Fishing the Barotse Floodplains

The annual flooding of the Barotse Floodplains makes it a breeding ground for fish. As the floodplains recede, millions of baitfish are washed back into the main system, creating a thriving food source for tigerfish and bream. Matoya guests reel in 10lbs to 25lbs trophy tigerfish every season, and trophy bream from 5lbs up to 12lbs.

At Matoya, we pride ourselves on our strict 100% catch and release policy. We aim to preserve the fish species of the floodplains to allow for continued sport fishing in the future.

To enhance the experience for our guests, we have seven flat-bottomed fibreglass boats available – each equipped with a personal guide, environmentally friendly four-stroke motor, live well, and a depth finder. Our guests are also provided with ample snacks and beverages every day to take on their fishing expeditions.




The scream of a reel’s drag, the force of the take, and unrestrained aerial ability of the river beast make tigerfish Africa’s most coveted freshwater sport fish. Barotse tigerfish can be caught by fly, art lure or drifting with live bait, and our lodge’s record tiger is 24.5lbs. The “Barotse Express”, the feeling one has when reeling in a monster tigerfish, has become a sought-after sensation – anglers travel to the Barotse Floodplains from far and wide to experience it for themselves.



Enormous bream (up to 12lbs) like nembwe and humpback largemouth, as well as hard-fighting three-spot bream and mercurial pink happies are fantastic fish to target on the banks of the upper Zambezi.

Fishing the Floodplains

New Season

August until November

August until November are the best months of the year to target tigers on fly and art lure, with bream fishing being relatively inconsistent at this time.

Tackle Requirements

Fishing Equipment: What to bring and what gets supplied

Our guides on the boat will have the necessary equipment to assist in rod and tackle set up, as well as extra fishing equipment in case you have run out or forgotten a specific item. If you wish to bring any of your own “magical lures” etc. please do so, as the below is just a general guideline.

Fishing Experiences

recommended fly tackle packing list

  1. Fly rod (9wt), spare tips or spare rod
  2. Fly reel with fast-sinking line, spare reel or spool
  3. 1 roll of piano wire (no. 1)
  4. 1 roll of fluorocarbon leader (20lbs)
  5. Knippers
  6. Stripping gloves
  7. Assortment of tiger flies, including black and red, olive, blue and white whistlers and closures.
Fishing Experiences

recommended conventional tackle packing list

  1. Rods (2), i.e. Shimano Beast Master – Special Tiger, Nexave 70Hh or Tiger Special or Sensation Power Plus Rods
  2. Reels (2), i. e Shimano Sienna 4000FD or Shimano Exage 4000FC
  3. Braid (30 or 40lbs) – Suffix 832
  4. ¾ ounce sinkers
  5. Power swivels, 12 & 18” Traces
  6. Carbonized nylon coated wire (Piano Wire) – Malin Wire (50lbs)
  7. Hooks – various sizes (number 4, 5 and 6 is good for live bait rigs)
  8. Floats
  9. Spinners & Spoons, i.e. Tiger Wackers – large, Effzet or Storm 16gm (30gm-single hooks)
  10. Rapalas (single hooks at the back of the rapalas)
    • 120mm poppers (red & white, firefly, olive, silver & black)
    • Fat Raps – (3, 4 & 7 foot, firefly, natural, silver & black, parrot)
    • DT Flat – 3 & 7 foot (firefly, natural, silver & black, parrot)
  11. Bait: Live bait trace is ideally set up as follows: #10 power swivel leads to 45cm of trace to a single #3 – #6 Big Gun mustad hook. Connected to the eye of this hook is another 15cm of trace to a second Big Gun #3 – #6 mustad hook, depending on the size of the live bait.