Being near the equator, sunrise and sunset in Gabon are roughly always at the same time every day, without much deviation as the seasons progress. That is really the only constant here. Another week started with some new and some familiar faces making up the party. Returning clients are great as they already know the story, but it is the first-time visitors to Sette Cama who excite us the most – new people to brag and show off to about where we live for the summer months of the year. Sette Cama never fails to inspire awe (ok, another constant).
Delayed start in Gabon
Due to their late arrival in camp, the usual first evening surf session was canceled as the tides would be missed, and the “wary” travelers were already celebrating their journey to Africa’s Eden. Instead, estuary spin and fly gear were rigged and ready for the morning’s session. It puts a smile on the guides’ faces when shoals of marauding longfin jacks greet the clients first thing in the morning. Usually, the first few minutes are a semi-disaster with “fish frenzy fever” consuming the new initiates!!! The beautiful thing is that opportunities to cast to busting jacks are normally not in short supply. The lagoon sessions throughout the week were fun with both numbers and good sizes of jacks and some snapper thrown in. One morning, in particular, the frenzy was at an all-time high. Shoals of big jacks were pinning mullet, bongo shad, and elops up against the side. The washing machine of predation was literally causing the baitfish to jump out of the water and land on the bank. Not that the baitfish were safer on dry land (true they can’t exactly breathe out of the water). Egrets, herons, a water mongoose, and a few ornate monitor lizards were capitalizing on the free food stuck between finned and limbed predators. It also provided us with an opportunity to collect some bongo shad to use as bait for the rock and surf fisherman in the group, a rare treat indeed (insert drooling emoji).
Loango National Park
Clients also rotated during the week, replacing a morning lagoon session with a guided quad bike ride up the coast, running well into the Loango National Park. They were treated to sightings of elephants, forest buffalo, and our famous surfing hippos along this pristine stretch of coastline – truly the last of its kind in Africa. A few even had the added bonus of catching juvenile tarpon on the fly in the tiny blackwater lagoons that materialize out of the jungle. Another treat of the week was utilizing our newly finished picnic site a few kilometers down the coast from camp. A hearty lunch under the lapa followed by an afternoon nap in the hammocks hung on the edge of the forest overlooking the sea is definitely a highlight for the hours in between fishing sessions.
Fishing in Gabon gets serious!
Onto the fishing for real men! The first few evening surf sessions were world-class. A big sand point had developed, which allowed us to fish where the lagoon channel meets the backline of the surf. The main character ready to box was the cubera snapper. The rolling white water along the tip of the point just screams snapper, and they didn’t disappoint! Everyone got stuck into specimens ranging from around 8 to just over 20 kg. Anglers were shocked to hook these fish in thigh-deep water just meters away from them in the darkness. The only thing to not love about snappers is their ability to destroy and puncture any lure – let’s just say that the tackle bill was on an exponential rise. Between all the snapper, some otolithes (senegalese kob), threadfin, big elops, such as springer, skippies, ladyfish, giant herring, and more, were also caught. One night, the silence of the waves was interrupted by the shout of “I’m ON!” followed by a dull thud in between the breakers. Knowing what was happening; the anglers put on their landing gloves and successfully brought the first tarpon of the week to shore.
Flyfishing in Africa’s Eden
The fly fishermen in the party were not disappointed either. Everyone who tried hooked a tarpon on a fly, but most of them were not the “fun size”. Instead, they were large enough to make even experienced anglers think twice about tangling with them in the rough current and waves on fly gear. Except for one 35 kg tarpon that was landed, the rest left the fly fishermen feeling insignificant in comparison to their impressive animal at the end of their fly line. During one of those intense moments, half of a 12wt also took a long swim, but was fortunately found washed up on shore the following morning. Although only one tarpon was successfully caught on fly, the party still achieved their goal of catching threadfin and snapper on fly as well.
The clients were content with their week, largely thanks to the surreal fishing experience Sette Cama offers. On the last night, they enjoyed a beach braai at the mouth of the river with coolers full of adult beverages and great food. Watching the camaraderie between the clients that night, we, the fishing guides, were happy knowing that we had achieved our goal of sharing the incredible Sette Cama experience with our guests.
If you would like to experience Africa’s Eden in Gabon, please click here to find out more!