Fishing for Giant Perch in the Nile
By Alyssa Pirrello
If you love fishing, here’s fishing on a grand scale–how about 220 pound perch on the end of your rod?
Premier Safaris, an East African based company offering specialized safaris throughout the region, is about to launch a new game fishing safari on the Nile River in Uganda. During this expedition, travelers can fish for Nile Perch, Tigerfish, and more in areas of the Nile River that have not yet been utilized.
This is the perfect trip for father-son bonding or any other small groups, for individualized attention, safety, and adventure are all focal points of the trip, making it memorable for anyone who participates. Fisherman are able to fish from both sides of the Nile as well as from boats, giving them the best fishing experience possible.
How much fishing experience do you need for this trip?
This trip is much more about attitude than experience- the more adventurous you are, the better. Since their will be specialists on the trip, fisherman who are looking to fish in a new, more extreme location of any experience level are welcome to join. However, it is clear that this trip is only for people who truly love to fish, for the trip is intense and completely revolves around fishing.
How is it different than fishing at home?
Aside from the incredibly scenery and wildlife in East Africa, fishing on the Nile River is an entirely different beast. Corne Schalkwyk, who runs Premier Safaris from Uganda, explains that the terrain and presence of dangerous game is truly what lends the Nile River to be a location for an adventurous fisherman. Anglers will be walking with an armed member of the Uganda Wildlife Authority to keep them safe from buffaloes, elephants, and hippos, which are frequently seen in this area.
One fellow angler named Andy says that fisherman should know about “the danger of the heat, sun, and dehydration… come with a sense of adventure.” He continued on to explain that there were “quite frequent interactions with big game like buffalo, elephant, and hippo”.
What are the fish like?
The fish vary greatly- from small to giant. One of the biggest game fish you can catch on the Nile River are Nile Perch, which weigh in at more than 220kg, making them one of the biggest game fish in Africa.
When asked how likely it would be for a fisherman on this safari to catch a Nile Perch, Schalkwyk said most should be able to catch one but he can’t guarantee it.
However, Schalkwyk made it clear that there were other popular sports fish to be caught on the Nile River. He added, “a running joke for this particular type of fishing safari is that a lot of people see the tiger fish as a really adventurous type of game fish. Here, we use that fish as bait for the Nile Perch.”
To be clear, tiger fish are not small, tame fish in any way. These predatory rainbow-colored fish have been considered some of the fiercest fish on the Nile, partially due to their large, razor-sharp teeth and bony jaws. Using these fish as bait clearly shows that the game fishing safari is a serious adventure.
How many people go on the trip?
With such dangerous game present, and using game fish themselves as bait for other game fish, one must be cautious. Premier Safaris is very concerned about the experience and safety of each fisherman, so they will not take more than six people at a time on one safari. The main reason for this cap is safety- although fishing can be relaxing, the reality is that fisherman are fishing in Murchison Falls National Park, a national park with dangerous game, during this trip.
Additionally, this cap allows the guides to provide individual attention to each angler. If you’re not an experienced fisherman, these smaller groups can be hugely beneficial, for you will be able to have someone help you get the hang of fishing on the Nile River and game fishing in general.
Why is fishing on the Nile River new?
Due to war in Eastern Africa, fishing on many portions of the Nile has not been possible until recently. Kony owned many portions of the Nile River, and he put restrictions on them that lasted many years.
Schalkwyk explains that “some of the spots we fish at weren’t utilized for a very long time… we arrange for some of the islands on the Nile that were underutilized or not utilized due to the civil war with Kony [to be stops].” The ability to be one of the first fishermen in these areas is incredibly rewarding, and travelers will really be able to experience fishing in an area that many people have not.
Where is the fishing safari? When should I go?
The safari takes place at the Murchison Falls National Park, which is approximately six hours north west of Kampala, Uganda. The peak seasons for fishing on the Nile River in Uganda are from December to March and June to October. It’s possible to schedule a fishing safari at any time; however, there is a greater likelihood of storms in the months that are not the peak season. For this reason, Premier Safaris prefers fisherman to go on the game fishing safari any time from December to March or June to October.
It is highly recommended that fishermen bring their own equipment, but it can be provided if necessary. A specialist guide accompanies all guests on safaris, and the specialist has chosen each and every sport personally. A catch and release policy is highly encouraged during the game fishing safaris, and any questions about this policy can be directed to Premier Safaris or the specialist guide accompanying the safari.
The Chobe Safari Lodge overlooks a section of the Nile River that was previously owned by Kony and restricted for many years, while the Paraa Safari Lodge is on the bank of the Nile River and overlooks the actual location that the anglers will be fishing. Which lodge you stay in depends on the length of your trip, but feel free to inquire with Premier Safaris about the exact details.
For $2,806 per person in a group of six, anglers can enjoy the fishing safari for seven days and six nights. Lodging is provided as part of the package, and all lodging is high-end Ugandan accommodation; however, flights are not included. Additionally, all of the vehicles to transport fisherman to the locations are specially equipped to deal with the rough Ugandan roads, so safety does not need to be of concern.
Alyssa Pirrello is a former Editorial Assistant at GoNOMAD.com Travel and lives in Boston.