Fishing in Gabon – The Sette Cama Stalwart

Fishing in Gabon

Fishing in Gabon

Fishing in Gabon: One thing that has become pretty clear over time is that people very rarely visit Sette Cama only once, and this is definitely true for Matt Frank, who joined us for his fourth visit in just two years. For his group, it was a family and friends trip, with Matt’s son accompanying him and Simon, his brother, meeting up with them in Libreville from the US, as well as two other close mates and their sons from back home in SA, taking the team for the week up to a total of seven. It’s always nice having returning clients, as they are familiar with the lodge setup and how the fishing sessions are planned and executed. I met up with the team at the military hangar in Libreville and flew with them to camp. As occasionally happens with traveling, one of Matt’s bags didn’t come off the conveyor belt at Libreville airport. As luck would have it, this bag contained all his reels and the majority of their lures for the week’s fishing. This meant that the big man was not in the best of moods when he arrived at the hangar, but the promise of a cool box with cold beers waiting on the boat at the other end of the flight, the promise that heaven and earth would be moved to get his bag to him ASAP, and fishing banter and discussions around previous fish and experiences meant that he was slightly less inclined towards violence by the time we landed at Gamba airport (plus African Waters has a great system for this situation of retrieving bags and overnight couriering them to camp, which means that most lost bags only mean a short inconvenience). We met up with Ewan and the shuttle to take the team to the boat station where the cold beers were waiting for the 1-hour run down through the incredible expanse of the upper lagoon back to camp. Within a short time of everyone arriving at camp and settling in, the vibe started feeling more like one big group of mates rather than clients and guides. 

Battling Wind and Tides for Fishing Success in Gabon

The fishing started off tough for the guys, with a very unusually strong wind blowing on the first morning, forcing us off the main lagoon and up the Sunga channel where there was fun to be had with small threadfin and springer on light tackle. The first mouth sessions were also pretty tough with not many fish around, and we resorted to fishing live baits off the South bank, which produced some decent Senegal kob. 

Croaker Fishing In Gabon Senegal Kob Fishing In Gabon

Longfin Jacks, Barracuda, and Micro-Jigging Madness

The lagoon quickly settled to its normal self, and the next few sessions were filled with heaps of longfin jacks for everyone with triple-ups and some real quality fish as well. There were also the usual Guinean barracuda in the mix as well as some smaller snappers. When the jacks went down and things slowed, we switched over to micro-jigging, and the guys again got stuck into some nice snapper, young threadfin, and the ever-cooperative grunter. It quickly became apparent that there was going to be steep competition between the “ballies” and the “lighties” for the duration of the trip, with the exact rules and scoring system appearing quite flexible depending on who had caught what during the session. 

Longfin Jack

Matt’s Epic Return to Sette Cama

On the fourth morning of the week, the tide came right for a morning session on the North bank of the mouth. If my memory serves me correctly, Matt was finally reunited with his missing item of luggage, so he was fishing with his own tackle again, and this was where Sette Cama decided to arrive at the party. Matt got a decent snapper before the light came up properly, and then the jacks arrived with the sun, and rods started bending everywhere with double, triple, and quadruple-ups. What was unusual, however, was that there were as many, if not more, jack crevalle in the mix as longfin jacks, and some of them were a good class of fish. 

Battle of Wills, Caleb’s Epic Encounter with a Zambezi Shark

The jack chaos eventually subsided, and we put out a live bait for Caleb, who was keen to try his hand at catching one of the ever-present Zambezi sharks. It wasn’t long before the bait got picked up, and Caleb was hanging onto the rod for dear life with the drag cranked down and a rather upset shark going in the opposite direction. Caleb fought the fish like an absolute champion, not complaining once, keeping maximum pressure on the fish the whole time, and not once considering the option of giving up the rod to take a break. It wasn’t long before he had the shark on the back of the lip, and we guided it a short way along the coast to where the shore break was less steep and it was easier and safer for us and the shark to get it over the drop-off onto the beach. The barbless hook was quickly removed, the youngster posed for his well-earned trophy pics with the shark being held in the wave zone so as to keep water moving across the gills at frequent intervals and then she was allowed to wash back over the drop-off and away. 

