Kariba Bream: A Worthwhile Sporting Fish

Whilst Kariba is known for its challenging fishing of Tiger Fish and Vundu catfish, fishing for Kariba bream is not only sporting but being easily caught on a fly, makes this a worthwhile fish and a favourite amongst fishermen.

Bream (Oreochromis mortimeri) is recognized by the olive green blotches and/or bands on its back and side.

Bream mainly feed amongst weed beds along the dead tree lines and are usually caught at around 2kg and make up a large percentage of the catch on the lake.

Kariba Bream Fish Scientific Classification

Common Name:Kariba Bream
Species:Oreochromis mortimeri

Is Tilapia And Bream The Same?

Most people tend to think of bream and tilapia as the same fish. Actually, it is a little-known fact that bream and tilapia are two different species.

Bream vs Tilapia

They are very similar in both appearance and taste, with both species classified under the Cichlids family.

Tilapia fish are plant or sediment feeders whereas bream tend to be more predatory. Bream will eat small fish, prawns, crabs, and worms.

The fish species Cornish Jack put tilapia at the top of their meal time preferences.

Kariba Bream Fish Facts

The bream found in Lake Kariba is divided into 3 types:

  • Rainbow Bream
  • Green Bream
  • Pink Bream

Rainbow Bream are the Sargochromis Carlottae, also known as the Rainbow Happy.

Green Bream species are named the Sargochromis codringtonii. They are also known as the Green Happy.

The Pink Bream species name is the Sargochromis giardia – also known as the Pink Happy. This species is famously known as happies or smallmouths – describing their little mouth.

Kariba bream feed on invertebrates, small fish, and plant material. Interestingly they are an effective biological pest control for snails.

These Kariba fish species play a pivotal role in the local people’s diet and are a good source of income for local fishermen.

Their conservation status by the IUCN report is “Not Yet Threatened”.

What Are The Characteristics Of Bream?

Rainbow Bream

The Rainbow Bream adults have an olive green color with dark bordered scales. The fins are deep olive with sooty pink spots in rows along the membranes, margins.

The anal fins have pink-orange spots.

The young rainbow bream are silvery green with dark grey centers to the body scales with 8 vertical body bars. The fins are greyish green with rich grey smudges and sooty margins.

The Rainbow Bream are located in the following watercourses in Africa:

  • Okovango River
  • Upper and Middle Zambezi River system
  • Kafue River

They are found in Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Rainbow Bream are found in deeper permanent floodplain channels and lagoons. They like sandy bottoms and the corresponding vegetation.

Their diet comprises aquatic insects, crustaceans, and snails.

Green Bream

Green Bream is another type of bream found in the Kariba dam.

The Green Bream like deep, quiet water, slow-flowing channels, and floodplain lagoons.

The Green bream diet comprises waterlily seeds, small snails, aquatic insects, and bivalves.

As with their counterparts, the Green Bream is located in the same countries and watercourses as the Rainbow Bream.

The Green Bream has a life span of 7 years. It has a maximum weight of 2.2kgs and can reach a length of 39 cm.

The color of the adult Green Bream differs from its young.

Young Green Bream and non-breeding adults have a grey to olive green color. They are characterised by rusty red spots at the base of the body scales.

Breeding males are dark olive green to black. The dorsal and anal fins have red margins.

The dorsal and caudal fins keep their red spots with light red spots on the anal.

They reproduce in summer using mouthbrooding, spawning twice a year. Male Green bream mature at 15 cm, while females mature at 12.5-15 cm.

Green bream also have a biological control use. As the Rainbow Bream, they are a snail control agent.

Pink Bream

Pink Bream is the final type of bream found in Lake Kariba.

The Pink Bream is usually found in fresh water following these watercourses:

  • Upper and Middle Zambezi River
  • Okavango River
  • Kafue River
  • Cunene River
  • Upper and Middle Okavango River

The countries include Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The Pink bream have a maximum length of 48cm and a general length between 23 and 25 cm.

Their maximum weight reaches 2.9kg with a lifespan of 7 years.

Juveniles are olive green with a yellowish chest. They boast deep greenish-black fins with 6 or 7 darker vertical bars.

Adults have a greyish green head and dorsal surface, flanks, and creamy yellow underparts.

The fins are dark grey with red margins and dark red spots. They have rows of bright yellow orange-centered ocelli along the membranes.

The largest Pink bream come from upper Zambezi floodplains. They like deep river channels and floodplain lagoons with sandy bottoms.

The pink bream have a diet that comprises snails, bivalves, and insect larva.

They usually reproduce in early summer, with the female laying up to 700 eggs per brood. The males construct shallow, rounded pits approximately 20-30 cm in diameter for the eggs. 

Fishing for Kariba Bream

Bream are a shoal fish, with the average size of the shoal group tending to be more or less the same. When you locate a shoal, you will more than likely catch several fish, each of comparable size. 

Generally they are a fast-growing, lean and short-lived fish with a primarily vegetarian diet.

Bream fish are low in saturated fat, calories, carbohydrates and sodium, and are a good source of protein.

Fishing For Bream
Kariba Bream

Is Bream A Good Fish To Eat?

Bream are one of the most popular eating fish found on Lake Kariba and is delicious eaten fresh. It does not have a muddy flavour and can be cooked many ways.

The delicate flavour can be enhanced by baking, panfrying, grilling, filleting and fried in batter as well as made into a stew. The options are many.

Let the onboard chef on the Abangane houseboat cook your catch that same night for your supper.

A real treat.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, they are 3 types of Kariba bream. The Rainbow, Pink, and Green Bream.

The bream play a pivotal role in the diet of the local people. They are also a good source of income for local fishermen.

Excellent fishing and delicious eating – they are a fisherman’s dream catch.

To go out onto the lake bream fishing, consider booking The Abangane houseboat moored at Binga. The crew knows the best fishing spots where you are sure to nab your dinner.

To find out what you will experience on the Abangane take a look at our collection of photos taken on board the houseboat.

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