Vundu Catfish

posted: 03/18/14
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Vundu Catfish

Heterobranchus longifilis, known in much of Africa as the vundu but also called the cur, lenda, certa, sampa and other names, is the biggest freshwater species in southern Africa. The vundu likes deep water and generally comes up at night to feed on fish, small vertebrates, and carcasses and offal that villagers throw in the water. But it’s voracious enough to boldly forage around big sport fishing boats in Egypt's Lake Nasser. Its length makes it an impressive-looking catch for sport fishermen.

Long and Lean

The vundu catfish is long and muscular, but not a heavyweight like the kamba. (If you're a pro basketball fan, think of Pau Gasol or Yao Ming, as opposed to Shaquille O'Neal.) It has a long, broad head, a broadly rounded snout, and superolateral (high and to the side) eyes, with wide tooth plates and a well-developed suprabranchial organ for breathing air. Reportedly, it can survive out of water for long periods of time. Its body is olive brown on the dorsal surface, with a light-brown or off-white underbelly. The Vundu can live for up to 12 years.

How to Catch One

According to the African Angler Web site, vundu on Lake Nasser often forage close to shore at night, so that's when you should be out there after them. It's a pretty strong fish that puts up a good fight, so use sturdy gear. Canned meat is a good bait, since it's oily and gives off an alluring odor to the fish. Cast your bait 6 to 10 feet from the shoreline in the shallower water. Stay away from the deeper water where your bait may get lost in the weeds.

Why You Should Return it to the River puts this species in the "high to very high vulnerability" category in terms of survival in the wild. By using catch-and-release, you can help keep the biggest, hardiest specimens alive, so they can keep reproducing.

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