Capitaine – Cameroon Season 2020, Week 4
By the time the last week rolled around, I think we were feeling as ready as we had at any point in the season. We had continued to improve our fly camp to the point where it was a well oiled machine, we had had a chance to really rest up and prepare ourselves and our gear, and we had band new tailored shirts made in Garoua on their way. There was nothing left to do but get the guests here and empty ourselves onto the river for a week.
We felt like we were really prepared at least until Petrus, Ricky, Des and Steve eventually did arrive, and start shuffling gear around. A guitar, some hammocks, a personal mobile AC unit, cameras and housings, charging stations, medical supplies, Life Straws and enough Rehydrate for a village (literally) were among the things that emerged. And that was all before Petrus started unpacking his fishing gear which took things up another level, and most of the first afternoon to try and streamline! It was in a powerful position of preparation that we sat around the fire the first night, discussing what might go down in the following days.
The game plan was back to the more normal format of fishing nights for the Perch, but these sessions were set to get progressively longer as the waxing moon set later every night. By the last two nights, we would fish the sunset until about 8pm when the moon was well established and then take a long break off the water until it had started to set before fishing again, which was just before 11pm on the last night! There has to be a lot of faith in a system and buy in from anglers to make a schedule like this, and I think our confidence in it and the results show how far we’ve come in our understanding of this river.
The fishing analysis throws up some truly exceptional events- the biggest tiger fish to date on fly (15lb H.Brevis) was landed by Des, who only dealt in big fish all week. A really special fish that we feel has been a long time in the making! Des also hooked and fought easily the biggest Niger Barb (also around the 15lb mark!) on a tiger rig, which was lost when the steel wire snapped while it was being leadered, which was a huge pity. The Barbs were a prominent feature of the week and it was great to be seeing them in good numbers, and no shortage of very large fish. Petrus also hooked a very good specimen but was on to a hiding to nothing with 4x tippet.
There were also a couple of incidents at Place Le Ministre and Place du Souer of incredible sight fishing to multiple tiger fish stacked up on shallow sand bars that everyone managed to experience. It is very hard to explain just how much of a spectacle and how much fun this is. It almost seems too good to be true! The combination of the tigers’ numbers, aggression and competition created some incredible hook up opportunities, and equally impressive as watching their speed is how quickly they wise up and need a new fly, approach or new fish before it all starts again. There were a couple of tiger slams of all three species for Ricky and Steve, as well as a notable Largescale Tetra for Ricky that was hammered by Tigers on its way in.
The Perch fishing was not particularly consistent after a bumper start on the first night. There was action from 7 through to 9pm, with Des and Steve both getting two fish each, and both getting one around the meter mark (100cm and 125cm!) which is actually outstanding. Good numbers of smaller fish were racked up, mainly by Steve who was becoming accustomed to a certain standard of living and wouldn’t settle for anything less than 3 fish a night. They were longer and harder sessions, and it was tough for the guys to maintain levels or to stop and then pick it all up again by the end of the week, after long days. Petrus waited until night 3 and made the most of the dust induced dark to land his 90cm fish. No one waited longer than Steve though, who hooked the last fish of the trip at 12:40am on the last night, after everyone else had wrapped up at 11:30pm, and like it was scripted in Hollywood, it turned out tho be the fish of the trip at 126cm! Exactly the kind of an end to a trip, and season that everyone is looking for!
Anyone who has been here knows it’s not the quickest or easiest travel, but these gentlemen did it with the added burden of bulk quantities of Oral Rehydrate sachets that we were able to hand over to our fishing camp staff so that they could distribute amongst themselves and their homes in respective surrounding villages. They also came with some Life Straws which we gave to the Anti Poaching unit, and it was very clear how well received and appreciated these critical items were. Above and beyond effort.
There was also the guitar, some extraordinary conversation topics, some excellent debate and discussion, and humor scratched up from pretty much anything and everything. There was also a deep appreciation for the context of this wilderness area, and it was admired at every level, and maybe that is the ultimate ending.