Piscine Pursuit


“As no man is born an artist, so no man is born an angler.” It’s alliterative, so it must be true, or so at least I reassure myself as I lose a fish for the nth time this afternoon…

So quoth Izaak Walton in 1653 in the seminal work The Compleat Angler, along with other gems such as “Rivers and the inhabitants of the watery elements are made for wise men to contemplate and for fools to pass by without consideration” and “good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter”. A wise man indeed, and as we cast down the Zambezi, I can only agree. Across the water in the afternoon haze of papyrus and skies of bluest blue, bumps and backs and the occasional flap of elephantine ear are dotted across the island; a pod of hippo snort and grumble just downstream and a sizeable croc eyes us before sleuthing silently, stealthily, into the water, vanishing with a glimpse of primordially spined tail. Above a squadron of swift shoals, flitting and twittering in the afternoon sun, their spell woven with the gurgle of weir’d water rushing the small rapids. The consistent warp and weft of the river is broken only by the whizz as a line is cast or reeled in to check a now much nibbled bait, a hiss as a bottle of Mosi is cracked open or the odd muttered curse as a Gordian knot of line is combed through.

It’s an exercise in serenity, adrenaline, patience; a fight, a game well played by fish and angler alike, and as with all good games, some wins, usually more losses where only the largest of leviathans break free just before landing, but their promise and possibility will always prompt “one last cast” before reeling in for the day – a perpetual series of occasions for hope, a calmness of spirit and an afternoon of mental reflection. This karmic exercise in cause and effect is a meditation and a chance to appreciate the river in its calm, unhurried glory. That said, when you’re on, you’re on – Tiger, Vundu, Bream, Chessa, all absorb absolute concentration and focus, scaled slick muscle wresting with river and line and hook to be landed (hopefully), and released. Peace returns to the boat with the fish to the river.

Even if fishing is not your sport, nor are you interested in the piscine pursuits, the river, whether in it, on it, by it or with it, is a remarkable experience. There is always something happening and something for everyone: spectacular birding, watching the elephant cross the river or perhaps lions stalking warthog on the bank.

A Fish eagle cries plaintively and a lazy zephyr thrills the line buzzing between finger and thumb, as breeze flutes the bottles of Mosi, setting them to softly sing. Just to sit here, fish landed and released or not, it’s a chance to pay your praises to the great outdoors, to the great Zambezi and the ebb and eddy of life itself.

Words and Image: Tara Vivian-Neal

It should be noted that all Fishing at Anabezi is Catch and Release.

While we cover the ZAWA permit fees for the first day, should you wish to go out again, the charges are as follows:

Internationals: $30 per person per day

Zambian Citizens: $5 per person per day

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