Sweltering and dry, Northern Cameroon is trying to bake us alive, temperatures reaching well over 40°c daily, escaping it is impossible out here in the bush. The only reprieve is early mornings and in the evening after the sun has dipped below the horizon. Its during these cooler hours, while one does not feel as if they are a sausage on a grill, these are the hours we can be active, these are the hours we fish.
Malte (Germany) and Mikael (Sweden) arrived in Gassa camp after 2 weeks in the Gabonese rainforest chasing tarpon, jacks etc with great stories of chimpanzees and gorilla encounters. Keen for adventure and high in energy they were keen to hit the water and duel with some large freshwater fish. No strangers to large fish, casting 12wts and adventure, it was gearing up to be a week of unrivalled fishing, one of the best of the season, both in numbers as well as fish sizes. The perch were prowling, ambushing. Hunting. With all the heat and lack of rainfall the Faro river was low and warm, making it easily crossable in certain areas and almost impossible to cool off with a quick swim. These low and warm conditions made the tigerfish stressed and this was obvious with slow follows and chases, noncommittal attacks and soft hits. Very few tigers wanted to play along and frustrated guide and angler, especially seeing bow waves chasing flies but never committing.
The few deeper, rockier, pools held some large schools of niger barbs. Some large specimens holding deeper and the smaller fish sitting higher in the water column. With the low, warm and clear water the fish were concentrated near the safety of deep water and could disappear with ease as their olive green backs blend in with the deep green waters. These yellowfish have got to be some of the toughest and trickiest fish to target (more difficult than a tailing permit) and doing so requires great resolve, skill, perseverance and a double-shot of luck. An accurate, delicate presentation with a long 5x leader and the correct flies attached, from a stealthy position, trying to intercept ADHD fish that can’t sit still, constantly changing direction and depth. The fact that these fish reach over 20lb and have excellent eyesight and you use 5x means a lot of luck needed (I’ll have another double-shot of luck please). This is the ultimate test of skill and will humble every angler.
The day fishing was a challenge the entire week, not much action but there was opportunity. This was very different in comparison to the night fishing for perch. Malte seemed to be unstoppable, landing 4 of our 5 largest fish the entire season. On the first evening at “Mare de Croco” Malte after wrestling a few smaller perch (70-90cm) hooked into an absolute tank. The fish started off upstream, slowly, almost as if being unaware that it was hooked, another hookset made this fish take-off downstream. With a fully locked drag and nearly pulling Malte into the murky abyss, stopping this fish was a real challenge, it wanted to get downstream, around a huge rock point that was inaccessible and would spell disaster and lost fish. Huge pressure on both angler as well as fish, fully locked Shilton SL7, 66lb fluro, 8/0 saltwater hooks, quality flyline and and a strong flyrod (luckily Malte had his serving of luck). He managed to turn the fish before the obstacle and battled this leviathan to the small beach in the rocky gorge. As the fish was landed the hooked dropped out easily and we noticed it had straighted but still managed to hold enough pressure to bring the Perch to hand. Very lucky. A 131cm beauty, a fish of a lifetime, just shy of the 100lb mark.
This was not the largest fish of the season or even this week of fishing but is for me one of the most outstanding fishing experiences of my life, personally, you could feel the pressure, you knew how much luck and skill was needed to land such a fish. Guides were running keeping fish and line clear of obstacles, oysters, caves, feet. Pure chaos, luck and skill.
What an amazing wilderness and river system we get to fish. It is the end of our 2022 season and now we wait till January 2023 for our return to the bush, the heat, the dust and the humbling fish. We are so proud to be involved in this area and cant wait to get back, to make a difference in the local environment and people.
Until next year