Ramblings of a fisherman

Going Going Gabon!

‘When cold autumn winds greet me from the north, my thoughts drift to tropics down south where the longitude and latitudes are stretched out wide and the African jungle of Gabon smells of wet green earth, charcoal fires, salt and sea … of adventure like no other, that shouts your name …’

In the north the autumn leaves announce that it’s time to gear up and roll out. Bass boats are hauled out as rain pelts down … winterise vessel, maintain and store away gear … Finally, the rainy season in West Africa is over and we’re heading off to the magic only Gabon can deliver.

4:03 a.m. my flight tracker blinks on the screen to warn of the first leg to Paris from London. We drop into the tropics at Libreville, right on time at 5:25 p.m. – second leg done. Get me down there Mr Pilot, because this waiting is cruel … Bring it on, for the crew of four!!! 

You get that first glimpse of the jungle fishing tackle that’s been waiting patiently to come out and play; large lures with assassin-like scars, beaten up, dirty fights, opened-up hooks, scarred paint, wounds still showing from long lost battles with powerful giants; the sight draws an unstoppable grin.

Rods, reels, tackle will all be rigged with a wild tingle – a smile pulling my face in a way only a dirty poker hand will do. Most of all the love for adventure embraces me. 

Gabon Dreamworks

The mind wanders and dreamworks engage. Wild dreams of remote beaches with emerald jungles, beautiful smells. Focus on only one thing: fighting jungle fish to the bitter end, and then gracefully letting it swim away. Only a tired jungle angler can know this feeling.

Celebrating the supermoon over the jungle of Iguela Lagoon and Luango National Park. The moon will follow our footsteps in the dark on this isolated and wild part of our beautiful planet we all call home!

Gabon is: 

… the smell of a charcoal fire in the morning, quiet whispers around a generator light, conversations, single words that instruct the body to get ready for the jungle adventure, black coffee at the crack of dawn, the forest awaking around you. Where the white beach is dragged into the jungle by long vines stretching its octo-arms out from the green mass. This makes your heart pump faster and louder … I’m here … living the moment now. It’s here … it’s time.

You’re still dreaming, you think, it makes you jump, your untied heartbeat that thunders inside your chest when that first big fish hits … when it all happens too fast – your whole body gets grabbed by this invisible power that’s connected to you by a thin … super thin line. How can this be? man on land and fish in sea pulling each other as hard as they can; the line less than a third of a millimeter. A jolt forward into the dark towards the ocean and the breaking surf … wtf? Your head goes into adrenaline-filled brain mush and you can only scream with excitement … no words come to you yet: it was a gentle tap … like a cat picking up a ball of yarn to play with and then suddenly turned into a mad hungry lion that races away …

You’re on!!

It’s Snapper time you think … or what … what’s that splash? It’s airborne! No, it’s a Tarpon! Hell no, what’s going on? Most of all you slowly realise it’s not a dream and you’re being dragged down the beach, reel screaming, rod jumping … into the surf you go. A powerful force that wants all your line, tows you; rod, reel and skin on your hands – before breakfast and wilder than you are prepared for … 

You shout, can’t remember if it was loud enough, try to turn your head torch on, turn the fish, get the angle on the fight … or just hold on for the roller coaster ride. Powerful runs and you shout to your mate again, but you know it’s only you and the fight; a long dance … A monkey screams at you as if to say: ‘Whahaha, welcome to the jungle! This beautiful African jungle … hold on tight baby, the sun will be up sooooon!!!

Beer in hand, and crazy French acid jazz fusion in my earphone, pumping … dripping with that unmistakable African beat. My body can feel the adrenaline rush that awaits in the dark tannin-coloured waters of Iguela.

I’m here, we’re ready…

Watch Salty Dog in action in Gabon during our 2015 trip!

If you’re interested in joining Salty Dog on the next trip, please get in touch through our website!

Paul Haldenwang

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