Nkupe fish (Distichodus mossambicus) are generally found in the western area of Kariba where the Zambezi River joins the lake.
This fish likes freshwater river conditions that have swift-flowing water and rapids. Alternatively they also enjoy quiet, deep, rocky or sandy pools.
Many anglers believe that the Nkupe, weight for weight, is one of the most exciting sporting fish in Zimbabwe waters. For their size, they are strong fighters.
The Nkupe fish grows to a maximum length of 57cm and a general mass of 7.6 kg.
The young fish have a silverish body with 6 to 7 very prominent vertical bars. These disappear when reaching adulthood as the general body colour darkens to olive/green.
They also have a white throat and pale yellowish ventral surface.
The species contains a large dorsal spike with a tail that is forked and mainly enclosed with scales.
This fighting inhabits swift-flowing water rapids or deep, sandy, and rocky pools. Because of these preferences, it is found in larger rivers and the quieter waters of Lake Kariba.
The smaller fish have a habit of running in small shoals and can be found around fallen trees and rocks, looking for passing titbits.
In rivers, they tend to swim around the channels searching for food.
Nkupe is an omnivore and it feeds on insects, snails, small fish, and aquatic plants.
They breed in summer, moving upstream to suitable sites.
This powerful fighting fish is usually caught on a great variety of bait including worms, insects, bird entrails, fish fillets, and meat.
They are mainly caught in areas where the water flows over a sandy bottom.
Usually caught at around 3kg, there are bigger fish of up to 8kg are out there.
For the smaller fish of up to 2kg, a running sinker rig is recommended when fishing.
The bigger fish, which range over 2.5 kg, are usually found in a few areas in large numbers. These areas are visited regularly due to the availability and consistency of food.
However, in Kariba, this species are harder to find and catch as they are often lone fish swimming.
The gear that usually catches these fish is the Spinner. They are often caught whilst spinning for bream or small tiger.
These are sturdy fighters and they will give you a staid fight, unlike the more placid Bottlenose. Hence anglers are advised to have an electric trolling motor to follow it.
The angling record for the largest Nkupe to be caught in Zimbabwe is 7,55 kilograms.
In a nutshell, the Nkupe is known as a respectable fighter fish for its size.
Their love for deep, quiet water makes it unique.
If you would like to try your hand at fishing for Nkupe and any other fish species in Lake Kariba, a stay on the Abangane Houseboat is recommended.
The boat is fully staffed with open-air living in order to take full advantage of the views and wildlife spotting opportunities.