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Zimbabwe's annual Kariba Invitation Tiger Fish Tournament

Catch a tiger in Kariba

Cheryl Robertson, eTN Zimbabwe  Oct 06, 2011

ZIMBABWE (eTN) - Fishing enthusiasts from all over the world keen to reel in a tiger are gearing up to take on one of Africa's most aggressive predatory game fish in the annual Kariba Invitation Tiger Fish Tournament (KITFT) at Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe.

The biggest tiger fish ever caught in this competition weighed more than 12.735 kilograms, and the 2009 record holder, Martinhus Van Rensburg, has still not been beaten. However, visitors from South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Zambia, Namibia, England, Canada, and the Middle East are hoping to whip the title away from Zimbabwean van Rensburg at the lake on the northern Zimbabwe-Zambia border.

The KITFT was recognized by the International Game Fishing Association (IGFA) in 2000 as one of the greatest game fish tournaments in the world and was made a qualifying round of the IGFA Inshore World Game Fish Championships.

This year, the tournament from October 26 to October 28 inclusive celebrates its 50th anniversary and is expecting to host about 300 visiting teams. David Whitehead of Sweetmellon Publishers, one of the sponsors said: “We highly recommend Zimbabwe as a tourist destination, as it is one of Africa’s most beautiful countries with its scenery, wildlife, friendly and hospitable people, fantastic weather, and, of course, the fishing!”

Lake Kariba is the world's largest human-made reservoir and a decade ago supported a flourishing tourism industry. Tourism has declined due to Zimbabwe’s ongoing political instability, but there is renewed optimism since the power-sharing deal two years ago. The lake, known for its abundant shoreline wildlife, unique weather patterns, and spectacular scenery, is more than 220 kilometers long and up to 40 kilometers wide and covers an area of 5,580 square kilometers.

According to the IGFA, the current world record tiger fish was landed by Jennifer Daynes in Lake Kariba (outside of this tournament) in 2001 and weighed in at 16,193 kilograms.

The tiger fish, Hydrocynus vittatus, is a flamboyant predatory game fish with razor sharp teeth enclosed by a bony head, blue/black lateral tiger stripes, and a bright yellow to red tail fin. In Zimbabwe, it is found throughout Lake Kariba, the Zambezi, and its larger tributaries, as well as in Lake Manyame and Chivero and in the Limpopo, Nuanetsi, Bubye, and Umzingwani river systems.

The KITFT tournament started in 1962 with 33 teams, mainly from Zimbabwe and South Africa. The largest number of teams recorded was 333 in 1991. Last year (2010), the event attracted 143 teams from more than 6 countries.

The tournament is held at the National Anglers Union of Zimbabwe site at Charara on the shores of Lake Kariba where a new and enlarged weigh bay area has recently been built.

Entry forms can be downloaded from the KITFT website at .

The KITFT committee is also highlighting the anticipated plight of wildlife along the shoreline of Lake Kariba and at Starvation Island where above average rainfall this year has resulted in higher than usual water levels.

“The nutrient-rich Panacum grass is rapidly disappearing under the lake surface,” said Nick Milne, Manager, Bumi Hills Safari Lodge, which received the Green Trophy in 2010 from the Association of Zimbabwean Travel Agents for its efforts to avert a crisis of the same nature by rescuing animals trying to swim to the mainland and providing supplementary feed to those stranded.

To expand operations to cover other affected islands on Lake Kariba, funds are needed to buy 30 tons of hay bales, 15 tons of maize, and 5 tons of game cubes among other items.

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Catch a tiger in Kariba
KITFT 2009 record holder Martinhus Van Rensburg with his tiger fish

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