Fishing in Cameroon – Perch on top?


Fishing in Cameroon

For the final week of the season fishing in cameroon for Nile perch at Gassa Camp, we were joined by a group consisting of 3 friends from school in the UK (Dave, Charlie and Rob)  and one American based in France (John), a return guest from last year’s Tanzania season.

Straight after arrival, the excitement kicked in, evident by the way that they began to take the mickey out of each other, with Dave and Charlie (day boys) generally ganging upon Robin (boarder). While I would love to recount some of the banter, it is probably not safe for work and should be left to echo through the Faro Reserve. It was apparent that the trip would be eventful, and we were not wrong. For a start, Charlie decided on night two that he would prefer to fish with Dave’s rod and promptly walked off with it, not realising that neither the rod nor reel resembled his own in any way, until it was pointed out to him at the end of the session. To add insult to injury, he had christened Dave’s rod with a couple of small perch. John managed to do an almost perfect cartwheel into the river while moving away from some fighting hippos, Blaede admitted to wearing pink, glitter lipstick around Garoua for the day, apparently without knowing (although he also admitted to getting pedicures, so I have my suspicions), and Dave won a bet that if he didn’t get a tank perch, Blaede had to get a perch tattoo. The perch in the tattoo must be wearing lipstick…

The fishing

The last week of fishing was fairly tough, with the low water making the fish during the day fairly spooky. The barbs were feeding actively, but their ability to eat and spit a fly before you can blink will rival that of any fish in the world. Pin-point casts are usually required, as well as lightning quick reflexes, but without Kevin VanDam-ing them off on the light tippet. A barb of any size is an achievement. With a number of fish hooked, missed, snapped and pricked, the last day finally brought a couple to hand, all of a very respectable size and all sight fished. Their beautiful golden colour with the soft light of the sun shining through the Harmattan haze onto their massive dorsal fin always calls for a moment or two of admiration and appreciation before they take off like a yellow missile back into the river on the release.

Tigerfish Fishing

The tigers were around in good numbers, but as always keeping them on the hook can leave the most even-tempered anglers throwing their tackle around in frustration, and yet you can’t get enough of it. The clear water of the Faro, especially in the late season, makes the tiger fishing very visual, with many of the tiers stalked and sight fished. While we didn’t land many, the mornings were usually filled with chases and tail-nips and kept everyone focussed and eventually all 3 species (H. brevis, H. forskahlii and H. vittatus) were landed. Special mention must really go to John, who put in some hard work and managed to land good numbers. Unfortunately, the tank tiger he was after was not to be, with one bus snapping the header off at the loop and another one snapping the 25lb leader on the take two days later. 

Nile perch of Cameroon

While the perch were very tough, of the 5 caught during the night sessions, 4 of them were caught while swinging or stripping surface flies right at the head of Marais du Croco (MDC). Because of the way that perch eat, by suddenly expanding their buccal cavity, the eat can sound like a gun going off. It almost hits you in your chest. The last night really stood out for me. John still needed a perch and had not had a touch for 6 nights. We worked the top of MDC hard before finally changing flies to a pink thing I am going to call the Honeymoon Handcuffs, and he finally picked up a smallish perch on the surface. A move 20m downstream half an hour later immediately resulted in a massive surface hit and miss, and eventually a lovely 89cm perch smoked his surface fly. It proceeded to scream off downstream with John hanging on, unable to follow it over the impossible slippery rocks. Luckily, MDC does not have many sharp oysters for perch to use to cut you off, so I was not very worried on that front. Of real concern, however, was a join in the fly line that I had made after it snapped earlier that evening. Each time I heard the knots go through the guides, my heart was in my mouth, and I am sure it was even scarier for John. With the correct pressure applied, John managed to work it back to himself and a place where we could land it. Finally defeated, it was guided into a bay where we landed it. It was absolutely fin-perfect, not a scale missing and in astoundingly good condition. Truly a lovely fish on which to end the trip. A couple of photos under the stars of an unusually clear night, and it kicked back into the depths while John remained in the river for a moment longer, appreciating the moment. He had worked incredibly hard for that fish and the reward of getting it right at the end on a topwater made the victory so much sweeter. 

The experience of Africa & fishing in Cameroon

Now, I know that when fishermen start talking about the sunsets, the environment and the views that they are usually trying to find a way to say that they caught no fish without having to explicitly say so, but the experience of simply being in Cameroon is almost impossible to match. On the first night we were at a close beat, Le Ministre with probably 60 hippos within casting distance, fishing at night with the head lamps off, being deafened as they communicated with each other in the dark. Once you have experienced that once, you will never forget it. It is so rare to be in an environment in modern times where you are not the biggest, strongest, fastest or best protected. You are at the mercy of the wildlife, and you continue to live at its whim. Even as a South African it is incredibly humbling to find myself somewhere way down the food chain, and for guests from tamer countries, in this case Wales, the experience can really be life changing. When you add to this the evening light glowing orange through the dust coming down from the Sahara, bumping into some West African buffalo, seeing a massive croc breach 10 metres from where you are fishing and falling asleep the whooping of spotted hyenas and the spookily deep hooting of the fishing owls, you have yourself a unique trip, and if you so choose, you can allow it to change your perspective of the world and man’s place in it. 

The Fishing In Cameroon will have a lasting effect

The morning that the guests left, I woke up early to find Charlie sitting by himself watching light of morning reflection of the river, a sad expression on his face. “I don’t know how I can go home. There are no hippos or crocs that might try to kill me. African really works its way into your soul, doesn’t it?” I don’t know if I could have said it any better. 

If you would like to come fishing in Cameroon for Nile Perch with us, please click here for the trip of a lifetime!

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2 Responses
  1. John Curran

    Well stated David. It was a great pleasure fishing with you. Excellent guiding, especially that emergency line patch job the last night! Cheers mate

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