A Day to Remember Flyfishing in Cameroon

by | Mar 6, 2019 | fly fishing for Nile perch | 4 comments

jeff-currier-yetiMy tent was cold here in Cameroon during the wee hours this morning.  Temperatures dropped into the low 70°s.  Surprising in a place that surpasses 100° quickly after suns up.  During sunrise I typed away at yesterday’s blog while sipping coffee and listening to birds and hippos.  No one else was up.


Once the guys started stirring I put away the laptop and busted out my gear.  As I hinted yesterday, the first day is for working the kinks out.  After you get the feel of a new fishing area things get better.  I intended to do far better today.  My first plan was to downsize the amount of stuff I took to the river.


fishing-cameroonWe made a long drive to the fishing of an hour and 15 minutes.  We saw lots of game from kob to bush buck and we even saw a roan.  I’m no specialist on the African game.  There’re so many species of antelope/deer type things its unreal but I can tell you Stu, Greg and Keith were thrilled when we saw the roan.


Keith-Clover-Tourette-fishingOn the way Keith and I made a plan to fish together.  Keith is one of the founders of Tourette Fishing (now African Waters) and we’ve been friends since 2010.  I couldn’t get him to grab a rod but he walked with.  It was nice catching up.  The last time we fished together was in Lesotho in 2015.  He carried the Cliff Fly Box with the tigerfish I drew on it for him in Tanzania back in 2010.


best-fly-patternWhile you always walk prepared for every species of fish, our focus was the Niger barb.  The Cameroonian yellowfish will be a new species for me and I lost two yesterday.  The best way to catch them is with a nymph/dry dropper system.  I had rigged my usual Red Wing Chernobyl with a Prince Nymph below.


exotic-fish-cameroonI caught a ton of dash-tail barbs (Brycinus nurse) but also two new species for my list – my first large scale tetras and one of these interesting fish I believe is a (Raiamas nigeriensus).  I’ve caught a similar larger species in India but I’ll need to look this one up.  Or perhaps my South African friend Ed Truter will let me know. . . .


flyfishing-CameroonKeith and I spent most of the morning in the slow water pools.  On hot sunny days with no wind, fish in places like this are hard to catch and easy to spook.  I couldn’t muster up any of the Niger barbs that I was hoping for.


Finally we made the call to hit some faster water.  This is the kind of water I hooked up the Niger barbs in yesterday.  Sure enough Jako was dealing with the same issue and we all went to the fast water together.


captainjack-productionsShallow and fast was where it was at.  Jako went up one channel and I another.  Sure enough I landed my first Niger barb (Labeobarbus bynni) and Jako picked up a couple.  We fished our way back to camp but didn’t catch anymore.  No doubt these barbs are clever and not as easy to catch as you might think.


Hot hardly explains the temperature here.  It was extraordinarily roasting today.  We had a great lunch camp in the shade however and we pounded the mincemeat subs with plenty of veggies to go with.  Nick and I dove into a tall beer each as well.


jeff-currier-niger-barbAfter lunch the smart thing to do is to take a powernap in order to gain some extra strength for the Nile perch nightshift.  But I don’t sleep.  My restless mind led me back to the riffles.  I peeked up over some hand-burning rocks and spotted a nice barb feeding in a current line.  I flopped my flies over the edge with a mere six inches of fly line out of the rod tip and connected.  Man these fish fight!



photo by Stu Harley/Tourette

I was in a precarious spot and yelled with excitement.  The guys resting were close and they came out.  It was awesome and as I fought the fish I eased my way down the rocks and in the water.  I landed my second Niger barb of the day.  This one had some oomph to him!


Jeff-Currier-Nile-perchAt 4 I reeled it in and we took a short drive in the direction of camp for our evening Nile perch shift.  It was a spectacular spot with some of the most inhospitable rock formations you can imagine.  It was treacherous walking, but those who fish a lot know it’s exactly places like this that provide the best fishing.


The guides had particular spots for each of us in mind.  The shortest walk spot was for Bill.  As hard as the walking is for me I can’t imagine crossing these rocks at age 79.  The two furthest spots to walk to went to Jako and me.



photo by Nick Kelley/Yeti

Nick joined me to my spot and we were shooting the bull as I launched my massive Nile perch fly and stripped it back.  It wasn’t my third cast and I went tight with a big fish.  I got some strips on him.  He wasn’t a perch.  This fish was going to skyrocket and sure enough a fantastic tiger launched four feet in the air!



photo by Nick Kelley/Yeti

Tiger teeth call for wire shock tippet but Nile perch don’t.  Because we were fishing the Niles I didn’t have wire to my fly.  Luckily tigers bite down hard and my 80lb leader must have wedged between his teeth rather than running over them.  I kept immense pressure and in minutes slid the tiger to the shallows and tailed 9lbs of one of Africa’s most prized freshwater fish.



photo by Nick Kelley/Yeti

Like there are different species of cutthroat trout in the Rockies, Africa has different species of tigerfish.  Here there are the (Hydrocynus vittatus), (Hydrocynus forskahlii) and the (Hydrocynus brevis).  While I’ve caught the vittatus and the forskahlii before, this was my first brevis.  Another new species for my list today!


The brevis is stunning.  Despite only slight differences from the vittatus, I could see them.  His stripes and adipose were almost satin-black.  His adipose was huge as well.  And the red on his fins, particularly the bottom of the tail, were electric.  This was a fantastic bonus fish on our Nile perch fishing session.


