Excitement levels are always at a boiling point when a new group of guests arrives in camp. The incoming group was composed of our veteran French guests, which in some cases have come to visit Gabon and fish for more than twenty years! Coming straight off an incredible evening session the previous night, where the Threadfin were “gale force”, both the guide and the guests were ready for non-stop action! The twenty odd minute boat ride down to the “embochure” seemed to take even longer that evening, there was no time to stop and take selfies with the forest elephants on the banks of the lagoon.
Upon arrival we were treated to the glorious sight of dark tannin rich lagoon water engulfing the mouth and adjacent surf zone. All the ingredients were right for a threadfin smash. The last hour of daylight went by with not much excitement, but we all knew that the magic would only start once the sky slowly loses its orange hue and turns to inky darkness. As if planned (the guide would argue it was), the night settled in which coincided with the ultimate low tide and start of the incoming pulse, the Threadfin arrived, or more likely just started to feed. A handful of nice threadfin were quickly landed with almost every cast receiving an inquiry. Unfortunately the action did not last long. There is no greater surprise for a skipper and guide, standing in the shore dump busy landing a fish, than looking up and seeing a massive bullshark a few meters away in the beam of their headlights trying to land the fish itself. That unfortunately caused the bite to subside, after the taxing it became evident that the sharks were now taking residence in the mouth.
The next day we were greeted by the start of a massive spring tide cycle. The coefficient (i.e. the difference between low and high tides) was exceptionally large as we start to move closer to the equinox. This caused a change in the fishing conditions. Clear marine water started to dominate the mouth which sometimes causes complications from a fishing perspective. The dark water we all love was gone in a matter of 24 hours. The next few days weren’t the “Gabon Chaos” but most likely still rivalled any other shore based fishery in the world. More focus was shifted onto the morning lagoon sessions. Again the big tides weren’t favourable but some interesting observations were made. A technique which hasn’t seen much attention in Sette Cama is the use of slow jigs fished vertically in the lagoon. Although conditions were tough the slow jigs were producing the goods whereas the traditional fare wasn’t. Some spectacular action was had with a vast diversity of species from threadfin and snapper to grunter. The two stand out catches were quite large tilapia which were caught in 5m of water! This facet of fishing definitely has a lot of potential in the massive Ndogo lagoon system.
Stars starting to align in Sette Cama
As the days progressed the big tides were actually starting to shape up nicely for a very special spot near the lagoon mouth. A “small” creek enters the main channel near a place we call the “Cabin”. During big spring tides, as the tide starts to drop after the high, the creek starts to drain slightly darker water and an incredible biomass of mullet into the main channel. This densely stacked stream of mullet can be compared to the conveyor belt of non-stop sushi found in malls. Tarpon, snapper and threadfin love to stack up in the current and feast until the flow ends. It is quite spectacular hearing and watching the big gamefish smashing baitfish a few meters from the side, sometimes you even get wet in the process. This area and its formation is ideal for fly fishermen as it allows for flies to be swung through the current line of bait. The first night started with a lot of predation happening but not many bites besides a beautiful threadfin landed by Therry Couty in the region of 15kg and a few snapper for Alexandre and Jeremy Sibillat. Mr Gabon himself (aka Christian Neyret who visits Gabon at least 4 times a year to fish!) unfortunately got his tarpon bite, but in the process the top two sections of his rod came apart and slid down the line. To add insult to injury the tarpon eventually wore through the leader… cheers lucky fly, big tarpon and a 12wt. The following nights had the same trend, just with more action both in the water and on the end of the line. All the fly fisherman got nice snapper and several tarpon were jumped. Therry made some stick and landed two tarpon, both being spectacular specimens of 47 kg and 52 kg. Christian also got his revenge with a 40 kg class fish.
Another visit to Gabon ending on a high point
The last evening session of the week was “awesome” in the true sense of the word for the lure fisherman. We spun the surf zone to the south of the mouth. The sea was glass with only a minute shore dump being present. Alex’s first throw with a big popper marked the start of how the evening would progress. A massive guinean barracuda launched vertically out the air with the popper clenched in its jaw. Upon entering the water, it jumped again which is very unlike barracuda. Before the barracuda re-entered the water, a bull shark went all Animal Planet and launched out and took the barracuda mid air. A spectacular sight but also highly annoying. The fish were around in force but it turned into a tug of war as the anglers raced to land their fish before the sharks could get to them. Every fish if successfully landed had three or more bull sharks behind it in knee deep water. The sharks also turned on the lures, no stickbait or popper was safe. After a lot of lost lures, almost being stripped and the inability to land fish, we called it early as it was unethical to carry on. We did manage to land some big senegalese kob and threadfin, most of which went to the kitchen due to bite marks. Although annoying to the guide and anglers, it does highlight how pristine the marine ecosystem is in this area due to the abundance of large apex predators.
The French guests are still in camp for another week, with the decreasing coefficient and hopefully more rain there is potential for spectacular things to take place.
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