Capitaine – Cameroon Season 2020, Week 3
The third guided week on the Faro this year was for me the ‘moving week’ of the season, where there were many dynamic macro factors in motion that required a huge amount of versatility from the guides and guests to make the most of. There finally seemed to be a slight letup on the low night temperatures that had been a huge feature, and a shift towards the all out heat assault we are more used to here. The Harmattan finally made it’s first appearance, and seemed intent on making up for its scarce showing up until now, and our week straddled a full moon, which we’ve come to realize has implications for more than just the fishing here! These are none of them necessarily obstacles or negatives, but just elements to adjust to and make sure that you are working with and not against. As you can hope for at this end of the adventure spectrum, we had the right people for the job to tackle all the bobbing and weaving it takes to stay in the game here, and most importantly a plan in place.
Bill and Tom were coming in very match fit straight from a week’s solid fishing in Gabon, and it seemed that very little we threw at them could faze them by this stage of their West African adventure! Peter’s nous and experience from his legendary guiding and fishing credentials were always going to be a massive asset in taking on the variety of the Faro.
The plan in place revolved around the moon phase and had us fishing two shorter Perch sessions a day, namely the sunset/moonrise, and the moon set/sunrise shifts. We would fish the evening session at a new place to familiarize ourselves in the light, and then return the next morning to the same slots. That evening would then be at another new hole. The day time fishing was usually one around the sunset pool. It made for a very busy schedule, and almost impossible to keep track of times, days and sessions, but was full of fishing and very refined. There was lots of rigging up and down, a fair bit of moving around and some very early wake up calls, but taken session by session and within the confines of a solid and clear plan, it was very well managed by everyone and worked out well. There were also some incredibly memorable aspects to it-racing a bright orange almost full moon set at dawn, being quietly set up and fishing while hippos slipped back into the water around us in dawn light, and packed breakfasts around a small fire in the early morning on the river as the bush came alive are right up as highlights of the whole season for me.
Out of all the chaos of the schedule, some pretty strong patterns emerged which confirmed and added to some of our understanding of the fishing dynamics. We had very punctual flurries of perch bites in the light at sunset, and then again after the sun had risen. The short dark periods were not big on numbers but were when we had the bigger fish encounters. Tom in particular was unlucky when he was cut off while retrieving over 100m of line having turned a fish that was ticking all the 100lb boxes in the night, while Bill managed to bring in a 108cm fish that was definitely above the weight curve for its size in the very last dark of a dawn session.
The other trend seemed to be a ‘feast or famine’ approach by the fish during the day, probably as they juggled tighter feeding windows amongst all the factors of temperature, dust and moon. This meant that between longer quiet periods, someone would suddenly hit a purple patch of madness which kept things very interesting. Bill hooking 7 Tiger fish in 3 casts, landing two beautiful Brevis’ was the best example, but everyone stepped up at some point. Peter’s Niger Barb and then Tiger 1-2 at Place du Orpailleur was also very memorable, as was Tom’s last night of Perch fishing when the dust obscured the moon and allowed him to hook 7 fish and land three, the last one on a 9wt after his 12wt was broken!
This was also moving week for the artisanal miners who take advantage of the full moon light to drift in to the river to scratch out some gold flakes, and we encountered their camps on a couple of days out. Luckily there is also a very clear plan in place for this, and our anti poaching crew did a very solid job of discouraging their illegal presence. It was not a disruption to the fishing at all, and was an important illustration of the effect the fishing presence has on the rivers well being, which was fully appreciated by the guests.
Taxing, tiring but so entertaining, the guides now have a welcome chance to rest up a bit before wrapping up the season with the last group and whatever comes with them! Catch you then.