The excitement of the tigerfish eased with the dropping sun.  Soon we were casting in the dark for Niles.  There was something about this spot that I liked.  Jako was the first to break the human silence.  From where I was casting I saw the headlamps and a tight line extending into the water.  Eventually I saw a thrashing fish and Stu’s hands lipped the Nile.  It was a small one but a good sign.



photo by Nick Kelley/Yeti

In the next hour Jako landed two more.  Another small one then right after he got into a good fight.  I wanted to reel in and go watch but two things, first the guides say that when one fish bites often the entire area comes to life.  Secondly, even with the headlamp, walking these rocks is truly hell.  Jako’s third fish was a hefty 84 cm 21lber.


As I stared at the commotion and watched Nick’s camera flash blaze I finally got my bite.  And it was a good one.  “Fish on!” I yelled.


While Niles aren’t the type of fish to speed away stealing your backing, they are powerful.  The way this guy fought was I got two or three strips then my line went rod-crackling tight and the perch made a slow but strong steady run.  The key with these fish is to stay as close to them as possible so they don’t break you off rubbing your leader and line against the rocks.  This is no easy task because it means running on the rocks in the dark.  It’s flat out dangerous!



photo by Nick Kelley/Yeti

I used my 12-weight Winston to the max applying a massive amount of pressure.  Stu and Greg were at my side helping by shining more light on my line so I could track my fish and also on the ground so I could follow the fish.  It’s a hectic battle but exactly what I came 6,000 miles to experience.


In five minutes time I heaved my fish close enough for Stu to grab him.  It was a 90 cm 25lb fat-boy Nile.  Yes!



photo by Nick Kelley/Yeti

Nick arrived and off went the flash.  Night fish photography isn’t the easiest thing to pull off.  It’s nice when you have a guy like Nick Kelley because as always, his pictures are incredible.


There was definitely a feed going on.  As I released my beautiful Nile Jako went tight again and landed one of 23lbs.  Again I watched as I stripped.  Nick’s flash flickered and then it happened.  I hooked into something serious.


This was serious alright because the first five seconds of going tight had me thinking I was snagged.  But then it gave a little and I could feel the kick of a huge tail.  Then came the run.  This was a big fish.


fly-fishing-africaWe don’t fish with our headlamps on but the first thing you do when you hook up is light it.  I flicked mine on and from a distance my stance must have said it all.  I heard Greg shout, “Jeff has a big one on!  Grab the MVP!”


The MVP is a stick with a notch at the end for reaching out to maneuver the fly line when snagged but also to put opposite pressure on a fish that goes in the rocks under the angler.  Much of the Faro River is an underwater canyon of jagged rocks covered in freshwater oysters.  These big fish go for every rock and sometimes it might be 15 feet down right below you.  If the fish goes in a hole the only hope you have is to pull him out but from an angle in mid river.  The MVP makes this possible.



photo by Nick Kelley/Yeti

When I hook big fish I enter a trance.  I get so focused on the battle its unreal.  It’s a handy skill and on this fish it was ever so needed.  The rocks I could hardly walk on during daylight were now like manicured sidewalks.  Somehow I glided along staying exactly parallel to my fish lifting, turning and hoisting him each time the fish headed for an angle to break me on the rocks.  A couple times when things got sketchy, Stu used the MVP and pushed the fish to mid river.


Nile perch jump and this is what you hope for when fighting them.  When they’re on the surface it’s plain and simple, the fish isn’t against the rocks. The only scare when this one jumped was me fainting.  This fish was double the size of my previous!



photo by Nick Kelley/Yeti

The fight was good but I never felt like I’d lose him.  After ten minutes Stu and Greg were able to grab onto the massive fish and slide him into a pool behind the rocks.  I had a 108 cm 53lb pile of African fish!


A 53lb fish is a heap to handle.  First of all you can’t put your hand around the tail.  The tail is how we grip a fish so it doesn’t get away.  Not an option here so the strategy is to keep the fish so comfortable that there is no struggle.  It took some adjusting with the top-heavy cumbersome perch but ultimately I found a sweet spot leaning the back of the fish against my stomach and used the water to support the rest.  Then made a quick lift.



photo by Stu Harley/Tourette

As Nick’s and Stu’s cameras flashed I admired my Nile.  In Egypt I caught two big ones on the fly but both were 45lbs not 53lb.  This was an awesome creature and he comes from one of the wildest places left on earth.  Soon I was slipping the incredible animal back to the wild.


The temperature dropped around 9 PM and word is that when this happens the bite is off.  We stayed till 9:45 but the action was over.  I was soaked from head to toe but was un-phased by the change in temp.  I savored my beer and enjoyed the long ride back to camp from the back of the truck.


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  1. Tad Einloth

    An amazing day in an amazing place on our planet


  2. Lance

    Man, you did it again! Amazing Jeff….. great Barb, beautiful tiger and finish off with a hog Nile! Jealous..

  3. Howie

    Magnificent!!!! What a day for the books.

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Contact Jeff

I started fly fishing at age 7 in the lakes and ponds of New England cutting my teeth on various sunfish, bass, crappie and stocked trout. I went to Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where I graduated with a Naturalist Degree while I discovered new fishing opportunities for pike, muskellunge, walleyes and various salmonids found in Lake Superior and its tributaries.

From there I headed west to work a few years in the Yellowstone region to simply work as much as most people fish and fish as much as most people work. I did just that, only it lasted over 20 years working at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop in Jackson, WY where I departed in 2009. Now it’s time to work for "The Man", working for myself that is.

I pursue my love to paint fish, lecture on every aspect of fly fishing you can imagine and host a few trips to some of the most exotic places you can think of. My ultimate goal is to catch as many species of fish on fly possible from freshwater to saltwater, throughout the world. I presently have taken over 440 species from over 60 countries!