Gabon Season 2020: Week 2 – Midnight Madness

There are 3 main ingredients that make up the recipe for a successful week here in Sette Cama: Water, Light, and Bait. When we have two of them line up we expect good fishing. When all 3 coincide, the fishing can be out of this world.

Our second Week of the 2020 season provided just that, a perfect storm of good quantities of fresh water, perfect light conditions, and seemingly endless quantities of baitfish; and it resulted in some of the best fishing, and fish, of the entire year.

With the majority of our host arriving from America, our 6 guest anglers arrived itching to get stuck in. All keen fly fishermen, our guests quickly took advantage of the improving lagoon conditions, with guests Bill Cowin, Derek Ulbrich and ex African Waters guide Johann Du Preez, all having 30+ fish mornings – An indication of things to come as the week progressed. The large Jacks were unusually hunting big mullet and sardine in the middle of the channel, rather than herding and smashing the bait to the mangrove edges. But the amount of bait in the system gave us reason to be optimistic for the coming evening sessions.

The result of all this bait, were sessions in the river mouth that rivalled any other fishing experience. But nothing comes for free in this fishery, and cracking the code and finding the fish this week took a bit of experimenting and searching, with our fair share of fish landed and lost along the way. During the second session, guest angler Tom Camp landed the first of his Cuberra snapper on the fly, a beautiful 25kg specimen. Tom showed impressive skill to land the fish on the back end of a dropping spring tide, dealing not only with the immense power a fish that size can exert on a fly rod, but also the powerful currents that are so common in this estuary.

By the 3rd evening session we had it figured out, and we found ourselves fishing late into the evenings, on a dead low tide, in an estuary foaming with bait. The telltale sound of large cuberra snapper, tarpon and giant African threadfin gorging themselves on mullet and sardine in the pitch black of the new moon night, was enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. With fish rolling only meters from our feet, distance became irrelevant, and presentation became everything to their success.

Light coloured flies, fished deep and as slow as possible in the fast current was paramount to induce a take. The longer the fly hung in the strike zone, the more chance of connecting with the fish of a lifetime. The result was both Johann and Tom, landing 30+kg and 35+kg Cuberra Snapper respectively, an incredible achievement on Fly. 30+ Kilogram snapper on the fly are a rarity out here, mainly due to the sheer violence of the fight. Spin and fly fisherman alike struggle to keep these fish out of rocks, or from disappearing over the horizon. To have multiple 30+kg, and one 35+kg cuberra snapper landed on fly, is a testament to the skill of the anglers.

The week also provided some new insights into catching threadfin on the fly, as it’s not every day conditions allow us to reach these incredible fish on fly rod.  A heavily weighted fly retrieved with a slow jig action provided the best results, be ready to set on the drop though!

However the tarpon eluded us this week – and not for lack of effort on our behalf – rather lessons in humility were being dished out to us every session. Be it Tarpon cutting us off on the rocks, chaffing through leaders in the strong current, or snapping fly lines on the set; our nightly Tarpon beatdowns left us in no doubt who the real King of the Sette Cama estuary is. Sometimes all you can do is pay your dues.

It was a truly incredible week, with incredible catches and experiences, shared with an incredible group of guests. I look forward to fishing with them again in the near future.

Stay tuned for more reports from Africa’s eden.