KingFishers Angling Club and Kalahari RoadMasters; a group of six (6) dedicated recreational Batswana fishermen, categorically referred to as anglers, or those that use rod and reel to catch fish is hoping to change mind-sets while promoting Botswana as a fishing destination of choice across the world. The six are Owen Rampha and Bob ‘CrackBerry’ Hirschfeld from KingFishers Angling Club; Henry ‘AK’ Segopa, Merapelo Pemole, Omphile Tshipa and David Premeji from Kalahari RoadMasters.
“We are a highly skilled and experienced group of individuals who have made it a point to fish the length and breadth of Botswana. We have recently become affiliated to the Botswana National Angling Association (BNAA), a body that represents the interests of anglers nationally and affiliates us with the Botswana National Sports Council. Three (3) of our members sit on the National Committee of the BNAA. We also run a highly interactive and frequently updated Facebook page entitled Fishing in Botswana, with a membership of over 800 people. We convene every weekend to fish in various locations across Botswana which include but are not limited to: Gaborone Dam, Bokaa Dam, Nywaane Dam, Mogobane Dam, Shashe Dam, Letsibogo Dam, Lotsane Dam, Dikgatlhong Dam, Moshupa Reservoir, Mmakgodumo Reservoir (Kanye), Thamaga Dam, Madikwe River (Sikwane/Mmathubudukwane), Limpopo River (Oliphants Drift), Boteti River, Shashe River, Tati River, Thamalakane River, Okavango River and Panhandle.”
After seeing all the good work they do as well as the passion they continue to plough into their chosen hobby, #BotswanaUnplugged saw it fitting to profile the dedicated Botswana fishermen whose mission is to promote and encourage the sport of recreational fishing or angling in Botswana.
Furthermore, the team of fishermen aim to educate and raise awareness of the challenges in the fishing industry in Botswana, as well as to highlight Botswana’s diverse water bodies and marine environment for domestic tourism.
“Included in our mission too is to partner with communities situated near water bodies and/or rivers to enhance ecotourism and fishing as resource.”
Over the years, the anglers from both KingFishers Angling Club and Kalahari RoadMasters have participated in the annual Okavango Bream Classic (OBC), a premier annual sport fishing competition in Botswana, held near Shakawe in the village of Samochima in Ngamiland.
According to Owen Rampha, a proficient radio veteran and avid angler who hails from Bobonong, “The competition focuses on all species of bream (tilapia) and is proudly associated with sustainable fishing by enforcing strict catch-and-release policies that include fish handling and condition at weigh in. This year the competition was held at Shakawe River Lodge (SRL) from 13-18 July 2017.”
Quizzed further about OBC, Rampha noted that the event attracts a high profile calibre of competitors comprised of recreational and professional anglers from Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
“It is a highly respected and well organised event that highlights both the beauty of the Okavango Delta as well as the diverse array of fish species in the region. We have progressed steadily since our first entry into the OBC 3 years ago, during which we were placed 27th out of 58 teams. Last year at OBC 2016, we attained position 13 out of over 60 teams, including winning prizes 1, 2, 4 and 5 for Biggest Bream, Best Team Spirit Award and a few other spot prizes. We have made a name for ourselves as expert anglers and are a force to be reckoned with,” added Bob ‘CrackBerry’ Hirschfeld, another vividly fervent angler who hails from Molepolole.
“It is our goal to provide a simple and low maintenance income stream for the fishing-dependent community of Samochima Village that both promotes sustainable fishing and provides a sustainable livelihood to them. Cultivation and breeding of the earthworm or specifically African Nightcrawler is as low maintenance as it gets. The African Nightcrawler is prized by both subsistence and sport fisherman as a fantastic live bait for fishing. The earthworms thrive on vegetable or leaf scraps and table leftovers and require nothing but soil and a cool, semi-moist area away from direct sunlight. We plan to provide instruction and tutorial on worm farming as an attractive element of the community whereby they can sell worms for bait to local and visiting fisherman at the various lodges. In addition this small workshop on worm farming, we will provide breeding stock of African Nightcrawlers, local earthworm that is both tough and prolific in breeding. This is superior bait worm stock than the naturally occurring local red earthworm found in the area which is becoming less available as habitat is encroached by man and animal in the Delta.”
The six Botswana anglers continue to plead to Good Samaritans to sponsor most of their activities in an effort to mitigate the ever-rising costs of their activities.