your sport fishing guide to the Victoria Nile, Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda
Fish to be caught
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Nile Perch
Nile Perch - Click to enlarge imageThe prime sport fish sought in Murchison is the mighty Nile Perch. The perch in Murchison are large, wily and powerful. Living within strong currents and highly oxygenated water, hooking a perch of any size here will lead to a challenging battle. It is not unknown for perch to jump clear of the water up to five times in a bid to escape, and escape they often do, when tearing line across the numerous rocks and snags which abound within the deep and dark waters of the Nile. Also known as - Giant Perch, Niger Perch (alternative names), Mputa (local Ugandan name) Capitaine (west-Africa), Lates Nilotica (scientific name). Maximum published size: 193cms. Maximum published weight: 200kgs (circa 440lbs). IGFA World Record: 104.32kgs (230lbs) caught in Lake Nasser, Egypt 20th Dec 2000. Largest known caught in Murchison: 108kgs (237lbs) – Marco Magyar. A fish of 189kgs (415lbs) was caught in a net in Lake Albert in 2001.

Nile Perch grow around 25cms per annum for the first 2 or 3 years of life and thereafter growth slows. A 1 metre long fish is circa 7 years old. A fisherman and guide in Uganda, Paul Goldring, caught a 70kgs (154lbs) fish and sent one of its scales to a UK University where it was calculated the fish was 17 years old.

Semutundu Catfish
Semutundu catfish - Click to enlarge imageAlso know as – Bagrus Catfish, Bagrus docmak (scientific name). Maximum published size: 127cm. Maximum published weight: 35kgs (80lbs). IGFA World Record: The Semutundu is now eligible for an All Tackle category record, which is currently open. Any application must be at least ‘trophy size’ i.e. in the upper half of the fishes maximum reported weight. Largest caught in Murchison: 46kgs (101lbs). Description: Grey-black above, creamy white below. Body sometimes shot with gold and green. 1 dorsal spine with 8-11 soft rays and forked tail fin. 4 pairs of barbels. Widespread in both shallow and deep water. Associated with rocky bottoms/coarse substrates. Feeds on insects, crustaceans, mollusks and fish. Takes any live or dead bait fished on or near the bottom. When hooked, the Semutundu tends to hug the bottom and swim in a series of characteristic tight ‘S’ bends.

Vundu Catfish
49kgs Murchison Vundu ? an IGFA world record if it had been submitted and ratified - Click to enlarge imageAlso known as: Heterobranchus longifilis (scientific name). Maximum published size: 150cms. Maximum published weight: 55kgs (120lbs). IGFA World Record: 32.5kgs (71lbs 10oz) caught in Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe 26/12/2000. Largest known caught in Murchison: 49kgs (108lbs). Description: Greyish brown above, creamy white below. More elongated than Sematundu. Convex tail fin. 26-35 soft dorsal rays - no spines. Less common than Semutundu in Murchison. Tends to inhabit the mainstream and deep pools. Most active at night, feeding on any available food, including invertebrates and insects when young, fish and other small vertebrates when older. Scavenges off large carcasses. Lives for 12 or more years. The hardest fighting large catfish when hooked. Takes any live or dead bait fished on or near the bottom.
Mud Fish - Click to enlarge imageAlso known as: Mali, Mudfish, Common Catfish, North African Catfish, Kambali, Skerptandbaber, Baber, Mlamba, Harlei, Clarias gariepinus (scientific name). Maximum published size: 170cms. Maximum published weight: 60kgs (132lbs). Largest known caught in Murchison: Not known, but 15-30kgs (30-60lbs) are not uncommon. Description: Probably one of the most widely distributed catfish in Africa. The body is strongly compressed towards the caudal fin and the dorsal fin comprises of 61-80 soft rays, which extend from behind the head nearly to the base of the caudal fin, which is rounded. The colour varies from almost black to light brown, often marbled in shades of olive green or grey. Under parts of head and abdomen creamy white, sometimes with red flush to the extremities of the fins, especially when spawning. Upper surface of head coarsely granulated in adult fishes, smooth in the young. Occurs mainly in quiet pools but may occasionally occur in fast flowing water. Has an accessory breathing organ enabling it to breath air when very active or under very dry conditions. Remains in the muddy substrates of ponds and occasionally gulps air through the mouth. Can leave the water at night using its strong pectoral fins and spines in search of land-based food or breeding areas. While usually a bottom feeder, it occasionally feeds at the surface. Forages at night on a wide variety of prey including insects, plankton, invertebrates and fish. Also takes young birds, rotting flesh and plants. Takes any live or dead bait fished on or near the bottom and is known for putting up a good fight, often making determined runs into reeds or other snags and cover.