Bullsharks in Gabon

Adapting Tactics, Jigging Spoons and Double-Up Delight’s Fishing in Gabon

It became apparent pretty early on during that first morning on the North bank that the fish weren’t feeding up, and those bites that we had off the top were half-hearted and very few resulted in solid contacts. Soft plastics were working well, but the most effective lure by far was proving to be any form of jigging spoon fished slowly off the bottom. As luck would have it, this was about the only lure that we didn’t have with us in sufficient numbers, and that mid-day period was spent going through lure boxes looking for anything that could be used as a jigging spoon, and I tied up a bunch of assist hooks with extra fluff and rubber skirts to add a bit of extra bling. 

The next morning was pretty much a repeat performance, but with the guys more keyed in on what the fish wanted, so the success rate was even higher. Again, there had been a lot of jack crevalle in the mix with fish up to and over the 10kg mark. As usual, the jack action slowed down as the morning progressed and the sun got higher, and with it, the guys’ enthusiasm started to dwindle. Somewhere around 9:30, we were pretty much packed up and ready to head home for lunch. Grant and Nick were about the only guys still fishing, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw one of them – I can’t remember who went tight first – get flattened by a proper fish that started emptying line off the reel with intention. Very shortly thereafter, the next guy went vas with what appeared to be an equally good fish, and there was a bit of quick footwork and under-overs to get the lines cleared of each other so the guys could settle in to fight what we guessed had to be big crevalle. A while later, both of the guys landed their fish almost simultaneously and were able to get a classic double-up pic each with a 15+kg crevalle. 

These big fish hung around for a while, despite the late time in the morning, and if my memory serves me correctly, I think a total of 5 fish around and over the 15kg mark were landed that morning. 

The following morning was the team’s last morning session, and we decided to have another swing at the mouth in the hopes that there would still be some big crevalle around. It turned out to be another busy morning with loads of jacks and a few good crevalle in the mix again, but not the numbers of big fish we’d seen the previous day, and the fishing shut down completely around the usual 9 AM mark, unlike the previous morning when the big crevalle only arrived at that time. After the hot and sweaty walk back down the North bank to the boat parking area, everyone was ready for a cold beverage from the boat box and spent a few minutes wallowing in the shallows with a drink in hand just appreciating the moment in an incredible place with friends and family. 

Last Cast, Last Hope – A Tarpon Surprise on the Final Evening Fishing in Gabon

It’s always a sad moment when the last session for a group comes around, and it was a bit of a somber crowd that set off that evening for the mouth. The evening sessions had been far from fireworks for the week, with the big fish not making any real appearance despite a good tide and some decent river water flowing out the mouth. This final session started out no different, and there were just younger fish that provided some entertainment. Towards the end of the evening, Ewan and I had gone up to the “snapper bank” to the North to see if we could find some fish in the white working water. We had barely got to the bank, which was a good 500m walk from where the home base had been set up when we saw frantic flashing of headlights, which was a signal to “drop everything and get here now because some drama is unfolding”. Trying to sprint through Gabon beach sand is a challenge on fresh legs, but doing it late in the evening after a long day is another experience entirely. As we neared where the drama was unfolding, the silver shape of a tarpon flapping in the shore break came into focus, and this provided the motivation required to sprint the last 100m to grab the camera. The fish was Simon’s, and it had eaten a Brit worked slowly. It was a good fish, around the 40-45-kilo mark. We hurriedly snapped off a pile of pics, making sure the fish was kept where the water was constantly washing around it before gently sliding it back over the lip and home into the dark waters. Once the high fives, hugs, and excitement had abated, the story of exactly how it had gone down came out. Most of the guys had been sitting on the log near the home base, savoring a well-deserved beer, and Simon had stood up and with the words “I’m just going to go and say a final goodbye to Gabon,” walked off into the night to have his final throws. This fish was his reward very shortly thereafter – I think it may even have been on his first cast. This fish was the cherry on top of what had already been an exceptional week of angling for him and a perfect and well-deserved example of how that fish of a lifetime can come at any point, and you just have to keep casting. 

Tarpon Fishing in Gabon

Saying Goodbye to Sette Cama

The next day was changeover day, and it was a bit of an emotional affair saying goodbye to a group of clients who had become friends. I have zero doubt, though, that it won’t be long before Matt finds himself back on the squeaky beaches, throwing lures into the dark waters of Sette Cama, Gabon. – Click here if you would like to come fishing in Gabon!

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