Trip Inspiration
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Unlocking Gabon’s incredible biodiversity

Unlocking Gabon’s incredible biodiversity

“This may be what my over-stimulated brain needs” I thought, tying a fishy looking surface popper onto my line and subconsciously emptying my head of everything other than the deserted beach and a mixed flock of Crested and Common Terns flying tightly over a point above the pushing current line in the estuary, just about where the force of the outflowing river collided with the pushing ocean tide.

Gabon’s incredible forest biodiversity and species in abundance had shocked me out of my African Savannah comfort-zone a week earlier and had our group embarking on a kind of forest and coastal “bio-blitz” as we moved from Akanda to Pongara to Loango National Parks.
As much as Pongara had been blissful with its beautiful turtle beaches and gentle landscapes of forest, mangrove and grassy plain, Loango seemed to ramp it up a notch on the scale of big, wild places to explore. There are forest elephant, buffalo and river hogs to encounter on a fairly regular basis however it is the flowering plants, amphibians, alternative crocodiles and minute life on the damp forest floor that seems to happily occupy much of your attention and, in my case, a little biodiversity-induced brain fatigue.

The terns moved closer, one or two started diving and I casted at the patch of rippling water below them the line tightening instantly.
Caranx fischeri or Longfin Jack are voracious predators of small shoaling fish and are a regular target species for sport anglers in the estuary systems in Loango NP. The shoal of Jacks continued to feed on the baitfish in front of me, providing the terns with easy pickings of injured panicked fish and me with the joy of a bent fishing rod on every other cast. Non-stop action and adrenalin as successive fish hit the lure and pull with a fierce strength. No time for other thoughts, all focus becomes the rhythm of casting, fighting, quickly unhooking and then releasing the fish, and back to casting again. Fishing is meditative, even this high action stuff!
The blitz is over about 30 minutes after starting, the baitfish disperse the Jacks move to deeper water and the terns join a flock of African Skimmers on a sandbar to preen and digest.

The Loango NP coastline is a world renowned sport fishing destination for species such as Tarpon, Giant African Threadfin, Cubera Snapper and the hard fighting Jacks. Both fly and spinning anglers are well accommodated for. It’s a fantastic addition to a natural history trip for anyone with an angling bent. The opportunity to catch and release one of these magnificent fish species alongside exploring Gabon’s iconic parks feels like a bonus.

Content with my morning fishing therapy I follow the tracks of a turtle up the beach and stand where they bisect those of a small herd of elephant, what an interesting meeting that could have been! Making my way back to N’dola Camp to meet up with the rest of the group, fresh back from Gorilla tracking, I think about swopping fishing stories for gorilla pics and where else that combination would be remotely possible?