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Nile Perch

By Thomas Leth Madsen
– “Are there any Nile Perch left in Victoria?” we asked ourselves when we set out from Jinja on a sunny morning in March 2012. With Feather & Fin Pursuits new 30 foot fiber glass boat fully loaded with food, tents, rods, lines, lures and bait, our five strong crew lead by Bingo were determined to find out.
Fishing for Nile Perch is an art form. Many factors play in and must be considered: Time of day, weather, depth and color of lure, trawling speed, line, and obviously, location. Catching Perch is not straight forward and experience should not be underestimated. And we hadn’t. On our team we had Robin Collman, a commercial tuna fisherman from the Pacific Ocean, Alistair Brew (multiple winner of the annual Murchison Falls Fishing Competition) and passionate angler Bingo, so we were covered. Nile Perch experts Bingo and Alistair quickly identified a couple of promising spots and after setting up camp on a picturesque little island the fishing started. That afternoon we caught two decent sized Nile Perch at 5 and 10 kg respectively, and lost a third one which everyone agreed must have been massive – it’s funny how the ones that get away, always are. We were off to a great start and had high hopes for the following days.
Next day, during an afternoon trawl, one of the reels started spinning wildly. At first we all thought that thelure had caught onto something at the bottom, but that wasn’t the case. Bingo picked up the rod and felt the jerking movements, and he was sure that it was a fish – a big one. The ensuing 15 minute fight was tense. Concerned about losing another big fish, Bingo carefully reeled it in, keeping tension on the line. It was nerve wracking. Eventually the fish surrendered and surfaced. With help from Alistair, Bingo was able to pull in a Perch which we estimated weighed somewhere between 55 and 60 kg. Spirits were high. Not only had we established that the big ones are still out there – it blew Bingo’s previous record out of the water.
Our team spent the next couple of days fishing, discussing strategies and checking out promising spots; venturing so far into the lake that we came close to the Kenyan border. At times it was pretty choppy, but the big boat easily coped with it. Some spots disappointed badly as the fish finder came up blank. At other spots there were plenty of fish, but none of them were interested enough in our lures to strike. And some spots were good. We did catch a couple of smaller Perch, both of them less than 10 kg, and at the end of the trip, we hadn’t had a single day without at least catching one Perch.
So, ““Are there any Nile Perch left in Victoria?”. Our effective time spent fishing was 10 hours. With this in mind, the question is easy to answer: “YES, there are still Nile Perch out there – and some of them are big!”
FFP operate all-inclusive (excl. alcohol) multiday fishing expeditions on Lake Victoria and 3 hour morning/afternoon and full day fishing options on the Bujagali Reservoir. Catch & release policy is strictly observed. No experience required.
FACT BOX: Nile Perch
Nile Perch (latesniloticus) was introduced to Lake Victoria by the British in the 1950s. The fish can grow over 1.9 meters long and can weigh more than 200 kg. The purpose of the introduction of the fish to Lake Victoria was to fish it commercially. Being predators, the fish quickly established itself at the top of the food chain in the lake and it has had a devastating impact on a number of other fish species in the lake. However, Nile Perch is by many considered overfished and the population is on the decrease, giving some of the other species a chance to recover.
For more information, please contact:
Feather & Fin Pursuits
Mobile: +256 772 900 451. Email: bingo@nalubalerafting.com. Website: www.ffp.ug