An African Fishing Adventure

The remote beaches and lagoons of Gabon offer amazing inshore and surf fishing amidst unforgettable African wildlife.

Even the most adventurous anglers are unlikely to place fishing Loanga National Park and Ndogo Lagoon on their been-there-done-that list, because hardly anyone has been there or done that. These 16 images from an outfitter of worldwide fishing adventures, Andreas Knausenberger at Andrees Expeditions, offer a good visual idea of the experience of fishing this untouched African coastal wilderness.

Explosion of Huge Cubera

Since the Gabon government has imposed a 10-kilometer no-commercial-fishing zone along this coast, says Knausenberger, the population of African cuberas has exploded. "Huge cubera to more than 100 pounds are caught while throwing poppers and stick baits from shore."

Fishing Gabon on the west African coast - a cubera snapper
This monster, right at the 100-pound mark, went for an Orion plug and put up a tremendous fight in the currents that sweep the beach.A. Knausenberger — Andree's Angelreisen Expeditions

Where is Loanga National Park?

map of gabon
The small red dot marks the spot — to which a handful of lucky adventurers travel each year to take on Gabon's coastal/estuarial game fish.Courtesy Google Earth

Timing the Tides for Surf Action

Guides here have tides dialed in, and it matters: Some beaches are best fished on the outgoing; others are best fished on the flood. Whenever one fishes, he's assured of it being a solitary experience except for some of his mates on the trip.

Fishing Gabon on the west African coast - unending beaches
An angler enjoys Gabon's endless beach.A. Knausenberger — Andree's Angelreisen Expeditions

Sharing the Waters — With Elephants

Loango National Park is home to more than 10,000 forest elephants. As they cross regularly from rain forest to open grasslands across the Ndogo Lagoon, "Anglers will experience some amazing encounters with these gentle animals," says Knausenberger.

Fishing Gabon on the west African coast - elephant encounter
A regular part of the Gabon fishing experience.A. Knausenberger — Andree's Angelreisen Expeditions

Drum African Style

A fairly common surf-caster's surprise are drum like this Senagalese kob. They can exceed 30 pounds.

Fishing Gabon on the west African coast - a drum (Senagalese kob)
This is one of the species of Kob taken along the African coast.A. Knausenberger — Andree's Angelreisen Expeditions

Crossing Ndogo Lagoon

One of the boats from Sette Cama Lodge (home base for anglers on these visits) crosses the lagoon with anglers ready. Sometimes these boats simply ferry anglers to spots up or down the beach; sometimes they permit anglers to cast in the lagoon.

Fishing Gabon on the west African coast - crossing Ndogo Lagoon
One of the main targets inside the lagoon are longfin jacks (see next image).A. Knausenberger — Andree's Angelreisen Expeditions

Not a Crevalle

While these may superficially resemble jack crevalle, their dorsal and anal fins readily identify them as longfin jacks, found only along the central western coast of Africa. They can reach more than 50 pounds and are every bit as brutal when hooked as any member of the jack family. During spring tides, Knausenberger says, they may venture more than 12 miles upriver and bite with a vengeance.

Fishing Gabon on the west African coast - a longfin jack
Look for insane action from longfins early in the morning when they are busting mullet in the quiet lagoon.A. Knausenberger — Andree's Angelreisen Expeditions

Night Visitor — Tarpon in the Surf

Among the mix of several predators in Gabon's pounding surf, lurk tarpon.

Fishing Gabon on the west African coast - a tarpon in the surf
While this is a good-sized tarpon, they get bigger — much bigger — here.A. Knausenberger — Andree's Angelreisen Expeditions

Ferry to a Sandbar

"We had to find ways to reach the best fishing spots," says Knausenberer. Currents and tides conspired to create a sandy bank in the Ndogo River mouth, separated by a channel too deep to cross on foot. "So we used a kayak to put anglers on the sandbar. The effort was well worth it, since fishermen experienced some amazing action out there."

Fishing Gabon on the west African coast - catching a ride in a kayak
A kayak provides a way to reach an otherwise unreachable sandbar.A. Knausenberger — Andree's Angelreisen Expeditions

On the Cusp of the Night Bite

While fish feed along the beaches 24/7, most of the time dusk and dark offer the best fishing, here.

Fishing Gabon on the west African coast - dusk on the edge of the Atlantic
This is the time of day Gabon anglers look for feeding frenzies to start up.A. Knausenberger — Andree's Angelreisen Expeditions

Gabon's Amazing Birds

Anglers encounter many species of birds while fishing and while en route to/from the water. This is a hadada ibis.

Fishing Gabon on the west African coast - a hadada ibis
Loanga National Park offers fabulous opportunities for unforgettable encounters with wildlife.A. Knausenberger — Andree's Angelreisen Expeditions

Cubera Can't Resist Mullet on A Circle Hook

While big snapper will join other predators in smashing poppers and stick baits, it's always hard to beat fishing a dead mullet — a major prey item in these waters — with a circle hook, the rig that accounted for this fish.

Fishing Gabon on the west African coast - a cubera snapper
Young cubera retain striking white lines against bright red sides, but these patterns fade as the fish grow larger.A. Knausenberger — Andree's Angelreisen Expeditions

Gabon: Giant Threadfin Central

The fantastic giant African threadfin may reach more than 100 pounds, and are found in this area of the coast in great numbers. Plugs or jigs with soft plastics, fished slowly, work best for the threadies, feeding on fish and crustaceans that wash out the river mouth.

Fishing Gabon on the west African coast - an African threadfin
While threadfin can be caught in daylight, they bite best in the darkness, particularly with an outgoing tide.A. Knausenberger — Andree's Angelreisen Expeditions

Forest Buffalo: Shy but Formidable

These large bovines generally mind their own business as they graze or swim across the lagoon. Nevertheless, giving them a wide berth is a good idea since they can be dangerous if disturbed, and, says Knausenberger, every year at least a couple of people are killed by buffalo in Gabon.

Fishing Gabon on the west African coast - herd of forest buffalo
Those these animals generally live up to their name and stick to the forest, at times they will actually wade into the surf.A. Knausenberger — Andree's Angelreisen Expeditions

Storm Over the Atlantic

Fishing generally heats up in the rainy season, and threadfin are particularly active after heavy rains.

Fishing Gabon on the west African coast - storm over the Atlantic
Heavy rainfall means more food washing out of the lagoon, really turning on the fish along the beach.A. Knausenberger — Andree's Angelreisen Expeditions

The Underappreciated Guitarfish

The past season, says Knausenberger, proved a banner one for guitarfish in the surf. That's good news for anglers, he says, since guitarfish are impressively tough opponents when hooked.

Fishing Gabon on the west African coast - a guitarfish
Guitarfish can exceed 100 pounds; the IGFA all-tackle record blackchin guitarfish, weighing 110 pounds, was caught on the coast of Gabon.A. Knausenberger — Andree's Angelreisen Expeditions

Lagoon Alive with Hungry Longfins

When tides are right, longfin jacks roam the lagoon attackinng anything that moves. "These jacks are amazing fighters on light tackle," Knausenberger says. The IGFA all-tackle record of 36 pounds, 6 ounces, was caught in nearby Angola in 2015.

Fishing Gabon on the west African coast - a longfin jack
Especially in the early morning, longfin jacks can't resist attacking surface lures. Knausenberger recommends the 135-millimeter Halco Roosta Popper above all.A. Knausenberger — Andree's Angelreisen Expeditions
fish africa
.Sport Fishing magazine

For many other articles and galleries on fishing both sides of Africa, see Sport Fishing's Africa page.