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.”
Where is Loanga National Park?
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.
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.
Drum African Style
A fairly common surf-caster’s surprise are drum like this Senagalese kob. They can exceed 30 pounds.
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.
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.
Night Visitor — Tarpon in the Surf
Among the mix of several predators in Gabon’s pounding surf, lurk tarpon.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Storm Over the Atlantic
Fishing generally heats up in the rainy season, and threadfin are particularly active after heavy rains.
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.
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.
For many other articles and galleries on fishing both sides of Africa, see Sport Fishing‘s Africa page.