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Warning! What I am about to relate is not suitable reading material for sensitive flyfisherpersons. It may actually damage your sensibilities irrevocably. The only reason I relate this story is to get it off my chest. To confess….

You see, gentle reader, on my trip to Africa last month I went splash fishing on the Zambian end of Lake Tanganyika. Not just once either, but twice. Our quarry was the illustrious Nile Perch. And, though I did not take one of these fish myself, I was on hand when two were derricked up from the depths using lures too large for most Pacific sailfish.

As I write this, my bags containing my notes on the trip are still lost somewhere in Europe (punishment, I’m certain), so I cannot tell you how deep Lake Tanganyika is, but I do know it is the second deepest lake in the world, eclipsed only by Lake Baikal in the Soviet Union. And, yes, we bottom fished.

Well, actually, we more or less jigged that is, we dangled huge lures over the side, released the bail on our reels and let the huge, fish shaped things go down…down…down. Not just for a minute or so, either, but for five, six, even 10 minutes until finally the line stopped. Then came the hard work of ripping the lures back up through the depths, hoping to entice a perch up to 100 pounds or more to strike. The largest we caught was about 25 pounds, but one did hit my line that quite literally almost yanked me out of the boat. It was awesome – almost scary the way the thing hit.

So why is this odd kind of fishing called splash fishing? Well, an important ingredient in the fishing is the hiring of two or more kids who are paid to hop over the side (with life jackets) and bang the water with their hands and feet. The theory is, Nile perch far down in the depths sense the racket, think it is a shoal of fish and stream into the area, all fired up to feed. I know it’s illogical that fish hundreds of feet down will begin to feed because of noise on the surface, but since when did a lot of things in Africa make what we Westerners call good sense?

If you are tempted to try this kind of fishing (and I’m going to tell you how to set it up in a minute), just don’t do any wade fishing, ok? Lake Tanganyika is wonderfully clear and idyllic seeming, but hippos abound on the banks. And so do crocodiles, of the enormous Nile subspecies. Just a week before my arrival, one of the huge crocs reportedly took a warthog right out in front of the lodge by bursting up from the depths and knocking the poor thing in the water.

Reliable witnesses tell me the croc then apparently couldn’t decide what to do with its catch and swam back and forth in front of the boat dock with the ugly, squealing thing in its jaws. All you could see of the drama was the pig and about three inches of croc snout. I was told it was one of those sights that stays with you for a while!

A company that can help you set up a splash fishing trip is the parastal entity called Circuit Safaris (*). In my bags somewhere is an exotic itinerary of other fishing opportunities in Zambia that are certain to be more of interest. I’ll publish it when (or if) my bags turn up in New York. Some of the rivers in Zambia apparently offer some exciting flyfishing opportunities for bream and other species. Tigerfish, of course, abound.

Actually, little is known of the flyfishing potential of Zambia, so don’t go to this part of the world expecting a squeaky clean itinerary. Just let the rest of us know you’re going and file a report when you get back. And don’t wade fish please! I hate to think of an Angling Report subscriber wriggling above the waves of Lake Tanganyika.

One final note about Africa. If you are as hooked on this part of the world as I am and you want to find out more about the fishing here, you might want to subscribe to Flyfishing, The Official Journal of the Federation of Southern African Flyfishers (*) (enclose the US dollar equivalent of 18 Rand). The information in the magazine is interesting. Plus, it has ads for local agents and outfitters who will set up trips for you in Africa.

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