Kariba Houseboat Safaris

Barbel Fish

Barbel Fish: Kariba's Catfish

Barbel Fish: The African Sharptooth Catfish

The African Sharptooth Catfish, more commonly known as the “Barbel”, grows up to 40 kg with the average weight caught being around 8 kg.

It is a large heavy boned fish with a flattish head and long barbs around the mouth.

Their whole head is covered with taste/smell organs with incredibly sharp senses for food location.

Fishing for Barbel: Tips

These are the most commonly caught species in Lake Kariba. When it comes to catching this fish, a wide range of techniques as well as bait can be used.

This includes bait fishing with live as well as dead baits, lure fishing and fly fishing.

Some baits used are tilapia, carp and paper mouth, other baits to use include frogs (platanna), bread, worms, mealies (corn pips), day old chickens and meaty baits like braai meat or raw chicken livers.

Barbel are sensitive to noise and feed during the early morning and late afternoon/evening. The Bottlenose fish are also active in the early evening.

They are a great fish to catch as it is an excellent fighter and very strong in and out of the water. It will drag your line to the bottom, with strong runs in between.

Be careful as it will wrap around any obstruction in the water such as rocks and trees and other water plants.

It can also twist itself around the line in order to break off. Strong tackle is a must to lift this catfish from the bottom and to manage the runs.

African Sharptooth Catfish

Barbel Fish Facts

This fish’s survival instinct is very strong and can move over land when damp conditions occur.

They can live up to 10 years of age surviving in the harshest of conditions.

They will eat almost anything that presents itself including frogs, birds, mammals, invertebrates and, amazingly, will include seeds and fruit in its survival diet.

The Sharptooth Catfish will also bury itself in the muddy bottom of a river or dam when water is scarce and drought has arrived. They will then re-emerge at the first sign of rain and water flow.

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