Tiger Fish (Small)
Tiger Fish - Click to enlarge imageAlso known as: Ngassa (local Ugandan name), Hydrocynus forskahlii (scientific name). Maximum published size: 78cms. Maximum published weight: 1.5kgs (3lbs). Maximum reported age: 4 years. Maximum reported size at Murchison: 1.5kg (3lbs). Description: An open water predator often found near the surface and in fast flowing water. Forms shoals and feeds on fishes, preferring long bodied fish, as they are easier to swallow. Also takes insects, grasshoppers and snails. Cannibalistic. Silver with long and slender profile. Tail fin forked with bright red color, rest of fins uniformly grey. Regularly takes spinners retrieved a high speed across fast-flowing water. Fishes best shortly after dawn and after 4pm. Makes very good live bait for Nile Perch.

Tiger Fish
Also known as: Wagassa (local Ugandan name), Hydrocynus vittatus (scientific name). Maximum published size: 105 cm. Maximum published weight: 28kgs (62lbs). Maximum reported age: 8 years. Maximum reported size at Murchison: Tales of ‘large’ tiger fish in Lake Albert abound in the first half of the 20th Century, but no hard evidence of their existence has been known there or in the river at Murchison in recent times. Description: 2 dorsal spines, 8 dorsal soft rays. Body profile less slender than Hydrocynus forskahlii. Long gill rakers. Tips of adipose and dorsal fins black. Forked edge of tail fin is black. Prefers warm, well-oxygenated water in larger rivers and lakes. All but the largest fish form roving schools of like-sized fish; aptly described as fierce and voracious. Feeds on whatever prey is most abundant.


Barbel - Click to enlarge imageAlso known as: Golden Barbel, Barbus, Barbus byyni byyni (scientific name). Maximum published size: 82cms. Maximum reported size at Murchison: 4kgs (9lbs). Confined to the Nile and lakes that were once connected to the Nile. Feeds on crustaceans, insects, mollusks and organic debris. Found in Murchison in shallower and slacker pools, especially in the vicinity of pods of Hippo. Fights well on light tackle. Takes most seed baits (sweet corn for example), especially when presented on or near the bottom as well as spinners retrieved slowly.

Squeaker - Click to enlarge imageAlso known as: Squeaker (common name), Upside-down catfish, Synodontis Victoriae (scientific name). Maximum published size: 35cms. Maximum reported size at Murchison: 1.5kgs (3lbs). The body is short and more or less compressed. Has one strong dorsal spine and spines within the pectoral fins, which are long and serrated. The spines can be locked at right angles to the body as a form of self-defence. The spines are also prone to cause septic wounds. Adipose fin is large and the caudal deeply forked. Emmits distinct ‘squeak’ when caught/distressed. Found all over the water mostly over soft bottoms and close to banks and slower flowing water in Murchison. The fish of the shallow, faster water are generally of a lighter greyish-green colour, whilst the fish of the deeps are a more darker, blacker colour. Never deliberately fished for – of little use as live bait due to spines. Takes most baits presented on small hooks towards the bottom.

Alestes Baremoze
Alestes - Click to enlarge imageAlso known as: Ngara (local Ugandan name), Silversides, Alestes Baremoze Baremoze (scientific name). Maximum published size: 43cms. Maximum published weight: 500gm. Maximum reported weight in Murchison: 2kgs. Silver coloured with blue-grey black and white belly, greyish fins with orange colours on the lower lobe of the tail fin. Regularly caught on spinners, spoons and fly, also takes float fished dough and termites. Fights well on light tackle. Can be used as an effective live bait although less hardy than other species.

Awaka - Click to enlarge imageThere are a variety of local Ugandan names for this fish but we have been unable to identify the fish fully with a scientific name. Can anybody help? Maximum recorded weight in Murchison: 2kgs. This fish forms the mainstay of live bait at Murchison and is found in just about every section of the river, especially near the bank along papyrus reed beds and under overhanging trees. Most often caught on dough and sweet corn. Will also take spinners and termites. At certain times of the year forms shoals in the white water towards the base of the falls, when apparently spawning. The males turn reddish along the belly and lower fins when spawning. Very good sport on light tackle. The larger fish require a wire trace to prevent their teeth breaking the line.

Electric Catfish
Electric Catfish - Click to enlarge imageAlso known as: Malapterurus Electicus (scientific name). Maximum published size: 1 metre. Maximum published weight: 20kgs. Maximum reported weight in Murchison: 2kgs. Occurs among rocks or roots and favours sluggish or standing water. Most active at night, feeding mainly on fish stunned by electric shocks. The electric organ, capable of discharging 300-400 volts, is derived from pectoral muscle and surrounds almost the entire body. It is used both for prey capture and defense. Forms pairs and breeds in excavated cavities or holes. Caught on a variety of baits fished on the bottom – handle with care!
(Information concerning other commonly found species is being compiled and will be included soon)