When Christin Kruger (@ckrugerr on Instagram) was visiting Zimbabwe a couple months ago, she hooked into and boated a couple of 90-pound vundu — a catfish and the largest freshwater species in southern Africa — on Lake Kariba.
“I don’t want to brag or anything, but I’m pretty sure they were bigger than the one that Jeremy Wade caught when he was shooting River Monsters in Zimbabwe,” Christin says.
Growing up in both Africa and Alexandria, Virginia (where she was born) Christin always loved fishing and water.
But she wasn’t exactly hauling 90-pounders up from the depths.
“I never really had proper fishing gear as a kid,” Christin says. “My dad would just take me to a local pond with a cane pole and whatever bait we could find, and we’d catch bluegills or anything that was biting. I loved it!”
After moving to South Carolina for college, Christin settled in Charleston. She rediscovered fishing when she took some time off from college.
“I had some extra time, so I went fishing,” she says. “And I was like, why did I ever stop doing this?!”
Ever since, she’s become serious about fishing.
However, she does have a relationship with KastKing, so she has access to some pretty sweer gear. Christin is also an avid inshore angler who is not in the least ambivalent about redfish.
“Yeah,” she says. “There’s nothing like a redfish battle. I being on the water and seeing their spots. No two are the same — like people.”
Christin is not very particular when she’s offshore fishing, either.
“I don’t really like trolling,” she says. “There’s not enough action — but I still go. Last time I was out, we were trolling for wahoo, but we only caught bonito. I hooked a blackfin [tuna] and almost had it to the boat when I lost it. I was like, ‘Damn — I could’ve eaten that.’ But it’s okay, I still got some bonito for my crab traps.”
On the other hand, Christin really likes bottom fishing.
“You never know what you’re going to get,” she says. “One time when I was out, I caught a cornetfish. Have you ever seen one? They’re like a trumpet fish on crack — not that I’ve ever done crack or think that fish do crack. But, that’s why I love bottom fishing: There could be anything on the end of your line.”
Although she is generally a catch-and-release angler, Christin enjoys catching food for her own table.
“I could eat black sea bass or triggerfish all day,” she says. “And they’re sustainable, which is awesome.”
While working toward becoming a substitute teacher — “for the flexible schedule” — Christin has been pushing her fishing horizons. In addition to the vundu she caught on her most recent trip to Zimbabwe, Christin paid a visit to Victoria Falls with an outfitter called Wild Horizons, who put her on tiger fish in the Zambezi River.
She was also recently in Scotland, learning to Spey cast on the River Spey.
“It was awesome!” she says. “We were out for three days and nobody caught a salmon — except me! Well, technically it was a grilse, which is a salmon that’s only spent one winter at sea before coming back to freshwater to spawn, but I still caught it.”
That trip gave Christin the fly fishing bug.
“I really want to do a lot more of it,” she says. “I also want to do more spearfishing. In some ways I like it more than regular fishing — I get to be in the water and see everything that’s down there. And it’s like going to a grocery store and saying, ‘I want that one.’ Then you pick your fish and you’re done, with no bycatch and no stress on fish that you release. Plus it’s kind of primal: I’m like a caveman mermaid with a spear, hunting for my food. 2019: I’m comin’ for ya with spearfishing and fly fishing!”
Primal is also the way she describes her relationship with water.
“I don’t know what it is, I’ve always just been drawn to water, like deep down,” Christin says. “I also love fishing because it relaxes me and helps me to just let go for a few hours and be one the water. It’s also a beautiful way to bring people together.”