codringtonii).

Machenje Fishing Lodge

Machenje Fishing Lodge


Birdwatchers will enjoy the wealth of birdlife along the river, with many species of herons, egrets, storks and plovers ...