There’s no doubt I’d love to catch a vundu on the fly. I’ve dredged vundu waters for almost ten years now but I still haven’t had one eat my fly for sure and dang sure haven’t landed one. With both Oliver and I more than satisfied with our tigerfishing, we went with Andrew on a “screw around” day. What this means is we fished for odd ball species such as yellowfish, bream and dredged a certain area for vundu.
Our first stop was the mouth of smaller river. It’s the end of dry season so this entering river was more like a feeder creek. But there were a few deeper, almost stagnant pools that we could see from the main river. After we scanned the area diligently and determined there weren’t any hippos and crocs to worry about we headed up the creek on foot with 5-weights.
We saw lots of fish. Not sure what they were. What all three of us are sure of however is that these mystery fish didn’t want anything to do with us. We put various nymphs, leeches and dry flies over their heads and touched their noses but they wouldn’t eat. Andrew thought they were types of yellowfish and bream that feed on algae. I agree but added they were perhaps spawning making our quest virtually impossible. We tried for these fish unsuccessfully for three hours to further our conclusion.
Next was a tigerfish drift where and Oliver and I each landed 10lb tigerfish. Then it was to Andrews’s vundu hole. The vundu hole was a small sand island. On the river side was a deep swirling back-eddy and on the opposite side a stagnant pond full of those same spawning yellowfish. I figured this was my best chance and my last chance this trip to go hardcore for the vundu. I went to work.
My technique was let the fly sink to the bottom then do a slow, non tiger-like strip. Catfish are bottom feeders. I stuck to this method for a long time. I was getting bored and eventually lost confidence. It didn’t help that Oliver and Andrew obviously had no confidence either and weren’t fishing. Even the boatman had an unpromising look.
But then it happened. We’ve all heard about someone hooking bottom and it starts moving. Well, for the first time ever, it happened to me. I got the strangest thud on my fly. It didn’t feel like bottom so I set the hook. But it wouldn’t budge. Like with any snag, I pulled from a few different angles. Then I snapped a tight line at it. But the fly was truly stuck. I shrugged because I know breaking a snag with straight 40lb can damage your fly line, but before I had too my snag moved. I had a vundu on!
You’d expect me to start doing back flips with joy but the thrill only lasted about two seconds. Something was seriously wrong and the longer I was connected the more concerned I got. Within a minute I knew this was either a crocodile or a fish so big he belonged in the ocean. Whatever I was hooked to was going to win.
First of all, this creature wasn’t running or seeming concerned in anyway. He started swimming in slow circles down deep. As he swam he disturbed the bottom and there were so many bubbles and clouds of sand and mud stirring that it looked like a volcano was erupting from beneath the sea. By now we knew it wasn’t a croc because a croc would have either taken off on a run or charged up the bank and devoured us. This was a catfish and he had to be over 100lbs, perhaps even 200lb or more. However large it was, we all backed up from the edge for fear it was massive walking catfish that was going to come up angry, run us down and eat us all.
After five minutes of pulling as hard as I could without busting my straight 40lb leader and making zero progress, the monster decided to casually wander out in the current and head downstream. I knew if I let this happen I’d lose him and potentially my fly line, backing and perhaps my entire outfit. So I clamped down with all my might and the end of my 300-grain fly line broke. The party was over.
The six minute fly fishing battle-of-terror left us shaking. For me, it was a relief. I’ve never wanted a fish to go away, but I was at peace with losing this boy. Holy crap that was a big scary fish! My only regret, I couldn’t get him off the bottom so that we could see him. I will wonder what I had till the day I die.
Not much else to say about today. We caught very few fish because we only tigerfished a short period. Nonetheless we fished hard all day, challenged ourselves and had some great non-fish-catching events. At 4 we were two hours downstream from Ruhudji River Camp so we got comfortable, cracked Kilimanjaro’s and navigated through herds of hippos and spooked crocs all the way back. Tomorrow is the last day and its time to treat John and Steve to the rapids.
For information about this incredible trip feel free to CONTACT ME.
Be sure and visit Tourette Fishing – Fight it in Africa.
And ask about my future hosted trips through Yellow Dog FlyFishing Adventures.